HP Unveils New Glassy Ultrabook with Killer Looks and Innovative Features

HP unveiled its new Envy 14 Spectre ultrabook that will be running on the upcoming Ivy Bridge processors that were earlier demoed by Intel. The HP Spectre is definitely a looker. It sports a glossy mid-night black Gorilla-glass lid, is 20 mm thin, and features a 14 inch screen with super thin bezel and Radiance display. HP insists that the glass lid will not compromise the durability of the ultrabook.


In terms of configuration, the Spectre is a pretty standard affair with Core i5-2467M CPU and 4 GB of RAM. The battery is said to last for nine hours. Interested users will have the option of upgrading to 256 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM. Typical HP goodies such as impactful speakers with Beats technology, and CoolSense are also present. HP has even thrown in free copies of Photoshop and Premiere Elements 10, along with a two-year subscription to Norton Internet Security. The other differentiating feature of the Spectre comes courtesy the Intel Ivy Bridge processor that includes NFC support.

The Spectre is drool worthy, but it will definitely make your wallet a lot lighter. Priced at $1,399.99, the Spectre is more expensive than the MacBook Air that is likely to be its biggest competitor. The Spectre will launch in the States on Feb 8, and goes on sale in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom in early March.

Acer Working on Budget Ultrabook Priced at $699

According to a new report by Digitimes, Acer is working on a new 15 inch ultrabook, which will be priced at around $699. Taiwan based Pegatron Technoloy will manufacture the new budget ultrabook for Acer.

Ultrabooks are slim, light, yet powerful notebooks which offer much greater battery life than traditional notebooks. They are modeled after the Apple Macbook Air, and come with SSD storage and no optical drive.

Recently, there has been a relative slowdown in notebook shipments due to the growing popularity of tablets. Intel is spearheading the ultrabook effort partly to make notebooks cool again, and also because of the resounding success of the Macbook Air.

Acer, Asus and Toshiba recently launched their ultrabooks, but almost all of them have been priced higher than $1000, which is much higher than the average notebook.

Intel is reportedly offering a marketing subsidy to each ultrabook manufacturer to bring ultrabook prices down to $600 and spur sales.

With the launch of Windows 8 in 2012, ultrabooks could see a surge in sales. Rumors suggest that all major notebook manufacturers are working on touchscreen ultrabooks, which could act as a tablet, and would be perfectly suited for Windows 8 with the Metro UI.

If Acer is able to launch a $699 ultrabook soon, it could get a significant headstart over its competitors, unless they are working on budget ultrabooks too. In any case, the customer wins.

Intel’s Future Depends on the Success of Ultrabooks

Intel, which has been unable to crack the mobile processor market yet, has been betting on ultrabooks, to revive notebook sales which have been slowing down, and also steal the limelight away from tablets, which have seen sales explode in the past year. In August, its venture capital arm, Intel Capital started the $300 million Ultrabook Fund to encourage manufacturers to invest in the research and development of ultrabooks.

UltrabookIts efforts seem to have bore fruit. Most major notebook manufacturers have either launched ultrabooks, or are working on them. Lenovo, HP, Dell are reportedly planning to launch ultrabooks soon. Samsung has announced its intentions to ditch the netbook business, and focus on ultrabooks completely.

Acer, Asus and Toshiba recently launched their ultrabooks, but none of them have been able to make much of an impact, as they don’t offer any significant price advantage over the MacBook Air.

For ultrabooks to go mass-market, they must first become much cheaper than they currently are. Most manufacturers are trying to bring down costs to below $1000, which is proving to be difficult due to the high cost of processors and SSDs.

A report by Digitimes says that ultrabook prices may drop by 5-10% in Q1 2012. Intel is reportedly offering a $100 marketing subsidy for every ultrabook to some manufacturers llike Acer, Asus and Toshiba, and also helping them with their marketing efforts in a bid to make ultrabooks popular.

Analysts expect ultrabooks to be available for $600-$800 in 2012. The launch of Windows 8 in mid-2012 could also lead to a boost in ultrabook sales.

With the smartphone and tablet market being almost completely dominated by ARM, and the PC market shrinking, the ultrabook market seems to be the only source of hope for Intel’s topline growth.

Apple to Launch 15-inch MacBook Air in Q1 2012

According to a report by our favorite Chinese rumor mill Digitimes, Apple will launch a new MacBook Air series with 11.6-inch, 13.3-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air notebooks in Q1 2012. The MacBook Air range is ripe for a refresh, and the addition of a 15-inch MacBook Air to the mix is great news for most of us. Currently, Apple makes only 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air notebooks. A 15-inch MacBook Air should attract many more customers who find the existing sizes a tad small to work with. The MacBook Air, which has been overshadowed by the success of the iPhone and the iPad, is a massive success in its own right. It has helped Apple capture a significant slice of the notebook market since its launch.

Reportedly, “related upstream players have already started pilot production of the MacBook Air models and will add a 15-inch model into the product line to expand its reach in the ultra-thin notebook market.”

Apple MacBook Air

The ultrathin notebook market is expected to see a lot of competition in 2012, as more than 50 new ultrabooks by various manufacturers are expected to be showcased at CES 2012. Intel is pushing manufacturers to develop ultrabooks, which will compete directly with the MacBook Air, using a $300 million Ultrabook fund by Intel Capital.

Acer, Asus and Toshiba recently launched the first ultrabooks, but they have failed to impress reviewers and consumers alike.

I’m dying to buy a moderately priced ultrabook with a touchscreen display, and Windows 8 installed. I’m guessing they will soon be available by the end of 2012.

Samsung Quitting Netbook Business in 2012; Focusing on Ultrabooks

Samsung is apparently planning to quit its netbook business, and concentrate completely on ultrabooks in the coming years. Ever since the tablet market exploded, netbook sales have been on a steady decline. There have been a lot of netbooks available in the market, with very little differentiation, and really thin margins.

Here’s what the official statement by Samsung said, in French (translated):

“Following the introduction of our new strategy in 2012, we will discontinue our 10.1-inch (netbook) product range in Q1 2012, in favor of ultraportables (11.6 and 12 inches) and ultrabooks to be launched in 2012.”

Intel is working to get ultrabook prices in the $600 to $800 range, at which point ultrabooks should go mass market. With the launch of Windows 8, ultrabooks may get an additional boost, especially the touchscreen ones. With the $300 million Ultrabook Fund, Intel is trying to stay relevant in the processor market, by bringing the battle back to its home turf – notebooks. Most tablets today are powered by ARM processors, while notebooks are powered by Intel processors.

It’s probably good that Samsung is getting out of this race to the bottom. It may affect its revenues a bit, but will help its profit margins significantly. Hopefully, with Samsung’s focus on them, we will see some great ultrabooks in the market by mid 2012.