Superthin ‘Ultrabooks’ coming soon, says Intel

Intel’s revealed designs for a new type of notebook – new, that is, if you don’t count the Macbook Air – based on a thinner form factor and tablet-like features.

Ultrabook PCs will be aimed at the mainstream market, costing under $1,000, and could account for 40 percent of consumer laptop sales by the end of next year, says Intel.

They’ll be thin and light – less than 0.8 inches thick, and weighing about two pounds – and initially will be based on existing Core processors. A solid-state drive will give a longer battery life and an instant-on capability.

These models could appear as early as this year’s holiday season, says Intel, with models based on the company’s upcoming Ivy Bridge processors appearing early next year.

But the real change will happen in 2013, says Intel, with the introduction of a new Core processor design, Haswell, that will halve power consumption, enabling even thinner designs and much longer battery life.

One of the first Ultrabooks to appear will be the ASUS UX21, an 11.6-inch Core processor-based machine just 0.7 inches thick.

“At ASUS, we are very much aligned with Intel’s vision of Ultrabook,” said ASUS chairman Jonney Shih at the launch at Computex in Taiwan.

“Our customers are demanding an uncompromised computing experience in a lightweight, highly portable design that responds to their needs quickly. Transforming the PC into an ultra thin, ultra responsive device will change the way people interact with their PC.”

The Ultrabook designs look a lot like the MacBook Air, but are likely to cost rather less – as little as $799, says Intel, compared with over $1,000 for the MacBook.