THE UL­TRA­BOOK IS HERE!

The bulky lap­top sheds ki­los and gains brain cells. (It's even thin­ner than the Macbook Air!)

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - FRONT PAGE - TEXT BY NANDAGOPAL RAJAN & PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY RA­JWANT RAWAT

Faced with an on­slaught from tablets, which have, for the past cou­ple of years, been eat­ing into the net­book pie whilst suc­cess­fully woo­ing a size­able chunk of mid-level lap­top buy­ers too, PC mak­ers are look­ing at ways to rein­vent their prod­ucts. Their best bet to sus­tain con­sumer in­ter­est in lap­tops is the new range of sleek, slim and su­per­fast Ul­tra­books which have started ap­pear­ing in stores around the world.

The Ul­tra­book is not ac­tu­ally a tech­nol­ogy, but a trade­mark of In­tel, which cre­ated the pro­to­cols for this new seg­ment. In­tel spec­i­fies that these de­vices should be su­per thin, have ul­tra-fast start-up, ex­tended bat­tery life and must be se­cu­rity en­abled. Most im­por­tantly, the de­vices must have a price tag around $1,000. Since it is a trade­mark, to be called an Ul­tra­book these de­vices will also need to have the new low-power CULV pro­ces­sors from In­tel as well as 2nd Gen­er­a­tion In­tel icore pro­ces­sors. They will have in­te­grated graph­ics, solid-state drives and uni­body designs to hold larger bat­ter­ies.

They will be dif­fer­ent from net­books for they will be larger—at least 13 inches—and have much bet­ter pro­cess­ing power and stor­age. But like net­books these too will have no op­ti­cal or slot drives, and may also be lack­ing in many ports com­mon in reg­u­lar lap­tops. How­ever, they will be a bet­ter bet than net­books, though not a cheaper bet.

“These smart and sleek, ul­tra-thin de­vices will in­creas­ingly de­liver full per­for­mance, built-in se­cu­rity and will be ul­tra­respon­sive to the needs of the in­di­vid­ual. Thanks to their thin, light and sexy designs, they can be wel­come life­style ac­ces­sories. With sub­stan­tially longer bat­tery life and of­fered at main­stream price points, In­tel ex­pects Ul­tra­book de­vices to be as trans­for­ma­tional for mo­bile com­put­ing es­pe­cially as the In­tel Cen­trino Mo­bile tech­nol­ogy was more than eight years ago,” says San­deep Aurora, Di­rec­tor, Mar­ket­ing, In­tel South Asia.

It is a bit too early to write off the net­book, es­pe­cially since the en­try level Ul­tra­books will cost al­most dou­ble that of a high-end net­book. But many com­pa­nies have al­ready an­nounced that they will start fo­cus­ing on Ul­tra­books in the com­ing months. But then you don’t need Ul­tra­books to kill the net­books, that task is be­ing done ef­fi­ciently by the tablets.

While they will try to of­fer a re­place­ment for mid- and high-end lap­tops, es­pe­cially the new af­ford­able Macbook Air, Ul­tra­books will have tablets too in their crosshairs. To this ef­fect, the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of these sleek de­vices are ex­pected to sport touch­screens and gesture con­trols. In­tel says that dur­ing a re­search study on the use of touch-en­abled ap­pli­ca­tions on an Ul­tra­book, users found the use of touch on a clamshell de­sign, and the seam­less tran­si­tion be­tween the use of touch ap­pli­ca­tions and the key­board to be com­pelling and nat­u­ral. “The ad­di­tion of the touch ex­pe­ri­ence will also fuel in­no­va­tion in the de­sign and shape of fu­ture Ul­tra­book sys­tems, from clamshells and hy­brids, to con­vert­ibles and other styles likely not yet imag­ined,” says Aurora.

At least four com­pa­nies have al­ready brought in their Ul­tra­books into the In­dian mar­ket, with a hand­ful more ex­pected to be avail­able by the mid­dle of this year. Acer was among the first to en­ter In­dia with its S3, while Len­ovo and HP fol­lowed with the U300s and Fo­lio 13 re­spec­tively. Asus too came in with its Zenbook soon af­ter. The prices range from around 48,000 for the S3 to 89,999 for the Zenbook.

But some say it is wrong to call the Ul­tra­books a dif­fer­ent seg­ment since none of the man­u­fac­tur­ers are strictly stick­ing to the In­tel bench­marks. Ex­perts high­light the fact that while some of these ma­chines have a bat­tery life at the lower end of the scale, oth­ers can give up to 10 hours of juice. The price too is pretty much all over the place.

Still the chances are that if you go to buy a lap­top this year, you will re­turn home with an Ul­tra­book.

Slim­mer, Smoother,

Sex­ier!

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