Intel-Inspired Ultrabook Takes on MacBook Air

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The new Intel-inspired Ultrabooks are going head-to-head with the successful MacBook Air, challenging Apple Inc.'s dominance in the lightweight laptop market. These new superthin computers are made by various companies and carry the Ultrabook trademark. Even with the backing of a major advertising campaign from Intel Corp., it's unclear whether the combined efforts of such companies as Asus, HP and Lenovo will be enough to dethrone Apple and steal back a piece of market share.
The new Intel-inspired Ultrabooks are going head-to-head with the successful MacBook Air, challenging Apple Inc.'s dominance in the lightweight laptop market. These new superthin computers are made by various companies and carry the Ultrabook trademark. Even with the backing of a major advertising campaign from Intel Corp., it's unclear whether the combined efforts of such companies as Asus, HP and Lenovo will be enough to dethrone Apple and steal back a piece of market share.

Previous efforts by PC-makers resulted in an array of small netbooks intended to be lightweight, portable and affordable. Despite the low price point, consumers found the gadgets to be lacking in practicality and functionality. Sales quickly slowed to a trickle.

Tablet computers, however, are continuing to grow in popularity. Attractive as these devices are, users with heavy typing requirements still find themselves relying on a full-size laptop. Consumer demand for a thin and lightweight, versatile computer for under $1,000 remains unmet.

Enter the Ultrabook.

The computers are designed to meet minimum specifications outlined by Intel. The devices are less than an inch thick, most have 13-inch screens and all have a battery life of at least five hours. They offer HD graphics, 4 GB of memory and a few ports for peripherals. The computers weigh around two to three pounds. Another appealing aspect is the quick-response solid-state drive included in most models to awaken the computer in a flash.

Though Intel challenged manufacturers to keep prices low, only a handful achieved a price below $1,000. Those models aren't quite as speedy or sophisticated as their higher-priced cousins, but are still reasonable alternatives for shoppers to consider.

They jury's still out on whether the Ultrabook design will prove to be a category killer. Early indications, though, point to Intel's concept as a worthy challenge to the reigning MacBook Air.
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