Intel Ultrabook Updates Displayed, Outlined At CES

By Doug Olenick On Jan 30 2012 - 6:01am




LAS VEGAS — Intel at International CES gave a glimpse into how it plans to improve its Ultrabook concept by adding touch and gesture controls and improving security.

The company also discussed the marketing campaign it will kick off in April to raise consumer awareness of the Ultrabook.

Mooly Eden, Intel’s VP/ GM of the PC client group, said touchscreens are on the near horizon for Ultrabooks. Intel research found consumers are not put off by using a touchscreen on a laptop design.

“We were told the keyboard is for work and touch is for fun,” he said.

Intel is also adding a sensor to the Ultrabook so users can tilt and maneuver it with the actions being reflected on the screen.

Gesture control similar to the Xbox Kinect is also in the works, Eden said, along with larger screen sizes up to 15 inches.

“We found more consumers will move to an Ultrabook with a bigger screen,” Eden said.

On the marketing front, Kevin Sellers, Intel’s advertising and digital marketing VP, said the company is about to kick off a massive campaign that will rival any branding effort Intel has attempted in the past.

“We want to bring the same marketing force to the Ultrabook that we did with Centrino in 2003,” Sellers said.

Intel will use some of the $300 million the company earmarked last year to bolster the nascent category, he said.

The campaign will include its vendor partners and retail point-of-sale material, including an in-store kiosk that lets shoppers learn about the Ultrabook by using gesture controls.

PC vendors lined up to introduce new Ultrabook models during CES, including Lenovo, Samsung, Acer, Dell and Toshiba.

Toshiba’s 2012 Ultrabook strategy looks to bring the device in at a lower price point, below $699 compared to the $799 of its current model. The Portege Z830. The upcoming model which is as yet unnamed, will sell under the company’s Satellite brand.

No ship date was announced.

Dell introduced the the XPS 13 Ultrabook during Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s final CES keynote address.

Jeff Clarke, Dell’s global operations VP, showed off the new device, saying the 13-inch model fits into the same footprint as one with an 11-inch screen and is essentially capable of delivering the same type of always- on-and-ready experience of a smartphone, but in a mobile computing platform.

Pricing was not announced, but it will be ready for orders in February, Clarke said.

Acer publicly unveiled the Aspire S5. The S5 is has a 13.3-inch display, weighs less than 3 pounds and is slightly more than half an inch thick.

The S5 will be powered by an Intel Core i series processor, feature a solid-state drive for storage, and have a Thunderbolt port, HDMI, USB 3.0 and Acer’s Green Instant On for 1.5-second boot-from-sleep technology. The ports are contained in what Acer calls its Magical I/O port panel, which is located just below the Ultrabook’s hinge.

The S5 also includes Dolby Home Theater v4. A ship date and pricing were not available.

Lenovo’s 2012 Ultrabook lineup starts with the IdeaPad U310 and U410. These have a starting price of $699, with May shipping for both lines. The U310 has a 13.3-inch display and the U410 has a 14-inch screen. Each is about 18mm thick and weighs about 3.7 pounds. Battery life is estimated at eight hours.

Samsung’s Series 5 Ultrabooks come in 13- and 14- inch display sizes, 500GB hard drive (with a 128GB solid- state drive option), an Intel Core i5-2467M 1.6GHz processor, Intel HD Graphics 3000, 4GB of DDR3 memory, DVD Super Multi Dual Layer optical drive, 1.3-megapixel digital camera, and HDMI and USB ports.

Both ship this month, with the 13-inch model at $899 and the 14-inch at $949. The SSD adds about $200.

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