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Ultrabooks Get More Features, Prices, Screen Sizes

LAS VEGAS – Tablets may be getting the lion’s share of the
publicity at International CES, but Ultrabooks will make their presence known
with most of the major PC vendors rolling out or demonstrating new models this

These ultra-portable, high-end notebooks performed well
during the holiday sales period and vendors expect this trend to continue
during 2012, as Intel adds more capability and features to the design.

With the initial launch now in its rear-view mirror, Intel
is at the show talking up what the second generation of Ultrabooks will
feature, said Karen Regis, Intel’s consumer client marketing director.

Intel created the Ultrabook concept to help reinvigorate the
laptop category and enable it to better compete with the tablet PC category.

A top priority is security, along with USB 3.0 and
Thunderbolt ports, Regis said. Intel has also worked to improve the user
experience making it more seemless by increasing the performance of the solid
state drives and calling for the use of more hybrid SSD/hard disk drives, she

This will deliver more storage capacity while at the same
time give users a faster over all experience, Regis said.

The company has built in a layer of protection into the
hardware that will be needed as the devices go mainstream in the coming years,
Regis said.

Touchscreens will also be added to the Ultrabooks portfolio
of capabilities, Regis said, but probably not until 2013.

Toshiba’s initial foray into the Ultrabook space was with
the Portege Z 830 in November at $799. Carrie Cowan, Toshiba’s product
marketing manager, consumer laptops, said the product has energized the
category for Toshiba.

Toshiba also believes mainstream laptop customers would be
interested in paying just a bit more for an Ultrabook. So the company the
company designed its second model in the segment under its consumer Satellite
brand, with a lower price and more mainstream features.

Unlike its initial Ultrabook offering, the Portege Z830
which launched into retail in November at a $799, the new Satellite will be
below $699. Exact pricing was not yet available. A ship date is also not set,
but expected to be in stores for the back to school selling period.

“OEMs are excited about the opportunity for a higher priced
notebook,” Regis said. “The [price] race to the bottom that has occurred it he
category has hollowed out the middle and we needed something to fill the gap.”

Despite the categories excellent start out of the gate it still
needs a higher profile, particularly to compete with the MacBook Air.

“More [consumer] education is needed and the industry needs
to do more to make the devices fun so we can compete with what is coming out of
Cupertino,” he said.

Tom Hume, Toshiba’s marketing communications director, said
Intel’s promised $300 million marketing campaign will start up during the first
quarter and that should help with the education effort.