Ultrabook: A Game-Changer or Natural Evolution for Laptops?

Media have crowned 2012 the Year of the Ultrabook, and from the scores of Ultrabook devices announced recently, there’s considerable consumer interest in these new devices. Intel has defined the Ultrabook category based upon specifications for thinness while also taking into account battery life, responsiveness and other performance measures. Since years of design and development tell us that each new product is about continually making laptops thinner, lighter and with longer battery life, it begs the question: Will all laptops eventually become Ultrabook devices?

Ignore the market’s price factor since technology costs decrease over time, especially as demand rises, and the question becomes even more relevant. Ultrabook devices are just as much about the user experience as being thin and light. Think about tablets: they’re instantly on with long battery life, and they’re instantly connected to the Web. Ultrabook devices take these tablet qualities and combine them in a thin and elegant design coupled with greater performance.

For example, our latest Ultrabook devices--the IdeaPad U310 and U410--come in around 0.7" (17.8 mm) thin and 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg). They get eight hours of battery life and are ultra-responsive in boot up and resume from sleep, equipped with either with a solid state drive or traditional hard drive.  With Lenovo’s Smart Update always-on, always-connected technology, the Ultrabook can automatically wake up from sleep mode to update personal emails and online applications.  Priced around $700 (USD), they are a very affordable Ultrabook and come in a variety of colors, from Metallic Red to Aqua Blue.

In my book, that makes them a game changer. Will all consumer laptops become Ultrabook devices? No, simply because some users will always need more performance. Ultrabook devices are not a one-size-fits-all technology. People--e.g., gamers and power users--who need intense graphics and stronger processing power will need other types of laptops. However, for many consumers, an Ultrabook will fit nicely into our increasingly mobile digital lifestyles as the device we rely on to handle both personal computing and surfing the web.


Peter Hortensius is President of Lenovo's Product Group.