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Intel Details New Ultrabook Reference Designs

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the smaller-is-better dept.

Intel 186

MojoKid writes "Earlier this year, Intel unveiled its plan to redefine the concept of a PC around an ultra thin-and-light chassis reminiscent of the Macbook Air and with a standard CPU TDP of just 15W. Intel has unveiled the reference specs for ultra-notebook products they're calling 'Ultrabooks.' The cheaper ultra-notebook model will be 21mm thick with a BOM (bill of materials) between $475-650. A second, thinner model (18mm thick) will have a BOM between $493-710. Unlike netbooks, Ultrabooks will target the full range of consumer notebooks with screen sizes ranging from 11-17 inches. Reports are surfacing that the new systems will eschew the use of module-based components in favor of directly soldering certain components to the motherboard. Other findings indicated that Intel and its partners have researched alternatives to an aluminum-based chassis with materials like fiberglass expected to dominate the segment."

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So (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021428)

uhh

laptops?

Re:So (3, Interesting)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021626)

This is Intel's effort to reclaim some of the profit margin they gave up when netbooks became popular. The idea is to create a premium form factor that offers enough perks to make them attractive compared to a netbook, while keeping the price under that of the entry level MacBook Air (currently $999).

Don't get too excited about a $475 BOM, though. That number comes from Intel and the purpose is to convince manufacturers that they can produce a retail $999 ultrabook and still make a profit. Manufacturers have been expressing doubts about the form factor.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021658)

Netbooks didnt become popular.

Re:So (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021722)

How come the shops are full of them and lots of people own them? (Including me)

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021944)

Shops are full of them because demand for Netbooks has drastically fallen off [cnet.com] . Secondly, Netbook sales have never been beyond around 5% of PC sales which is hardly a sign of them being "popular".

Re:So (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022182)

Large areas of computer stores have been dedicated to Netbooks for the last five years or so (around here it's about the same retail area as for 'normal' laptops). It's not really something they do for unpopular items.

Your link says that low netbook sales are hurting the PC market. To me that sounds to me like they were an important part of it.

Re:So (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022278)

Netbook sales have never been beyond around 5% of PC sales which is hardly a sign of them being "popular"

5% of PC sales is a bit less than total Mac sales, and I'd say Macs are pretty popular. Popular does not mean ubiquitous.

Re:So (2)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022976)

Who cares about "popular"; the key word is "profitable". Getting 5% of the market at low, low prices isn't worth much. 10% of the market (which is where Apple actually is these days) at mid-to-high prices, is a very attractive niche.

Re:So (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022112)

Depends where you live. Netbooks have almost completely disappeared from the US market. They were hot then MS decided that they were entitled to profit from every non-Mac computer that was sold.

Netbooks would still be popular if they existed, it's hard to beat a sub $200 laptop that does just the things that most people need and little more.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37022600)

"Netbooks would still be popular if they existed"

What are you talking about? I'm in the US market and I just bought one a month ago for $275 with a 64 bit AMD processor and 2GB memory. They were all over the place when I was shopping for it.

Re:So (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022240)

Netbooks didnt become popular.

The sheer range of models and the fact that manufacturers keep making them would suggest they're hugely popular.

I know I love my netbook though I wish it was faster. It's a full blown PC that doesn't cost much, runs for ages on a charge and is easy to sling in an overnight case or similar.

Re:So (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022346)

Excellent nitpick!

Re:So (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022914)

These are the specs for a non-Apple-brand MacBook Air. Now that Apple has the price point right, this has become a popular piece of hardware, and Intel is explaining to the other companies they sell chips to how to build their own, with the same basic specs for the same basic price. It's a "how to jump on the bandwagon" instruction sheet.

Irrelevant to 95% of the world's population (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021442)

We need Communism!

Re:Irrelevant to 95% of the world's population (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021612)

Dude, the early 20th century called, they want their rotten ideologies back.

Re:Irrelevant to 95% of the world's population (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021686)

They can have capitalism. Communism is the future, it's our last best hope!

Re:Irrelevant to 95% of the world's population (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021786)

I really wish you all the communism in the world, sincerely do. Proto-criminals like you deserve it. Just don't drag us along.

standard CPU TDP of just 15W? (2)

human spam filter (994463) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021462)

What exactly is "standard CPU TDP"? My 4+ year or thinkpad T61 has a (total, not just CPU) TDP of about 15W during light use.

Re:standard CPU TDP of just 15W? (3, Interesting)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021660)

TDP = Thermal Design Power, as in the maximal power usage it is designed for.

Your T61 might have a power usage of 15W, but the cpu TDP for various T61 is around 35 W

Re:standard CPU TDP of just 15W? (1)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021666)

That's good mileage! As for standard CPU TDP, who knows. Are you sarcastic? TDP is the wattage ceiling, and I am sure what they said is some marketing drone speak. It probably means a CPU with 15 watts of TDP, period. Your Intel Core Duo Txxxx has probably 25 watts TDP, for comparison.

Re:standard CPU TDP of just 15W? (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022932)

Actually, (most?) T-Series Core2Duo (like the T7100/7300 and so on in the Thinkpad T61) are 35W CPUs. The newer P-XXXX Core2Duos are 25W...

As for 15W total power consumption during light usage... the ones with Intel integrated graphics drop that down to below 10W. :)

Re:standard CPU TDP of just 15W? (1)

Alkonaut (604183) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021690)

Mine draws zero watts when it is switched off. How is that related to Thermal Design Power? "TDP" and power draw during "Light use" are two different things

Innovative... lulz JK (1)

TafBang (1971954) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021486)

This is probably the gayest description of something called an "ultrabook" there is nothing special about it.....

Re:Innovative... lulz JK (0)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021746)

I can tell you'd be useless in a marketing job.

laptop - netbook - ultrabook (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021490)

So... to help filter past the marketing filters:

laptop - dvd drive = netbook

netbook - plastic case + fiberglass case = ultrabook

"general public" who ignore the marketing materials, like my wife and sister in law, continue to refer to any clamshell design with a keyboard as a "laptop".

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021838)

smartphone - keyboard = iPhone

OMG GROUNDBREAKING INNOVATION!

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (3, Informative)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021860)

laptop - dvd drive = netbook

that i don't agree with, netbook in my idea is a sub class of laptop that has enough processing power to consume but not enough to effectively create.

aka you can browse the web and watch video - but really comping,encoding, or in general heavy work just isn't going to be exceptable.

to me
laptop - dvd drive = most "ultra light" laptop/notebooks

you can get an i7 in a 2.2lbs x220, there is no optical drive, and it surly isn't a "netbook"

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021986)

has enough processing power to consume but not enough to effectively create

Why? Anyone in the biz for more than 2 years was using less "power" to create 2 years ago, perfectly acceptably. And certainly nothing has changed since then.

Anyone with a longer than, say, 2 years upgrade cycle, would find the netbook specs to be an upgrade over their present full size laptop...

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022096)

Yes, exactly. SO tired of the 'we must protect our holy workstations by disparaging anything with lesser power as being unsuitable for anything but consumption". Hell im using some older Dell D series laptops as cheap servers.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022552)

I've done 3D modeling and photo editing using a 1.2gHz Athlon, 384MB of RAM and a CRT heavier than some UPS units. It's slow, but definitely possible.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022752)

1.2gHz? Luxury.

My first copy of 3D Studio ran on a 33MHz 486 (which was one of the fastest PCs available at the time).

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022722)

Hell im using some older Dell D series laptops as cheap servers.

I'm just connecting up an Arduino as a web server so I'm getting a kick out of this thread.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 3 years ago | (#37023094)

There's a huge performance difference even for consumption though. I have both netbook class hardware (Pentium M Banias/Dothan, and Atoms in both N270 and N280 flavors) and notebook class hardware (typing this from a Core2Duo machine with 2+Ghz and 8 gigs of RAM), and the performance difference, even with just Chrome or Firefox open, is HUGE. Opening and closing tabs, loading web pages (especially reopening an entire browser session), loading Flash video... the netbooks and older hardware have absolutely no chance, even though they're all running XP (Win7 is another little bit slower) and maxed out at 2GB of RAM.

Things that are instant on the Core2Duo 8GB system take multiple seconds on the older hardware, which is just annoying after a while.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022210)

That's ridiculous, you don't measure yourself with regard to 5 year old technology and call it good when you're comparing present price. You measure it with regards to current technology when dividing these things into various tiers.

And no, a genuine netbook is not going to be faster than even a 5 year old laptop. My last netbook isn't going to outclass anything made since about a decade ago. Back before netbooks were run out of the market by MS, they were typically sporting processors that were cutting edge many years ago, but you'd have to have an impossibly long upgrade cycle before it would be an upgrade over their present full sized laptop.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022530)

And no, a genuine netbook is not going to be faster than even a 5 year old laptop.

My atom-powered was faster than my 5 year old laptop when I bought i (it also had a higher resolution, though smaller, display.) What distinguished it was no optical drive.

Its pretty much what distinguishes the class. I can create with it (creating doesn't actually take more power than consuming), it doesn't handle heavy multitasking as well as my two-year-older Core2Duo laptop, but "creating" and "heavy multitasking" aren't the same thing, at all.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (2)

moonbender (547943) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022260)

Anyone with a longer than, say, 2 years upgrade cycle, would find the netbook specs to be an upgrade over their present full size laptop...

Hardly. Atom is slow. That's not to say you can't do work with them: many people who work with computers use them for the most trivial of tasks, light word processing, email, stuff like that. But beyond that, you'll hit the limits of a what a netbook can do very quickly, both because of the agonizing speeds and because of the limited resolution. The latter might be the bigger deal breaker: I can wait for stuff to finish (even if I hate it), but doing work in such a cramped environment seems almost impossible after using a large display (or even multiple).

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022996)

but doing work in such a cramped environment seems almost impossible after using a large display (or even multiple).

Netbooks will generally drive external displays up to 2560x1920 (maximum spec of the intel chipset). For on the road use, there is a fairly direct correlation between screensize and weight.

You can get a computer weighing as much as a heavy netbook with much more speed and slightly larger screen, but you will pay a lot for it and it will still be heavier than an old eee 900.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37022338)

The consumption argument isn't about power, but form.

For most creative tasks (and, no, I don't mean blogging about your kittens) many people a screen big enough to have a few different windows, palettes, etc. Keyboards need to be of a certain size to use comfortably and efficiently. Not relying on a net connection, but using locally stored programs instead, helps tremendously.

University populations are a good perspective on this: kids have an inherent lust for the novel, but a need to produce papers and projects. Netbooks were big for part of 2009-2010, but they've dropped off sharply as kids realized that notebooks were better for productivity. IPads and smartphones have taken up a lot of the netbook market for casual computing.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022474)

Why?

My guess is so that Apple's products can be defined out of the 'netbook' category.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37022544)

Consumption only device? Who the hell would buy that? If you can't run Visual Studio Pro and a decent 3D rendering app, you're just playing with a toy and it'll never sell.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37022856)

aka you can browse the web and watch video - but really comping,encoding, or in general heavy work just isn't going to be exceptable.

I take acception to that hypothesis.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022948)

netbook in my idea is a sub class of laptop that has enough processing power to consume but not enough to effectively create.

Speak for yourself. I have a netbook. It's fine for running many things, such as the GIMP, document processing programs, presentation producing programs, compilers, drawing packages, etc. It probably would be a little slow for some of the newest video editing techniques, but I never do any video editing anyway.

you can get an i7 in a 2.2lbs x220, there is no optical drive, and it surly isn't a "netbook"

For some reason, Lenovo make it very hard to find out the weight of the laptops in a particular configuration. Nonetheless they come out at > 2.9lbs usually, plus unspecified weight for the power adapter. Actually, I'm thinking of getting one but their website is quite terrible.

But my netbook is certainly lighter. The machine is about 950g and it has a very lightweight power adapter.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022676)

Because of the smaller size low power consumption is a factor. Unfortunately for Intel, ARM is better at low power than their Atom offering. I don't remember the exact difference but it seemed to be an order of magnitude lower whereas ultrabook is merely multiples. 15W is less than half of the stingiest Core iSeries.

Re:laptop - netbook - ultrabook (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022692)

The way I understand it:

Desktop Replacement Laptop = 17"+ screen, 500+GB hdd, DVD drive (likely blu-ray), processor does not belong to manufacturer's "portable" lines, often has high-power graphics option. Price varies with components.

Notebook/Laptop: 15"+ screen, 200+GB hdd, processor is likely one of the mfg's "portable" processors, some sort of optical drive (likely DVD-RW). Price varies with components.

Ultra-portable Laptop: up to 15" screen, SSD of some amount of GB or up to 320GB HDD, mfg's "portable" processor, maybe an optical drive, under 3 lbs. High price paid for large SSDs and standard processors in a very small form-factor.

Netbook: 8-12" screen, SSD or HDD of a relatively small amount of storage, a netbook processor (Atom, Tegra, Fusion, etc). Under $350.

Recovering wha?? (3, Insightful)

UnresolvedExternal (665288) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021492)

FTA:

Atom sales have fallen off sharply in the past year, thanks to a recovering economy

Erm... whose economy are we taking about here?

Re:Recovering wha?? (1)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021622)

Erm... whose economy are we taking about here?

It doesn't matter. If they delude you the reader into thinking the economy is recovering, then maybe you'll click the Shop link and, you know, shop.

Re:Recovering wha?? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021846)

OK, you go first...

Re:Recovering wha?? (1)

slater.jay (1839748) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021634)

Atom sales have fallen off sharply in the past year, thanks to a low-power platform from AMD that kicks the pants off of Atom

FTFTFA

Re:Recovering wha?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37023150)

That and because Intel don't seem to have made any substantial changes to the Atom in the last couple of years and most of us who want Atom netbooks probably already have them. They have released new Atoms, but there doesn't seem to be any great improvement in performance or power consumption.

Re:Recovering wha?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021742)

I would blame the netbook falloff on cheap laptops.... I just bought an Acer 15.6" on Newegg for $345. Why would I purchase a netbook when I get the real deal?

Re:Recovering wha?? (2)

PybusJ (30549) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021892)

I blame the netbook falloff on market saturation and faliure to upgrade the specs (along with maybe a little competition from tablets). I have a netbook from 2008, one of the first models with atom CPUs. I make plenty of use of it, and was thinking, as it passed 3 years old the other day, perhaps I should upgrade. I could find absolutely no reason in the specs of current models to upgrade. I was feeling that it was occasionally slow when browsing, but a new netbook with basically the same chip gives me zero benefit from a new model. Despite me being happy to pay for a new netbook, there's no point and I'll keep using my current model until it physically fails.

I think most people who want one have one. If this 'new' ultabook segment comes with a little more poke than a netbook, but similarly good battery life then I'd be all for one.

Re:Recovering wha?? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37023054)

faliure to upgrade the specs

This is the most startling thing.

Compared to my eee 900, modern netbooks are larger and heavier. They have a longer battery life, though this is in no small part due to having a bigger, heavier battery. Some of the gains are due to an improved CPU, but given the increase in speed (not much), the battery life should have gone up a lot. Oh, and they all have spinning disks now, not pcie flash.

There's basically no incentive to upgrade because the new machines are very similar to the old ones, and often worse in a number of regards.

Re:Recovering wha?? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021916)

Because size/weight counts when you actually have to carry it around...

If you're only carrying it to the SUV or a different room then go ahead, buy the huge one.

Re:Recovering wha?? (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021980)

The laptop he is referring to is only 5.5 lbs, while, for example, Acer Aspire One is nearly 3 lbs. Unless you have no upper body strength, a difference of maybe 2.5 lbs is not that much.

Re:Recovering wha?? (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022388)

It's weight and volume. A normal size laptop is a lot less convenient to haul around usually requiring a laptop case. A netbook more easily fit in any other bag you happen to be carrying, e.g. rucksack, overnight bag. Some but not all netbooks also have better chargers which more resemble phone chargers than power bricks. Netbooks obviously have drawbacks of their own such as screen size and speed so it depends on what you need it for. I own a desktop, a laptop and a netbook and I reckon I use them all in equal measure.

Re:Recovering wha?? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022690)

a difference of maybe 2.5 lbs is not that much.

It's a massive difference when you have to carry it for a few hours.

I'm pretty sure my EeePC weighs a lot less than 3 lbs and it fits in a tiny bag. Most people don't believe me when I tell them I'm carrying a computer. They're like, "where??"

Re:Recovering wha?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37022100)

Why would I purchase a netbook when I get the real deal?

Because you don't need a separate bag to carry it?
But if all you plan is to is use it over your desk, it does make sense to buy the laptop, indeed. Laptops are the new desktops, netbooks are the new laptops, and pads are the new netbooks. And yes, desktops are the new servers.

Re:Recovering wha?? (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022300)

I would blame the netbook falloff on cheap laptops.... I just bought an Acer 15.6" on Newegg for $345. Why would I purchase a netbook when I get the real deal?

Depends what you need it for. Hauling around a 15.6" PC in a laptop bag isn't fun. A netbook will happily sit in bag or carry-on case making it perfect for light use away from home, or even as a second PC if someone else is using the first.

Re:Recovering wha?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021798)

Apple's

Re:Recovering wha?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37022710)

Germany? China? Brazil?

Pretty much any country that has a productive economy, I think. The countries that are most hurt have economies that are based on redistributing stuff that someone else made. You might call that banking, welfare, and/or advertising, but the trend is clear: redistributing wealth does not lead to an economic recovery.

This Is News? (1)

BlueMikey (1112869) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021500)

"New generation of products improve upon the old generation!"

And this story isn't even that good.

"Company A's next generation of products get close to being like Company B's products!"

Re:This Is News? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021646)

I think it's more like company A is asking companies D, C, H and S to get it together and start using their products just as well as company B does in their designs.

BUT WHAT WILL APPLE DO ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021580)

Hm ?/

If it won't then it don't matter !!

Hm !!

GO with the LEADER !! Go with APPLE !! You can't go wrong by choosing APPLE !!

It's sad actually (4, Insightful)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021596)

Status-quo for PCs as of lately - the entire lazy uninspiring market just trails Apple, who, as much as I dislike the whole flashy iDesign, have been the only true innovators for years now.

As much as I like my Thinkpad, it often amazes me why if it's thin and light, has everything you need, then it has to run that iOS thing.

It looks like Apple are thinking, while everyone else just tries to profit riding the wave. Like rich estate owners who cannot be bothered to actually work anymore, because it's been so long they did, they have no understanding nor desire to do so, but they do want the money they lay claim to.

We are sold "business" laptops that are supposed to be our road warriors, that have gamer graphics cards in them for some idiotic reason, that get not just warm but burning hot in our laps (while we thought we could actually use them as well LAPtops you know), that come with a shitload of software crap someone either thinks we need or doesn't give a damn about, and on top we have Microsoft aggressively pushing Windows to us, which is at best a patch on a suit full of holes and stains. My point is: the PC industry as a whole is a mess, there is no direction and definitely no respect for the multititude of jobs people who work with computers these days do - it's like we are sold toys that we are supposed to use and throw out after a year. Everybody sings their tune, software is pushed to interpreted languages and the cloud which negatively affect one of the most important usability factors out there - latency. It's amazing we are not told that we shouldn't multitask because the new JavaScript OS is too slow to do that on todays Intel Core CPU.

All the while Apple at least is innovating. Maybe because that's what they long wanted to get away from - the messy juggernaut of the PC industry that is like a landfill of throwouts someone somewhere tries to fit together to give us the next best thing, for their 15 minutes of fame.

Gee, Intel, is it a coincidence you thought of finally shaving off a centimeter off the average laptop height 2 years after Apple, and probably half a decade after it began to be possible and the users began wanting it really badly after complaining of carrying five pounds of machine on average with them every working day?

Different visions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021834)

Speaking as a Mac owner, it's not so much a matter of "innovating" as it is having a different sense of what a laptop is.

Most PC manufacturers don't make phones (and none of them make anywhere near as many phones as Apple does) so their vision of "Laptop" is "just like a desktop, only with a battery, and light enough that you can carry them around." So this is what they make, and they do a good job of it.

The MacBook Air is not a mobile iMac or Mac Pro. These days, Apple's laptops are a bridge halfway between desktops and iPhones. They make use of Apple's sweetheart Flash supplier contracts to create a custom SSD form factor and keep things small. And Apple's phone experience, combined with control over the OS and use of EFI lets it implement power management better than any PC vendor can using off-the-shelf Windows and BIOS.

Re:It's sad actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37022000)

Apple isn't innovating anything. They've used the same components as most other PC notebooks since they went to x86 chips--commodity parts in a "designer" chassis. The MacBook Air line is as thin as it is because it doesn't integrate an optical drive. If it didn't have the Apple logo on it, I doubt it would sell as well as it does.

Re:It's sad actually (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022164)

BULLSHIT. Go pick up a macbook air and tell me of ANY other notebook manufacturer that pays as much attention to build quality. Not even my Sony Vaio laptops with tungsten casings in their heyday came close to the fit and finish of an Apple machine. The best word to describe Apple is 'unapologetic'. They refuse to allow 30 years of laptop kludge into their designs, and I agree with them.

Re:It's sad actually (1)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022406)

Well said sir. And I say this again: I don't own an Apple computer, I have used them minimally/casually over the years, I have only typed on a Macbook Air once or twice in my life, and I have my own set of grudges against the iOS.

But you gotta hand it to those unapologetic Apple engineers, who refuse to let the generic reputation of computers troubled by years of silly mistakes speak for them.

If we'd be going to Mars, Apple would be taking us there without telling us to breathe and eat in turns and use the lavatory only when strictly necessary, while everyone else would be in the meeting room explaining it's not possible because it's too far away, there's the nastiest cosmic radiation, and it costs too much.

Re:It's sad actually (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022640)

For the price an Apple computer costs it SHOULD be good quality. Sadly just because something looks good quality doesn't mean it is. It's not hard to find a litany of faults which have affected MacBook computers over the years. Expanding batteries, cracked casings, yellowing casing, overheating CPUs, warping, MagSafe shorting and fires etc. It's not surprising in some respect because Apple do push the limits of industrial design. But what looks nice does not always equate into good build quality or reliability either.

Re:It's sad actually (2)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#37023126)

Funny. I recall reading a report a few months ago about shockingly poor build quality on the new wave of MacBooks. I seem to recall the soldering being described as "what an amateur would do in shop class" and "surprised that the thing even works without frying itself or the user".

Apple outsources to the same company pretty much everyone else does. Their designs may be better (debatable), but your build quality is going to be identical to any other laptop.

Re:It's sad actually (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37023256)

Go pick up a macbook air and tell me of ANY other notebook manufacturer that pays as much attention to build quality.

Asus.

Let's compare my 1st gen netbook to the 1st gen Macbook air.

The first gen macbook air had a chronic overheating problem. It solved this by underclocking the processor, making it very, very slow. OK, score 1 to Asus.

The first gen macbook air had a weak hinge and quite a few of them had to have replacement hinges fitted under warranty. Score 2 to Asus.

They insisted on shaving so much of the otherewise nice magsafe adapter that after a few years of use, the cable-casing attachment starts to delaminate. Score 3 to Asus.

OK, how about compaint it to the macbook pros. I used to work in a town at a rather high elevation (> 7000 feet). This is rather hard on cooling equipment. The circa 2006 MBPs would almost all suffer from fan-death witin 18 months. Other laptops fared better.

Prehaps I'm picking my battles to make a point, but Apple have certainly had serious produce flaws in the past, as has every manufacturer. Their pursuit of thinness above all forces them to make compromise in the robustness of the systems.

Their hardware is usually quite nice and generally well built. But to claim that they offer by far the best build quality is simply false.

Re:It's sad actually (2)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022308)

That's where you're wrong. You think you know what you're talking about but you don't. The innovation is not using different components, a child can do that with LEGO, doesn't mean they have innovated necessarily. Innovation lies within taking a different look on a thing everybody is looking at and producing a different product. It's producing things that seemingly come from fantasy alone that do their job, that do what people like and want. Innovation is when you ask the question "I thought this was not possible, how did they do that? Why doesn't everyone else do that?"

Like Apples patented magnetic power connector, like "unibody" aluminum cover, like backlit keyboard, like EFI/OFI instead of BIOS, like AirPort. And others.

There have been dozens of 13" PC models without an optical drive for several years now, none of them comes close to being as light and as thin as Macbook Air. And again, this is coming from a person who doesn't use Apples products, out of different reasons. Doesn't stop me from acknowledging the obvious.

Nobody prevents other manufacturers from striking darling contracts with Flash memory manufacturers and what not. Where there's will there's way. Instead they appear to be happily watching in mild jealosy as Apple sweeps customers off their feet time and again, growing with impatience until it runs out as they see their profits fall to the point it's obvious something has to be done about it. And they do. But it looks obvious - there's no denying it and no need to hide it - if it were the Olympics, we wouldn't be talking about them. Apple is the winner.

Heck, if Apple offered Macbooks with Windows preinstalled at Apple Store, it would wreak nothing short of a havoc in the bulky PC industry.

You have the logo issue the other way around. Indeed, people buy stuff with Apple logo on it - but it's because previously other people bought stuff with then unknown Apple logo on it and were pleasantly surprised and told their friends. Yes, that's why Macbook Air sells. Blame it on the logo.

Re:It's sad actually (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022384)

Apple isn't innovating anything. They've used the same components as most other PC notebooks since they went to x86 chips--commodity parts in a "designer" chassis

Since the Intel switch, Apple has worked closely with Intel. This is why for the last two generations of laptop chips, Apple got the entire production run for the first two months. They worked with Intel on ThunderBolt too, which is why Apple laptops are the only machines that let you plug a monitor cable in and have access to external disks, USB devices, or even a high-speed RAID array with one cable. They were the first company to ship laptops that could transparently switch between high-performance and low-power GPUs (not the first that could switch, but earlier ones required some manual intervention).

Re:It's sad actually (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022282)

I've got a Thinkpad and my only complaint is that it came bundled with Windows. Other than that, it's great hardware and beats the crap out of my mother's Atom based netbook. Personally, I was shocked to find out how much more the school paid for it than what I paid for my much more responsive Thinkpad.

Re:It's sad actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37022422)

As much as I like my Thinkpad, it often amazes me why if it's thin and light, has everything you need, then it has to run that iOS thing.

To be fair, I recently bought an Ideapad U460 (admittedly not a Thinkpad, but still rather nice) and it is quite thin and light.

aah, the market (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021602)

Ah, how beautiful it is to observe market space competition, falling prices relative to dollars, (which are also falling BTW.). Just how much would all and any of this cost to the end consumer if there was no inflation caused by government money printing? How much electronics would cost today without any government regulations, taxes, subsidies altogether I wonder? 100 bucks for a fully loaded top quality laptop? One can only dream of a world where there is more competition in everything else, from healthcare, to education, to insurance, to travel, to energy, to food, etc.etc. arrrgh.

Re:aah, the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021688)

100 bucks for a fully loaded top quality laptop?

Oh yes, please! That'll only take me a decade on my nickel-a-day wages to afford, life is so great!

Re:aah, the market (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021882)

early 19 hundreds before, before any income taxes and without any unions, Ford was paying his assembly line workers $5/day.

That's probably 50cents/hour, if they worked 10 hours, which I believe they did.

So that would be 25USD/week. At the price of gold of 20USD/troy ounce, that was 1.25 ounces of gold. At current prices for gold, that's over $2000/week.

That's 104000 USD/year and that's take home pay, no income taxes, no unions.

A standard 4-seat open tourer Ford Model T cost 850USD.

Of-course there were no income taxes, no SS, no Medicare, etc. People took care of their own needs by paying out of pocket, yet they had home staying wives and a bunch of children, who they had to provide education out of pocket for as well as medical attention. Still, they could do it and they were paid better than current workers, who are part of union and with all the labor laws that exist today as well.

Sure, at 100% savings it would have taken a worker 8.5 month of work to save for Model T. However if instead they saved only 2 salaries a year, it would have taken 4 years to buy a car out of pocket, and how many people are buying cars out of pocket today?

Re:aah, the market (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022428)

You might want to do some actual research. Ford was an exceedingly cheap man insisting that all parts manufacturers deliver parts in containers to his specifications so that he could reuse the packing crates as floor boards in his vehicles. Any wood that was spare afterwards was used to create charcoal under the Kingsford label.

Now as far as the wages go, your estimate is way off. There's no way that we could afford for our workers to be making $104k a year. The only reason why Ford could afford to pay that money was that he needed to keep employees from moving to other jobs. Ford was the originator of the basic principle of Kaizen and required the workers to stick around for the long haul to take advantage of that. Additionally, that was back before the 5 day work week. Which didn't occur until nearly the 40s.

As far as Ford goes, he hated unions and paid like that in an effort to keep the unions out as long as possible. You might want to do some research if you're going to post this sort of neoconservative bullshit here.

Re:aah, the market (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022562)

I don't understand what your point is at all. On one hand you are saying: Ford was 'forced' to pay this because of market pressure, because he needed his workers. On the other hand you are saying: no way he could afford to pay his workers $104K year.

I am not saying he was paying $104K a year, I am saying he was paying 1.25 ounces of gold a week, which in current prices is $104K/year, and that's take home pay, and that's at time when people were paying for everything out of pocket and saving for their retirement themselves, so prices for insurance as well as for healthcare and education were extremely low, very affordable, because there was no government money in it, as it is today.

Just in case you start with your nonsense again, here is some data from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage ($110 today), which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers.

Now, they are saying it's $110 today, but that's not counting real inflation, because dollars were gold/silver. 25USD at the time was enough to buy 1.25 ounces, which is equivalent to over 2000USD today [kitco.com] at 1700USD/ounce.

Ford announced his $5-per-day program on January 5, 1914, raising the minimum daily pay from $2.34 to $5 for qualifying workers. (Using the consumer price index, this was equivalent to $111.10 per day in 2008 dollars.) It also set a new, reduced workweek, although the details vary in different accounts. Ford and Crowther in 1922 described it as six 8-hour days, giving a 48-hour week,

In fact I was wrong, it wasn't 10 hour days, it was 8 hour days, 6 day weeks, and that's without any unions, and at the time income taxes were 1% and only for a limited number of wealthiest people.

So I don't know what is with "neoconservative bullshit here" comment, but your comment looks quite biased, flamebaiting and also wrong.

Re:aah, the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021938)

With no taxes at all eh? Yeah that would be awesome. Hopefully you live in a very large city, because if you live in a smaller town there wouldn't be any roads going to your home. And hence no stores where you could buy these fancy electronics, since without roads shipping goods there would be very expensive. I suppose we could pool our money and build our own roads and maintain them ourselves. Or we could all just live on corporate owned land at the designated locations Herr it is most economical for our employer to have us live. Yeah. That foes sound like a great idea...

Re:aah, the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021970)

yeah, I am not entering that type of a discussion again. [slashdot.org] This place can't take the truth, so never mind.

Fiberglass (1)

psergiu (67614) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021640)

Fiberglass cases ? Double-punishment if you drop your "Ultrabook":
- Fiberglass breaks easily;
- If will spread a fine cloud of fiberglass shards after the impact - breathe those and your lungs are fubar.

Re:Fiberglass (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021754)

Fiberglass cases ? Double-punishment if you drop your "Ultrabook":
- Fiberglass breaks easily;
- If will spread a fine cloud of fiberglass shards after the impact - breathe those and your lungs are fubar.

Well, duh, then a year after the fiberglass cased models are released we'll be "permitted" to "upgrade" to a "new plastic case" which fortunately only costs $200 more.

See coke, new coke, classic coke, repeat...

Re:Fiberglass (1)

smash (1351) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021764)

You haven't had much to do with fibreglass have you?

Re:Fiberglass (1)

psergiu (67614) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021908)

Not recently (i.e. the last 15 years).

If you know of any recent technology improvements made to fiberglass, please share them with us.
And remember, this is the cheap fiberglass+epoxy we are talking about, not carbon fiber or other stronger materials.

Thanks.

Re:Fiberglass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021804)

Such a creative thinker you are. You really think it is impossible to design a fiber glass alloy that doesn't have the properties you mention. We all know those aluminum chassis in use today afterall crumble just like an aluminum can...err. not.

Re:Fiberglass (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022204)

Im sure we have all seen a cracked Corvette body to get a good feel of how Fiberglass reacts to impact.

A cracked car body? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37023252)

I've seen the same with sheet metal on cars too. Ok, so that's more crumpling than cracking, still it's not exactly unintended, what with a car being far more replaceable than the important contents inside. They do break though. I've also seen it with current laptop case materials. So what?

Somehow I've managed without a Toughbook or a tank. It's not a common enough problem for me to invest in it when I can just avoid incidents. If something does happen, the economy from buying the cheaper laptop is probably worth more given how much computers evolve over time. Especially given the weight savings.

Not that it is impossible for some fiberglass composite to be better than the current choices, but that's a matter for the material engineers.

Fiberglass can't have alloys. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37022234)

Dummy! Only metals can have alloys. Fiberglass is entirely made up of non-metals.

Not componentized, not good (1)

water-and-sewer (612923) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021730)

Sorry to see this new form factor requires lots of pieces built into place instead of modulized or componentized. It means when your SSD goes bad or the network card fries you will have to replace the whole thing, or at least send it in to the manufacturer for replacement. The days of replacing the card or the drive are over. More potential avenues for profit for the manufacturer, but not so good for us measly consumers!

Re:Not componentized, not good (3, Insightful)

Alkonaut (604183) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021840)

The whole point of not making it modular is to make it smaller and cheaper. You can still buy a componentized notebook which has twice the thickness as these, or choose a product from this segment which is a lot thinner. You can probably buy an ultrathin componentized notebook as well if you want to, but you will have to shell out three times the money. I'm happy with soldered parts if the size and prize is right.

The old segment isn't going away because there are more air-clones, just like notebooks weren't replaced by netbooks. More product segments actually offers more choice which is usually good for us measly consumers!

Let me see if I get this straight... (1)

jbernardo (1014507) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021864)

Compared to a netbook, I can see following negatives at once: - A BOM that is twice (at least) of the one of a netbook; - Components soldered in place, so no upgrades and if one fries, you have to buy a whole new system; with the higher BOM, you're doubly screwed; - Fiberglass casing, so it breaks easily, and releases shards that ruin lungs; Positives: - Possible decent screen (11/12") in a small form factor; - Thinner. So, the only way I see to get this to sell is to discontinue netbooks... Not that it has almost happened, with the disappearance of Linux netbooks, and of SSD based ones; but now AMD is also in the game, and can sell netbook plaforms, so how can intel push this platform and discontinue Atom/netbooks?

Ultrabooks have Sparc processors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37021982)

Someone doesn't know history. Until a few years ago, Tadpole was making laptop versions of Sun workstations. They had Sparc processors in them, not x86. The concept was good, but the implementation was poor: they had rather crappy 1024x768 LCDs, lousy keyboards, and nonexistant battery life. It could have been a good product, but it was inexcusable to have those limitations in a $10k laptop.

Only SSD? (1)

hey (83763) | more than 3 years ago | (#37021990)

I need a few hundred gigs of disk space on a laptop. That'll still require a harddrive. Does that mean I can't use an Ultrabook ?

Re:Only SSD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37022694)

Put your porn on a server?

Pay more, get less ? (1)

Pop69 (700500) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022140)

Think I'll pass on this

The good ole BOM (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37022734)

so it takes 700 bucks to gather the materials, add in marketing, management, packaging, wholesale, retail + extended warranty and your going to have a total shit 3000$ laptop that wont be able to do anything cause its only burning off 15 watts out of a celphone battery

sounds fucking great

So Intel in cloning Macs now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37023214)

Funny, a spec to clon a MacBook Air. I think the PCs will cost the same as a Mac. But for 999$ the MBA will look far better.

Know what would be "ultra" to me? (1)

RanceJustice (2028040) | more than 3 years ago | (#37023248)

You know what would be an "ultra" book to me? A notebook using premium parts and the highest power/formfactor ratio around, that uses hardware compatible with Linux, ideally through documented firmware, open source firmware/drivers etc. The vast majority of laptops today, despite the upswing in laptop viability and explosion of the market (The idea of a moderately powered laptop under $3000 is easily attainable), seem to be designed extremely poorly, to "lowest common denominator" standards. Who are they designed for? Nearly all of the $1000+ and $2000+ niche offerings, clearly preferred by discriminating clientele with particular tastes, all seem to lack at least one "common sense" feature.

Take for instance "desktop replacements" and"gaming laptops". They're heavy, they're relatively powerful. Most of them are Clevo rebrands, or upjumped consumer crap like today's Alienware. However, they almost always have exactly zero "amenities". You've got an 8lb, 2inch thick monstrosity, but its only built out of of cheap plastic? You couldn't fit a backlit keyboard in there? You have the unmitigated gall to solder the processor in? You're using a low quality display? Unbelievable.

On the other end of the spectrum you have the "executoys", which are generally somewhere between ultralight MacBook Air and something like the Sony Z. Now, the Sony Z is actually one of the closest "Ultrabooks" I was looking at - awhile back it was the way to get a 1600x900 or 1920x1080 LED backlit high color gamut display, moderate graphics, and a Core i7-620 all crammed into 13" of aluminum and carbon fiber, with a backlit keyboard. Unfortunately, it was made so poorly and proprietary, keeping all the "Good options" for Japan only, you could easily spend $3000 for the "signature" edition and be stuck with some sort of crafty quad-SSD abomination that doesn't support TRIM (in Japan, you could include a normal HDD or secondary normal SSD if you didn't mind going without the BluRay burner). Even at all this, you have to use years old Sony NVIDIA drivers because even their binaries don't work...good luck if you don't use windows? Most other "Executoys" and ultralights are even worse, offering less power for exorbitant prices and narrow definitions under which their "power savings" are viable.

As much as I hate to admit it, the only two notebooks I see that even approach the "ultrabook" moniker at various times of their launching are the Mac Book Pro and HP Envy. They attempt to bring the most power into a reasonably small form factor, use high quality materials and add lots of little quality extras. Yes, you pay for it and I've no problem with that, save for the fact that I don't want to even give a cent to Apple idologically as I disagree with nearly every other item they sell on one level or another, and supporting HP, despite the very good fact that the Envy team is divorced from the typical crapfest, is still supporting HP and their spyware heavy, reliability light common notebooks. At the time, I found the Envy 14 the best compromise around ( Sadly, lacking USB3.0 for a reason I can't fathom, but the Radiance display is one of the best ever made on a notebook. That was the first thing they discontinued), but I would have liked a few more choices.

If Intel wants to bring people back onto purchasing powerful notebooks, then they ought to start with the high end who are willing to spend money on power and features. Start with the MacBook Pro, and do equal or better at a lower price. Yes, that means USB3, SATA6e,and Thunderbolt. Yes, that means highest end mobile i7 quads/hexes when available and AMD 6700-6900+ mobile graphics options (and get them ready sometime before the next gen of desktop cards is about to release for fuck's sake), backlit keyboards , metal chassis options, modular bays, and standard connectors. Use latest generation Li-Poly batteries, and systems like the HP Envy's "slice" battery to extend battery life without being unsightly or cumbersome. Use Apple's design weaknesses against them, put a damn door on the bottom for RAM sticks and make it 0.8mm thicker for modular part access. Hell, sit down with AMD and Nvidia and decide on a standard for modular notebook graphics, with no more than 3 size/compatibility tiers. Put an EFI on it that controls a majority of the features - don't leave it up to the OS to keep the damn thing from overheating or use some proprietary windows only software hook to change the color of the backlight keys (looking at you, Alienware). Someone, please think up the closest possible non-patented magnetic power adaptor that comes with a portable brick (and say, even offers a couple of USB3 powered ports for charging other devices.). Ensure hardware is at least quasi-Linux compliant and offer a distro or two alongside Windows. Stop making halfass devices and charging a fortune for them. Look at the best in the industry and do better and/or cheaper.

The laptop market has really piddled out as many users are getting shunted onto consumption-only, option-free devices like iPads that work "well enough" for their web needs and cost as much as a mid-grade laptop or high-end netbook. The remaining market for notebooks is near exclusively those that have a specific use in mind and who are willing to pay for quality, but constantly have to compromise despite the cash they're shelling out. That's your market for the future, not slightly upgraded low-grade notebook buyers.

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