Ultrabook vs MacBook (Part 2)

6/2/2012 3:16:05 PM

Ultrabook: What makes it?

We take a closer look at one of the first Ultrabooks to hit the shelves – the slender Asus Zenbook.

Description: The slender Asus Zenbook

The slender Asus Zenbook

Inside specifications: Current Ultrabooks like the Asus Zenbook use the latest Intel second generation Core processors (optimised for mobile use) SATA Revision 3.0 solid state drives (SSD), Bluetooth V4.0 and USB 3.0. Asus has also added USB Charger+ technology, which uses the powered USB 3.0 port to recharge portable devices in a fraction of the time it would normally take.

Displays: Ultrabooks include a new laptop power savings technology that limit screen refreshes when the screen is static, thereby saving energy. LG Display will be one of the first to produce a power-optimised panel self-refresh display for Ultrabook. LG is using its Shuriken Technology, which features an edge-to-edge design, a smaller footprint and low power requirements.

Audio: Ultrabooks don’t skimp on sound quality. Asus Zenbooks are equipped with Asus SonicMaster technology – a combination of hardware and software developed by the Asus Golden Ear team and Bang & Olufsen ICEpower. SonicMaster provides a wide sonic spectrum surround sound so you can enjoy your music, no matter what genre you prefer.

Thunderbolt: Thunderbolt is a high-speed dual-protocol I/O technology designed for performance, simplicity and flexibility. It enables high-speed storage, media capture devices and displays to all connect via a single thin cable. It will be included in future Ultrabooks.

Size: Intel dictates that Ultrabooks must be no more than 3mm thick at the front and ni more than 21mm at any point.

Instant-on from standby: Instant-on features resume the system in two seconds and deliver standby times of up to two weeks – four times more than the industry standard.

Battery life: Ultrabooks will offer five hours of battery life despite their sleek form factor, with some future systems delivering eight hours or more for all-day use.

Future processor: The 22nm third-generation Intel Core processors – codenamed Ivy Bridge – will deliver significant performance enhancements, power savings, and graphics and media improvements for Ultrabooks and PCs. Using a 20th of the power in connected standby mode, Intel’s Haswell processor is running in-house and is scheduled for release in 2013. It’s hoped that these power savings will help provide devices with over 10 days of connected standby battery life.

Death of the netbook

The recent arrival of sleek, powerful tablet computers and lightweight, high-end Ultrabooks means the future is looking rather bleak for the humble netbook. This is the opinion of Kas Yoshida, president of the Intel Japan, who told our sister website TechRadar and other technology journalists that the netbook form factor could well be on the way out,

Fresh from his keynote speech at the CEATEC 2011 electronics exhibition in Japan, Yoshida explained why he believes the chunkier portables are on the way out. ‘The netbook was a very interesting product because it enabled a lower price point, which helped expand the [PC] user base,’ he explained. ‘However, it did not grow as much as we expected. It turned out to be a low-end booster rather than a focus on usability.’

Not performing

Description: With the company focusing on the Ultrabook standard, Intel’s Kas Yoshida has questioned the future of the netbook form factor.

With the company focusing on the Ultrabook standard, Intel’s Kas Yoshida has questioned the future of the netbook form factor.

Speaking about the Japanese technology market specifically, Yoshida said there’s now much more of an interest in high performance luxury devices, rather than the no-frills, purely functional hardware offered by traditional netbooks.

He says the consumer market is now all about thin and light devices like Intel’s Ultrabook standard, and the performance and low lost offered by the company’s Core i3 and even i5 chips. ‘In Japan, 70 per cent [of chips shipped] are now the high-end processors. ‘Yoshida explained, ‘so the netbook wasn’t really reaching the performance we wanted. Then the i3 and i5 chips came along and the price was similar [to netbook processors], this shifted away the demand. They are still selling, but there is a definite shifting away.’

When we asked if we have seen the end of the netbook, Yoshida replied: ‘It’s hard to say whether the netbook is finished – price point is still very important with users.’

  •  Macbook Air vs. Ultrabook Platform (Part 2)
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  •  Tools for the job (Part 4) - Anatomy of a live CD
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  •  Tools for the job (Part 2) - Boot-repair-disk, Trinity Rescue Kit & PartedMagic
  •  Tools for the job (Part 1) - File Systems, Live CD and live USB distros
  •  Processor Group Test (Part 4) - Intel Core i5-2500K
  •  Processor Group Test (Part 3) - Intel Core i3-2100
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