We’ve been hearing about cheaper ultrabooks ever since Intel begun pushing the category almost two years ago. The first wave of devices mostly failed to adhere to the proposed $1,000 price point, and while things have improved ever since, we’ve yet to see truly mainstream prices as promised by the company. Well, that’s expected to change in time for the holiday season with the arrival of Haswell-based models.
Speaking at the Intel Solutions Summit in Los Angeles, Intel executive Kirk Skaugen said next generation Ultrabooks will ship in time for the holiday shopping season with a starting price of $599.
Requirements as to what qualifies as an Ultrabook have changed over time, but the latest guidelines call for a thickness no greater than 18mm (for screens less than 14 inches) or 21mm (for screens larger than 14 inches), at least 5 hours of battery life, USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt and the inclusion of various Intel technologies.
Intel has previously said it expects the majority of Ultrabooks to have touchscreens before the end of 2013 but Skaugen’s comments suggest it will be a requirement for Haswell models. Other features you can expect to see according to the executive include faster solid state drives (SSDs), higher resolution displays, voice recognition, and "all-day" battery life -- just don’t expect all of this in the entry level models.
Back in 2011 Intel estimated Ultrabooks would account for 40% of the notebook market once prices hit the $600 price point. It remains to be seen whether that’ll be the case a year or so from now but so far the category has failed to make the big impact Intel was hoping for. Market research firm IHS iSuppli last fall slashed its 2013 forecast from 61 million units shipped to 44 million, noting that Ultrabooks are competing for business against tablets, not MacBook Airs, and therefore prices for the ultrathin notebooks needed to go down to around $600.