Ultrabooks have arrived. Yet, for many, 2012 will be the first year they seriously consider buying one. If they're the future of laptops, then they have a long way to go before they become what people want in the present.
From one perspective, ultrabooks and the MacBook Air are the most exciting laptops to come around the pike in a long while. From another perspective, they're the sort of laptops that provide the least amount of computing value for the dollar, and are precisely the sort of fancy gadgets that cash-strapped holiday buyers will skip for better deals. After all, computers are commodity devices, right?
Well, yes and no. The iPad and the Kindle Fire have quickly shown that stylish, fun devices can quickly trump beefy specs, although in both cases they're relatively affordable buys. A friend of mine who recently e-mailed me summarizes the ultrabook situation perfectly:
"From my Luddite perspective, it's completely invigorated the laptop market for consumers just when everyone was beginning to crank out the same old 5-pound, 15.6-inch, DVD/Webcam, dual-core whatever machine."
He argued that the size and weight of these laptops are far more important than performance, gaining a family acceptance factor that trumps an ability, for instance, to play PC games with higher-end graphics.
I've had a hard time recommending ultrabooks for everyone, though. While they're getting awfully close to being the "laptop for everybody" that Apple's MacBook Air is currently gunning to be, a few key improvements still need to happen in 2012. As we look ahead to the Consumer Electronics Show, where new laptop announcements are a common occurrence (stunningly enough, CES is less than six weeks away), this is what I hope happens to make ultrabooks more relevant. … Read more