How low can ultrabooks go? Toshiba drops to $699

Toshiba is setting a torrid pace for ultrabook pricing, now down to a head-turning $699.

Toshiba ultrabook is priced at $699 this week at Best Buy.
Toshiba ultrabook is priced at $699 this week at Best Buy. Best Buy

How low can ultrabooks go? How about $699.

Let there be no doubt that Toshiba is setting the pace for ultrabook pricing so far. After debuting at $799 last month, the Portege Z835 is now down to $699 at Best Buy.

"They have a $200 instant rebate this week that brings it down to $699. I think it's surprising. It could be to spur sales. It could be to get people's attention. But it's a smart move and by far the most affordable ultrabook option right now," said Deron Kershaw, an analyst at Gap Intelligence. (Note that the $799 price only lasted for about a week when Toshiba introduced the Z835 in November. For the most part, it's been priced at $899--thus the $200 discount.)

The only major rivals even close right now are Acer's Aspire S3, which is priced just under $900 at Best Buy, and Hewlett-Packard's Folio 13, priced at $899.99.

Ultrabooks, for the uninitiated, are ultralight Windows laptops that compete with the increasingly popular, and more expensive, MacBook Air.

An Intel display promoting ultrabooks at Office Depot.
An Intel display promoting ultrabooks at Office Depot. Gap Intelligence

Specifications for the Toshiba ultrabook include a 2nd Generation Intel Core i3-2367M processor, 4GB DDR3 memory, 13.3" LED-backlit display (1366x768), 128GB solid state drive, three USB ports including one USB 3.0, and backlit keyboard. The Z835 weighs 2.5 pounds, measures just 0.6 inches thick, and has magnesium alloy casework.

And Intel is doing its part to drive ultrabook sales, according to Kershaw. Promotional displays--referred to as "end caps"--have popped at Office Depot this week (see photo).

"It's different from the other displays that we've seen. It's pretty unique because it says 'Intel Inside' in huge letters at the bottom. So, my thinking is that it makes it easy to funnel in a few different products from different manufacturers and put them on the display," he said.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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