HP ultrabook prices sink, widening gap with MacBook Air

Ultrabooks are already priced fairly aggressively against the MacBook Air at some retailers.

HP Folio 13 ultrabook is now $798 at Best Buy.
HP Folio 13 ultrabook is now $798 at Best Buy. Hewlett-Packard
Just-announced HP EliteBook Folio. But this model will ship later in the year.
Just-announced HP EliteBook Folio. But this model will ship later in the year. CNET

Best Buy has kicked Hewlett-Packard's Folio ultrabook down to a new low of $798. This is happening as HP announces new competitively priced ultrabooks and as rumors about a $799 MacBook Air swirl.

The HP Folio 13 (model 13-1035nr) is now priced at $797.77 at Best Buy. That includes a "Sandy Bridge" 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor; a 13.3-inch display, 4GB of memory, and a 128GB solid state drive. (More specs here .)

"This is a new low and an aggressive price for the HP Core i5 configuration," said Deron Kershaw, an analyst at Gap Intelligence, which tracks laptop pricing at retail stores. Ultrabooks are thin, light laptops that compete with the MacBook Air.

HP also announced a bevy of new ultrabooks on Wednesday, some priced as low as $749. These will pack both Sandy Bridge and newer Ivy Bridge chips.

Just-announced 13-inch Envy Spectre XT Just-announced 13-inch Envy Spectre XT starts at about $1,000
Just-announced 13-inch Envy Spectre XT starts at about $1,000 CNET

The Envy Spectre XT is a 13-inch version of the existing Spectre 14. HP also rolled out 14- and 15.6-inch Envy ultrabooks, larger cousins to the Spectre XT. "The most impressive part of these new ultrabooks is their price: outfitted with second- and third-gen Intel Ivy Bridge processors, the 14-inch Envy Ultrabook will start at $749, while the 15.6-inch version will start at $799," according to a post by CNET's Scott Stein.

Included in those configurations will be a 1,366x768-pixel-resolution display (in both screen sizes), 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive with 32GB of SSD cache. Ports include two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, and an SD card slot.

In response to this new ultrabook roll out, Best Buy is also getting aggressive with HP's existing glass-encased 14-inch Envy Spectre (model 14-3010NR). That has come down off its $1,399 perch to $1,283 as of Tuesday evening. (More specs here .)

Note that Best Buy prices change frequently, so it's not clear how long these discounts will last. But the Toshiba Portege Z835 ultrabook pricing may be instructive: that bounces around between $899.99 and $799.99 at Best Buy, depending on the week.

Whatever the case, even the Folio 13's standard price of $899.99 is already well below the MacBook Air -- pricing that follows the conventional wisdom that Windows 7-based ultrabooks need to be substantially less than Apple's MacBook Air to gain traction in the market.

That does seem to be happening. At least at Best Buy. Despite being on sale at the retailer for $1,209.99 -- well below the regular price of $1,299.99 --the 13.3-inch MacBook Air is still about $400 more than the on-sale Folio 13.

The Air also comes with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory, and 128GB SSD. (More specs here.)

HP Folio 13 and HP Spectre 14 ultrabook pricing as of Tuesday May 8.
HP Folio 13 and HP Spectre 14 ultrabook pricing as of Tuesday, May 8. Best Buy

Updated on May 9 at 1:00 a.m. PDT throughout.

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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