Ultrabooks DOA

In 2012, the very definition of the term "ultrabook" became increasingly vague. And the hope that this nebulous category would give the PC industry a much-needed boost did not come to fruition.

Intel's "ultrabook" campaign was born in 2011, ostensibly to bring Apple-style sex appeal to stodgy PC laptops. No longer would Windows laptops look like embarrassing, blocky throwbacks. Instead, you'd get ultrathin design, light weight, and solid performance -- basically, a Windows machine with the same design chops as the MacBook Air.

That was the plan, anyway. As the ultrabook train rolled into 2012, its very definition became increasingly vague -- small screen sizes and flash storage were no longer "must-haves," which pretty much stretched the definition of "ultrabook" to "almost any reasonably attractive Windows laptop."

Combine that with a transition to Windows 8 -- more marketplace confusion as to myriad laptop formats and choices -- and a consumer move to tablets as the go-to gadget of choice, and it's no surprise to hear that ultrabooks just weren't the spark to rekindle PC sales in 2012. Look for the industry to try more-ambitious form factors in 2013, further blurring the line between laptops and tablets -- and likely leaving the term "ultrabook" in the rearview mirror.

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About the author

John P. Falcone is the executive editor of CNET Reviews, where he coordinates a group of more than 20 editors and writers based in New York and San Francisco as they cover the latest and greatest products in consumer technology. He's been a CNET editor since 2003.


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