Move over Notebook, HP's to launch 'Ultrabook'!

HP is planning to release two "ultrabooks". Ultrabooks are a new category of ultra-thin notebooks.

Hewlett-Packard reportedly could be the first vendor to launch an ultrabook, beating out Asus for the title.

According to a report on the Taiwanese Website DigiTimes, HP could launch two or more models of ultrabooks before Asus comes out with its UX21 devices in September. Quoting sources at Taiwan-based suppliers for parts and components, DigiTimes said July 11 that the HP ultra-thin laptops will use Intels 1.8GHz Core i7-2677M and 1.7GHz Core i7-2637M dual-core processors.

The devices will be manufactured by Foxconn Electronics, which reportedly has begun shipping the ultrabooks to HP.

Ultrabooks are a new mobile PC concept first touted by Intel at the Computex show in May that calls for very thin and light devices. Ultrabooks, which would be less than 0.8 inches thick and cost less than $1,000, would offer the performance and capabilities of traditional notebooks and include features found in tablets, including high responsiveness and eventually touch-screens. They would be powered by Intel Core and Atom processors.

Intel executives are predicting fast adoption of the systems, with ultrabooks accounting for 40 percent of all notebooks shipped by the end of 2012.

Other OEMs have embraced the ultrabook idea. Asus Chairman Jonney Shih took to the stage at Computex with Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney to introduce his companys Core-based UX21, which is due out in two models in September.

LG Electronics and Lenovo also had ultrabooks on display at the show: LG showed off its P220, and Lenovo its IdeaPad U300S. Acer is planning an ultrabook release as well, with company President Jim Wong saying the new devices could revive a notebook market that is seeing continued strength in the commercial segment but weakened numbers among consumers, many of whom upgraded their systems last year when Microsoft released its Windows 7 operating system. In addition, consumers now also have the option of buying tablets rather than notebooks.

However, other OEMs reportedly are taking a more cautious approach to the ultrabook concept, having seen Intels CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) thin notebook idea in 2009 failing to gain traction in the market. Now they face greater competition in tablets. Some also are concerned about the high price of the ultrabooks and questioning whether they can come in below the $1,000 mark.

Many are waiting to see how Asus and other early proponents fare before jumping in.

Intel is doing its part. The giant chip maker in June unveiled three new Core processors aimed at the ultrabook segment. In addition, Intel reportedly is offering financial incentives to systems makers that offer ultrabooks.

Intel executives are hoping the financial incentives and a new marketing campaign will encourage top-tier PC OEMs to adopt the ultrabook idea.

Ultrabooks are seen not only as a way to help bolster the laptop market, which Intel dominates, but also as another way for the chip maker to gain a foothold in the highly competitive market for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, which is dominated by chips designed by ARM Holdings and manufactured by the likes of Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Samsung.

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