60-Second Tech

PC-Makers Bet On Ultrabooks

With tablets all the rage, non-Apple computer manufacturers are banking on the latest small-laptop style: ultrabooks. Larry Greenemeier reports

You're not likely to hear much about laptops at the International Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas. Or even netbooks. It's all about ultrabooks now. "Ultrabook" is technically an Intel trademark, but it's being used to describe a class of thin, lightweight portable computers that have evolved to save PCs from extinction.

What makes an ultrabook? They're typically less than 20 millimeters thick, weigh less than a kilogram and a half, have no optical drive and use an Intel processor. (Apple's iPad uses a processor made by ARM.) Microsoft is hoping all these gadgets will run its new Windows 8 operating system, too.

Apple was the first to market, releasing its MacBook Air in January 2008. Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba helped launch the ultrabook market last year. At CES look for Acer, Dell, Lenovo and others to join the party.

Apple's latest iPad is likely just a few months away from being released and Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet is off to a successful start. That leaves PC-, I mean ultrabook-makers, a small time window in which to make a big impression.

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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