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Intel Says Plastic Ultrabooks Could Reach $599 This Year

By - Source: Focus Taiwan | B 44 comments

Intel Taiwan’s country manager Jason Chen said Ultrabooks will dip down to $599 USD later this year by sporting a plastic-aluminum chassis rather than the typical metal frame.

Intel Taiwan’s country manager Jason Chen told the press during an event on Wednesday that new Ultrabooks will likely dip down to $599 USD in the second half of this year by using cheaper materials. Currently Ultrabooks tend to price around $750 and more, and only dip into the lower range when they go on sale.

While speaking with the press on the sidelines, Chen said that one solution to reduce the price will be to use a mixed plastic/aluminum chassis instead of one made of metal. Given that many laptops on the market are already based on plastic frames, it's a wonder Ultrabook makers haven't already taken this route on a whole, ditching the more-expensive metal option. But the issue is obviously sturdiness -- the thinner the device becomes, the harder the chassis will need to be, hence the typical metal frame which is seven to ten times stiffer than plastic.

But Intel is pushing to use a special type of plastic which has been structurally optimized to be nearly as sturdy and almost just as attractive. A slide released weeks ago during IDF 2012 suggests that Intel also wants to build systems with high volume injection mold tooling, use existing materials, and create a good quality yet rigid feel while demonstrating a stiffness equal to a metal chassis.

Ultrabooks are also expected to feature hybrid storage solutions as seen with the Acer Aspire S3 and other Ultrabook models. This solution contains a small SDD for the operating system and cache, and a large HDD for everything else. As an example Acer's Ultrabook sports a 20 GB SSD and a 320 GB HDD, and costs around $779 USD; the pricier Asus Zenbook UX31 features only a 128 GB SSD and is priced around $1100.

Chen said that because of the potential price drop, Ultrabook sales are expected to reach 30 to 40-percent of global notebook shipments in 2012. Mainstream prices will probably reside at the $699 price point while low-end models will sport the $599 tag. Consumers may even see cheaper prices once the 1st-generation Ultrabooks go on sale to make room for the next wave.

With Windows 8 slated to arrive this fall, Ultrabook manufacturers may be forced to rely on the cheaper plastic/aluminum chassis in order to incorporate touch screens and still keep the devices within Intel's sub-$1000 realm. Currently there's speculation that manufacturers will have to cut corners somewhere due to the price of touch screens anyway, and the chassis will likely be the first to be altered. This is why Intel and Microsoft are working on various prototypes: to create a quality touch-based product while keeping the price tag reasonable.

Chen confirmed that new models will arrive by the third or fourth quarter sporting touch screens and gesture sensors. Asus has already said that it plans to roll out a number of new Ultrabooks priced from $799 to $1,999 starting in the April-June period.

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  • 19 Hide
    whyso , May 4, 2012 1:21 AM
    I don't know about you but I will not be getting an ultrabook, still too expensive for not enough performance (no decent GPU).

    Intel, if you really want to reduce the price, sell your CPU's CHEAPER!
Other Comments
  • 19 Hide
    whyso , May 4, 2012 1:21 AM
    I don't know about you but I will not be getting an ultrabook, still too expensive for not enough performance (no decent GPU).

    Intel, if you really want to reduce the price, sell your CPU's CHEAPER!
  • 3 Hide
    bystander , May 4, 2012 1:28 AM
    I personally do not know how much profit Intel actually makes, as they don't ship their manufacturing over seas, the may not be making the profits you might think (of course I have no idea what they make).

    Even if they do make huge profits, I'm not sure it would be good for all of us if Intel sold their CPU's as cheap as they could. They'd force AMD to lower their prices even cheaper than Intel due to their performance woes. That could hurt AMD and run them out of business, and that would not benefit us in the long run.
  • 1 Hide
    Parsian , May 4, 2012 1:35 AM
    they need to create a different category. The ultrabook should stick with ALU or metal frame. From marketing point of view, it is a luxury laptop. Introduce a new category, similar in hardware but cheaper due to material used...
  • 0 Hide
    atikkur , May 4, 2012 1:36 AM
    really? that's big achievement.
  • 0 Hide
    bennaye , May 4, 2012 2:04 AM
    bystanderI personally do not know how much profit Intel actually makes, as they don't ship their manufacturing over seas, the may not be making the profits you might think (of course I have no idea what they make).Even if they do make huge profits, I'm not sure it would be good for all of us if Intel sold their CPU's as cheap as they could. They'd force AMD to lower their prices even cheaper than Intel due to their performance woes. That could hurt AMD and run them out of business, and that would not benefit us in the long run.


    soooo...good guy intel?
  • 6 Hide
    spasmolytic46 , May 4, 2012 2:06 AM
    Change an aluminum frame to a plastic & aluminum frame and save $50 to $150? My beer cans must be worth far more than a nickel...
  • -2 Hide
    spasmolytic46 , May 4, 2012 2:07 AM
    Change an aluminum frame to a plastic & aluminum frame and save 50 to $150? My beer cans must be worth more than a nickel.
  • 2 Hide
    spasmolytic46 , May 4, 2012 2:08 AM
    Sorry for the multiple posts...
  • 1 Hide
    Thunderfox , May 4, 2012 2:09 AM
    And touch screens will become the norm, because Microsoft said so, despite the fact that they suck and are completely unnecessary on a machine with a keyboard.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 4, 2012 2:11 AM
    re:bystander 05/04/2012 3:28 AM
    Even if they do make huge profits, I'm not sure it would be good for all of us if Intel sold their CPU's as cheap as they could. They'd force AMD to lower their prices even cheaper than Intel due to their performance woes. That could hurt AMD and run them out of business, and that would not benefit us in the long run.

    most of my xeon cpu are made in malaysia.
    fixed.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 4, 2012 2:15 AM
    re: bystander 05/04/2012 3:28 AM
    Even if they do make huge profits, I'm not sure it would be good for all of us if Intel sold their CPU's as cheap as they could. They'd force AMD to lower their prices even cheaper than Intel due to their performance woes. That could hurt AMD and run them out of business, and that would not benefit us in the long run.

    most of xeon cpu are made in malaysia. there is no patriotism but only business. and is the biggest reason why china screw all us up.
  • 4 Hide
    halcyon , May 4, 2012 2:19 AM
    One of the things I really like about Ultrabooks is that Al/metal chassis. Asus' Ultrabooks are dead sexy..they look as good as the MacBook Air. Plastic instead? No thanks, I'd pay the premium. They should call the plastic version something different..."EconomyBooks".
  • 3 Hide
    bystander , May 4, 2012 2:21 AM
    bennayesoooo...good guy intel?

    I don't see them as bad guys. They sell at a reasonable price, right in line with what AMD does for the performance...except for the occasional extreme CPU, which is marked up into the ridiculous. I suppose those over the top chips are for bragging rights.
  • -2 Hide
    bystander , May 4, 2012 2:26 AM
    notture34321re: bystander 05/04/2012 3:28 AMEven if they do make huge profits, I'm not sure it would be good for all of us if Intel sold their CPU's as cheap as they could. They'd force AMD to lower their prices even cheaper than Intel due to their performance woes. That could hurt AMD and run them out of business, and that would not benefit us in the long run.most of xeon cpu are made in malaysia. there is no patriotism but only business. and is the biggest reason why china screw all us up.

    I'm not sure about the Malaysia plant you are referring to, but I may have misspoken. Most their plants are in the USA. But they do have 3 plants outside the USA as well.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_manufacturing_sites

    Edit: I see what you were referring to. There are assembly/test sites in Malaysia. Most the Fab sites are in the USA.
  • 4 Hide
    sixdegree , May 4, 2012 2:33 AM
    I'll wait for the all plastic model that cost $299.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 4, 2012 2:37 AM
    As always, different strokes for different folks Whyso. It's the HD graphics http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-HD-Graphics-4000-Benchmarked.73567.0.html that actually have me interested in ultrabooks. The GPU performance is top of the line for mobile until Trinity comes, BUT I don't have to sacrafice my CPU performance at all (like I would with a netbook) AND I get the long battery life I covet. Those of us who travel appreciate long battery life and this will make a perfect travel notebook.

    My issue with the ultrabook is the 4 GB standardized memory footprint. I am definitely not cool with that and the memory iss oldered on so no upgrades. I hope they make some with 8 GB because I definitely won't be buying them with 4. I would be plenty happy with a ultrabook that came with thunderbolt, a mSATA 40 GB, 500-7500 7k rpm HDD, 8 GB, and gave me 8 hours of battery life. I would be willing to fork out $1k for that just due to how useful the device would be.
  • -2 Hide
    boiler1990 , May 4, 2012 3:13 AM
    bystanderI personally do not know how much profit Intel actually makes, as they don't ship their manufacturing over seas, the may not be making the profits you might think (of course I have no idea what they make).Even if they do make huge profits, I'm not sure it would be good for all of us if Intel sold their CPU's as cheap as they could.


    It wouldn't hurt Intel to drop prices at all. Since they fab in low-tax states like AZ, their costs are most likely close to what it costs to fab in Asia (even Apple said that labor costs aren't very significant in the overall price of a product). Intel has such a strong grip on the PC industry that it can force companies to pay them $XXX for their products (like Apple does with carriers).
  • 0 Hide
    bystander , May 4, 2012 4:47 AM
    boiler1990It wouldn't hurt Intel to drop prices at all. Since they fab in low-tax states like AZ, their costs are most likely close to what it costs to fab in Asia (even Apple said that labor costs aren't very significant in the overall price of a product). Intel has such a strong grip on the PC industry that it can force companies to pay them $XXX for their products (like Apple does with carriers).

    It is easy to assume things, but do you have an evidence that they are raking in a high percentage of profits?
  • 0 Hide
    frostyfireball , May 4, 2012 4:49 AM
    A 600$ Ultrabook as they are describing is essentially what we've had for years, known as ultraportables or thin and lights. That's gonna dilute and devalue the term considerably IMO, ruining the idea that these were supposed to be very luxurious and semi-expensive machines.
  • 2 Hide
    Zingam_Duo , May 4, 2012 5:56 AM
    How about paper ultrabooks for $99?
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