The MacBook Air of 2008 appeared around the same time as netbooks did. When it came into the scene, it was nothing like anyone had ever seen before. It was low powered, extremely expensive, and simply didn’t seem like a serious machine. Meanwhile, netbooks exploded in popularity, and was the de facto machine to get if you wanted extreme portability.
Apple, with their deep pockets and grand vision for the future of computing, stuck with the MacBook Air. And boy are we glad they did. Three years down the road, Apple basically controls every single step in the MacBook Air’s supply chain - including parts prices. When you are buying parts by the gazillions, and building millions of MacBook Airs, you will bring the price down to exactly where you want it to, and make a healthy profit at the same time.
So this is where we are at now. The current Ultrabooks are super-thin (less than 20mm) notebooks that use fairly powerful ultra-low voltage (ULV) second generation Intel Core i5 or i7 Sandy Bridge processor, and boast fast start-up times (think 20 seconds) thanks to the use of SSDs (solid state drives). Depending on screen sizes (11 or 13 inches) and other configurable hardware, prices range from US$1000.
So what are Ultrabooks then? And where do they fit in to the big picture? Well Ultrabooks are basically Windows based machines that have MacBook Air-like specs, and cost under US$1000. Yes that’s right, Ultrabooks are the cheaper, Windows versions of the MBA. Intel while working with Apple, saw how lucrative ultra thin notebooks can be, now wants other manufacturers to join in the fun. If it catches on with Windows products, Intel can effectively sell even more processors. This is of course the real reason behind creating an enticing new notebook segment, which as a byproduct, is improving our expectations of a notebook. This is Intel's expectation of Ultrabooks:-