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Understanding Ultrabooks

In fact, Intel expects ultrabooks to occupy around 40% of the total laptops launched in 2012. We conversed with Karen Regis, Intel’s Director of Ultrabook Marketing Strategy, to get insights about the big picture.

Following excerpts from our interview:

1) Laptops vs netbooks vs ultrabooks — what’s the difference between them?

There are many types of mobile devices for consumers these days, and it’s important for buyers to understand the differences between them to make sure they choose the right device for their needs. Netbooks are great for content consumption and light productivity and offer the most affordable price points. Ultrabooks are for users looking for a full PC experience in an ultra sleek, ultra stylish design. They have the horsepower for just about any productivity task, but also provide great battery life, the ability to wake up in a flash and built-in security – all at mainstream system price points.

2) In many ways, the netbook segment was a much bigger breakthrough (from a technical perspective) than all the hype surrounding ultrabooks, which is just natural evolution of laptops. Would you agree that the term ultrabook is a marketing gimmick?

Intel expects Ultrabook devices to be as transformational to mobile computing as Intel Centrino Mobile technology was more than eight years ago. Remember, Intel’s vision for the Ultrabook entails a multi-year, industry-wide endeavor that will roll out in phases with new experiences and features added over time. It’s about driving innovation and integrating capabilities that users want and may not even know yet that they need – much like Centrino helped make Wi-Fi a must-have in laptops. Some of the nearer term innovations we expect to see include hybrid devices (both tablet and laptop functionality) as well as technologies like touch and sensors. Intel is committed to the Ultrabook category, and we’re seeing very strong support from our partners as well.

3) This is the first time since 2003 and Centrino chips that Intel is promoting a product such aggressively in the market. Why are ultrabooks so important? How do they feature in Intel’s roadmap?

Yes, on April 4, we announced our new Ultrabook marketing campaign, Intel’s largest in nearly a decade. The global campaign theme is how Intel-inspired Ultrabooks are ushering in “a new era of computing” – making everything else seem like ancient history/old fashioned compared to an Ultrabook.

The creation of the Ultrabook category was shaped by extensive user research and reflects what users value most in a mobile device – a no-compromise, most complete, satisfying and more secure computing experience. We are very excited about this category and are looking ahead to our Ivy Bridge and Haswell platforms to continue to evolve and bring new capabilities to Ultrabook devices in the next several years.

4) How do you respond to the criticism that the ultrabook is a desperate attempt to rekindle excitement among laptops, more importantly among consumers more keen on buying a tablet?

Worldwide PC unit shipments continue to grow at double-digit rates. This is one of the reasons for Intel’s recent record revenues and earnings. We believe that PCs will continue to play a key role in people’s personal computing needs.

At the same time, people have rapidly evolving requirements for personal computing in terms of responsiveness, capabilities, increased security and mobility. Intel aims to help drive these changes. Whether it’s a tablet, PC, Ultrabook or hybrids we aim to deliver great experiences that satisfy people’s needs, no matter what the device.

5) Is an ultrabook a poor man’s MacBook Air?

Intel’s vision for Ultrabook devices entails a multi-year, industry-wide endeavor that will roll out in phases where new experiences and features will be added over time. Intel aims with the Ultrabook category to deliver new experiences that people want and will love. Devices coming in the future will blend the best of the laptop experience with aspects of other consumer electronic devices.

7) We’ve tested majority of the ultrabooks so far and they all offer close to 5 hours of battery life on a single charge. How has Intel managed to do this — make thin ultrabooks last longer than fatter laptops with bigger and better batteries?

Great battery life is one of the requirements to be called an Ultrabook. Ultrabook devices offer at least 5 hours of battery life with many providing 8 hours or more, even in the sleekest form factors. In general, we expect to see greater use of Lithium polymer batteries (such as are used in phones) in Ultrabook devices. Intel is focused on driving innovations in battery design and technology in the industry to continually improve the user experience in terms of ever better battery life in ever more attractive designs. This is one of the focus areas of the Ultrabook Fund (read more here).

8) Regarding OEMs and various partners, is Intel laying down minimum specifications for ultrabooks to ensure a standard benchmark for end user experience?

Intel works closely with its industry partners to ensure that Ultrabook devices consistently deliver a compelling and unique value proposition to customers. In order for a system to be classified as an Ultrabook and use the Ultrabook trademark, a certain set of guidelines must be followed. The guidelines may evolve over time as new capabilities come to market. A verification process is in place to help ensure the consistent and outstanding experience we aim to deliver.

9) What are some of the main challenges that may hinder ultrabooks from completely dominating the personal computing market?

We’re thrilled with the reception to Ultrabook devices so far. There’s already been a lot of enthusiasm around the category. We believe there will continue to be a spectrum of types of products with different capabilities and features that meet consumers’ varying needs. There will always be users, though, who are looking for companion devices, like a netbook, to complement their Ultrabook or laptop. There are also those who value certain features more. For example, a gamer may want a desktop system with maximum performance. Or a road warrior may value weight and size as the top feature. We value choice and a spectrum of options for all types of users.

10) This year marks Intel’s first steps into the tablet and smartphone market with Medfield chips. How important is this market to Intel and how does it affect sales of ultrabooks?

I’m not the right person to comment on Medfield, but what I can tell you is that whether it’s a tablet, PC, phone or Ultrabook Intel aims to deliver great experiences that satisfy people’s needs, no matter what the device.

12) How committed is Intel to the future of ultrabooks beyond the upcoming Ivy Bridge architecture?

Intel’s vision for Ultrabook devices entails a multi-year, industry-wide endeavor that will roll out in phases where new experiences and features will be added over time:

A) Intel’s latest Ultra-Low Voltage 2nd generation Intel Core processors started the transition to Ultrabook systems by enabling a new class of thin, light, beautiful designs with mainstream price points. Many systems are available today.

B) 3rd generation Intel Core processors (codenamed “Ivy Bridge”), Intel’s next generation chip, is scheduled for availability very soon. Ultrabook systems based on this new family of processors will bring improved power efficiency, smart visual performance, increased responsiveness and enhanced security. Complimentary USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt technologies are also part of Intel’s ongoing work to drive the PC platform forward.

C) “Haswell” is the third step toward accelerating the category of Ultrabook devices. With “Haswell,” Intel will change the mainstream laptop thermal design point by reducing microprocessor power to 10-20 watts – half of today’s design point.

All answers attributed to Karen Regis, Intel’s Director of Ultrabook Marketing Strategy.

Thanks to : Thinkdigit

MacBook Air: Outperforms Most Windows Netbooks and Ultraportables



We already know the 2010 MacBook Air models significantly improve on the previous generation in overall performance, but how do they stack up against Windows 7 laptops of similar size? Judged solely on performance, they dominate. With Windows 7 running on Apple’s featherweight machines, our test results indicate that the new Airs ran faster than all but one recent netbook or ultraportable from Windows PC vendors.

The PCWorld Labs team used Apple’s Boot Camp application to load Windows 7 on new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models. Then we benchmarked them using our WorldBench 6 test suite and using the games Call of Duty 4 and DiRT 2. The result: For their size, the Airs are hard to beat on raw performance. Their battery life is relatively anemic, however, especially when compared to netbooks. And–no surprise–they carry a significant price premium.

The 11-Inch MacBook Air: Floats Like a Netbook, Stings Like an Ultraportable

First we tested a high-end 11-inch MacBook Air packing a 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, 128GB of flash storage and an Nvidia GeForce 320M integrated graphics chipset. We purchased our test unit for $1199, a much higher price than most Windows netbooks fetch. But in light of the size similarities, we compared it with some of the top-scoring Windows netbooks of 2010.

Our WorldBench 6 software runs systems through a timed gantlet of popular consumer applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Mozilla Firefox, compiles the results, and spits out an overall score. The 11-inch Air earned a WorldBench 6 score of 74, very impressive given that the average WorldBench 6 score of the netbooks we’ve tested recently is 45.

Netbook WorldBench 6 Scores

Even more impressive was the 11-inch Air’s performance in our gaming tests: Most netbooks can’t run 3D games like DiRT 2 and Call of Duty 4 at all, but the Air managed to sustain a frame rate of 23 frames per second while running COD4 at 1024 by 768 resolution and high graphic settings; much of the credit probably should go to the Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics card, which comes standard in every Air model.

Unfortunately the Air’s integrated battery performed with far less distinction. The 11-inch Air lasted almost 4 hours before the battery gave out, whereas the average battery life of recent Windows netbooks is 6.5 hours and of course some do a lot better than that. The 10.6-inch Gateway LT2118u netbook, for instance, lasts nearly 11 hours on a single battery charge.

The MacBook Airs cost considerably more than most Windows netbooks. The Gateway LT2118u, for instance, costs just $350–less than a third of what the 11-inch Air we tested costs. And both the $400 Asus Eee PC 1015PED and the $600 HP Mini 5103 lagged only a few points behind the Air in our performance tests, yet both of these 10.1-inch netbooks are priced at less than half what you’d pay for an 11-inch Air.

The 13-Inch MacBook Air: A Competitive Portable Performance Machine

The 13-inch MacBook Air we tested came equipped with a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, 128GB of flash storage and the Nvidia GeForce 320M. We ended up paying $1299 for the machine. The 13-inch Air easily outpaced the original MacBook Air (which we tested in 2008) on our WorldBench 6 tests: 90 to 57. The new 13-inch Air also compares very favorably with contemporary ultraportable laptops, which have an average WorldBench 6 score of 74. In fact, among our top 10 ultraportable laptops only the Asus U33jc outperforms the 13-inch Air, speeding to a mark of 103.

Ultraportable WorldBench 6 Scores

In our gaming tests, the 13-inch Air turned in a solid frame rate of 25 fps while running Call of Duty 4 on high settings at a screen resolution of 1024 by 768. In contrast, the $999 Asus U33jc topped out at 20.4 fps in CoD4 under the same conditions, and the gaming-focused Alienware MX11 ultraportable ($1299) holds the top spot with an average frame rate of 41.8 fps.

PC users are conditioned to accept poor battery life on larger laptops as the price of bigger screens and beefier components, but the 2010 MacBook Air line bucks this trend: The larger 13-inch Air boasts a bigger battery and better power performance than its 11-inch sibling. The 13-inch Air lasted 5 hours on a full charge under laboratory conditions, close to the 5.5 hour average of other ultraportable laptops. In fact the 13-inch Air lasted longer than either the $500 Dell Latitude 13 or the $600 Inspiron M101z while outperforming both by a wide margin.

Such competitive performance makes the new 13-inch Air an excellent choice for anyone seeking a lightweight MacBook to tote in a backpack. Of course, consumers who aren’t married to the Apple aesthetic can secure a machine with comparable performance for a lot less: The slightly more powerful Asus U33jc costs $999, and the slightly less powerful Lenovo ThinkPad Edge runs $799.

If you’re undaunted by the Air’s price tag, don’t ignore some design idiosyncrasies that might get in your way. The Air has neither an optical drive nor an ethernet port, presumably so that Apple could keep their machine as slim and light as possible. An ethernet port is standard on Windows laptops; and though the lack of an optical drive isn’t unusual in a small notebook these days, many ultraportables do have them. Still, if you’re comfortable with working over Wi-Fi and with spending a grand or more on a thin, light notebook, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that outperforms the MacBook Air.

MSI unveils 17-inch laptops Superior Multimedia Performance, Stylish Looks MSI FX700/FR700

Micro-Star International (MSI) has expanded its laptop lineup with the addition of FX700 and FR700 notebooks. Featuring Intel Core i5 processor, FX700 and FR700 come with MSI’s TDE Turbo technology.  

Both laptops come with 17.3 inch LED display, with anti-scratch and anti-smudge shells.

The laptops come in 320GB, 500GB and 640GB storage capacities preinstalled with Windows 7 Home Premium edition. While FX700 is equipped with Nvidia GeForce GT 425M (1GB) graphics, FR700 has Intel graphics solution.  FX700 also has Creative’s THX cinema-class wrap around sound technology.

The laptops also includes a standard DVD drive, HDMI/VGA outputs, two USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, 5-in-1 card reader, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, 720p HD webcam, multipoint touchpad and a six-cell battery.

Both MSI FX700 and FR700 feature MSI’s Cinema Pro technology.

The MSI FX700 and FR700 feature MSI’s own anti-scratch, anti-smudge raised totem seal coating, Intel’s powerful Core i5 processor, and MSI’s TDE Turbo Boost technology for mobile computing platforms boasting the ultimate in style and performance.

Taipei—MSI’s all-new 17.3-inch FX700 and FR700 notebook computers with soft contours and gentle lines stand out from the crowd. In addition to chrome trim around the speakers, these laptops come with chiclet keyboards that offer a unique feel, raised multipoint touchpad, and a hot key zone with a brush metal finish. The FX700 and FR700 are also sheathed in MSI’s own anti-scratch, anti-smudge raised totem seal coating technology, putting them in a class all their own.

MSI Marketing Director Sam Chern adds that the beneath their chic exteriors, the FX700 and FR700 pack muscle. Under the hood, they pack the powerful Intel Core i5 processor and MSI’s TDE turbo technology. The FX700 comes with a discrete graphics card and MSI GPU Boost technology to greatly enhance system and multimedia performance as well as THX’ high-end cinema-class wrap around sound. MSI worked closely with world-renowned sound system and recording equipment designer Dynaudio to incorporate high quality sound technology into laptops to design mobile computing platforms featuring stylish exteriors and exceptional multimedia performance.

Stylishly refined
Perfect marriage of style and craftsmanship: The FX700 and FR700 laptops are proof that MSI continues to insist on the best. Their jet black covers are sheathed in non-peeling raised totem seal coating to prevent scratching and smudging. The centers of the covers are graced with MSI’s glowing platinum logo and the wrist rest areas with a soft raised diamond coating that not only soothes hands, but adds an extra touch of class. Precision technology: Every detail of the FX700 and FR700 was meticulously crafted by MSI’s design team. The power button is encircled by chrome which blends wonderfully with the cold, luminescent blue lights above the keyboard. The unassuming platinum trim around the speakers and body as well as the unmatched chiclet keyboard with its solid touch, raised multipoint touchpad, and the brush finish of the hotkey zone further underscore the taste and class of these two chic machines.

Turbo at the touch of a finger
Intel Core i5 processor: The FX700 and FR700 come with Intel’s powerful and energy-sipping Core i5 processor with Intel Turbo Boost and Intel® Hyper-Threading technology with dynamic adaptive performance to handle more data and vastly increase overall system performance.

TDE technology: The FX700 and FR700 pack MSI’s TDE (Turbo Drive Engine technology). A touch of the mirror finish P1 hot key above the keyboard instantly throttles up system performance, so that your computer doesn’t bog down when it’s processing big load applications.

GPU Boost technology: The MSI FX700 comes with the nVidia GeForce GT 425M discrete graphics card with 1GB GDDR3 of display memory for high performance. It not only supports DirectX11, when your system needs extra processing power, the automatic graphics switching in MSI’s GPU Boost technology kicks over to discrete graphics card mode for superior, true-to-life multimedia enjoyment. When performing general word processing tasks or browsing the Internet, it automatically cuts to the power-sipping integrated graphics chip mode.

Awesome multimedia performance
THX TruStudio Pro smart wrap around sound: MSI and world leader in sound design technology Creative worked together to incorporate professional theater-grade THX TruStudio Pro into the FX700 and FR700 NBs. It works with four top-end internal speakers to give you undistorted sound, regardless of music type or frequency band. The Smart Volume and Surround technology ensure crisp, clean sound and enhance mood.

Perfect speaker position: To build a laptop with superb sound, you need to be meticulous about each and every detail. Even speaker locations and sound field design have to be calculated with precision. MSI worked side by side with Dynaudio to carry out vast amounts of study and countless calculations to determine ideal locations to install speakers to obtain obstruction-free sound transmission.

Cinema Pro technology: The MSI FX700 and FR700 feature powerful multimedia processing and MSI’s own Cinema Pro technology for the best possible graphics. A touch of the Cinema Pro hotkey instantly switches to film mode for higher resolution and richer colors to bring you the same great audio experience found in live performances, films, and recording studios.

Multiple HD hardware: The MSI FX700 and FR700 are equipped with a wide cinema-class 16:9 ratio LED display. Not only are colors rich and crisp, you don’t have those pesky black bars at the top and bottom or your screen when viewing HD films. And the HD720p webcam allows you to enjoy fast, smooth, bright, and high fidelity web calls with friends and family. If you want more than a high definition computer screen.

FX700 Spec

Processor Intel Core i5 Processor
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium
Memory DDR3-1066MHz up to 8GB
Display 17.3″ HD+ LED backlight (16:9)
Graphics NVidia GeForce GT 425M -1GB
Video Output 1x HDMI, 1x VGA
Hard Disk Drive 320/500/640GB
Optical Disk Drive DVD Super Multi
Interfaces 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 5-in-1 card reader
Sound 4ch speakers, Sound by Dynaudio, THX TruStudio Pro
Communication 802.11 b/g/n WLAN, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, 1x Gigabit LAN
Webcam HD (30fps@720p)
Battery 6-Cell Li-Ion
Dimension 417.8×269.3×33.5~39mm
Weight ~2.8kg(w/Battery)
Features TDE (Turbo Drive Engine), GPU Boost, Cinema Pro

FR700 Spec

Processor Intel Core i5 Processor
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium
Memory DDR3-1066MHz up to 8GB
Display 17.3″ HD+ LED backlight (16:9)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics
Video Output 1x HDMI, 1x VGA
Hard Disk Drive 320/500/640GB
Optical Disk Drive DVD Super Multi
Interfaces 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 5-in-1 card reader
Sound 4ch speakers, Sound by Dynaudio, THX TruStudio Pro
Communication 802.11 b/g/n WLAN, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, 1x Gigabit LAN
Webcam HD (30fps@720p)
Battery 6-Cell Li-Ion
Dimension 417.8×269.3×33.5~39mm
Weight ~2.8kg(w/Battery)
Features TDE (Turbo Drive Engine), Cinema Pro , Anti-Fingerprint, Color-Film-Print

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