April 11, 2012 at 4:47 PM ET
When you think of laptops that are extremely thin and light, the MacBook Air is generally the first one that comes to mind. Apple's svelte aluminum notebook has been the most successful at bridging the gap between form and function, but it's not the only one trying. Intel is spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and promote super-thin notebooks, which it calls "ultrabooks."
The problem is they haven't quite caught on yet, at least not as much as the MacBook Air has. Lackluster early models and high prices have prevented "ultrabook" from becoming a household name. But Intel is just getting started. They say that there are 75 new models in the works, and that prices are dropping as well.
While the expensive components and materials needed to make ultrabooks and other thin, light laptops initially put the devices in the over-$1,000 range, Intel has always maintained that the price should be far lower, and expects some to be available for $700 or less by 2012's back-to-school season.
The 75 new models were not described one by one, but presumably Windows 8 and other factors are to be thanked for this great variety. Devices with touchscreens, depth-sensing webcams, convertible form factors, and other non-traditional designs (like the Lenovo Ideapad Yoga, pictured) are sure to be included alongside the usual suspects.
Most of the major laptop makers are planning ultrabook releases, as the attractive and portable form factor has been shown (mostly by Apple) to be a popular market.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website is coldewey.cc.