July 27, 2011 at 11:24 AM ET
PCs that are more expensive than Macs would seem to be against the laws of nature, but PC Ultrabooks — would-be MacBook Air killers — might be pricier than their Apple predecessors.
When Intel revealed the existence of these ultra-thin laptops at the Computex trade show in May (Asus models played a prominent role), ZD Net's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes wrote them up as "mobile systems defined by two words — thin and light. The idea is to take the performance and capabilities of a modern notebook and package this into a 'thin, light and elegant design.' "
Ouch. At those prices, a new MacBook Air, with a fully loaded 13-inch model, is comparable at $1,599, with the basic version starting at $999.
Intel's press release conveyed high hopes for the devices, which Intel executive vice-president Sean Maloney said will encompass as much as 40 percent of the consumer laptop market by the end of 2012.
If you travel, or like to carry your laptop around to coffee shops, you probably appreciate the longer battery life, way-better-than-netbook power and lighter load, which is why MacBook Airs have the aaah-quality that it does. At its heaviest, it's 2.96 pounds. It's also powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor (or i7).
PC Ultrabooks will be equipped with the next generation Intel processor (Ivy Bridge), though Maloney said those wouldn't be available until the first half of 2012. But they are supposed to have the company’s latest 2nd Generation Intel Core processors (Sandy Bridge).
At less than 0.8 inches thick, the Ultrabook has about the same level of compactness as the MacBook Air (0.68 inches high).
TechCrunch's Matt Burns describes a scenario that may end up playing out this holiday season, when consumers will have the choice between the PC Ultrabook and MacBook Air: "The average Best Buy shopper will no doubt gaze in wonderment at the Air. But then the shopper will eventually turn and wander back to the familiar world of Windows and cheap notebooks."
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