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What is an Ultrabook?

Intel finally defines what makes an Ultrabook

What is Ultrabook?

We spoke to Intel and asked a question that has needed a clear answer for a long time, "What is an ultrabook?" Here's the official definition from Intel.

What is an Ultrabook: Intel's definition

Thin designs
Ultrabook devices must be 18mm or less in thickness for systems with displays less than 14 inches and 21mm or less for systems with displays 14 inches or more; 23mm or less for convertible systems; some current systems are much thinner.

Responsive
All 3rd generation Intel Core Ultrabook devices wake in a flash - going from a very deep sleep state (S4) to full use (keyboard interaction) in less than 7 seconds and wake from "sleep" mode even faster. Additionally, they must be responsive while active, meaning they will load and run favourite applications quickly.

Extended battery life
Ultrabook devices must offer at least 5 hours of battery life, with many meeting the recommended level of 8 hours plus in even the sleekest form factors.

Security enabled
Anti-Theft technology is a hardware-based technology that makes it possible to lock down an Ultrabook system if it's lost or stolen and helps secure sensitive information stored on the device's hard drive.

Ultrabook(tm) systems come enabled with Intel(r) Identity Protection technology to provide a more secure online experience for activities like shopping, banking or gaming online. It uses chip-level authentication similar to hardware tokens and is widely regarded by security experts as a more secure approach than software-only authentication.

Fast I/O
Ultrabook devices based on 3rd generation Intel Core must have either USB 3 or Thunderbolt technology to enable incredibly fast transfer capabilities.

Processor
Powered by the Intel Core processor family for Ultrabook.


By Matt Egan

Ultrabooks are Intel's name for thin-and-light laptops, pitched somewhere between mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, and larger laptop PCs. In Intel's terms, Ultrabooks are portable, fast and energy efficient laptops.

Intel's Ultrabook specification requires that true Ultrabooks are thin - less than 20mm in thickness - and light. They must be powered by energy efficient Intel processors from Intel's current Sandy Bridge and upcoming Ivy Bridge families. As a consequence Ultrabooks must have lengthy battery life, as well as instant-on and instant-resume capabilities. Although Ultrabooks can contain traditional hard disks, they must include solid-state disks (SSDs) in order to facilitate this speedy response.

Finally, Ultrabooks natively run Windows. This is something of an irony as it means that Apple's MacBook Air is, technically, not an Ultrabook. This is despite the fact that the Air is the very model of a thin-and-light laptop that Intel's windows clients are trying to create (and fully four years after the Macbook Air first appeared).

Although Apple and Intel created the poster child for thin-and-light computing, the current generation of 'Ultrabooks' are an Intel invention. An Intel spokesman told PC Advisor that where tablets are great for media consumption, notebooks are better for content creation. He said that the current breed of tablets are, in essence, stretched up smartphones, and said that by contrast Intel's vision for mobile computing involved shrinking down traditional Wintel computers.

Intel Ultrabooks

Ultrabooks are, Intel tells us, the future of laptops. Indeed, an Intel spokesman told PC Advisor that "Ultimately, notebooks won't exist. Just Ultrabooks."

Leaving aside the technical specifications outlined above, Intel cites several major factors that define the Ultrabook experience. Ultrabooks must offer, Intel tells us, an intuitive and responsive user interface; rapid performance with seamless connectivity and long battery life; on-chip security, anti-theft and data-protection; and, nebulously, sleek and stylish looks.

Right now, Ultrabooks are quite expensive, starting at around £850. But Intel's Ivy Bridge chipset should bring prices down, and Intel has previously said it expects Ultrabooks to retail for around £600 by the end of this year.

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