Archive for October, 2011
With late launches, a difficult economy and a lack of consumer awareness it would be no surprise if someone reported low shipping numbers. That report comes via Digitimes today.
Acer and Asus are reported to have shipped around 100k units each which, according to Digitimes data, is about 50% of expected shipment figures.
It’s somewhat difficult to get a handle on the number as availability is still tight across many regions. In Europe, for example, you’ll be lucky to find any Ultrabooks available for delivery. Is the low shipment number due to low customer demand or delays on production lines and marketing teams making final decisions around the world? When I met Toshiba Europe a few weeks ago they still didnt have a final decision on specifications.
It’s too early for a true picture but, I guess, never to early for a comment from Digitimes.
In this article I put a case forward for the Ultrabook. It follows a similar article in which I put forward an argument against the Ultrabook. You can’t say we’re not assessing all angles on Utrabooknews!
The Ultrabook project, a three-stage plan by Intel to change they way that laptops are designed and manufactured, is now producing its first products and already we’re seeing combinations of weight, price and power that have never been seen in the industry before; Truly ground-breaking notebooks. Early reviews have been very good and despite the expensive changes in design and manufacturing, the price points are competitive.
I’ll talk more about todays Ultrabook products further on in this article but first lets talk about why the Ultrabook project, over 3 years, is advantageous for everyone.
More important than the initial products is the massive change that is being asked of the laptop industry to move to ultra-efficient electronic designs [the battery companies are going to hate this part of the equation. Environmentalists will love it.], sealed unit and single board production by choosing and tightly integrating components and processes. As the change in the laptop continues the result will be advantages for all parts of the industry – a move towards solid state storage, smaller batteries, lower part counts and lower shipping weights. Windows 8 will combine to bring a scenario where the laptop covers a wider range of usage scenarios than ever before. Style included – Dont forget that very important style element for the mature markets.
Why would a pro-Ultrabook web site and a pro-Ultrabook author do this? Simply because I want you readers, and myself, to get a better perspective on the discussion going on around Ultrabooks. All opinions are valid and to make a decision, you need both sides of the story. The more discussion we have, the more we understand. Fingers crossed that Intel and a few OEDs and OEMs read this too because it’s exactly what they need to be thinking about.
I have tried to keep this article factually correct. Your input is encouraged in the comments section below.
Let me start with this…
Did you take a look at the Samsung 900X1B and think hmm, 1.3Ghz with no Turbo = Not good enough? Take another look because there’s a 1.6Ghz Core i5 (2467M) version on its way. You’ll get turbo goodness to 2.3Ghz with the Samsung NP-900X1B-A03
The Series 9, available in 11″ and 13″ matt screen sizes, is not strictly an Ultrabook due to lack of Intel Anti Theft core but apart from that, it’s a close match to the Asus UX21
On the minus side you have only 2GB of RAM and 64GB in the base version (we’re seeing a 4GB, 128GB version too) and if the SSD is the same as I tested in the 13″ version, it’s not as fast as the ASUS UX21 but it’s not a slow-coach either. On the plus-side you get a MicroSD slot (it’s a real shame this isn’t a full-size slot but it could be useful for storage expansion if it supports SDXC), an illuminated keyboard, the same weight as the UX21 and a matt screen. USB3.0 and USB2.0 slots are included along with a mini HDMI port. An adaptor is included for 10/100/1000 ethernet. The Bluetooth variant is 3.0+HS.
Following the discovery of two models of the Z830 in Europe yesterday we got a tip pointing us to the complete line-up at the Toshiba UK website. As we reported last week, the Z830 appears under both the Satellite and Portégé brands.
Lets get straight to the details.
Excellent news! I was worried that the entry level Toshiba Z830 would be above €1000 but it’s not. The Toshiba Satellite Z830 Ultrabook is available for pre-order in Europe (or at least in Germany and UK) for €999. Even Amazon Germany are listing it. [Z830 At Amazon - Aff.]
The model we’ve found at at least four retailers is the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10J (4GB, Core i5 2467 @1.6Ghz, 128GB SSD and delivery estimates range through November.
In a Fox News TV segment (embedded below) the Ultrabook gets a very important airing with Intel CEO Paul Otellini along with commentary that made me sit up and listen. In–line with an interview we did early in September [5 more Ultrabooks coming], Paul says that there will be 11 companies offering Ultrabooks this Christmas, including Sony.
OK, Let’s count them. We’ve got Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba on board already. We believe that HP will have an offering in 2011 too. Add the revelation that Sony will offer a solution and you’re left with 4 missing from the list. Let’s assume Intel are pushing the boundaries out to include the Samsung Series 9 and the LG Xnote. Where are the other two coming from? Choose from MSI, Gigabyte (we believe that’s a 2012 product) , Fujitsu, Dell (also believed to be a 2012 product), Packard Bell and possibly some re-brands.
Paul went on to say that there were 60 designs in the pipeline that will launch with Ivy Bridge. That’s something to look forward to in Q2/Q3 2012 but surely he means SKUs. I can’t see 60 different designs being launched. If they are we’re going to nee help with the Ultrabook database!
Head on over to Anandtech and stay tuned because they’ve just got an Asus Zenbook UX21.
This $1199, 2.3lb, Core i7 1.8Ghz Windows laptop (try finding that combination in any other product. It’s truly groundbreaking) should get a thorough test and review by the well-respected team over there.
Without stealing their content I’ll just say that the UX21E-DH72 matches the MBA for battery life and turns in an excellent PCMark score in the first set of tests they Anandtech have done so far. Check out the details here.
Remember that you can get a Core i5, 1.6Ghz version of this for $999 which I personaly find a better value solution. European prices start at a (tax inclusive) €999 for the Core i5 version and €1099 for the Core i7 version – only a €100 premium.
Full specs and more links, images, information in the database. Asus UX21 Information Page.
Following news that the Lenovo Ideapad U300s is nearing retail shelves is the first full review I’ve seen for the U300s. Acer UX31, you have some competition because Hardware Zone Singapore definitely have the green flag out for the Lenovo U300s although it has to be said that these guys haven’t done a review of the Asus UX31 yet. ‘As Good as It Gets’ is restricted to comparison with the Acer S3.
First though, a round-up of the differences between the Lenovo U300s and Acer UX31 which many of you will be choosing between right now.
Buying an Ultrabook isn’t going to be simple. Not only do the products all look similar but the internals are similar too. How do you make a choice between an Lenovo Core i5 Ultrabook that looks the same as a Toshiba Core i5 Ultrabook that costs the same? The devil, unfortunately for the consumer, is in the details so to make the process a little easier I’ve listed some hints and tips here that you might want to think about before buying. I’ll update it as often as I can and will add in important tips from anyone that comments below.
Last update: 25th June 2012
Taking a bit longer than I originally expected after the ASUS UX31 availability last week are the first 2 reviews of the ASUS UX31 ‘Zenbook’ Ultrabook. Both reviews originate from Chinese sources.
Overall, the initial response seems to be very good. Much better than the first review of the Acer S3 that we saw last week although I am personally disappointed at the use of convertor adaptors to provide VGA and Ethernet. They add weight, take more power than built-in components and are likely to get lost or forgotten. With the case and adaptors added-in, the UX31 weighs a very non-ultrabook 1.8KG.
In both reviews we even get a teardown of the device showing the huge battery area compared to the motherboard. The battery is 50Wh which is a lot more than the 34Wh you get in the Acer S3. As expected, the battery life figures are higher. Battery life ranges from 129 minutes (full-power test) to nearly 7 hours.
The Lenovo Ideapad U300s matches the ASUS UX31 almost spec-for-spec and both appear to be ready to go. Pre-order pages are up (see our information page for the Amazon affiliate links that are available) and at least one website has one for testing. The first statement from James Kendrick, the reviewer for ZDNet was that the Lenovo U300s is “already the best Windows laptop I have ever tested.” Let’s hope there’s no showstoppers as the testing progresses.
While the U300s only has a 1366×768 resolution screen against the UX31’s 1600×900 screen, there are other differences deeper in the specifications. Customers are going to have a hard time deciding between the two…
The guys at Laptopmag, who generally do a respectable job of reviews, have not been impressed with the Acer Aspire S3. Their review gives it 2.5 out of 5.
I want to pick up on a few things though. Firstly, keyboards. We’re going to see many people complain about key travel as Laptopmag have done. I’ve pondered over this myself and as I tested the Toshiba Z830 today I even mentioned it to Toshiba as a potential issue but after some extended typing tests I was actually starting to enjoy the short travel. It speeds up typing; If you can get used to the change. Laptopmag are reporting that keys had to be pressed harder though. That’s not how it should work so watch out for this in other reviews.
In a meeting with Toshiba Europe today we got an update, and more hands on with the Toshiba Z830 Ultrabook. It’s light, well featured and will come in Portégé and Satellite versions meaning business, and consumer specifications. Toshiba haven’t decided on final specification line-up yet and price targets weren’t given but from what we learnt today, we can’t see the Z830 coming at under $/€1000. First though, lets give you the video, taken after the meeting. It’s one of the most complete overview’s to date so worth watching.
At an event in New York today, Asus presented the final model line-up, specifications, price and availability for the Zenbook (yes, a new name to confuse us all) range of UX21 and UX31 Ultrabooks. Starting price (MSRP) is $100 above the Acer S3 offering at $999 and availability is tomorrow in North America.
There are no Core i3 devices available in the initial line-up and all start with a usable 128GB of full SSD storage. The model line-up is as follows:
- UX21E-DH52 [See base space here] – $999
- UX21 as above with Core i7 (2677M at 1.8Ghz) – $1199
- UX31-DH52 [See base specs here] – $1099
- UX31 13.3 as above with 256GB SSD – $1349
- UX31 13.3 with Core i7 (1.8Ghz) and 256GB SSD – $1449