Ultrabooks can run for hours without recharge
Looking to replace a laptop? You might want to consider a new range of thin and light personal computers called ultrabooks.
Hewlett-Packard, the world's largest personal computer manufacturer, introduced a new range of thin and light machines at its Global Influencer's Summit in Shanghai last week.
Among them were a series of ultrabooks, a marketing term coined by microchip manufacturer Intel to describe a new generation of ultra-fast and ultra-light computers whose specifications include much longer battery life than the normal few hours. Most of the new models are capable of about nine hours' use, but one model could run on its new-style battery for 20 hours without a charge.
That is because the new machines use low-power second and third generation Intel microchips, codenamed Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge, and boot from solid state hard disk drives which are faster and more reliable than the traditional spinning drives.
Ultrabooks, designed to rival Apple's MacBook Air, are missing optical disk drives, such as DVD and high definition Blu-ray drives, but include USB ports into which you can plug them in should you need to install software from a disk or access data.
Intel client product director Aaron Arvizu said the company, whose processors are in nearly 80 per cent of PCs, had created a US$300 million (NZ$380m) fund to drive the ultrabook ecosystem which had been created to service the world's 2 billion internet users.
"We've gone from the big and bulky notebook that a lot of us have and still use today to this [ultrabook] device that you carry with you all the time," he said.
"We have throttled the thermals down, it's extremely responsive and starts up really quickly. We set out to set a specification which was really transformational to make ultrabooks different to everything else in the market.
"The long-term vision is that it's a tablet computer when I want it and a PC when I need it – a sleek and sexy system. This is job No1 this year at Intel, there is no job No2.
"We are just getting started in ultrabooks."
Dominic Macarthy, HP's vice-president and general manager of consumer premium, said ultrabooks had been designed to be mobile and affordable.
Arvizu said: "Intel couldn't be happier with what HP has done. HP's going to have a wide portfolio of products."
Other manufacturers such as Asus have also made their own ultrabook models with minimum specifications set by Intel.
Kevin Frost, HP's vice-president of consumer notebooks, introduced another category of computer that HP has called the sleekbook which will have more traditional components such as an older processor, also from microchip manufacturer AMD which competes against Intel, and a slower mechanical hard disk drive, inside a thin and light metal case.
Frost said sales of the first wave of ultrabooks, introduced six months ago, had been positive and the new wave would hit the shelves in the third quarter of the year.
"The feedback we are getting from customers is very positive."
Stacy Wolff, HP's vice-president of PC design, said HP's new designs were the result of a melting pot of designers from every part of the world including Europe, the United States, Bulgaria, and China.
"I am able to mix the cultures ... what used to be European and Eastern design is now blending."
The new designs followed a similar principle.
"For the first time we are seeing power button in the same location, audio treated the same."
The HP Envy Ultrabook and HP Envy Sleekbook has either a 35-centimetre (14-inch) or 38cm display, all-metal chassis, battery life of up to nine hours, and starts at 1.8 kilograms. Available in silver or black and red. The HP Spectre Ultrabook has a 35cm monitor and weighs 1.68kg.