Lets get one thing straight though, the Sandy Bridge platform is a good one and Ivy Bridge will be better but there won’t be a huge amount of difference for most people. Yes, they will be worth having although there’s a small matter of Windows 8 to consider!
You’ll probably see 15-30 minutes more battery life for average use cases as designs improve and there will be a significant increase in GPU 3D capability, some high-end improvements for Turbo, maybe a Thunderbolt port here and there and a small rise in baseline clock-rate (probably consuming any CPU efficiency gains) but in general there won’t be a huge difference for the average user. Your biggest decision will be around the operating system. Will you want a Windows 7 device when Windows 8 is available later in the year?
How cheap will the 1st generation of Ultrabooks be? Digitimes is reporting an average price of $699-$799 by the end of the year which is likely, but only for entry-level models. I’ve always said that we will reach $699 in 2012 and I expect that to be the baseline for all entry-level Ultrabooks models in 2012 and that you’ll see offers down to $599 during back-to-school and Christmas sales periods.
Price-reducing factors to consider:
- More models mean more competition
- 2nd-tier manufacturers building to a lower-price point
- Windows 8 makes Windows 7 look old
- AMD ultrathin competition
- Economies of scale
- Marketing subsidies from Intel ramping up
- Cheaper SSD, CPU (2nd-gen Sandy Bridge silicon prices likely to drop), and more efficient production process.
At the moment we’ve got the Acer Aspire S3 holding the lowest price point of $799 / €699 and in Europe there’s the exciting prospect of buying the much better, in my opinion, Samsung NP530 (Series 5 13”) at €770. We’ve also seen the Z835 (Core i3 version) at $699 although that’s back to $849 right now.
My prediction is that price drops will start as Ivy Bridge products feed in during Q2 and that the ‘back to school’ period of July-August will be packed with offers. keep our product database bookmarked!