Expect Cheaper Casing Materials on Ultrabooks, $599 Entry-Level

Posted on 03 May 2012 by

As Ultrabooks move to mainstream, pricing becomes critical. Materials become less critical. Expect more plastic and stamped metal…

Ultrabook-Temptations-Determined_1

In a press event on Wednesday, Intel Taiwan’s country manager Jason Chen said that he expects Ultrabooks to reach $599 although the mainstream price is more likely to be $699. The price point will only be reached by the use of cheaper materials reports Focus Taiwan.

Stamped metal and plastic cases were discussed at IDF in Beijing a few weeks ago. We’ve already seen some stamped metal around so don’t worry too much. The build quality of the Z830 is top-notch.

On sales numbers, Chan said he expected sales to reach 30-40% of global notebook shipments in 2012. We can’t see that happening but if you took a snapshot in Nov then maybe 30% of monthly shipments is possible.

We agree 100% the pricing predictions and expect to see even cheaper prices in occasional offers and stock clearances of 1st-Gen Ultrabooks.

Current cheapest Ultrabook models in the US market at Amazon are:

We’re keeping an eye out for offers though. The Z835 listed above was $699 for a short while this week.

Source: Focus Taiwan

P.S. I couldn’t resist posting that image. Source: Intel

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  • Tsuki

    So make premium products cheap. If you are going to do that, why not just make cheap products and protect the premium-ness of your premium products.

    There are concepts and technologies from ultrabooks that should be adopted by high end netbooks, but I don’t think that ultrabooks should compete directly with high end netbooks. Ultrabooks started out as semi-premium consumer ultraportables to compete with MacBook Air. Now they are racing toward the bottom again. If this continues, “ultrabooks” will be the new sub $500 craptops.

    I like plastic though. Not cheap plastics to save cost, but rather more premium plastics to save weight.

    • James

      They’re not going to stop make more premium Ultrabooks. They’re just lowering the starting the point for the low end models.

      Though I wouldn’t worry about comparisons to Netbooks any time soon.

      Most premium netbooks are getting cheaper too and you can typically get one for around $400. While most regular netbooks are in the $200 to $300 range now.

      There are only a few holdouts but they usually are the product branded types that normally charge extra for the product association.

      While even fewer are trying to make Ultrabook type netbooks and charge more premium pricing for the privilege.

      So for most there will still be a distinction in price range between netbooks and Ultrabooks.

      It’s doubtful though that Ultrabooks will drop below $500 anytime soon. People still expect certain minimums and they can only cut so many corners before effecting those minimums.

      While if Intel wants their ATOMs to go into mobile products and compete with ARM then they’re going to have to get pretty price competitive with them and that’s likely to rub off on netbook too. Assuming they don’t just merge netbooks with tablets for hybrid like devices by then of course.

  • I see no problem with ultrabooks getting cheap. Sure in the beginning we will be seeing these plastic and not-so-premium designs, but once the industry and supply chain have gotten a chance to adopt all new technology and mass manufacturing of slim components there’s nothing stopping ultrabooks or MacBook Air-ish notebooks going cheap.

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  • tante

    What differences does using plastic and stamped metal have when compared to what’s currently being used? I have a Thinkpad and it uses plastic. I have stood on top of it (~200 lbs.) and nothing broke.

    • James

      Thinkpad’s aren’t all plastic… They have magnesium alloy rollcage, and often use carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Some even use titanium composite casing.

      The main problem is with how thin Ultrabooks are because metal is 7-10x more rigid than plastic and so it’s much harder keeping it from flexing too much with plastic vs metal.

      However, the idea is to carefully design the casing to reinforce its rigidity and prevent flexing.

      So it just remains to be seen how well it’ll work, but otherwise it shouldn’t change much and fake metallic finishes can be added to the plastic for those who prefer that look.

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