Intel predicts rise of the ultra-thins

Intel predicts rise of the ultra-thins

Intel believes that ultra-thin laptops - like the Acer Aspire Timeline - will win out over netbooks, despite being twice the price.

Intel's chief executive officer Paul Otellini believes that the future of portable computing lies in “ultra-thin” laptops – rather than the currently popular netbooks.

Speaking during Intel's earnings report, CNet reports that Otellini claimed that ultra-thin laptops can address core issues that buyers of netbooks are finding a source of irritation. Claiming that consumers are often disappointed when they “try to do 3D games on [netbooks] or try to run their office applications on them” and blaming the “entire architecture” of netbooks rather than his company's Atom range of low-power chips, Otellini believes that the time has come for ultra-thins to take centre stage.

While ultra-thin laptops were once the sole preserve of the top-end of the market – and often had slower, less powerful processors – Otellini believes that enough users have reached the limitations of their netbooks that the higher price of an ultra-thin - $699 for an Acer Aspire Timeline – is no longer so much of an objection.

Trying to push consumers towards ultra-thin laptops makes sense from a business standpoint: while Intel's Atom chip is selling well, it's the ultra-low voltage Core 2 chips which the company makes real money from. The increased performance possible with such processors also helps prevent Intel's brand from being associated with a poor user experience – something which is inevitable if a user buys a netbook expecting it to be simply a small laptop.

Intel is likely to have a fight on its hands, however: despite the tendecy for more recent netbook releases to incorporate features – and pricing – more commonly seen in the laptop market, consumers have proven their love for the diminutive little devices time and time again. As sexy as a 13” ultra-slim is, buyers are going to have to ask themselves if it's really worth twice the price.

Do you think ultra-slim laptops are where the future is at, or has Otellini missed the entire point of netbooks by referring to 3D gaming? Share your thoughts over in the forums.


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liratheal 17th July 2009, 10:19 Quote
Originally Posted by article
blaming the “entire architecture” of netbooks

...What. They're netbooks. Small, low power devices. Palm tops, almost.

How can anyone expect to game on them, or run Office 2007?
oasked 17th July 2009, 10:29 Quote
Cheap rules at the moment.

Ultra-thins are usually a core business segment and manufacturers are used to charging £1000+ for them. I don't really see how they're going to get them cheap enough to flog more of them.

I would imagine Intel makes a much better profit on them though....
ChaosDefinesOrder 17th July 2009, 10:29 Quote
Originally Posted by article
has Otellini missed the entire point of netbooks by referring to 3D gaming?

"people can't game on cheap netbooks, so they might as well spend twice as much and be unable to game on an ultra-thin instead"

um... what? Ultra-Thins are sexy slabs of technology but they're far from worth the extra cost at the moment. Then again, I have no use for a notebook or netbook when I always have my Touch HD with me for portable use. Anything needing higher power I do on my desktop when I get home...
Byron C 17th July 2009, 10:36 Quote
I can run Office 2007 on my netbook, but it's pretty painful. Open Office & Office 2003 run far smoother. I'm not interested in 3D games on my netbook - for one, the screen size and resolution is a little paltry. A 9" screen with a 1024x600 resolution is great for classic games or little time-wasters like Starcraft or Theme Hospital (the other half made me do it!), but no good for modern games. Sure I can hook it up to my monitor, plug in a keyboard & mouse and have much higher resolution, but - assuming my netbook can run 3D games competently - why would I want to? I already have a PC at home which is more than capable of running modern games, in high resolution with a high level of detail. I gave up on having a laptop as a desktop replacement because it's too inflexible - core components like CPU & GPU cannot be upgraded, so you end up with having to replace the whole unit just to get better graphics. Plus, you have factors such as heat to worry about - playing a game that stresses the GPU for three hours is fine on a PC with adequate cooling, but a laptop GPU will heat up pretty quickly - which potentially damages other components in the process. Unless of course you get a high-end gaming laptop from someone like Alienware, but those machines aren't worth their money IMO - why spend £2000 on a gaming laptop when spending the same on a PC will get you far, far better kit.

Perhaps ultra-thins will replace netbooks as we know it, but that won't happen until the price comes down and it's perhaps more of an evolution rather than a revolution. Right now they fill a market niche very well: small, low power devices which have adequate power for browsing the web, checking your email, perhaps watching videos (although not HD content) but crucially have a *very* attractive price. I'm more than chuffed with my Dell Mini 9, as it does what I need it to extremely well (the addition of a built-in HSDPA module is a godsend!) For everything else, I have a pretty capable desktop PC.

EDIT: Although Dell's relatively new Adamo is one very very sexy-looking piece of kit!
eek 17th July 2009, 10:45 Quote
The main advantage for going one step up from netbooks is screen res. I just can't stand internet browsing as such low resolutions meaning most sites require lots of scrolling just to get past banners, adverts, etc, before you get anywhere near the content! (I don't like scrolling much :P)

I'd happily pay a bit more for a slightly faster proc and higher res while keeping the form factor small.
Byron C 17th July 2009, 11:03 Quote
Originally Posted by eek
The main advantage for going one step up from netbooks is screen res. I just can't stand internet browsing as such low resolutions meaning most sites require lots of scrolling just to get past banners, adverts, etc, before you get anywhere near the content! (I don't like scrolling much :P)

I'd happily pay a bit more for a slightly faster proc and higher res while keeping the form factor small.

1024x600 doesn't bother me - I'm used to it now - in fact the only site which causes a problem is Bit-tech! ;) Sometimes the banner ads on the right hand side overlap forum posts, meaning I can't read the full text. It's usually only on threads with large pictures embedded (such as project logs), and if I used Firefox I wouldn't be seeing banner ads at all ;)
l3v1ck 17th July 2009, 11:12 Quote
I'd take an ultra-thin over a netbook any day, purely for the usable screen size. But then I'd take a normal laptop over an ultra-thin any day too. I want lots of ports, Blu Ray, good battery life and good cooling for faster CPU's and GPU's. That's a big ask for an ultra-thin.
Ryun 17th July 2009, 13:14 Quote
This is pretty funny to me, because it's exactly what AMD has been saying all along the netbook craze.

Honestly, it doesn't matter what Intel or AMD say. People are going to buy want they want to buy and right now it's netbooks.
Nexxo 17th July 2009, 15:09 Quote
Gosh, could Apple have been, like, right all along with their Macbook Air? :D
serial_ 17th July 2009, 15:27 Quote
The hilarious thing to me is I picked up my Acer Aspire One 9" 160GB HDD 1GB RAM for $250.

I can play wow on it, and by that I mean playable, not omfg framerates, but in the 15-30 fps range, which for an MMO is not abysmal to try to play with.

I have a full-size laptop with a decent screen resolution and I always grab my netbook before it. Unless i'm somewhere near a table or desk, the simple fact of not having a heavy-ass leg warmer on my lap is 1/2 the equation.

The other reason I bought a netbook was size. Ultra-thins may look nice, but they're just as bitchy to use on an airplane tray. I'm a writer, and I recently made a trip out to Utah (in May) and trying to work on the airplane with my laptop was amazingly uncomfortable. In UT I found the Acers on sale, and snagged one on the spot. Writing on the netbook for the duration of the 5-hour flight back to NC was like liquid sex. The netbook fit perfectly on the crappy little tray and I got a lot more accomplished.

I really get annoyed with these industry experts predicting crazes. People love netbooks because they're small, cheap, and have killer battery life. I got a 6-cell for my acer and it now rocks a 6-8 hour uptime.

The other thing is my laptop is a single core cpu, and hilariously the hyper-threading on the atom makes it a much stronger work computer. My motherboard and two sticks of ram died and i've been having to work off the portables, so I jacked my kb/mouse/monitor into the netbook and have been using it for work this week. Sadly my laptop has been sitting next to it for the single purpose of streaming netflix.

I plan on buying another Aspire with the 10.1" and a more solid GPU, then I'll upgrade it to max. RAM and a 500GB hdd. At that point ultrathins can kiss my bootimus. Leave the homoeroticism of thin-tops to apple, they've got the customer base that's ready to ignore functional practicality in the name of neato sexy tech gadgets made of fail.
liratheal 17th July 2009, 16:32 Quote
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Gosh, could Apple have been, like, right all along with their Macbook Air? :D

There's ultra thin and there's "Where the **** did I leave my non-upgradable aluminium wafer and external DVD drive?"

I think Apple were on the right track, but had the wrong approach >.>
thehippoz 17th July 2009, 16:52 Quote
got that acer aspire for my gf.. she plays games on it like age of empires- and it handles office 2007 without any problem at all.. course I'm running bare minimums on it along with a bigger font and windows blinds for fast windows.. out of the box it was slow with all the antivirus and acer software they put on it

the only complaint I had is on battery, the power saving on the wireless card doesn't work correctly.. I had to turn it off- when it goes into hibernate and comes back- the card won't broadcast a signal anymore but it can see connections (so your wireless gets donked).. but this even happens on desktops- you would think acer would have caught that though.. up to 6 hours on the 6 cell battery

how can you beat that for the money.. like the guy with wow- it's not a bad gamer either.. mainly the guys with issues are the toolbags from the botnet :D
SubtleOne 17th July 2009, 17:14 Quote
I have a Dell Mini 9 with MacOS installed, and it runs Office 2008 extremely well. Very spiffy. I tested Win7 and XP on the same, and there really is no comparison. For a system with minimal resources, MacOS works far better, and I'm not a Mac guy. Also, Machines like Adamo or the 2x cheaper Mac Air are nice looking but no competition. People buy netbooks for price and size. Adamo and Air are pricey (Adamo is 2 grand), and far bigger and heavier.
Turbotab 17th July 2009, 17:42 Quote
Far better than paying more for less, would be to go lift some iron, I have no problem carting around my fattop and powerbrick. Combined they weigh 5-ish kilos, which is far light enough to carry around in one hand; if you can't manage at least 5 curls with a 15 KG dumbbell and are a male, you are too weak. So thin tops for the fairer sex only:), and before somebody points out that the weight of hand luggage is often restricted on planes, and thin-tops weigh less, my comment was partly tongue-in-cheek!
leslie 17th July 2009, 19:58 Quote
Netbooks are a flash in the pants.

You can buy a full notebook for not much more that has far more power and speed. Add to it that netbooks are becoming more notebook like, more expensive and not running any faster, while normal notebooks are speeding up, and coming down in price... Netbooks are doomed.

You will have to pry my 13in ultra thin from my dead fingers. A netbook would just be pure frustration to me. Yes, I paid a lot more, but I also got a bigger HD, a DVD burner, a nicer screen, a whole lot more memory and I too have a 6 hour battery life while surfing. It's kind of like asking do you want an Emachine or a homebuilt gaming machine? Similar circumstances. Both will do basic computing, yet everyone here would opt for the homebuilt I'm sure. The only things netbooks have going for them is price and battery life, and neither are anything special that you can't get elsewhere.

Besides, carbon fiber is sexy.:D
serial_ 17th July 2009, 20:54 Quote

tbh arguing notebooks and netbooks is like saying "yeah I paid a lot more for my honda civic, but I got four seats and a cd player and cupholder, while your motorcycle only seats two tops.

I can park my motorcycle on sidewalks and it gets more chicks. Carbon fiber is lose.

Arguing laptops and netbooks or notebooks and netbooks is silly. My post was voicing why I prefer my netbook to my laptop in every instance i've found. The keyboard is just as comfortable for me, and the screen is sharp and clear, so size isn't a real problem.

I push my netbook to it's limits all the time, and to be honest at the point which is starts to choke, I completely understand why. I think the major problem with netbooks getting a bad rap is people expect them to do things they're not designed to do. It's like when I read a newegg review on a pair of black speakers and someone lists "not white" in the "cons" section. Of course it's not!!

I get the same feeling when people say "yeah but the screen is so much smaller than my notebook!" Of course it is, or it wouldn't be what it is: a two-pound fully functional PC that fits inside my little backpack pocket (the one for steno pads and pens) and runs 8 hours on a single charge. If i drop a 9-cell in there i'm looking at 9-12 hours depending on wtf i'm doing. notebooks or to a greater extent laptops can't compete with a netbook in its sweet spots: size, battery life, and portability. Naturally on the inverse a netbook can't compete with the other two mobile PCs in the areas of screen real estate, expansion slots, internal drives, or high-power processors. I love the fact that i didn't need to budget to buy my acer, i was like HOT DAMN! and bought it on impulse. My work distributes P4 laptops and tbh my atom performs on the level with them for everything my job requires (Salesforce CRM, a php/xhtml dialer, a softphone, and gmail). I do all that while browsing forums all day and it runs fine. It only starts to choke if I toss a High Quality Youtube vid into the mix, so i just keep it to low-res youtube while working.

Back to my point: apples and oranges. Saying ultra-thins are going to kill netbooks is a stupid statement, because they're not the same item, they don't apply to the same markets. What will happen is intel and nvidia will release their platform, it will replace the atom and what you'll have a netbook that can play music all damn day on a single charge. I'm really excited to see compact low-power portables entering the market. I think they're their own market and have a good future ahead of them. There really isn't anything around that would be a "netbook killer" unless it's another netbook, making that statement entirely moot.

I'm going in circles...

leslie 17th July 2009, 23:50 Quote
What I meant by my post is that basically notebooks and netbooks are more or less going to merge. The lines are going to, or already have, started to blur between them. In the end, Netbooks will be the losers.

How they see it... (based on conversations with my customers, which are FAR from geeks)
Cost about the same.
A bigger screen is better.
A bigger keyboard is even better.
"No DVD/CD, how do I install my printer?"
"Where are the upgrade slots?" (mobile broadband is becoming an important consideration).
(on Linux versions) "Linux? Does that have Internet Explorer?" (some require it for work.)"

Offer them a thin cheap notebook and there is no way that they would buy a netbook. In fact, not one has bought a netbook yet as it is. Thinner and lighter just makes them more attractive to buyers.

I never said carbon fiber will bring girls to you. If you want my advice, ditch the motorcycle and get a puppy. Trust me, a puppy will beat anything with wheels for attracting girls.
serial_ 18th July 2009, 01:23 Quote
I just see them as separate entities entirely. I'm sitting in a coffee shop with my laptop, wife's on the netbook, the couple across from me is a guy on an acer aspire 15" laptop and the woman is on a 14" macbook, a pretty diverse set of computers and the thing I notice the most is that A: three of us have laptop cases or backpacks (my wife tosses the netbook in her purse) and three of us keep shifting the unit cause it gets hot.

The only downside is that I see my wife occasionally lean in to see details on the screen. I think for a lot of people size is a factor. One way or the other, they either want something portable, or something with a nice resolution. Personally I think 10" netbooks are the sweet spot. I actually like the fact there's no optical drive, cause I never use one (32GB flash drive ftw), and it's nice not having it drain battery (face it, the things chomp power).

I don't know where you work leslie, but it sounds like you work in retail. If that's the case then your customers most likely aren't buying netbooks because YOU aren't selling them. If you as the salesperson are pointing out the plusses of notebooks vs. netbooks then they're going to buy notebooks. People as consumers generally don't know what they want. "A laptop" is as specific as you generally get.

In almost every situation i'd prefer a netbook. The only exception would be watching a movie, where my dad's gigantic 17" widescreen would be ideal. But then, ofc, it's one dvd and the battery is shot >< Ultra-thins to me seem to have to many disadvantages of netbooks without the advantages of a notebook or laptop, and so they seem like just a great big netbook, in which case what's the point when it competes for space in my pack?

netbooks give me wood. Sorry but i'll argue them to death lol
leslie 18th July 2009, 05:30 Quote
I'm an independent tech. My customers are doctors, real estate agents, tax offices, mortgage brokers and more.

I give my customers the facts, what I wrote above is their responses. A few could very well get by on one, one even used to own a 10in Sony (and misses it dearly, she cried when told it was dead) but absolutely refuses to buy a netbook because of no slots and no cd/dvd drive.

The no cd drive scares them, a lot. Drivers come on Cd's, and they have no clue how to go download drivers online, many don't even know you can do that. Without a drive, it means paying me or someone else to install anything they want. Software, printers, drivers, games...

You, knowing enough about computers can easily live without a dvd drive, they can't. Same for upgrade slots. They know they can slide in a broadband card, they don't want to have to open it up and change out a (mini pci-e) card. Yes, you could get an external drive and use it when needed, but again, these people don't know, and don't care. It's also just another thing they would have to buy. They want a notebook that works like a normal computer.

I agree netbooks have their place, but it's a niche and as notebooks drop in price and become more efficient, netbooks will die off.

By the way, many computers can power down a dvd drive when on batteries. Mine does.
serial_ 18th July 2009, 06:30 Quote
It's funny you mention that. as we speak i'm installing everquest platinum onto my netbook across my wireless network off my HTPC's DVD drive, and I just updated my synaptics drivers.

I guess I don't notice their "pitfalls" the way other people do because they simply just do not affect me. I'm a fan of mapping network drives. My netbook is my desktop's card reader the way my desktop is my netbook's everything-it-doesn't-have.

I don't know where i'd be if I were suddenly smitten with the brain of a normal end-user. So I have to give it to you on that note.

This leaves us with one option: we must exterminate the noobs.
leslie 18th July 2009, 11:18 Quote
Originally Posted by serial_
This leaves us with one option: we must exterminate the noobs.

Noooooooooooooo!!!!! That would mean I would have to *gulp* get a real job. :'(
serial_ 18th July 2009, 15:57 Quote
I see your point. perhaps we should force them to interbreed and make uber noobs, whose minds we can corrupt and convince to buy crappy hardware in shiny, pretty cases the same way hollywood has convinced the noobs of cinema that Michael Bay isn't a terrible director that ruins lives. YES! IMAGINE IT!


oh wait....

Goddamnit, I forgot that Apple already has that niche covered. DAMN!
Horizon 18th July 2009, 19:39 Quote
Serial, your analogy is flawed

comparing a honda civic or any car for the matter to a motorcycle is like more like comparing a laptop to a pda/smartphone. a netbook would still be a car, just a very cheap one, like a smart car or a golf cart.
serial_ 19th July 2009, 19:33 Quote
no a pda/smartphone is like a little electric scooter. The kind you have to stand up on. It kind of does the job, but not really.
eek 21st July 2009, 00:12 Quote
And I guess using the same analagy, the iPhone is an Aston martin (toyota) IQ?

(ironically enough, posted from an iPhone)
Timmy_the_tortoise 21st July 2009, 10:26 Quote
Surely ultra thin laptops and netbooks are completely different products...

An ultra thin laptop is just a laptop which is thin, which is of no benefit to the average consumer since (much cheaper) regular laptops are already plenty thin as far as I can make out. I mean, my 2 year old HP dv6330 isn't exactly cumbersome or inconvenient to carry around with me.

And then netbooks are low power devices designed for less intensive computing tasks such as word processing and web browsing on the move, and as such have better battery lives..

As far as I can tell, ultra thin laptops are pretty much already redundant... reserved only for the rich and style conscious.
Saivert 29th July 2009, 14:21 Quote
Netbooks have never been really cheap. Maybe the 7 inch ones was a bit on the cheap side, but really they are overpriced.
I'd rather buy a regular laptop then. Better performance.
Only thing going for Atom is the longer battery life if you strictly use it for web surfing. And I guess netbooks were only meant for that (given the name).
BlueSeedStorm 16th December 2009, 11:26 Quote
Carry the Internet with you. A Netbook allows you to easily access the Internet on the go. An even more mobile laptop, a Netbook might not have the full power, but does make life easier. See our great range of Netbooks.
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