Intel predicts rise of the ultra-thins

July 17, 2009 // 10:05 a.m.

Tags: #atom #core-2 #intel #laptops #netbook-performance #netbooks #paul-otellini #ultra-slim #ultra-thin

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.