Currently, the word Ultrabooks brings to mind two things – super slim and super expensive. However, that all is about to change in the second half of this year, which is when Intel has promised that cheaper and more affordable solutions that can go as low as $599 or 30,000 will make an entry. The way in which they will be able achieve this is by using cheaper materials (a.k.a plastic) for the chassis, instead of aluminium. However, using only plastic will rob Ultrabooks of their characteristic premium feel, so the idea is to use plastic for the main chassis and then coat it with a layer of aluminium, so that the notebook still feels expensive than it actually is. Intel Taiwan’s country manager, Jason Chen, projected that these new cheaper models will hit store shelves around the third and fourth quarter of 2012. With these new models, Chen expects the Ultrabooks to account for 30 to 40 percent of global notebook shipments this year.
While Intel’s move towards plastic for Ultrabooks is good for us consumers, there are a couple of other reasons behind this as well. Intel’s Ultrabooks will soon face stiff competition from AMD’s ‘Ultrathin’ solutions. These notebooks will come in the same super slim form factor and feature AMD’s Trinity APUs, but the main USP will be the cheaper price. Another threat comes in the form of ARM-based notebooks which will soon flood the market with the launch of Windows 8. Unlike Intel and AMD-based notebooks, these will be a lot cheaper to produce and being ARM, will offer a much better battery life, while staying incredibly thin. If Intel wants to hold on to the market share for thin notebooks, then cheaper Ultrabooks cannot get here sooner. The new hybrid plastic and aluminium chassis may just be the ticket Intel needs to offer a premium notebook, but at a not-so-premium price.