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by Ray Carlson

Q: What is an ultrabook?

A: The newest form of lightweight computer. A few years ago, netbooks were developed as small, lightweight laptops, but Apple introduced tablets which are smaller and lighter than netbooks while offering reasonable computing power. Tablets saved space by sacrificing keyboards and relying on touchscreens. Smaller, though, means having less screen size available and sacrificing some computer capability as well as keyboards.

This past year, chromebooks came along using a Google-developed operating system and storing everything on the internet rather than a hard drive. The need to be always on the internet has limited their popularity. Intel had not developed processors for tablets and therefore wanted to get back into the small computer market. They developed a new type of processor and the idea of the ultrabook as the format to use their processor. That company offered $300 million dollars to assist hardware and software developers to create this new alternative.

Ultrabooks generally reflect the same functionality as a regular computer but with less size and weight [usually less than an inch in width], good battery life and fast start-up. In addition, they tend to be more attractive than traditional computers. The negatives in relation to tablets are that they are bigger, lack a touch screen and are two to three times as expensive. Expect touchscreens to be added in the coming year particularly with the introduction of Windows 8, but it is doubtful that cost will come down to the tablet level.

Published: Courier 1/15/12 - Page 5C