In the land of computers, we have come to recognize terms such as desktop, laptop, notebook, and even the newer netbook; now, along our yellow brick road, Intel is ready to introduce the Ultrabook. According to Intel, which holds the registered trademark on the term, the Ultrabook will be orchestrated by the wonderful Oz when it comes to design and performance.

So what exactly is an Ultrabook and how will it differ from a traditional laptop, notebook, netbook, or anything else with the name of ‘book’ in its title? Well, according to Intel, this stop along our road will introduce us to the following:

Ultrabook will be a new category of ultra responsive, ultra sleek, and ultra stylish devices that will be less than an inch thick and wake up in a flash. They will provide the optimal blend of performance and smart capabilities that you have come to expect — along with the portability and style you want.

Intel has a host of included improvements and features that the company states will enhance your computing experience; among these are:

  • Intel Rapid Start Technology: Your computer will return to its full operational speed within seconds.
  • Intel Smart Response Technology: Your computer will keep track of the files and applications you use most often.
  • Intel Smart Connect Technology: Even in sleep mode your computer will keep your email, social networks, and favorite apps. updated.
  • Intel Anti-Theft Technology: If someone steals your laptop, the system can be locked down so that your data is protected.

Asus Zenbook UX31E-DH53 13.3-Inch Thin and Light Ultrabook (Silver Aluminum)

My experience with an Ultrabook is limited to removing a virus from an Asus Zenbook UX31E-DH53 13.3-Inch Thin and Light Ultrabook (Asus is one of the companies contracted to use the Intel trademark name Ultrabook). This pint-sized unit is offered, through Amazon, for a staggering $1,377.93 and features an Intel i5 processor, a 256 GB SSD, and 4 GB of memory. What is impressive about the Asus Zenbook is the aluminum case and the fact that it weighs in at less than three pounds.

It is a beautiful machine and, in my opinion, worth the price.

Acer Aspire S3 -951-6646 13.3-Inch Ultrabook

Another company contracted with Intel to use the Ultrabook name is Acer. Acer is offering its Acer Aspire S3-951-6646 13.3-Inch Ultrabook to the consumer for a price of $877.99. This model is a hybrid of sorts in that it comes with a 20 GB SSD for booting quickly into the operating system plus a standard 320 GB hard disk for storage. This unit comes with an Intel i5 processor, 4 GB of memory, and weighs in at under three pounds. While not a give-away price, it is definitely being offered at a more affordable price point, for most of us, than others on the market. So, if you don’t have an extra $1,400 to spend on a new computer, there are other low cost alternatives available.

But is an Ultrabook Right for You?

That depends on where you are on your personal yellow brick road. If you are a business person who travels a lot and spends a considerable amount of time in airports, waiting to return to Kansas, then an Ultrabook may fit your needs. The system, with its Intel i5 processor, is quick and, with its light weight and stylish design, will surely draw the attention of your fellow travelers. Adding to its attraction is its 256 GB SSD of storage space and its five+ hours of battery life — both of which make it the perfect system for the business traveler.

Students and teachers may also find the Ultrabook the answer to their request from Oz as they could carry the unit from class to class, take notes, and type reports, before returning to their abodes to be charged. The unit’s light weight alone and high processing speed are just two of the reasons that this compact little computer is a perfect fit for the busy academician.

However, if you are currently taking a different bend in the road and simply need a desktop replacement, then the Ultrabook may be less attractive. For you there may be little advantage to the device’s light weight design or its extended battery life, especially if you plan on using the unit at home, where you can always connect to an electrical outlet if your charge runs low. Additionally, due to the smaller case and the smaller fan in these units, I would be concerned about using them for gaming or video processing, since both of these produce a large degree of heat.

Should You Buy an Ultrabook Now, or Wait for Windows 8?

The biggest attraction to waiting for Windows 8 is that the operating system will support touch screen technology. Most of these current generation of laptops are not touch screen enabled. However, when released, Lenovo’s new combo Ultrabook / tablet type computer could potentially change the game altogether. I recently wrote about the Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA in my post, Five Reasons Windows 8 Will Impress Users.

So Will Ultrabooks Be Popular?

That all depends. These Ultrabooks are going to be competing against laptop computers, which get cheaper every year. Also, newer laptop computers already have longer battery life and are getting lighter than the units they are replacing. The other obstacle to Ultrabooks is the increasing popularity of tablet computers and smart phones, making one wonder if Microsoft and Intel have waited too long to offer the computer market yet another juncture on their already cluttered yellow brick road. However, I would seriously doubt that either company really needs the Ultrabook to succeed in order to keep raking in the big bucks.

Comments welcome.