MANILA, Philippines — The market today is ripe with hype from the thin and light ultrabooks powered by Intel’s new Ivy Bridge chips, but for Taiwanese PC maker Acer, the high-end notebooks remain a niche segment of their overall laptop portfolio.
While ultrabook models have been widely praised as stalwarts of innovative design never seen before in notebooks, current specifications of the thin and light laptops virtually forbid manufacturers from positioning them at a sub-P30,000 price range.
Dio Vasquez, senior product manager at Acer Philippines, said during the company’s technology showcase on Tuesday that ultrabooks were initially meant for the changing preferences of users, who are increasingly going mobile.
“We want to keep pace and adapt to those changes,” Vasquez said. “The traditional notebook is still there, but we introduced the ultrabook to cater to a specific niche market–as of the moment.”
Vasquez’s caveat speaks volumes about the direction the product segment is going, especially, according to Intel, which is leading the charge of promoting ultrabooks in the market.
In a recent press launch, Intel said initial models retailing from around $1,000 dollars have now been replaced with models that could be sold for as low as $699 (P30,000) in the next few months.
The chip maker has committed as much as $300 million in a fund that would be invested in companies innovating the parts that make up an ultrabook, in an effort to bring prices down while maintaining the high technical specifications of the notebooks.
Vasquez, meanwhile, pointed out how they are only waiting for the official launch of Microsoft’s next-generation Windows 8 operating system to bring to the market their ultrabooks that feature unique designs.
Windows 8 is slated to be launched around the third quarter of this year, with tablet and PC manufacturers already announcing their planned models for the system early in June during the Computex show in Taiwan.
For now, however, consumers would have to make do with the available ultrabook offerings by Acer, chief among them the Acer Aspire S5, considered the thinnest ultrabook in the market today.
Measuring just 11 millimeters at its thinnest point and weighing just 1.3 kilograms, the Aspire S5 is being touted as a competent rival of Apple’s Macbook Air, which recently received a refresh from the technology giant.
The Aspire S5 is powered by Intel’s 3rd-generation Core i7 processor, features a 13.3-inch LED-backlit screen, 128GB of pure SSD storage, and as much as 6.5 hours of battery life on just a single charge.
What makes Acer’s flagship ultrabook unique amongst its competitors, however, is a disappearing panel at the back of the unit called the MagicFlip I/O port panel, which tucks away the USB 3.0, HDMI ports to keep the unit thin, and Thunderbolt — a new generation of input/output technology for computers.
Meanwhile, Acer also released a new addition to its Timeline series of thin and light notebooks called the Timeline Ultra M5, a 14-inch Core i5 ultrabook that comes with an optional NVIDIA GeForce GT640M graphics card for a more powerful visual experience.
The Ultra M5 features a hybrid storage model, which can be expanded up to 500GB HDD, a Dolby Home Theater v4 audio suite, as well as an aluminum alloy chassis with a titanium silver finish.
The Ultra M5 will retail for P44,900 in the Philippines, while the Aspire S5 has a suggested retail price of P65,000, according to Vasquez.