Intel invests millions in Ultrabook plug

Intel is spending $300 million to encourage companies to develop new technologies for Ultrabooks.

Chipzilla is banking on the fact that a class of thin and light laptops will be an alternative to tablet PCs.

Intel has been pushing Ultrabooks since June. The big idea is that the devices would be a laptop with “tablet-like” capabilities such as instant on, touchscreens and batteries that last all day.

It expects the first wave to be in the shops by Christmas with more advanced designs appearing in the next few years.

The Tame Apple press is cynical. It thinks that Ultrabooks will be the swan song of the PC market which it claims has been killed off by the arrival of tablets. It is only a matter of time, they say, that we all have a tablet and our computer life is controlled by Apple.

However there is a thought that Ultrabooks are a good attempt to merge Laptops and Tablets. Because they have a keyboard, punters can switch between using a cursor and touching the screen without thinking about it.

From Intel’s perspective it will force users to buy higher-end Core chips, the sales of which have been harmed by cheaper, more mobile processors. Intel’s own attempts at flogging chips on the mobile market have been drowned by ARM versions.

Intel has said Ultrabooks in the future will resemble Apple’s MacBook Air, with models less than 21 millimeters (0.8 inches) thick. They will be cheaper at around $800 or lower which will mean that they will be rivals for Tablets.

The first models will have Sandy Bridge based chips but the second wave will be released early next year and have Ivy Bridge chips, which are faster and more power-efficient.

It looks like the first wave will not have touch touch capabilities. Their selling point will be that they will boot quicker, stay connected and continuously receive e-mail and social notworking updates.

But from 2012, Ultrabooks will get touchscreens that can also swivel or slide out. They could be used in full PC mode and then converted into a tablet-like device.

In fact it looks so good, on paper at least, that we expect that Apple will start suing people for breaching its patents, which is what it usually does when it can’t compete.