2012 to be the year of the Ultrabook

If 2010 was the year of the Netbook and 2011 the year of the Tablet, then 2012 is set to be the year of the Ultrabook – a device that works like a laptop, but is half the size.

Lenovo's IdeaPad U300s Ultrabook (image: Lenovo)

That was the overwhelming message from 2011’s final SHIFT event – SHIFT Ultra, a young adult speaker series hosted by Intel and Lenovo, and headlined by popular radio and television personality Gareth Cliff.

Analysts predict that fully 40 percent of all laptops sold by the end of 2012 will be Ultrabooks such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s which took centre stage with Cliff at SHIFT Ultra – and judging by the reactions of Cliff and the 200-strong audience, their forecasts will be spot on.

The undoubtedly aspirational nature of the Ultrabook fitted neatly with the theme of the final SHIFT event in a series of highly popular events, which have become a popular platform for young, tech-savvy adults to discuss trends and issues with a range of speakers since being launched earlier this year.

Cliff’s message of inspiration and aspiration to mould yourself into the best being you can be struck a chord with the audience as this time of the year is often used to reflect on a busy year and to envision what the year ahead may bring.

“Essentially, the Ultrabook is the skinny sister of the conventional laptop,” said Intel Corporation South Africa’s consumer lead and retail manager, Kamal Vasram. “But with substantially longer battery life, desktop-like performance and keen price points, we see the Ultrabook device literally being the next revolution in personal computing.”

“The feedback has been clear: the youth are using technology to turn their idealism and desire for change into reality faster than ever before,” said Vasram. “Not only has technology become omnipresent in their lives, but it offers them the opportunity to interact with their peers, and discuss significant issues – making them genuine decision-makers and influencers in their own rights.”

Apart from its super-sleek appearance and high-end response times, Intel believes the Ultrabook will come into its own with the youth market by giving users what they are used to on a laptop or desktop: a keyboard, mouse and the ability to “create” with greater ease, unlike other mobile devices, which are mainly used for consumption.

Vasram believes that going forward, the evolution of the laptop and tablet alike will undeniably depend on the user’s need. This will divide users into different categories – those who use their technology devices for pure consumption, and those using them for creation.

“The developments of the past few years have shown us clearly that people love smaller and more convenient devices – but there’s a growing realisation that they still want their technology to help them get things done, to be more productive, and to learn and advance themselves,” said Vasram.

“They still want to be in control, know that their identity is protected, and that their data can be safeguarded if a computer is stolen or lost. They want to express themselves and create, whether it’s a blog or music. They want to connect with others and share those creations. They want seamless, immersive experiences, be it while playing a game, watching a movie, surfing the Web, or putting the polishing touches to a presentation.”

It is expected that at least 50 different models of Ultrabook will debut at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in the US early next year. “The fact that so many companies are getting ready to enter the Ultrabook space certainly means competitive prices for the consumer next year,” says Vasram.

Staff writer