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Definition

ultrabook

An ultrabook is a category of thin and light laptop computers designed to bridge the market gap between tablets and premium notebook PCs. Ultrabooks provide more business-friendly features than tablets and more portability than enterprise-class notebooks. 

Intel developed the first ultrabooks in 2011, at least partially in response to the success of Apple's similarly thin and lightweight  MacBook Air. Most manufacturers have advertised ultrabooks as "designer" laptops.

Typical specifications of the first generation of ultrabooks include: 

  • Less than 20 millimeters (0.8 inches) thick.
  • High-performance, low-voltage Intel processors in the Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge families. 
  • Fast storage, typically in the form of solid state disk drives (SSDs).
  • Long battery life (typically 8+ hours).
  • Near instant-on and instant-resume capabilities. 
  • Retail price of less than $1,000.

Ultrabooks are sometimes confused with netbooks. In comparison, ultrabooks use more powerful processors and have better video performance, faster storage, more RAM and larger screen sizes. As a consequence, ultrabooks are significantly more expensive than netbooks. However, ultrabook prices are expected to drop as low as $500 as Intel transitions to its "Hawell" system-on-a-chip (SoC) processors.

This was last updated in January 2012

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