31 Aug 2012

Will Windows 8 hybrids kill laptops and ultrabooks?

Raj Bhatt

Most PC companies are lining up tablets, hybrids and Touch-screen ultrabooks using the Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems to be launched in October 2012 (click here for a Technically Personal article on the topic).

I wonder whether the Windows 8 hybrids will kill the Ultrabooks category? and what will happen to good old non-SSD laptops?

While I think that there is ample room for tablets and hybrids, I still think that Ultrabooks, non-SSD laptops, and even desktops will survive for a while. Here’s why:

  • Price: While few companies have given any indication of pricing, Samsung has announced a $1,199 price for the Series 7 hybrid (11.6″ screen, Intel Core i7, 4 GB Ram, 128 GB SSD) and a $649 price for the Series 5 tablet (11.6″ screen, Intel Atom, 2 GB Ram, 64 GB SSD). These are significantly higher  price points compared to today’s Ultrabooks ($700-1000), non-SSD laptops ($200-700) and desktops (even lower). The tablet is priced lower than the current generation of high-end tablets (64 GB iPad at $699), but with bigger screen, and more memory.
  • Screen size: There is a significant segment of corporate workers that do need a screen bigger than 14″ for their work. I am sure 14″ hybrids will eventually be announced. However I expect the price points to be much higher.
  • Emergence of the touch-screen Ultrabook: HP has announced yesterday (click here) that it will be launching the Spectre XT TouchSmart (15.6″ touch screen, with NFC for $1,399) and an Envy Ultrabook 4 (14″ touch screen Ultrabook). This sub-category seems like a compromise between touch-screen, media-creation using keypad and large screen size. I personally don’t see why many folks wanting a fixed keypad would want a high-priced touch screen. Imagine stretching out and touching the screen to consume media while the keypad is still fixed to the computer…too un-ergonomic :-(

For these reasons, I feel non-touch Ultrabooks, non-touch non-SSD laptops and the good old desktops still have ample market potential. Of course, I do expect the price war going on in non-SSD laptops and desktops to soon affect non-touch Ultrabooks… which means even better deals for consumers!

Let me know what you think!

desktop, HP, hybrid, laptop, pricing, Samsung Series 7, Spectre XT, SSD, tablet, ultrabook, Windows 8

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