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Intel is making considerable efforts to promote a new range of ultraportable laptops, equipped with ultra-efficient versions of Core i5/i7 processors, capable of providing a competitive performance level with a very low power consumption.
Together with its partners, Intel plans to bring at CES 2012 no less than 50 new models of ultraportable systems, some of which are based on a convertible format, allowing users to choose between functionality of a laptop and convenience of a tablet, turning the screen easily 180 degrees.
Convertible format adds 2 mm in thickness to the ultrabook housing systems whose dimensions are however constrained to strict limits by Intel. As defined by Intel, to qualify in the category ultrabook, a ultraportable laptop should not be more than 18 mm thick if screen size is less than 14 inches, or up to 21 mm for models with larger screens.
Since a convertible format requires additional miniaturized components for the ultrabook like the touch screen interface and the rotating hinge, the final purchase price could be considerably higher than a regular model.
If the utility of a convertible ultrabook is questionable in the current context, the arrival of Windows 8 with Metro interface, optimized for touch screens, will certainly change the way we look at the ultrabook category.
For now, however, the systems in the ultrabook category are anyway too expensive to compete with ordinary laptops on the mainstream markets and the emergence of more expensive convertible versions may not change the situation for the better. Fortunately with the diversification of ultrabook offering, competition between manufacturers will certainly be more important, dropping the prices at a level accessible to a wider audience.