Intel has recently been aggressively cooperating with notebook chassis suppliers hoping to achieve the goal of dropping Ultrabook prices to below US$1,000, and Intel is currently focusing on pushing plastic and fiberglass hybrid chassis for the new machines, according to sources from the PC supply chain.
Intel’s favorite fiberglass chassis supplier seems to be Mitac Technology. The company pointed out that cost is 50% lower than magnesium aluminum alloys. Ultrabook manufacturers Acer, Asustek, and Lenovo are already onboard so expect cheap plastic ultrabooks to show up in the fourth quarter. And good luck getting really thin ultrabooks made of plastic or fiberglass to be robust enough.
Acer, Asustek, Intel, Lenovo, Mitac all seem to think the main concern about ultrabooks is price. Price is indeed one important factor since Apple has set the bar at $999. But take a good look at the 11.6-inch MacBook Air. It is high-end, made of a solid block of aluminum. Both the main board chassis and the display housing are unibody aluminum designs. Plus it comes with a backlit keyboard, a fast SSD, a high resolution LCD, a solid operating system, and much more. Then there’s the Apple cachet, born of fusing together all of these and a remarkable retail experience.
Do these wannabes have a chance? Absolutely. If the recent HP TouchPad fiasco is any indication, non-Apple ultrabooks need to be dirt cheap to generate lunatic levels of demand. $499 would probably do it.