"Your great-grandkids just called. They want their computer back."
So goes one of the new advertising slogans for Intel's Ultrabooks, part of a giant marketing push by Intel to position its lightweight notebooks as devices from "the future." A term recently coined by Intel to describe a new class of slim, lightweight, fast-waking laptops that use the company's low-power processors, "Ultrabooks" from companies like HP, Asus, and Dell have all recently been released in 2012, and now Intel is throwing a whole bunch of cash -- a figure in the "hundreds of millions of dollars," per Intel -- behind a huge advertising campaign determined to get the word out about this new category of computers.
All of the ads in this enormous campaign -- in print, on the Internet, and on television -- will attempt to make consumers think of Ultrabooks as a futuristic, state-of-the-art technology, and of thicker, heavier laptops as an artifact of the past.
Intel recently released its first of three television ads, all of which will which depict historical characters using clunky PCs being disrupted by characters from the present enjoying the speed and portability of Ultrabooks. The one below, called "Desperado," is the initial one out of the gate and is apparently typical of the tone and style.
Follow-up ads will include spots called "House of Flying Laptops" (with an Ang Lee-esque martial arts theme) and "Round Table" (which takes place during the time of King Arthur).
The tagline for those ads: "Suddenly, everything else seems old-fashioned. Ultrabook. Inspired by Intel."
The PC market is expected to grow about 4.4 percent this year, according to research by Gartner, and Intel certainly hopes that part of that growth will be fueled by Ultrabook sales, given its stake in the new category's success. It has already invested 300 million dollars in companies manufacturing Ultrabooks, and with "hundreds of millions" more sunk into this campaign, you can bet Intel has Ultra-high hopes for its de facto MacBook Air competitors.
And there are, we should note, a whole lot of them. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, we saw at least eight different Ultrabooks unveiled, and there are many, many more -- including Samsung's intriguing Series 9 notebooks -- that have been announced and released since.
The next wave of Ultrabooks, meanwhile, is already being closely watched and is hotly anticipated in some corners. New Ultrabooks will include Intel's next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, which should bring even faster computing and much-improved battery life. Ultrabooks with those processors are apparently due in late April or early May.
Until then, we have our "Desperado" commercial and the expectation of a raft of new Intel ads coming to a television, newspaper, website, Twitter feed and Facebook sidebar near you. Ultrabooks may or may not be "the future," but Ultrabook advertisements are definitely the now.
Below, check out the Ultrabooks that debuted in January at CES 2012 -- many of which are now available for sale.
Hewlett-Packard jumps into the Ultrabook game with an extension of its Envy line of premium laptops. It packs a 14-inch screen into a body that is coated with "midnight black glass" on the outside and "silver glass" on the inside -- read all about it on HuffPost here. The Envy 14 Spectre goes on sale in February 2012 and will start at $1,400.
Acer's already got its toes in the ultrabook pond, having released the Acer Aspire S3 in 2011; now they are back with what they're calling the "World's Thinnest Ultrabook," the Aspire S5. The S5 weighs less than 3 pounds and is only 15 millimeters "at its maximal point," per Acer. It's got a 13.3-inch screen LCD and Acer Instant On, which brings your Ultrabook back to life in less than 1.5 seconds. No price for the Acer Aspire A5 just yet, but the company says it should be coming in the second quarter of 2012
Lenovo's ultrabook for business people retains the classic look of the Lenovo Thinkpad but sheds a little weight and size. The 14-inch laptop isn't the prettiest ultrabook, but it's still slim: It weighs less than four pounds and is about 0.8 inches thick. Internally, the T430u comes with a choice of Intel processors and solid-state drive (SSD) storage, and Lenovo says it gets up to 6 hours of battery life. The Thinkpad Ultrabook T430u will be available in the third quarter of 2012 starting at $849.
Lenovo introduced two new IdeaPad Ultrabooks at CES: The U310 and the U410. The two Lenovo Ultrabooks are twins, save for their sizes -- the U310 has a 13.3-inch display, while the U410 has a 14-inch display. Both are fairly thin, at 0.7 inches and 0.83 inches, and fairly light, at 3.75 pounds and 4.2 pounds, respectively; both get 8 hours of battery life and come with Intel core processors. The IdeaPad U310 and the IdeaPad U410 will both start at $699 and will be available starting in May 2012.
The Dell also joined the Ultrabook pack with the XPS 13, which weighs in at a hair under three pounds and measures less than a quarter-inch at its widest point. Its 13-inch screen features a resolution of 1,366x768-pixels (720p). Dell has outfitted the device with a 4GB RAM and a choice of two solid state drives (128GB or 256GB). The device boasts an impressive battery life of nearly 9 hours, according to Dell's tests. The Dell XPS 13 will be available starting at $999 by the end of February 2012.
Toshiba offered a prototype Satellite Ultrabook with a roomy 14-inch display (1,366x768 resolution). Despite its size, the new Satellite weighs less than 4 pounds. Dell reps offered few details about internal components and were mum on the pricing or release date. Image via Engadget
Vizio's "ultrathin" laptop has no official name yet. Since it won't be called an Ultrabook, it might not be built around Intel's ultra-low voltage hardware. However, very few specs have been released at this point. Vizio has said that the device will feature solid state storage, USB 3.0 ports, and HDMI-out. Other than that, we'll have to wait until Spring 2012 to see what else Vizio has in store.