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HP tries to beat ultrabook pricing with 'Sleekbooks'

HP's new thin-and-light Sleekbooks start at at $599, while ultrabooks start at $749

By Agam Shah
May 9, 2012 12:59 AM ET

IDG News Service - Hewlett-Packard announced new Envy Ultrabooks on Wednesday, but also a new aggressively priced thin-and-light brand of laptops called Envy Sleekbooks, which boast starting prices that are US$150 lower than ultrabooks.

The Envy Sleekbook laptops, which have the latest chips from Advanced Micro Devices and Intel, come with 14- and 15.6-inch screens and start at US$599. HP's Envy Ultrabooks have the latest Intel third-generation Core chips, come with screens of the same size as the Sleekbooks, and start at $749.

The Envy Ultrabooks and Sleekbooks are no thicker than 19.8 millimeters, and weigh from 1.8 kilograms. The thin-and-light laptops' batteries last between seven and nine hours.

HP could not put AMD chips into its ultrabooks as the designs are exclusive to Intel, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. So HP built a separate laptop in Envy Sleekbooks for AMD chips.

Ultrabooks -- a new class of thin and light laptops backed by Intel -- come exclusively with Intel's processors and have been praised for design but criticized for high prices that can run over $800. AMD has said users don't need to pay a premium for ultrathin laptops, and that it wants to enable similar designs to ultrabooks with prices starting at $500.

HP's thin laptops come as Intel and AMD release faster chips that provide longer battery life. Intel has started shipping third-generation Core processors, aka Ivy Bridge, while AMD will soon announce new laptop and desktop chips code-named Trinity.

The aggressive pricing of Envy Sleekbooks could be AMD's way to lure buyers away from the more expensive Ultrabooks, McCarron said.

"The price is a continuation of what we've seen in the past: AMD tends to price laptops aggressively," McCarron said. "What all of this is underscoring is the evolution of laptops. Guess what, they are getting thinner."

There are size and weight distinctions between HP's Envy Ultrabooks and Sleekbooks. The Ultrabooks feel lighter than the Sleekbook laptops, though both are extremely thin and lightweight.

The Ultrabooks are also slightly thinner as HP tried to stick to specifications set by Intel, said David Conrad, director of product marketing at HP. Ultrabooks cannot be more than 21 millimeters thick, according to design criteria set by Intel.

But Sleekbooks are comparable to the Ultrabooks on battery life, which is between eight to nine hours.

The Ultrabooks also have some additional features that the Sleekbooks don't, Conrad said. The Ultrabooks boot more quickly, have antitheft features typically baked into Intel's latest Core processors, and can also resume from standby more quickly.

Intel in the past has said Ivy Bridge ultrabooks will also blend in tablet-like features such as touchscreens, but HP officials declined comment on when such models would be introduced.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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