Ultrabook prices come tumbling down

Is the bloom already off the Ultrabook marketing rose? With little redeeming value and Intel Ivy Bridge processors coming, Ultrabook prices have hit the skids

Aren't you glad you didn't rush out and buy an Ultrabook?

Thin netbooks -- whether or not they literally fit Intel's definition of an Ultrabook -- are coming down in price rather quickly.

At Newegg.com, for example, the Acer Aspire S3 (Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 320GB HDD) dropped from $999 to $899 in October, and it's down to $799 now. The Toshiba Portegé R835 (i5, 6GB, 640GB HDD) dropped from $899 to $799 in November, and it's now at $749.

Lenovo's IdeaPad U300s (i5, 4GB, 128GB SSD) just fell from $1,599 to $1,199, according to Lenovo's official site. And the automatic 10 percent discount -- wait for the popup to appear -- brings this entry-level genuine Ultrabook down to just over $1,000.

The HP Folio 13-1020US (i5, 4GB, 128GB SSD) started at $949. It's now available on Amazon.com for $849.

Bucking the trend, though, the price on the Asus UX31 series -- which some feel is in the MacBook Air league -- hasn't budged a bit.

Taipei-based industry site DigiTimes says, "Lenovo and HP's ultrabook prices also recently dropped 25% and 21%, respectively." While I haven't been able to confirm those price drops at the retail level, there's no question that Ultrabook and quasi-Ultrabook and we-don't-really-want-to-call-it-a-netbook prices are coming down. The only real questions are how low they'll go and how quickly.

The industry's waiting with bated breath for the Ivy Bridge processor, which significantly reduces power consumption and should goose performance a little bit -- including promised support for DirectX 11. Intel has confirmed a release date in the second quarter; rumor puts it on April 8. It remains to be seen how long it will take for manufacturers to get the new systems out, but you can bet they're currently looking to clear out old inventory by late March.

If you really have your eye on an Ultrabook or Ultrabook wannabe, you might want to wait a month and see what happens.

One thing's for sure: Based on retail prices, Intel's projected rocketlike trajectory for Ultrabook sales doesn't seem to be materializing.

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