Taiwanese interested in buying a new lightweight laptop will be spoilt for choice in the next few months as five companies are planning to launch a total of seven ultrabook models by the end of December.
Ultrabooks from Asustek Computer Inc (華碩), Acer Inc (宏碁), Hewlett-Packard Co (HP), Toshiba Corp and Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想) will start hitting local stores in mass volumes during the fourth quarter, according to Intel Taiwan’s country manager Jason Chen (陳立生).
“Taiwan will be among the first markets to sell ultrabooks,” he told reporters yesterday at an ultrabook promotional press event.
“The consumer reception to ultrabooks here is better than expected,” he added.
Ultrabooks refer to a set of laptops built to be slim, light and powerful, yet very affordable.
The project is backed by Intel Corp, which is pumping in US$300 million in venture capital funds to help PC companies develop this new breed of machines.
Acer has taken the lead to debut the first slew of ultrabooks in Taiwan.
The company last week announced the Aspire S3, which comes with a 13.3-inch LED screen, measures 1.3cm in thickness, weighs less than 1.4kg and has a battery life of up to seven hours.
The price tag starts at NT$35,000 (US$1,142).
One of the unique selling points is that Acer’s ultrabooks offer users a choice of either hard disk drives or solid state drives (SSD), chief marketing officer Scott Lin (林顯郎) said last week.
As much as 90 percent of its ultrabook models will offer hard disk drives, compared to most other makers that offer only SSDs, he said.
SSDs are faster than hard disk drives, but are more expensive.
Toshiba is set to release two models in Taiwan and Japan simultaneously late next month.
Their prices start at NT$37,000.
The machines have 13.3-inch screens and come equipped with a 128GB SSD, according to Chien Chun-hao (錢俊豪), marketing manager of Grainnex Corp (新禾), which retails Toshiba’s products in Taiwan.
“If we reduce the price tags to lower than NT$30,000 through using low-end specifications, those products are less likely to win over Taiwanese users. We tailor our products on each market’s needs,” he said.
Wistron Corp (緯創), Taiwan’s third-largest contract maker of notebooks for brands like HP, Dell Inc and Acer, said ultrabook shipments are expected to account for more than 20 percent of its total notebook shipments during the first half of next year.
“Consumers [have] shifted [their] budgets to tablet PCs, because notebooks offer no new excitement to spur demand,” Wistron president Robert Hwang (黃柏漙) said on Monday.
“[Microsoft Corp’s new operating system] Windows 8 and ultrabooks may change that,” he added.
Taiwanese notebook makers are eager to increase sales, as their third-quarter shipments appeared to be lackluster.
Barclays Capital said on Monday that it expected notebook shipments from Taiwan’s top-tier contract makers to have grown 5 percent quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter, which is much lower than the five-year average of more than 25 percent growth quarter-on-quarter.
This was because of the very weak back-to-school demand and overall global economic uncertainty, it said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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