Notebook insiders are reporting that touch-screen samples are already heading out to ultrabook manufacturers, indicating that units shipped next year will support touch-based features in Windows 8.
Although ultrabooks have just arrived on the market, their biggest competitor is not only the MacBook Air, but the entire tablet sector. Consumers seemingly want thin, portable devices that let them search the internet, play HD movies and HD games without the bulk that's associated with the standard laptop. To conquer both adversaries, it seems only natural to add touch-based capabilities to Intel's new form factor... especially with Windows 8 on the horizon.
According to unnamed industry sources, notebook manufacturers plan to install touch panels in ultrabooks next year to accommodate the new touch-based features offered in Windows 8. LCD panel and touch module suppliers are reportedly delivering samples to these companies already. The only problem, it seems, is getting bulky touch screens inside the thin ultrabook chassis while conforming to Intel's specifications.
To overcome this roadblock, back-light unit (BLU) manufacturers are mounting lighting devices, optical films, and light guide panels onto the upper covers of ultrabooks by using an open cell (which depends on the lid of the ultrabook for protection) or hinge-up process. This will reportedly help reduce the thickness of touch-based ultrabooks and keep them in line with Intel's sub-0.83-inch specification while still posing a challenge to the tablet and MacBook Air market.
Meanwhile, the sources claim that shipments of Acer's Aspire S3 and Asustek Computer's Zenbook have so far met market expectations. As of the end of November, shipments of Aspire S3 from ODM Wistron have reached 200,000 to 210,000 units. ODM shipments of Zenbooks from Pegatron Technology are expected to top 150,000 to 170,000 units by the end of the month.