What's the best way to attack both the notebook and tablet market without losing the best features of both? Release an ultrabook with a touch-based, swiveling display. Unnamed industry sources are now reporting that Asus will do just that next year, and reveal the first model during Computex Taipei in June.
The news follows previous reports that ultrabook manufacturers are incorporating touch-based screens into their designs starting next year to support Windows 8's touch-based features. To make this possible, back-light unit (BLU) manufacturers are reportedly 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 is to reduce the thickness of touch-based ultrabooks and keep them in line with Intel's sub-0.83-inch specification.
That said, an ultrabook twisted into a tablet mode won't be quite as thin as an actual tablet, but consumers will have the option of pulling the keyboard back out once typing on the touch screen gets too annoying. The Asus ultrabook making its appearance in June is already slated to launch alongside Windows 8 when it's offered by Microsoft for public consumption in September... and it probably won't be the only swivel ultrabook on display.
The swivel screen idea reportedly stems from Intel itself who is offering a handful of design ideas to its "downstream" partners for their upcoming ultrabooks. Future models will also sport Intel's Ivy Bridge as of May 2012 which is expected to reel in even more demand for the new form factor. Still, the combination of Ivy Bridge and a swivel touchscreen may just be what the ultrabook market needs to pull consumers away from the lure of tablets -- if they're kept at a reasonable price point, that is.
Just recently, Acer president Jim Wong said that ultrabook prices will drop down to $799 to $899 USD by 2Q12, and then to $499 USD in 2013 -- this is partially due to a $100 subsidy finally provided by Intel. But will touch-based swivel ultrabooks be just as cheap? Probably not, so there's a good chance we'll begin to see two tiers of ultrabooks come September 2012.