It’s taken long enough, but it seems that with Intel’s Ultrabook spec, PC laptop makers are actually starting to put together a few notebooks that are competitive with the svelte and successful MacBook Air. The first out of the gate were a bit pricey, but Toshiba has just announced a sub-$1000 unit that doesn’t compromise too much on power. And it’s sure thin enough.
Let’s just get the specs stated:
- 0.63″ (15.9mm) thick
- 13.3″ LED-backlit display (1366×768)
- 2.5 pounds
- Intel Core i3, i5, i7 processors
- Onboard Intel HD 3000 graphics
- 128GB SSD
- Magnesium alloy chassis with “honeycomb structure” for rigidity
- Backlit, spill-resistant keyboard
- 2xUSB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0 (right side), HDMI and VGA out
- 1.3-megapixel webcam
- Fingerprint reader (optional, on B2B model)
RAM wasn’t specified. I asked Toshiba for clarification on specs and pricing, but “under $1000” was all they were willing to disclose. They also claim the sound system is enhanced, but compared to what is not clear. Small laptops like this one generally have pretty awful sound due simply to the limitations placed on the size, depth, and placement of the speaker drivers. Presumably Toshiba is proud to have approached those limitations as closely as possible, which is as much as anyone can do.
Whether it’s actually competitive depends on what you actually get for that low, low price. Could be a bargain, could be a hard bargain. We’ll have to wait for Toshiba to spill.
As for the design, it’s thin, angular, and efficient, but I wouldn’t say it sets itself apart much. You certainly can’t fault it on thickness or weight, though it lacks the unified single-shape design of the Air (I’m not sure how I feel about seeing through the sides there). Here’s a little gallery of the most representative shots:[gallery link="file" columns="3"]
As for availability, expect it in November. Hold onto your wallets, though. We expect similar submissions to the Ultrabook field from Asus, Acer (theirs leaked this morning), and others before year’s end, perhaps with a sweeter price or configuration.