Cheaper or faster?
That's going to be the burning question for computer shoppers perusing the aisles of electronics retail stores this fall. That's when the new line of notebooks powered by consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) chips will start appearing in force. They'll be sitting right next to the trendiest offering in portable computing, Netbooks. Netbooks have come to be viewed as the best way to get cheap, portable computing, but CULV notebooks could change that.
Netbooks are mini-notebooks with screens between 9 and 11 inches, that have lower-power processors, and fewer features, but very attractive price points. CULV-based notebooks are ultrathin notebooks. They come with a more traditional 12- or 13-inch screen, but are also very low-power, so they have great battery life. Starting at $600 to $1,000, they'll occupy the price range just a step above Netbooks, which run between $200 and $500.
That's where the choice comes in. Will consumers go for a Netbook, which is less expensive, sometimes harder to use, but very portable? Or a sleek-looking notebook with great battery life and a slightly higher price? Just a bit more money could mean a far more fully featured computer. Who would still go for a Netbook?
Some analysts suggest many won't.
For its part, the provider of these ultra-low voltage chips, Intel, would prefer to steer people toward CULVs. Sure, Intel is also responsible for the Netbook phenomenon, but those devices carry much lower profit margins. Intel CEO Paul Otellini on Tuesday talked up CULV notebooks and their advantages over Netbooks, saying, "Now, if you want a thin and light notebook, you don't have to just pick a Netbook. You can pick an affordable notebook that has more functionality."
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