New materials to bring ultrabooks down to $599

Plastic ultrabooks are coming. The ultrabook realm is populated almost solely by aluminum-clad systems right now, but according to Focus Taiwan, that will change in the second half of the year—and the cheaper materials will translate directly into lower system prices.

The site quotes Intel Taiwan chief Jason Chen as saying, "It is likely there will be US$599 models in selected regions, but the mainstream price should fall around US$699." Chen adds that, thanks to these cheaper systems, ultrabooks will end up accounting for 30-40% of all notebook shipments this year.

The folks at Lilliputing got some dirt on plastic ultrabooks from Intel's IDF presentations. By the looks it, the systems will actually be made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, and Intel claims they will respond similarly in torque tests to metal chassis—in other words, they're supposed to be just as stiff. Some future ultrabooks may feature aluminum-coated plastic chassis, as well.

Frankly, I'm not married to aluminum as a material. If plastics and fiberglass can give us lower prices without compromising build quality, then all the better. I just hope ultrabooks don't devolve into ugly, cheap-feeling machines.

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