Apple and Samsung have both released new laptops that utilize the power management capability of Intel's latest chip -- and to great result.
But these are top-of-the-food-chain systems -- sleek and thin, with power-efficient SSDs and a chip, Haswell, built from the ground up with energy savings in mind. The prices of these systems reflect that effort, and may be a big negative for some would-be buyers.
"I'm not coming up with any dramatic change in the world," said Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester, when asked for his thoughts about the 12-hour battery systems promised by the MacBook Air ( (See review) and the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus. "It's not like we're all going to become left handed or something," he said.
Gillett's hard assessment is based on the need for a lot of cold cash to buy these new arrivals, especially when the world seems mostly ok with getting by on less.
Intel's Haswell, a 22-nanometer chip, turns transistors on and off to adjust power usage. It also has faster interconnects to speed data transfers, cutting the time data spends in transit, something that also reduces power. Overall, Intel has said the chip can extend battery life 50%.
Samsung this week announced a new addition to its ultrabook line, the ATIV Book 9 Plus. This is a 13.3-in. system has a screen resolution of 3200-x1800 pixels, 5.9-second boot-up times and 0.9 of a second wake-up.
Samsung didn't reveal pricing, but the thin, high-resolution systems in this line start at just over $1,000 and can go higher depending on the size of the SSD, whether 128GB or 256GB.
The MacBook Air starts at $999 for the 11-in. model and climbs in price as well, depending on configuration.
Gillett sees the appeal of longer battery life, and says that might help change people's minds about Windows laptops.
But in both the business and consumer markets, "there are a bunch of people that really like $600 laptop prices and are going to turn their noses up" at more costly systems, said Gillett.
For buyers who don't want to spend a lot on a system, "I don't think 12-hour battery life is going to get them to budge because I think the issue is the money, not the battery life," said Gillett.
The power savings Haswell is capable of won't be limited to high-end ultrabooks, and the best approach for PC buyers may be patience. Haswell is expected to deliver battery-extending benefits to HDDs as well.
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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