Intel touched on a wide variety of technology today during it's CES 2012 press conference, but simultaneously the focus was on the ultrabook: the new wave of convenient, lightweight laptops pioneered by devices such as the Apple Macbook Air.
The emphasis today was on compatibility and sleek design. Intel executive Mooly Eden insisted that batteries, hard-disks, optical drives and the like could all be made thinner in order to usher in a new era of quick-starting, highly portable ultrabooks. Woven into this portability was the idea of integrating near field communication technology (NFC) into ultrabooks, for identity protection and paying for things.
According to Intel, there are 75 ultrabooks in design as we speak and many of these will see store shelves later in the year along with Intel's Ivy Bridge processor. The microchip giants went on to display a number of concept pieces. The first was a thin, lightweight ultrabook with a touchscreen, which let you use the screen as you would a tablet.
The next step was another concept ultrabook - called the Nikiski - which featured a transparent elongated touchpad allowing you to use a portion of your touchscreen even when the ultrabook is closed. Not only that, the letterbox-esque touchscreen window used a funky Windows 8 tiled interface which admittedly looked very snazzy indeed.
Intel also made announcements concerning its partnership with voice-recognition specialists Nuance in order to bring native, microphone-free voice-recognition technology to the rapidly expanding arsenal of the ultrabook. The companies together said that the idea was to support eight languages, but there were no indications of when this would be available.
The potential for gesture recognition was also touched upon. Intel showed a small demonstration of a catapult being controlled via a kinect-style interface (though notably with no external peripheral).
So to cut a long story short, there was a lot of potential and a lot of concepts but not a great deal of concrete, ready-to-go technology. As the year unfolds we may well see the ultrabook market explode the same way the tablet market did last year, perhaps with a quality touchscreen ultrabook as the catalyst.
But what do you think? Do any of the ideas put demonstrated by Intel today inspire you to plump for an ultrabook in the future? Let us know via the comments box below.