Looking forward to 2012: Ultrabooks

By Doug Aamoth  techland.time.com

As 2011 quickly draws to a close, here’s what I’m most looking forward to in 2012. Check back each day this week for similar pieces from Graeme, Jared, Matt and Keith.

Toshiba / Intel

Toshiba / Intel

Ultrabooks

It’s taken the PC industry a while to reach the next major stage in notebook designs, but 2012 will be an interesting year thanks to ultrabooks. We’ll see MacBook Air-style offerings from major PC manufacturers that weigh around three pounds and measure less than an inch thick, but won’t require nearly as much compromise as ultraportable notebooks have in the past.

We’ve already seen a handful of ultrabooks from the likes ofnotebooks on the market will adopt these new razor-thin designs. It’ll result in another blow to physical media—CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray, etc.—as ultrabooks will be too thin to sport built-in optical drives. It’ll be a while before notebooks with optical drives disappear forever, of course—and external drives are always an option.

Aside from the portability afforded by ultrabooks, I’m excited about the promises of more nimble speeds and instant-on features as flash-based storage and improved power management by new processors from Intel and AMD take hold. Instant-on features, especially—having your desktop ready right when you open the computer’s lid to return it from standby (with minimal battery loss)—may steal some thunder from tablets, so that’ll be interesting to watch. More info