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Ultrabook makers take the Ivy Bridge path

Intel sets the rules

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Cream of the crop

Future Ultrabooks will, according to Intel, include face tracking and voice recognition. "We are raising the bar on more natural interaction," said Tom Kilroy, an Intel senior vice-president, during a keynote speech at the recent Computex show.

Touchscreen Ultrabooks, using Windows 8’s support for multi-touch, are on the way too. Acer and Asus have already announced Windows 8 Ultrabooks with touchscreens.

Toshiba Portege Z930

Toshiba's skinny-yet-capable Portégé Z930

In the meantime, Dell, LG, Samsung, Sony and others are updating their Ultrabooks or releasing new models with Ivy Bridge processors. Dell announced its first Inspiron Ultrabook at Computex. Known as the Inspiron 14z, it ships as standard with a Core i3 Sandy Bridge processor but can be upgraded to an Ivy Bridge chip.

Outside the Ultrabook niche, Dell has added two Ivy Bridge 15in notebooks and two 17in models to its range. Dell has also upgraded its Alienware gaming notebooks with Ivy Bridge processors.

Sony, meanwhile, has upgraded its entire Vaio range to Ivy Bridge, although very little else about the notebooks has changed. Sony has not announced plans for an Ivy Bridge Ultrabook. The new Ultrabook Vaios shown off by Sony recently all had Sandy Bridge chips.

Apple MacBook Air 11in 2012

Apple's MacBook Air line is now powered by Ivy Bridge

Toshiba is not hanging around, however. Its Portégé Z930 Ultrabook features a Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor. It also has a 13in screen, up to 12GB of RAM, 512GB of solid state storage, and weighs 1.1kg. It is 8.3mm thick at its thinnest point and has two USB 2.0, one USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA and Ethernet ports.

Like every Ultrabook shipped to date, however, it is weighed down by its price tag. At $1,249, it is outside Intel’s wished-for price range and in the same ball park as Apple’s MacBook Air.

The new Ivy Bridge Airs due any day could make it tricky for Ultrabook manufacturers. Apple is expected to revamp its entire notebook range with Ivy Bridge chips this month.

Samsung Series 9

Samsung's sexy Series 9 is getting Ivy Bridge

Samsung’s Series 7 notebooks, including the 17in Core i7 Gamer, have already been updated to Ivy Bridge, and those were joined recently by two Series 5 models.

The 15.6in Series 5 features a 2.3GHz Core i7, 8GB RAM and 750GB hard drive, along with Nvidia’s GeForce GT 630M graphics, while the 14in Series 5 500 has a 2.5GHz Core i5 chip, 8GB RAM and a 500GB hard drive. It also uses the GeForce GT 630M.

Samsung has said that it will add Ivy Bridge to its Series 3, Series 5 and Series 9 notebooks. ®

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