With yesterday's release of the ASUS UX21E and some canny launch discounting by The Good Guys, Australian Ultrabook pricing is finally edging toward some more approachable figures.
It was only last week when we reported Acer's reductions
on its Aspire S3 Ultrabook line, with notably the entry-level Core i3 model receiving a $200 price drop to a more wallet-friendly $999
, making it the first Ultrabook in Australia to break the $1,000 price barrier. But with yesterday's expansion of the ASUS ZENBOOK range via the new UX21E for $1,099 RRP (on sale right now at The Good Guys for a tempting $987
), we spy the beginnings of a handsome trend developing.
Admittedly the UX21E, like Acer's cheapest Aspire S3, carries a rather humble Ultrabook spec. It features a 1.4GHz Intel Core i3-2367M CPU, 4GB RAM, a 64GB SSD and an 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 display. But with an RRP of $1,099, it shows ASUS is the first Ultrabook maker to take Apple on squarely in the MacBook Air space (with pricing that isn't plainly uncompetitive, that is).
According to Kate Burleigh, National Marketing Manager for Intel Australia, we should see more of this too: "As the Ultrabook category evolves, Intel expects increased demand and volume economics will drive down the cost to mainstream price points... Thin & light laptops have been available in the Australian market for quite some time, however they have been at times referred to as 'executive or corporate jewellery' priced at approximately $3,000. For the first time, there is a no-compromise solution with Ultrabooks, available at mainstream price points which we believe will be attractive to consumers."
Whether the lower pricing will enable Intel to achieve its stated goal "to exit 2012 with 40% of the consumer notebook market being Ultrabooks" is anybody's guess, but with Ivy Bridge
in the pipeline for next year (and likely to push current Sandy Bridge model pricing down even further when it arrives), it's certainly not a bad time to be shopping around for an ultraportable.