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Can the Ultrabook Be Saved?

Tuesday, 8 Jan 2013 | 4:28 PM ET
Attendees inspect Intel UltraBooks during the 2013 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Getty Images
Attendees inspect Intel UltraBooks during the 2013 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Ultrabooks were all the rage last year at the Consumer Electronic Show, but a high price tag kept consumers away in 2012. Intel, though, seems determined to save the Ultrabook in 2013 by offering more features on the devices and slashing the price.

Intel's manufacturing partners will be rolling out dozens of new platforms this year priced below $750, Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel's PC client group, said at a press conference Monday at CES in Las Vegas. (Read More: Intel Bets Big on Thin PCs and Phones at Las Vegas Show )

"What I think you are going to see by the end of this year is touch-based systems down at the $599 price point," said Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intel's PC client group, at a CES press event Monday. "Remember a year and a half ago we were standing up here for and we were at $999, people were wondering if we were going to be at $699."

The boom in smartphones and tablets has no doubt weighed on PC makers as they struggle to revive the industry with ultra thin computers, but consumers have yet to really catch on. (Read More: Samsung to Widen Smartphone Gap With Apple This Year: Report )

Ultrabook shipments fell short of expectations in 2012, according to the analyst firm IHS. The firm slashed its shipment forecast for the devices in October from 22 million for 2012 to 10.3 million and lowered its outlook for shipments in 2013 to 44 million from its previous estimate of 61 million.

CES 2013: 'Bigger is Better'
Forget "tablets", bigger is better at the Consumer Electronics Show this year as "table top" computers steal the show, Mark Spoonauer, Editor-in-Chief, Laptop Magazine, told CNBC.

Intel, though, is hoping a lower price tag and new designs for its convertible computers will help woo consumers back to the PC.

"In the mobile computing space, the lines are blurring," Skaugen said. "We fundamentally believe that there is a convergence happening between what has traditionally been notebook computing and tablet computing at a new range, or a new segment which we call the Ultrabook convertible and attachable."

While some previous versions of Intel powered Ultrabooks were touch-enabled, most of them were not. Intel announced Monday, though, that it will now require all 4th generation Core Ultrabooks to have touch capabilities.

The new devices will also have voice capability, longer battery life and more security features and will be priced at $799 to $899 when they launch later this year.

"If you go back and you look at the history of the Ultrabook, we announced this as a journey," Skaugen said. "We believe the 4th generation Intel Core Ultrabooks are going to be game changers. This is the first product that we have delivered and designed at Intel from the grounds up with Ultrabook in mind."

CES 2013 Videos

  • Rocco Pendola, TheStreet.com, weighs in on whether it is time for Apple to drop Best Buy, and why it may not be in the tech giant's best interest to produce cheaper versions of its products.

  • CNBC's Mary Thompson reports American Express is cutting 5,400 jobs; and Dan Ackerman, CNET senior editor, discusses some of the hottest items at the Consumer Electronic Show this year.

  • CNBC's Jon Fortt is at CES in Las Vegas, where he interviews John Aden, executive vp of general merchandise for Wal-Mart. Aden talks about what he finds interesting and what is lacking on the show floor.