Intel today demoed a working example of its Nikiski concept ultrabook design that combines a touchscreen ultrabook with a transparent touchpad section.
The idea is that when the laptop is closed, a transparent section that runs the width of the laptop - where you'd normally expect to rest your palms - can be used to interact with your computer like it were a touchscreen. Closed you can lookup a meeting, read an email, or just browse the web. Open your PC and it will jump straight to what you were doing when looking through the window.
Intel expects the concept to particularly take off with the arrival of Windows 8, and its built-in touch-friendly Live Tile interface, though the concept still worked well on the Windows 7 demos we were shown.
Despite the highfalutin concept, Intel representatives were optimistic the concept would come to market in prices around the $600-$700 mark.
The company was also showing off a sliding ultrabook design, akin to the Asus Eee Pad Slider. The considerably larger 13in laptop, features a full touchscreen that slides flat to make for a large, thick tablet or slides up to take on a more conventional laptop form factor, with proper keyboard.
This design ties in with the general theme for Intel's press conference here at CES 2012 where it was keen to talk up the upcoming Ivy Bridge-based ultrabooks some of which will feature touch screens. According to Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group, a recent experiment done by Intel showed that, contrary to popular belief, users found using a touchscreen on a conventional laptop enjoyable and beneficial, with 75% of interactions undertaken through that interface.
Eden also went on to talk about a new age of ultrabooks packed with new sensors, such as accelerometers, and new voice recognition and motion detection software that will bring voice activation and Kinect-like interactions. These he demoed, showing a flight sim game controlled by tilting the laptop and a a slingshot game concept controlled by virtually pulling the slingshot back from the screen and letting go; the game would interpret the trajectory and power of the shot just from where the hand was.
A selection of both upcoming Ivy Bridge and existing Sandy Bridge ultrabooks
The arrival of 14in and 15in ultrabooks was also confirmed, which would give further credence to the rumours that larger Apple MacBook Airs are in the pipeline.
Perhaps of most excitement to most people, though, were the strong reassurances from Intel that the next wave of ultrabooks will hit lower price points. This will mean that we will actually see the £600-£700 prices Intel promised the ultrabook idea would deliver right from the start.
All told, 2012 is set to be an exciting year for laptops with lower prices and a greater choice when it comes to form factors.
Excited by some of these concepts or the news that ultrabooks will soon be cheaper? Let us know in the comments.