Coming Soon: Ultrabook Price Cuts

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Dell, Acer, HP Samsung

Clockwise from top left: Dell's XPS 13, Acer's Aspire Timeline Ultra, HP's Envy 14 Spectre and Samsung's Series 5 Ultra

If you’re thinking about buying an Ultrabook–a thin and light Windows laptop that’s meant to rival Apple’s MacBook Air–you might want to wait until April.

That’s when Intel is expected to launch its Ivy Bridge processor platform, a step up from the Sandy Bridge chips that power existing Ultrabooks. After the launch, Sandy Bridge-based Ultrabooks could see price drops of 20 percent to 30 percent, according to the rumormongers at DigiTimes.

(MORE: Ultrabooks: Bringing Sexy Back to PCs)

Most current Ultrabooks are priced around $1,000, but some of the nicer looking Sandy Bridge-based models we saw at the Consumer Electronics Show in January cost much more. Samsung’s second-generation Series 9 and HP’s Envy 14 Spectre, for example, are priced at $1,400. The cheapest Ultrabook I saw at CES was Lenovo’s U310, which will launch for around $700 next quarter. (I wonder if Lenovo was taking the Sandy Bridge price drop into account.)

Intel has talked about its desire to bring the cost of Ultrabooks down, but hasn’t explained in detail how that’s going to happen. Still, with the company planning a huge marketing push over the next few months–the biggest since its Centrino processors launched in 2003, the company says–the timing for a price drop seems right. Intel wants Ultrabooks to account for 40 percent of laptop sales this year, but that won’t happen unless prices are low enough for mainstream buyers.

DigiTimes has reported that the real sweet spot for Ultrabook prices, between $600 and $700, probably won’t happen until 2013. But if you can snag an $800 Ultrabook in a couple months, that’s still a lot cheaper than Apple’s $999-and-up MacBook Airs.

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