Windows PCs may be looking to imitate MacBook Air

According to unnamed sources Acer, Asus and Lenovo may soon offer alternatives to Apple's ultra-thin computer.

Feeling a bit of MacBook Air envy, Acer, Asus and Lenovo may soon offer alternatives to Apple's ultra-thin computer, according to Digitimes.

The PC makers plan to launch their own svelte PCs, with screen sizes ranging from 13.3 inches to 14 inches, in the first quarter of next year, unnamed sources told Digitimes. The PCs will reportedly use the same screen assembly process as Apple to shave up to 3.5 mm off their LCD panels.

The ultra-thin PCs will also reportedly use Intel's highly anticipated Sandy Bridge platform, which integrates the CPU with high-powered graphics.

PC makers have chased Apple down this road before with such products as Dell's Adamo and Sony's Vaio X. But Acer, Asus and Lenovo already sell less expensive slim PCs using ultra-low voltage processors from Intel.

It's not clear whether Acer, Asus and Lenovo are merely refreshing their existing ultra-thin PCs or trying to imitate the MacBook Air in earnest. The answer largely depends on whether they'll use hard drives or solid state for storage.

A key to the MacBook Air's figure -- the 13-inch model measures 0.68 inches at its thickest point -- is its solid state drive, a new configuration from Toshiba. Shortly after Apple announced the latest Air, Toshiba began offering a seemingly identical SSD to other manufacturers. Although Toshiba wouldn't say it was the same drive, it shared the model number and storage capacities found in the MacBook Air.

My semi-educated guess: PC makers will borrow some of the MacBook Air's slimming elements, like the new screen assembly process, simply to have a vague resemblance to Apple's product. But the PCs won't have the high-end design that raises the MacBook Air's curb appeal (and price), as the Adamo and Vaio X did. That niche is probably best left to Apple anyway.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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