First-Generation Consumer Ultra-Thin Laptops May Have Design, Reliability Issues – Analyst

Notebook Suppliers Save on Materials When It Comes to Notebooks

by Anton Shilov
07/01/2009 | 10:27 PM

Even though the industry has high hopes for ultra-thin notebooks aimed at consumers as well as on Intel’s so-called consumer ultra low voltage (CULV) platform, it looks like the first generation of such laptops may appear to be rather experimental. According to an analyst, savings on materials cause “cracking”.


“Early production units being built in plastic, with the bottom case being plastic, are cracking. So, to get that really thin form factor that they are after, they are probably going to have to go with a metal case,” said Doug Freedman, an analyst for Broadpoint AmTech, an equity research firm, reports Cnet

Traditionally ultra low-voltage platforms have been used for ultra-portable notebooks aimed at business users who need long battery life amid sufficient performance and functionality. Many of such ultra-portable computers are state-of-the-art pieces of engineering and employ the latest technologies to provide excellent reliability, stability, battery life, security and other qualities that have tremendous value for those on the road.

Ultra-thin notebooks aimed at consumers is a completely new trend and many manufacturers still have not figured the exact demands of average users when it comes to ultra-portables. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: since consumer-oriented platforms have to be affordable, system makers are not implementing their state-of-the-art technologies, such as active hard disk drive protection, powerful yet light batteries and, most importantly, high-quality materials and robust engineering to keep the costs down.

Expensive ultra-portable notebooks are made of high-quality materials, such as aluminum, advanced plastic composites and so on. In addition, companies like Lenovo equip their high-end ThinkPad laptops with internal roll cages that can be made of carbon fiber or titanium composite. By contrast, inexpensive ultra-thin mobile computers are made of plastic only.

“Original design manufacturers were advising their customers to switch to full-metal cases. Cost-reduction features are going to be hard in that form factor on the industrial design side,” added Mr. Freedman.

However, at least some original equipment manufacturers decided to proceed with plastic cases, which, apparently, tend to crack.

No actual brand-named or models have been disclosed.