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Intel’s ultrabook concept is catching on with several vendors launching new models in OZ recently.

According to Scott Browning, Marketing Director at JB Hi Fi, the category will rank alongside tablets and smartphones as one of the “hot categories” running into Xmas and the New Year.

IHS iSuppli is projecting that 43 percent of all notebooks shipping by 2015 will be based on the thin and light ultrabook concept. Ultrabooks, which have just started hitting retail stores, are expected to comprise 2 percent of the category in 2011, 13 percent in 2012, and 28 percent in 2014.

Matthew Wilkins, IHS’s computer platforms principal analyst, said this level of growth and acceptance by consumers is necessary for the laptop category to survive in the face of the onslaught of tablet PCs.

“With media tablets having already reversed the expansion of the previously fast-growing netbook platform, PC makers now are keenly aware that the notebook must evolve to maintain market growth and relevance,” he said, “Enter the ultrabook, which borrows some of the form-factor and user-interface advantages of the media tablet to enhance the allure of the venerable notebook.”

Ultrabooks, as defined by Intel, are light and thin with fast boot and restart times that emulate the capabilities of a tablet PC. They are pricier than notebooks, usually $799 and more, and feature solid-state drives but not optical drives. The processor giant first introduced the concept earlier this year at Computex in Taiwan and in a series of press events.

IHS is waiting to see if vendors can quickly bring down the price, making ultrabooks more accessible to the masses. If this happens, said Len Jelinek, semiconductor manufacturing research director and analyst at IHS, the processor and flash-memory industries will experience a rapid change and expansion to meet this demand.

Breaking News: The first Ultrabook to breach the sub-$1,000 price bracket will be from Lenovo. Click here for the story.

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