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Next generation Intel ultrabooks to feature touch-screens, 3D displays

The third wave of ultrabooks coming out next year will feature touch-screen capabilities, "high quality" 3D displays, and possibly a new chassis material that's 65 per cent cheaper to manufacture than materials used in current designs, according to Digitimes.

The Taiwanese tech site also reported Monday that Intel's specifications for the third generation of ultrabooks include the use of unspecified "sensors," possibly a reference to motion sensors for yet another method of interface with the thin-and-light laptops.

Intel, which kicked off its global ultrabook initiative with PC makers in 2011, is shooting for the next wave of products to arrive in the second quarter of 2013. That will coincide with the chip giant's introduction of next-generation, 22-nanometer processors, codenamed Haswell, the successors to its current Ivy Bridge generation of laptop and desktop chips.

Digitimes cited unnamed sources "from the upstream supply chain" in its report.

Since introducing the first generation of ultrabooks at its Intel Developer Forum last September, the chip giant has outlined a series of stringent specifications that must be met for a laptop to win the ultrabook seal of approval — including thinness, weight, boot-up speed, security protocols, and battery life. Intel has also recommended that qualifying ultrabooks be priced below $1,000 (£650). At the start, many Intel partners initially snuck under that barrier with $999 price tags for their offerings, but prices for official ultrabooks have become more fluid as the category matures.

According to Digitimes, Intel is now pushing "a new chassis manufacturing method from the automobile and aerospace industries that can reduce costs by 65 per cent" for ultrabook makers, which could further drive retail prices down.

The site also referenced ultrabook makers' increasing concerns over running up against Apple's design patents for the MacBook Air, seen as the prototypical ultrabook (though Apple doesn't refer to it as such) and the inspiration for Intel's expensive initiative.

"[U]ltrabook players will need to spend more manpower and time on R&D to avoid violating these patents ... [and] the issue has already caused some vendors to hesitate in their ultrabook plans," Digitimes reported.

The site didn't specify which Apple patents might be causing such consternation, though Apple did earn a patent last month on its distinctive laptop teardrop concept. The HD displays supposedly required for third-gen ultrabooks also don't sound far off from Apple's own high-resolution Retina display technology used in its Mac laptops and mobile devices.

Image credit: Asus