It is likely that some readers will remember the concept of “Ultrabook” and how Intel signed an alliance with several laptop manufacturers in order to make a leap in the quality of the equipment. For the first time, a certification guaranteed minimum quality and novice users did not have to address specifications tables to choose a device capable of meeting their needs. Probably you are already thinking that you do not need a sticker to know if a PC is good or not. We do not either, but neither we nor you are the ones who buy most laptops.
Intel inflated a huge amount of millions of dollars in the industry that helped improve sales but also put conditions: teams that wanted to carry the seal had to meet certain characteristics such as thin, light, offer good performance and autonomy to the height of the expected. It was not until then when the MacBook Air began to have rivals at its height, as the fantastic Dell XPS or the HP Specter 360.
Currently, there is a wide range of laptops: there are fantastic equipment but also others whose performance is far below what they promise, have a ridiculous autonomy to consider themselves portable or do not have the connectivity options that will be necessary for the near future. Intel’s proposal is, once again, to encourage the market to take a leap of quality in its products in exchange for their support.
Although the concept Project Athena was unveiled months ago, it was a few hours ago at Computex when Intel has revealed the specifications that will have to meet the teams that aspire to be certified.
These are the most relevant:
- Intel i5 or i7 processors based on the “Ice Lake” platform.
- 8 Gbytes of dual-channel DRAM, at a minimum
- 256 Gbytes of SSD storage, at least.
- More than 16 hours of autonomy in video playback.
- More than 9 hours in web browsing.
- Fast charging system that provides four hours of use with half an hour of charging.
- WiFi connectivity 6 Gig + and Thunderbolt 3.
- Fingerprint or facial identification systems.
- Screens of 12 and 15.x inches at a minimum resolution of 1080p.
- Backlit keyboard and support for pointers.
- Instant start from the resting state, without waiting.
It is obvious that there is no entry-level equipment with these wickers and, at least in principle, it will be necessary to spend a lot more than 1200 euros to have a certified laptop. Manufacturers like ASUS, Acer, HP, Samsung, Sharp, Lenovo, Dell, Microsoft or Google have already committed to the Project Athena, so we will begin to see certified equipment starting in the fall.
Intel, as a key player in the technology market, seeks to spur the industry and try to push sales back. Project Athena will attack the Asian market that puts cheap equipment on the market, will try to distance itself from the AMD proposals and, by the way, place millions of processors in the equipment of the manufacturers that want to benefit from a campaign that, surely, will be accompanied by a millionaire investment in marketing.
In addition to presenting a data sheet, an independent team will verify that the laptops that aspire to be certified compliant with what was promised. Up to fifteen different performance tests will be performed to verify that what the numbers say works in the actual use of the equipment.
A priori and, at least for now, there will not be an identifier or a sticker with which users can identify at a glance if a team is inside the Project Athena. Without this incentive, it seems complicated to convince manufacturers to certify their equipment and boast about it, so this strategy may only be the first phase of something much bigger and probably similar to what we experienced with Ultrabooks.
Consumers on their part will have more and better to choose from. This type of equipment will be very expensive at the beginning, but they will moderate prices and, in passing, they will stimulate the market outside of Anthena’s orbit to do things better to have options to compete. Do you think that this is the way to reactivate the sales of a laptop? Would you trust a certification granted by Intel? How will AMD and the rest of the manufacturers react?