It's official, 2012 is the year of Macbook clones

There's no bitterness here at all, we've always wanted to own a PC that looks a little like a Macbook Air, if we're honest with ourselves. This is the year that that wish will come true, with a host of Ultrabooks that look almost like the real deal assaulting our eye sockets at CES.

Here's a few examples of devices we found lying around in the Microsoft and Intel booths over our first day of travel;

Now, don't get us wrong, it's great to see manufacturers actually caring about the industrial designs of the machines they're making available this year, but it'd be good to see a little more innovation instead of slapping on aluminum, making it slim and adding in illuminated keys.

However, we did find a concept machine that illustrates a great new way manufacturers are looking at the Ultrabook, and that differentiates them from the others (pictured below).

This device has a screen that swivels, as you can see in the gaps in the screen bezel, so that it can be used as either a laptop or tablet. It's not too obvious, and the concept still needs a little work, but at least it's different.

Sure, Ultrabooks might be the next big thing (or maybe not), and it's great to see light, thin and powerful devices becoming available, but manufacturers need to take a step back and look at what really differentiates them from everyone else. Otherwise, they risk becoming part of the sea of Ultrabooks, indistinguishable from one another, with the Macbook Air reigning above them all. 

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owen w, you are a ****in idiot. seriously **** off

by the way,sony did chicklet keyboard first moron. what kind of people write for this site. do they just let any joe schmoe write? because he doesnt seem to know his head from his ass . this site has turned to ****. it is now the gutter of the internet. you will no longer make add revenue from me here on out. **** you

Edited by vcfan, Jan 13 2012, 7:57am :

This is one of the reason I used to love Neowin is that it used to be a place to come and not be mocked by cocky apple fanboys.. You could of atleast put an editorial tag on the article but you state these things as if they are facts.. This is why I have been slowly moving to other websites to get away from authors that comment on Microsoft machines from the standpoint of an apple fanboy.. What is the point of comparing a bunch of windows machines to apple laptops.. its just silly.. if we wanted apple laptops we would get them.. we want windows machines for our own reasons.. its like comparing android tablets to the ipad..

I don't use this lightly, but you are a moron Owen. The type that conspiracy theory believers are.

Just because Apple makes thin, aluminum clad laptops, everyone else is a knockoff? Even though even apple was not the first one to use it?
Good design follows logic and cost. Aluminium is the material to use right now. Thin has been a trend for some time now, but it was not until Intel made a push in the processor area that it became possible.

Are pagehits so important to you? Should quality not be most important?

The swivel is stupid and almost certainly not even close as durable, and thus not even comparable.

UndergroundWire said,
It's official because Owen says so? Why is it most tech sites say 2012 is the year of the Ultrabook.

Technically the two don't have to be mutually exclusive. It can be the year of the ultrabooks that look like macbook clones.

I agree with others that calling the second and third laptops as copies is a bit of a stretch. However HP's line of laptops from the past two years, especially the Envy - one can't help but think the designs were inspired by Macbooks, except the touchpad (from what I heard) was shoddy

But I also agree the first and fourth laptops are a bit too similar to the unibody design, except it's brushed than a matte coat.

Now for tablets... let's not go there.

Lol is this forreal? What a biased article. The fact that the author has gotten so defensive by replying to individual comments on how his article is "right" is so unprofessional as well.

None of them look like an Air at all.

Apple made a computer that was thin, and made of a material available world wide. If they didn't do it, someone else would have.

Clone. What a joke of a title.

iam i the only one to think it doesnt at all look like a macbook air? im pretty sure ive seen aluminium used b4 the crapbook came about also

For years, laptop makers were working towards thinner and lighter - you should see the 1998 dell laptop I had, 3" thick and the power supply was bigger than most laptops today.

Apple makes a thin and light laptop, while device makers continue what they have been doing for over a decade. And suddenly, thin and light is an Apple exclusive and only they should have the rights to.

No laptop maker should be able to take advantage of better batteries, smaller processors with better heat dissipation, thinner displays, and flash chips in place of big HDDs. These are only for Apple. We get it, Owen, all advancements, if Apple invented them or not, are the sole property of Apple. And all others be damned.

And as for the design, you are right. Square, a video screen, a keyboard, Apple really is genius (I know, genius, that is an Apple exclusive word) for creating that design.

nohone said,
For years, laptop makers were working towards thinner and lighter - you should see the 1998 dell laptop I had, 3" thick and the power supply was bigger than most laptops today.

Apple makes a thin and light laptop, while device makers continue what they have been doing for over a decade. And suddenly, thin and light is an Apple exclusive and only they should have the rights to.

No laptop maker should be able to take advantage of better batteries, smaller processors with better heat dissipation, thinner displays, and flash chips in place of big HDDs. These are only for Apple. We get it, Owen, all advancements, if Apple invented them or not, are the sole property of Apple. And all others be damned.

And as for the design, you are right. Square, a video screen, a keyboard, Apple really is genius (I know, genius, that is an Apple exclusive word) for creating that design.


You've missed the point of this article. I'm saying it's time for laptop designers to look at the chassis' that are out there and take a look at how they can differentiate themselves. Look at the first picture I posted, it's almost an exact clone.

Sure, Apple didn't coin "thin", but I'm pretty sure they did aluminum with that style keyboard first.

Owen W said,
Sure, Apple didn't coin "thin", but I'm pretty sure they did aluminum with that style keyboard first.

Chiclet keyboard's are nothing new, and im pretty sure apple didnt do it first... UNless you want to claim they copied the common calculator....

Just cuz Aluminum + Chiclet keyboard looks like a 'clone' dosnt meant it is... That style of keyboard is actually very common these days and preferred (I know alot of people like the feel of them these days) not to mention im sure the material had some weight + durability + feel features in mind

(Its Journalism so never able to argue once point, but the ability to compare is what the internet is all about these days )

Sadly todays world has come down to "like an iPhone" or "Like a Mac" which personally gives me the ****s....

Someone said to me once about my HD7 " Like an iPhone" **** did i abuse them for it cuz ITS NOTHING LIKE AN iPHONE!!! much fun was had

Anyways, Lenovo's line up should be interesting this year

Owen W said,

I'm pretty sure they did aluminum with that style keyboard first.

Aluminum? Wow, that took some real thought to use a metal that is in common use. Let me guess, some brilliant Apple designer was sitting at his desk, a can of Coke next to him, and thought "I have invented the perfect metal to build the next chassis out of." A metal that millions of people use every day, truly innovative.

nohone said,

Aluminum? Wow, that took some real thought to use a metal that is in common use. Let me guess, some brilliant Apple designer was sitting at his desk, a can of Coke next to him, and thought "I have invented the perfect metal to build the next chassis out of." A metal that millions of people use every day, truly innovative.

Actually it was the manufacturing process of turning a block of aluminium into a unibody chasis which was the innovation, not the fact they chose aluminium to do it with. Get your facts straight

brent3000 said,

Chiclet keyboard's are nothing new, and im pretty sure apple didnt do it first... UNless you want to claim they copied the common calculator....

Just cuz Aluminum + Chiclet keyboard looks like a 'clone' dosnt meant it is... That style of keyboard is actually very common these days and preferred (I know alot of people like the feel of them these days) not to mention im sure the material had some weight + durability + feel features in mind

(Its Journalism so never able to argue once point, but the ability to compare is what the internet is all about these days )

Sadly todays world has come down to "like an iPhone" or "Like a Mac" which personally gives me the ****s....

Someone said to me once about my HD7 " Like an iPhone" **** did i abuse them for it cuz ITS NOTHING LIKE AN iPHONE!!! much fun was had

Anyways, Lenovo's line up should be interesting this year

Aluminum is duralbility? I doubt it, now if it was made from carbon fiber wrapped around a magnisium chassis than yes very durable. I can think of two companies that do that type of chassis.

Owen W said,

You've missed the point of this article. I'm saying it's time for laptop designers to look at the chassis' that are out there and take a look at how they can differentiate themselves. Look at the first picture I posted, it's almost an exact clone.

Sure, Apple didn't coin "thin", but I'm pretty sure they did aluminum with that style keyboard first.

Sony did Thin first, and Chicklet first. For a reporter you suck at research. Aluminum laptops are from at least 2006, so eventually they would meet.

DomZ said,

Actually it was the manufacturing process of turning a block of aluminium into a unibody chasis which was the innovation, not the fact they chose aluminium to do it with. Get your facts straight

Actually, it was the cost side of things that did it.

MBP sells i rekon much more that your average 2500+ dollars laptop. Which made it possible for apple to implement it. Carving alminium, a very soft metal as metals go, required no new knowledge or process:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milling_machine#History

Nashy said,
It's official. Neowin writers not aware of what a clone is. Also bias towards Apple.

Can you not see these pictures?

Owen W said,

Can you not see these pictures?

I see a lot of photos of thin laptops. Not laptops made to look like an Apple product.

Owen W said,

Can you not see these pictures?

The point is, there are obsessed people who SEARCH to find similarities, and then there are people who simply appreciate good design.

Unibody guarantees great durability and quality. Aluuminium is gray. Can be made in another colour, but that raises the price. Keyboard is better of being black to make it more prominent, since it's the main interaction part. Bezel is better if it's black because it frames the picture better. The little indent on the lower body for raising the screen is pretty much the only way to make it, short of putting a little pull up string. All of that is stuff is logical, and even I would do it on my own if tasked with designing a laptop.

In no way does this article deserve to be published on a popular site like neowin. A personal blog sure, but not here or on any other popular tech site.

while many disagree that these are macbook "clones," I for one am glad to finally see some quality, lightweight, gorgeous machines hitting the market.

Owen, I will be honest to myself and others, I never wanted a MacBook Air or any form of Apple computer product period. Performance wise and gaming wise there are way better choices out there for far cheaper.

Mikee4fun said,
Owen, I will be honest to myself and others, I never wanted a MacBook Air or any form of Apple computer product period. Performance wise and gaming wise there are way better choices out there for far cheaper.

He's referring to the design not the performance. Have you not wanted one that LOOKS like a MacBook Air because you've appreciated it's design?

Less ports and screen options no optical drives and more money? Shouldnt that be reversed? More money and more options? Ultrabook no way and it wouldnt be a good gaming machine because of heat issues.

shadodemon said,
Less ports and screen options no optical drives and more money? Shouldnt that be reversed? More money and more options? Ultrabook no way and it wouldnt be a good gaming machine because of heat issues.

This.

Headline, whore. Wish you guys would change the name of the site already. I'm getting ready to bail on Neowin. Never really thought I'd get there but, all it will take will be the right Win 8 blog name with the right content, and a lot less of this bull****. I'll always remember this site, they was good times. At least I got to know the Warwagon. That was worth it.

The truth of the matter is these are a bunch of copy-cat OEMs. They go for the popular design, be it netbooks, all-in-one desktops, or whatever. They are so copying Apple today and do you know what? Tomorrow they will ALL be copying someone else. They just follow whatever is hip and cool that is showing up in TV shows and movies. And right now just about every damn TV show and movie sports an Apple computer (most of the time with a sticker over the logo). Tomorrow DELL may have the hit design that everyone jumps on, who knows?

This whole "Apple didn't invent thin laptops so therefore I'm going to refuse what my eyes see and lie to myself and say these look nothing like MacBooks" mentality is a complete waste of comment space. Admit it! You all WANT stuff that looks like Apple stuff but you don't want Apple stuff because you don't like Apple. Admit it.

Oh, and I love the whole "there is only so many ways to design something" --- said unimaginative person.

Yes, I realize that Apple no doubt stole their design from Sony... but Sony didn't get their product in the face of millions via mainstream media. That's what Apple did. That's why everyone says these copy Apple. No one saw the Sony one because nobody cared.

Shadrack said,
This whole "Apple didn't invent thin laptops so therefore I'm going to refuse what my eyes see and lie to myself and say these look nothing like MacBooks" mentality is a complete waste of comment space. Admit it! You all WANT stuff that looks like Apple stuff but you don't want Apple stuff because you don't like Apple. Admit it.

What a sad man you are, trying to lump others in with your pathetic materialism. I happen to think Apple's designs are a joke, particularly because they seem to come at the expense of connectivity. But then again, Apple is just the sort of company that would release a product with no USB port, then release the same product 6 months later with a USB port and tout it as the greatest thing anyone has ever seen, so who am I to judge to what extent companies like Apple will go to capitalize on the ignorant shallowness of fools like you.

What these OEMs are doing is following a trend just like the ALWAYS do, fool. You probably haven't been alive for long enough to know this, but there is very little originality with ANY of these guys (including Apple). Apple just popularized a design that the media has taken hold of (not me, the media, fool). Once every show out there has a MacBook Pro with a sticker on it the typical brainwashed American want laptops that look like that. All of these OEMs spent their money on market research not on design, obviously. They were probably smart by making what is already popular. Easier to just follow trends than set them, fool.

Edited by Shadrack, Jan 11 2012, 4:39am :

Shadrack said,
Once every show out there has a MacBook Pro with a sticker on it the typical brainwashed American want laptops that look like that. .

That's because Apple won't pay for product placement. TV shows blur/cover up All brand names that don't pay for product placement.

Rosyna said,

That's because Apple won't pay for product placement. TV shows blur/cover up All brand names that don't pay for product placement.


Yet they apparently have no problem paying for Apple products over other brands. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Apple products, like it or not, are distinctive enough to be recognized with or without their logo. That is sort of the point of the entire article.

this is about as dumb as people saying all smartphones are all copies of apple's iphones even though they existed before the iPhone

Some of you all are correct in that Apple didn't invent the ultra thin laptop. However I can see what the OP is getting at design wise. Design wise Apple was one of the first to use an aluminum unibody frame on their current gen Macbook pros with the glass trackpad. For a while a lot of companies tried to just mimic the design of the screen hinge now its a lot more on the over all look of the macbook pro. Look at the HP envy series, can you not see the influence? Apple has a huge impact on the direction that other companies take with the design of their laptiops. A lot of those companies are not moving towards the unibody look, with chicklet keys, simple keyboard layout, ports only on the side, glass trackpad etc.

techbeck said,
The way something looks at is the last thing I consider when buying a device.

I totally disagree if something looks like its fast and gets good battery life but looks like its going to fall appart in to two days I stay away.

Melfster said,

I totally disagree if something looks like its fast and gets good battery life but looks like its going to fall appart in to two days I stay away.

Looks and how something is built is completely different. I used a Lenovo t61 years ago fora long time. It was boxy looking, all black, and little to no design thought to the way it looked. But was built solid.

techbeck said,

Looks and how something is built is completely different. I used a Lenovo t61 years ago fora long time. It was boxy looking, all black, and little to no design thought to the way it looked. But was built solid.

But when you see unibody metal design, that tells you: "this is a very solidly built device".

What is the obsession with thin laptops? I would've thought the primary considerations in a laptop would be performance and battery life, not if you can juggle them

PsYcHoKiLLa said,
What is the obsession with thin laptops? I would've thought the primary considerations in a laptop would be performance and battery life, not if you can juggle them

Weight is a fairly important consideration...

Why are you guys so mean ? I like the topic but I don't want a laptop because they suck and overheat when hardcore gaming.

max22 said,
Why are you guys so mean ? I like the topic but I don't want a laptop because they suck and overheat when hardcore gaming.

I have no issues "hardcore" gaming on my laptop. Either do the others I LAN it up with on their laptops.

Raa said,

I have no issues "hardcore" gaming on my laptop. Either do the others I LAN it up with on their laptops.

So you gamed for 10 hours + on your gaming laptop before fine?

Apple didn't invent the ultraportable concept, nor were they the first to do it. I'll give them the credit for being the first to do it right, but that's Apple, it's what they do.

Uhh Owen... Making a laptop thin doesn't mean they're copying Apple and it's ludicrous to suggest so.

Tom said,
Uhh Owen... Making a laptop thin doesn't mean they're copying Apple and it's ludicrous to suggest so.

excactly, apple fanboy starting articles about something he has no idea about. how does this junk make it to front page?

Tom said,
Uhh Owen... Making a laptop thin doesn't mean they're copying Apple and it's ludicrous to suggest so.

Have you guys even looked at the picture? All these OEM's did is copy the aluminum design, keyboard design and more. It looks EXACTLY THE SAME.

How am I an apple fanboy? I'm writing this from my LENOVO laptop. All I'm implying is that OEM's should try with new chassis designs. Take a look at that first picture again. If you seriously think that doesn't look like a Macbook, I think you're the one with the issue here.

Owen W said,

Have you guys even looked at the picture? All these OEM's did is copy the aluminum design, keyboard design and more. It looks EXACTLY THE SAME.

How am I an apple fanboy? I'm writing this from my LENOVO laptop. All I'm implying is that OEM's should try with new chassis designs. Take a look at that first picture again. If you seriously think that doesn't look like a Macbook, I think you're the one with the issue here.

The first one does, none of the rest do. So how does that mean OEM's are copying apple? It means 1 is copying apple, in 1 design. The rest are all ultra thin, nothing MacBook like. (And much nicer too imo).

Owen W said,

Take a look at that first picture again. If you seriously think that doesn't look like a Macbook, I think you're the one with the issue here.

Right so ONE laptop looks similar and you think that warrants ridiculous headlines like "It's official, 2012 is the year of Macbook clones"?
Getting bored of people writing articles to **** people off just for comments/revenue. Try harder, Owen. You suck.

Owen W said,

Have you guys even looked at the picture? All these OEM's did is copy the aluminum design, keyboard design and more. It looks EXACTLY THE SAME.

How am I an apple fanboy? I'm writing this from my LENOVO laptop. All I'm implying is that OEM's should try with new chassis designs. Take a look at that first picture again. If you seriously think that doesn't look like a Macbook, I think you're the one with the issue here.

This.

Everyone is staring at a duck trying to convince themselves that it looks nothing like a duck, but when people point out all the duck-like features it has someone screams "THERE IS ONLY SO MANY WAYS TO DESIGN A BIRD!!!"

"We've always wanted to own a PC that looks a little like a Macbook Air..."

Uhhh, no. "We" haven't.

Shadrack said,
So you are basically saying you wouldn't want to buy any of these then?

No. What he's saying is he doesn't care whether it looks like a Macbook Air or not. There's a distinct difference.

Whatever, I´m looking inside for my AMD APUs or AMD discrte GPUs, whatever else may be a plus but is the last thing considered.

CMG_90 said,
I don't see what the big fuss is. Apple does not own the right to thin laptops.

Yeah, these seem to be nicer anyway, from the looks & ports available. Or maybe I'm just tired of looking at my Macbook.

CMG_90 said,
I don't see what the big fuss is. Apple does not own the right to thin laptops.
They don't but they've been making them for years while the competition is just getting into the market now

exac

CMG_90 said,
I don't see what the big fuss is. Apple does not own the right to thin laptops.
..

exactly .. apple makes laptops that are very basic and have nothing special about them.. if they didnt want people to copy them then make the laptop have some design that is unique.. kind of like how you cant copy a BMW car because it is designed in a unique way.. The only unique thing about them is an bright apple logo on the back of it.. and I have not seen any logo that looks like it on any other laptop..

Minimilism is not a design that can be invented.. If apple releases a iphone with a larger screen will everyone agree that they would be copying many Android handsets.. Just like if apple comes out with a tablet of any other size..

Most people who buy these will buy them because they look like Macs at half the cost. Maybe not you but most people. And I've seen plenty of unique thin laptop designs.

What you should be doing is complaining that this is all these manufactures can come up with. Keeping up isn't good enough.

Lachlan said,
exac..

exactly .. apple makes laptops that are very basic and have nothing special about them.. if they didnt want people to copy them then make the laptop have some design that is unique.. kind of like how you cant copy a BMW car because it is designed in a unique way.. The only unique thing about them is an bright apple logo on the back of it.. and I have not seen any logo that looks like it on any other laptop..

Minimilism is not a design that can be invented.. If apple releases a iphone with a larger screen will everyone agree that they would be copying many Android handsets.. Just like if apple comes out with a tablet of any other size..

Stuff like the unibody alumunium enclosure was unique when they first started doing it..

Rudy said,
They don't but they've been making them for years while the competition is just getting into the market now

And Sony has been making them longer than Apple. Whats your point?

DomZ said,

Stuff like the unibody alumunium enclosure was unique when they first started doing it..

so your saying every laptop pictured above has an aluminum unibody? samsung uses carbon fiber yet is said to be a copy, HP has mostly plastic but is still called a copy, dell xps 14z is multiple magnesium alloy pieces but is said to be a copy.. so what else is unique about them to make these laptops copies