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2012 MacBook Air faces serious challenge from Asus Zenbook Ultrabook

In the world of Ultrabooks there are two that stand out as setting the industry standard; the MacBook Air and Asus Zenbook. And both are about to be reborn with upgrades to a new generation of Intel Ivy Bridge processors. But that’s not all the hotrods of the Ultrabook field will be sporting this spring.

The MacBook Air and Asus Zenbook are both headed for changes that will make the sleek, sexy machines more competitive than ever before.

The 2012 MacBook Air update will likely include a 2880 x 1800 ultra-high resolution Retina Display, in addition to the next generation Intel Ivy Bridge processor. The 128GB and 256GB solid-state hard drives will remain on board and will likely jump to SATA 3 speeds, as opposed to the current, slower SATA 2 connections.

The difference in speed between SATA 2 and SATA 3 is not to be underestimated, which is why the Asus Zenbook’s 6 Gigabit negotiated link speed has been known to outperform the MacBook Air, which runs half as fast with SATA 2.

In addition to hardware upgrades, there may be a completely new 15-inch version of the MacBook Air in Apple stores by mid-2012.

The Asus Zenbook is also heading for a major upgrade, which will include a much needed backlit keyboard, a matt screen option, and a new Intel dual core i7 Ivy Bridge processor, which is a faster, lower voltage chip than last year’s Sandy Bridge version.

“The Zenbook UX31A and UX21A are direct replacements for the UX31 and UX21, respectively, though don't be fooled by their similar product names, these are serious upgrades we're talking about,” according to The Verge.

So will the 2012 Asus Zenbook really have a marketplace edge over the 2012 MacBook Air?

In the bang for the buck category it’s hard to beat the lower priced Asus Zenbook. The 13-inch Asus Zenbook equipped with an Intel i7 processor is currently priced at about $1399, with 4GB of Ram and a 256GB solid-state hard drive. It is also available in hot pink, rose gold, and silver, with a classy brushed finish that hides fingerprints better than most.

The 13-inch MacBook Air with a similar configuration comes in at $1599, and is only available in standard Apple silver.

Of course the other major difference between the MacBook Air and Asus Zenbook is the operating system itself. Mac’s live in a different world than Windows.

There has always been a bridge between Apple and Windows users that some refuse to cross. But as technology continues to merge, so do the similarities between Mac and Windows, at least as far has hardware is concerned.

In the Ultrabook market, the 2012 Asus Zenbook will undoubtedly give 2012 MacBook Air buyers something to think about, especially if they have been yearning for a hot pink Ultrabook that weighs in at just 2.7 pounds.

Related:

2012 Macbook Pro redesign: Only a glimpse of Apple's future of laptops design

2012 Macbook Pro release date brings retina display, Ivy Bridge to Apple redesign