For all its impressive engineering and hyper-stylized design, the ultrathin laptop category isn't very enticing, mainly because every entrant is laughably expensive. But now, Intel's trumpeting an entirely new approach to thin laptops: compromise!

According to the the company (via the NYT), the new laptops will be most closely comparable to the Dell Adamo, MacBook Air and Voodoo Envy. They'll be a bit thicker, but still under an inch; they'll have slower processors, but not Atoms; they'll be light, but not feather-light. This concerted effort of "buts" means that these almost ultrathin (semiultrathin? kindathin?) laptops will ship in at less than half the price of their expensive cousins, some even dipping below the $600 threshold.

This wouldn't be a revolutionary category, but it would be an attractive one: ultrathin laptops, as recently exemplified by the Adamo, are already rife with compromise, as they're slow, they don't have optical drives, contain wimpy video hardware and they're not very expandable. They just represent the wrong kind: a compromise with a singular, obsessed focus on weight and size, with no regard for price. A re-balancing of the formula, like the one Intel is predicting, would be more than welcome. [NYT]