Friday, March 28, 2008

What's ahead for laptop computing?

If you're intrigued by Apple's new Macbook Air computer because it's a pretty cool innovation, you might be interested in this article over on (If you want to filter out all the ads on the page - there's a lot of them - scroll to the bottom and click on the "Print Story" button.)

The Computerworld editors went out and started talking to laptop designers all over the world about some of the concepts they're working on, with a view to trying to figure out what a laptop computer might look like in 2015.
A lot has changed in the 20 years since the first laptop computers appeared, including gigahertz processors, color screens, optical drives and wireless data. However, one thing that has stubbornly stayed the same is the conventional clamshell format with its hinged display lid that opens to reveal a mechanical keyboard.

That's about to change. The rules of notebook design and the components that go inside are being rewritten to make the road a better place to work and play.
There are some pretty cool-looking items in this story. But imagining the laptop of the near future is not just a dreamy thing to do. It's practical as well.

I've been using laptops as my primary computers for many years and I've gone through quite a variety - everything from my Tandy 200 through to my current PowerBook. Some have been more enjoyable than others, but the steady improvements have been startling, when you stop and think about it. There used to be a performance hit when you switched to a laptop and for some applications, that's still a problem. But for most people, a laptop will work fine as a primary computer. And the benefits of not being tied to one location more than offset any possible performance issues, as far as I'm concerned.

I've had my current laptop - a G4 12" Powerbook - for about 4 years now and it's starting to show its age. For one thing, instead of a flat display, I've got a "deep V" style, thanks to the time my backpack crashed into a refrigerator (with me still attached and the laptop inside!) But despite it's rugged appearance, it's still working and I still use it every day.

But I know that before too long I'm going to be in the market for a new machine, so I'm very interested in some of the cool things that are going to be appearing before too much longer.

Thin and touch-screen are the two items that jump out at you when you look through this list. But there's a lot of innovation in the works and the user interface experience is just the most noticeable.

Other significant changes are expected in the kinds of materials the machines are built of, more powerful components and faster processors.

If you like to think about the future -- and seven years into the future is a long way in computer years -- you'll enjoy this piece.

No comments: