Thursday, September 4, 2008

Laptop Trends to Look for in 2008 | high tech gadgets

It’s coming up to the end of the year (yes, you will be doing your Christmas shopping in a few weeks) and you know what that means – it’s time to look ahead to some of the things we’ll be seeing in the market come January 2008.

As always, technology is a moving target, so about this time next year I’ll be doing the same thing. I should also point out: If you are in the market for a new laptop, you may not want to read this, as most of what I’ll be talking about will either be too expensive this year or not available at all, no matter how badly you pray Santa will add it to your wish list.

Secondary Displays

We called this “Sideshow” during the Windows Vista launch and then, for the most part, stopped talking about secondary display options entirely. This second display is typically used on the outside of the laptop, and can show information with the lid closed. Initially, only Toshiba with its R400 was unique with this display mode before Dell recently brought out their stunning M1730 gaming notebook with this capability. But be that as it may, it won’t be until next year before we see a large number of systems with these options in the market. These secondary displays can show you games stats, if you have pending appointments while your laptop is in low-powered mode, and in some cases, even give you quick access to email or instant messaging depending on where they are and how they are configured.

Hybrid Hard Drives

This was something else we thought we were going to see right after Windows Vista launched, but initial products just didn’t live up to expectations, so it was back to the drawing board for another try. Happily, Seagate is now convinced they have the bugs worked out of these gizmos, and as a result they are already starting to roll them out to the market. Their biggest benefits are power savings and performance, as they work like a huge hard drive cache. But because the solid state portion of the device (they are a hybrid of solid state and magnetic drives) may actually be able to power down for extended periods, they should be vastly more reliable in use as well. Expect to see more on such devices next year.

Solid State Hard Drives

Right behind the hybrid hard drives are solid state hard drives and they too have been coming to market this year. Initially nose-bleed expensive (32GB models were going for over $500 USD), they should drop in price sharply throughout the year in 08. Initial drives used a slow IDE interface and so really didn’t produce the expected performance boost. Later drives are SATA-based and should be significantly faster, and while they will remain relatively expensive for their capacity (64GB will be the sweet spot next year) the performance and reliability will be worth it for some.

HD DVD, Blu-ray Options

There will be more and more HD-DVD and Blu-ray-optional drives in larger notebooks at increasingly attractive prices. However, given the upswing in video available over the network and an increasing number of folks who have figured out how to rip DVDs to their hard drives, I’ve actually made the prediction that this year will show declining interest in optical drives in notebooks. Still, for those that want them, these drives will provide the opportunity to hook your laptop up to a big-screen TV(with such displays increasingly found at good hotels and in friends homes) to watch HD movies that way. Keep in mind that most movies look great on a laptop screen, so you will likely not notice the difference between an HD and non-HD picture. high tech gadgets

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