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Portable Devices are Hot

September 11, 2012 in Hardware

Apple has the world talking about them this week with lots of buzz over the iPhone 5 and their new iOS. Pretty much every tech company and their mother has a tablet out now. A whole new generation of laptops are coming out and the most interesting marketing technique I’ve seen yet -they are now being branded as “ultrabooks”!

SO what does this mean exactly? Is there a difference or is this just another way of getting you to buy tech… I want to hear your opinion before I continue.
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 5 years ago, any rich tech consumer would invest large sums of money into a small portable computer that was a bit slower than the mid-range consumer desktops, and had a battery life of about an hour. They were heavy, slow and expensive. With apple laptops being the more common, companies needed to step their game up.

As laptops progressed, many were introduced which were the width of a standard ISO 216 A4 sheet of paper (about 11.7 inches), and added a vertical column of keys to the right. The “notebook sized laptop computer” eventually became commonly referred to as “a notebook”.

Around 2007 a new series of sub-notebook laptops were produced that were smaller, ligher and cheaper. To cut cost they often excluded things like the optical drive, or had slower processors, less RAM etc… With no optical drive it was a little internet dependent for software, and was widely used for browsing the web. The term netbook was quickly adopted, likely for these reasons alone.

In 2009, wireless carriers started including netbooks in marketing, giving them away for free in campaigns. Around this same time, many devices were being marketed as smartbooks. These combined smart phone like interfaces with the netbook size. They usually had WiFi, 3G, GPS and featured much better all day battery life with an optimized OS. The name was dropped quickly since Apple– well I don’t need so say much more than that…

In 2011 intel announced a $300 million fund for ultrabook concepts. They would be thin, fast and incorporate tablet features. Their goal was to keep the end user price low but keep quality high. The Ivy bridge processor, successor of the Sandy bridge i7, would use less power and thus have better battery life. Most ultrabooks use SSD hard drives which have no mechanical parts. These too improve battery life. Most displays have high pixel density and offer full HD screens. These specs and price point directly put Apple and the tablet industry in competition.

All in all these do bring to light a lot of differences between laptop computers over the years, but the question remains: is there a difference or is it all just clever marketing of a laptop? I guess it really depends on how suggestible you are. The one fact is clear, these machines are getting better, more practical and cheaper! Lets see what Apple has to offer this week 😉

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