Friday, March 20, 2015

The Case For the Modern Notebook Computer

It's now 2015: self-driving cars have become a fast-approaching reality, smartphones are in the hand of every man, woman, and child, and now the notebook computer is a sub 2 pound mobile powerhouse with capabilities beyond Stewart Cheifet's wildest dreams.

I remember 2011, when Steve Jobs showed off the then-latest MacBook Air models, which had no moving parts (albeit with small fan), was lighter than any notebook we had ever used, and just as powerful and serious as the other guy's powerful behemoth.

Steve (as we have come to realize always) had it right when he said the future of the notebook was instant-on, ultra-mobile, and ultra-powerful- but more importantly, he was correct when he said the future was a device that was emblematic of an iPad.

Even Microsoft has tried selling the same attributes of the current MacBook Air and the iPad with its now-ubiquitous Surface tablets.

The proof is in the pudding: consumers expect their notebook to be more like their tablet. And why shouldn't it be? Isn't it sensible that we should take what we learned from building a tablet to design the notebook of the future.

And that is just what Apple and Microsoft have done.

Let us take a quick look into what makes up a modern notebook computer before we dive into why such a thing is so needed in 2015.

Younger customers, primarily college students, are actually required to obtain machines with certain minimum specifications. The requirements do change every few years, but usually require the latest Intel chipset (i5, Core M, or higher), 4+ GB of RAM, and even an optical drive for certain programs. Why in the world do we still need an optical drive? Most software is digitally obtained and primarily digitally available. Luckily, there are external drives available for when you REALLY need it. But most students or even regular folks won't (/rant).

MOST people however, need a device that will "get them by" and allow them to at the very least perform word processing, develop and edit spreadsheets, browse the web (in all of its glory), play casual games, and enjoy various forms of media (Netflix, music streaming, photos).

Because of these very broad requirements, doesn't it just make sense if we develop one single platform for everyone and cut out the need for extreme variation? Choosing future notebooks becomes much easier when there is less variance.

I believe that is where Apple and Microsoft see the eventual convergence of the market: variance based on storage needs and that is where such variance terminates.

So again, what is the "modern" notebook look like?

It has the following things: a single internal design (CPU, RAM, battery life are all fixed), variant storage sizes, thin and light chassis, appropriate screen size, and affordable price tag. To fit all of these requirements, there can't be too much I/O and there also can't be too many added extras.

The answer? The new 2015 MacBook and the Surface Pro 3.

Both devices cut out unneeded I/O, remain very thin and lightweight, cut out extras such as optical drives and fingerprint scanners, and are very much affordable.

Apple and Microsoft KNOW what they are doing. What about the rest of the market, though? Where is Dell's ultramobile device? Lenovo has a good device, but there are too many ports and the weight is still too much of a compromise.

But consumers still have an issue: Apple and Microsoft are AFFORDABLE but not INEXPENSIVE. There is yet to be a really really good economy model of both the MacBook and Surface.

Thus, it is up to other manufacturers to develop similar devices but in unique designs to rival the price tag of both Apple and Microsoft.

The market is craving more ultraportables. Let's give them what they crave.

Or else the PC market will go from decline to disappearance.

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