Sunday, December 31, 2006

The next 12 inches?

As I've said before there are really only two demographics when it comes to the laptop market. The road warriors, who would kill for another half hour of battery, or half a kilogram less of laptop, and the power users who desperately want another couple of inches of screen real estate, and another hundred gigabytes of hard drive.

I definitely fall into the road warrior category. I spend half my life in airports hunting for power sockets, and on airplanes, carefully hoarding every last minute of battery life.

So what do I want out of a laptop? I want it to be small, not having those couple more inches of screen really don't bother me that much. I want it to be light, run the length of Charles de Gaulle or Frankfurt airport once or twice and those couple of extra pounds of laptop you're lugging around suddenly seem important. Finally I want battery life, enough for a trans-Atlantic flight, so that means eight hours or more.

What am I willing to trade off to get what I want? Money. I'm quite willing, and expect to have to, pay through the nose for my new laptop. Most road warriors will be because in the end "the company" is paying, the new laptop won't cost much more than throwing me onto a plane and lobbing me across the Atlantic once or twice. Anything that makes me even marginally more productive while I'm travelling is probably, in the end, more than worth the money.

However I'm betting you think it isn't possible, that you can't get a laptop with a 12-inch form factor and decent performance and make it light enough that I'd be willing to admit it that this is something "much cooler"...

Ditch the optical drive, I don't use it anymore. If people are really worried about shipping a laptop without one, throw in an external USB drive. Get rid of the hard drive, and replace it with flash memory. Finally get rid of the LCD and replace it with a colour EPD like the new Motorola F3. Even after throwing in 802.11n, Bluetooth, GPS and a built-in 3G modem I still reckon you'd have an eight hour battery life and a 12-inch form factor. After all, its the display and the hard drive which are the main power drains on a modern laptop, and without the optical drive there will be plenty of room to fit in the GPS and 3G chipsets which will make this the killer laptop for the road warrirors.

Fresh rumours of a hyper-portable are now starting to float around in the lead up to Macworld in San Francisco in January 2007. Of course there are many other rumours floating around as well, so who knows what's going to happen...

All I know is that I need something to replace my ageing 12-inch Powerbook, and I know what I want. The only question now is whether Apple is going to provide it?