I was looking at my now 3.5 year old laptop, typing up some documents that I need to be sent. At various points in the last few months I have seriously contemplated buying a new machine. My trust machine despite being unstinting in its service and ever willing to run for its user, sometimes shows it limitations, in size, in speed, in bulkiness and in box shapes. Right across my house is a neighbhor who has one of the new Macbooks thats excruciatingly thin and small and lightweight not to mention packs in twice as much number-crunching capabilities without breaking a sweat as my machine could hope to do at its peak (no side processes, hard disk clean, no windows .. so on).
This got me thinking.. what do I think laptops will look like in the future? Hmm.. a short answer will be.. smaller, more powerful. Another answer would be that laptops won't exist at all. Simply put, we'll all have iPod like objects that will be twice as powerful as any laptop that exists today, while consuming very less power and capable of connecting to any wireless device or display.
For now, I am going to look into only the next 10 years and see how things can change. Of course two things can happen here: I might make categorical statements that will be proved horribly wrong and make me look like an idiot in 10 years time, or I will grossly underestimate how technology can change and things will look much better. Another remote possibility is that global warming will get to us and destroy humanity, before any of these devices can come out, oh well, let's see..
1) Displays: LCDs will be history, Plasma TVs might be also-rans, most likely, future display technologies will run on OLEDs. Not only do they consume less power, they are seductively thin, and will most likely be foldable, thus bringing about the minority report kind of paper that we have all been waiting for. Apple is expected to come out with OLED versions of its products in the next year and already we have 40" showcase TVs from Samsung and Sony.
2) Processing: Bring on the multi-cores! Won't be surprised to have 64 cores in one computer connected and working with each other to produce mind boggling processing. Graphics cards might be obsolete and the lines will finally merge, unless one needs extra graphics processing ofcourse. Another philosophy, might be that all future laptops will be netbooks that delegate processing to a stationary more powerful machine and only take care of local caching and minimal processing.
3) Hard disks: Magnetic drives might stay for a while since they are a mature technology. However, don't count Solid State drives out! They have no moving parts, are so much lighter and pack a lot more data per weight and if the technology matures enough to become consumer friendly (as it is slowly becoming) harddrives as we know it might be a thing of the past. I wouldn't discount a breakthrough in nanotechnology or holographic technology leading to dramatically increasing storage capacities either.
4) Supplementary drives: A couple of optical drives might stay, CD roms will be obsolete, Blu-Ray and its derivatives will work for a while, but ultimately all data transfer will be from a remote source eliminating needs for temporary storage drives.
5) Wireless: Hmm.. tough one.. there would ideally be two wireless receivers one for short range and one for more steady needs such as data transfer. Both would consume less power in a week, than a light bulb does in an hour. But most future laptops will bank heavily on wireless technology to transfer and store data. The days of CDs and DVDs might be over, just download the software or movie or song that you want and use it (I never liked those stores anyway).
6) Speakers: Why have speakers when you can wireless communicate to a speaker set or headphones nearby :) Speakers might exist as a rudimentary case though, just so people don't crib.
7) Wires: Ugh.. no external connections. All wireless please. Especially to those annoying projectors and TVs!!!
This is by no means a full list.. so many things could change and comments are invited to add or subtract from what I wrote.. Can't wait for the future :)
Ten years since IIT and all that
5 weeks ago