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Notebook Computer Guide*
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New Laptop Technology You Need To Know
(Before Buying Your Next Laptop)
Laptop or notebook computer technology is advancing at a blistering speed. Ferrari fast. So fast that by the time you purchase your new laptop - it's probably already obsolete or out of date. A sobering thought considering the hefty prices you have to pay for a high-end laptop.
But laptop technology is changing so fast new innovations are coming on stream as you read this article. There is a whole new generation of notebook technology every two years or less. Therefore, unless you buy or upgrade your laptop each year you're falling behind what these sleek little powerhouses can now deliver.
And unless you're already in Geek Heaven, keeping track of all these new technologies and innovations can be quite a chore. Figuring out the right Graphics chipset that works best with the right CPU and the best Data buses is a major feat. And now that everything is being Doubled - dual core, dual graphics - it's entering the realm where Einstein would be amused, even on a bad hair day.
What's the ordinary laptop buyer to do?
What you really have to keep in mind are the outcomes of all this new technology. Basically, these new technologies have made laptops smaller, faster and more powerful. With every new improvement the laptop is closing the gap between its main rival - the desktop computer.
Notebook computers are now out-selling desktops for the first time in history. Laptops are replacing the old desktop computer, whose days may just be numbered. It won't be long before laptops are also out-performing them as well.
Some major computer makers are taking note of this trend towards more powerful, smaller computers. Even the desktop computer is morphing! Just look at the sleek design of the new Apple iMac G5 - gone is the bulky tower - in its place is a well designed desktop computer that's almost a laptop!
For the ordinary computer user keeping abreast of all these new technologies and inventions can be a major chore if you're considering buying a laptop in the next little while. As you approach the smiling salesperson in your favorite tech store - here's a few bits of new notebook technology you might want to have in your possession so you won't look like a complete neophyte. Hey, where technology is concerned, we have all been there, done that.
In order for you to tech-proof your next laptop purchase, here's a quick run down of some recent Notebook Developments:
The new Sonoma Platform, Intel's next-generation Centrino Chipset is already on the market. Members of the Sonoma club are growing daily - Sony, IBM/Lenovo, BenQ, Dell, Samsung, Acer, and Toshiba... another 80 or 90 'Sonoma-endowed' products will be released very shortly.
No doubt, it will become the Platform standard for many high-end notebooks. Actually, it won't make or mean that much difference to the ordinary Joe/Jane who just want a notebook or laptop for web surfing, word processing and e-mail. Notebooks with the Sonoma Platform will be just a little bit faster and have a little better battery life.
But for Mobile Professionals and Notebook Fanatics (they do exist)... there's a lot of good things delivered or capable of being delivered with this new Centrino Chipset. First, wireless connections will be easier with the integrated tri-mode 802.11a/b/g, already dubbed by some as the 'wireless trinity'! This will make it easier to stay connected no matter where you are.
Improved performance will be experienced because the new Pentium M's have a 533MHz frontside bus, supported with up to 2GB of DDR2 DRAM, Serial ATA Hard Drive, and PCI Express, plus improved integrated graphics - including Intel's Hi-Def Audio. All are possible with the Sonoma Platform.
PCI(Peripheral Component Interconnect) Express is a new standard for expansion cards that comes in different versions. Presently, we have the x16 and x1 lanes, which will be followed by x4 and x8 versions. It offers increased bandwidth for example, x1 lane offers 500MB/sec instead of just 133MB/sec for PCI.
All computers, including laptops have different buses, (collection of wires) that transmit data from one component to another.
Of course, in an ideal world, all the data in your computer should move thru just one BUS - however, most experts agree it's not likely to happen unless we start over and build a computer system from scratch. For now we have to rely on different internal buses to move the data around - the PCI Express is a great improvement and will make your laptop faster.
These are always improving. A Graphics Card handles the graphics or visuals on your notebook. If 3D graphics and games is a pastime - you will want to buy the highest quality system. Some of the higher end products are: ATi Mobility Radeon 9800, X800, and FireGL V3200 or Intel's Graphics Media Accelerator 900.
If you can, go with a NVIDIA GeForce Go 6800 graphics card or for the real game diehards - wait for the debut of NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300 that features NVIDIA's TurboCache technology.
Gamers will be aware of NVIDIA SLI technology, ATI CrossFire and Hyperthreading. All new stuff that's bringing the gaming experience up to a higher level of perfection that would even be worthy of a Spielberg or a Lucas Production. Not really, but it's getting there.
64 Bit Laptops
Most systems today run on the 32 Bit System. Keep in mind, the major difference between a 32-bit and a 64-bit system is the amount of memory that they support. Around 4 GB for 32-bit and 8 GB and up for the 64-bit. Right now - Intel, Apple, and AMD all offer 64-bit systems.
Do you need all this memory? No, for the average laptop user it amounts to overkill. However, if you're interested in gaming, desktop publishing, or the graphic arts you will benefit from 64-bit technology.
Dual Core Notebooks
(Note - we are now up to quad core laptops with the latest Haswell processors.)
Two is better than one.
Dual core laptops are now on the market. The gaming industry is the starting point for many of these advanced systems. For example, the British Laptop maker Rockdirect now produces Xtreme 64, a gaming laptop with AMD’s new dual core Athlon 64 X2 processor. This same laptop also sports the ATI Mobility Radeon X800 XT graphics card that features 16 pixel pipelines, an industry first for notebooks.
The major producers of dual-core chips are Intel and AMD. The Intel dual-core processor has hyperthreading (HT) - the two cores are divided into four virtual CPU units. Is all this needed? Again, if you're into heavy graphics or gaming - it's something you should consider and explore further.
Built-in Cellular Modem
Most high-end laptops now come with an integrated tri-mode 802.11a/b/g for wireless WI-FI connections.
Some recent models, like the Sony's New Ultra-Portable VAIO VGN-T350P, are raising the bar - it has the world's first 'Built-in Cellular Modem'. You can use your cell phone to connect to the Internet. This may be a great advantage since finding a 'Hot Spot' in some parts of the world can still be difficult.
The Avant-Garde: LumiLED Display
Be on the look-out for LED monitors in the near future. The brightness, colors and backlighting technology in LED monitors will be quite different from LCD displays.
The Forerunner in this field is NEC's SpectraView LumiLED, and will offer a much better image and color. Keep your eyes peeled.
(We now ultra-high definitions displays like the Apple Retina Display and K4 Monitors.)
Yonah: Intel's Dual-Core Notebook Chip
Be on the lookout for Intel's Dual-Core Notebook Chip dubbed Yonah, it will be somewhat different in that this notebook chip will not only have two cores but these cores will share a 2MB cache which will boost performance.
On the Horizon:
19 or 20 Inch Laptop Screens
There is a rumor, only a rumor, that Dell is coming out with a 19-inch laptop in early 2006. There is also buzz that LG-Philips has a 20-inch LCD panel which could easily be used by laptop makers if they want to explore this market area. Andre the giant will be pleased.
Of course, there are many more laptop innovations in the pipeline but they're beyond the scope of this article. Just keep all these new technological notebook changes in mind when you're checking out your next laptop. Maybe, just maybe, most of these won't already have been replaced by something new by the time you buy your next laptop. But can probably bet your Google Stocks on it.
The author, Titus Hoskins has a modest website on Bizware Products for eMarketers. As part of that site he runs an Online Notebook Guide for Laptop Enthusiasts. Notebook Buyer's Guide
The Notebook Guide
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