Dynamist Blog

Flash Laptop

In response to my wish for an iBook Nano, reader Ivan Kirigin emails:

Just thought I'd comment on the desire for a "flash" laptop. There are some significant technical problems.

Firstly, the processor, screen, and battery taken together comprise the bulk of the weight of a laptop. It is hard to have a fast processor and a good screen and a big enough battery to power them both for a long time, without having a pretty heavy laptop (when compared to the weight of an iPod nano).

Secondly, you probably don't notice for your gadgets, but flash is VERY slow. For the constant reading & writing needed for any good operating system, this is very bad.

There are going to be some major advancements soon which should change this. Firstly flash is becoming faster and larger (the larger is important because computer makers assume people don't want less than 20GB in a computer). More importantly, there is a huge push to get lower-power processors. Also, new OLED displays draw far less power. Both mean that the battery can be smaller. Finally, fuel-cells are going to be more common in 2006 gadgets. The energy density is so much higher, that you can expect both high capacity and lighter weight.

All in all, I would venture to guess that in early 2007, you'll find an ultra-light almost-desktop-replacement laptop. The weight of an large iPod today, the footprint of a small qwerty, and pencil thin.

As for me, I'm about to buy a 9lb Dell, wishing I could afford to drop another grand on a 15lb Alienware beast.

Ivan, who is obviously less sensitive to laptop weight than I am, also sends links to these stories on Samsung's recent advances in flash memory for laptops.

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