The coming age of notebooks
Notebook PC sales are skyrocketing but the current
crop leave much to be desired.
Theres a lot happening, however, to fix that
notebooks sold in India cost in the region of Rs 50,000 to 70,000. As per IDC
India, the highest growth has been witnessed in shipments of notebook PCs with
ASV (Average Sale Value) between Rs. 52,500 Rs. 65,500.
These notebooks typically weigh 2.5 to 3 kilos minus the batteries and power
adapter. Thats much too heavy. On top of this battery life is usually
just about four hours or so. Again that doesnt quite cut it. You can carry
an additional battery but then youll be toting another half kilo or so.
While you can get a lightweight (relatively speaking) notebook that comes in
at 1.5 kilos without the battery itll set you back by a lakh plus.
There are a bunch of technologies that are poised to transform mobile computing.
In no particular order they are flash-based Solid State Discs (SSD) and hybrid
discs that combine hard disks with 256 kB going on 1 GB flash caches. I wont
even talk about fuel cells that have long been touted as the answer to all battery
problems but are nowhere near production yet.
SSD is already out in the market, albeit on few devices...yet. Samsung which
makes the discs has the Q1-SSD that sports a 32 GB SSD. 32 gigs may not seem
like much but when you consider that the drive will sip power vis-a-vis a conventional
hard drive and be faster on boot-upits a sweet deal. Then there
are hybrid drives. Seagates already launched its mobile hybrid drivethe
Momentus 5400 PSD. Hybrid drives sport a large flash memory cache. All hard
drives have a DRAM cache but these have traditionally been tiny. The flash cache
on Seagates first hybrid drive is already at 256 MB and the roadmap goes
up to a gig this year. These drives work by keeping Windows log files and other
data that is written when a system is idle onto the flash cache thereby allowing
the hard drive to spin down and save power. Hybrid drives are also expected
to be more reliable by as much as five times. It also generates less heat making
it ideal for blade servers and other devices that require high density.
All this technology will take a bit of time to mature. As of now a 7200 rpm
hard drive and more memory would probably give you a bigger bang for your buck
as Lenovos Matt Kohut recommends. That said, the notebook you buy in 2008
will likely sport one of these two technologies and give you double the battery
life in a cooler configuration that boots up in a, dare I say it, flash.
Prashant L Rao