Given the popularity of the Apple iPads and other tablet devices, it is inevitable that the computer industry will try to take advantage of the trend and produce lighter, more powerful and yes, thinner devices. Some of you may have been following the development of the Apple MacBook Air, a really light and thin laptop computer. Now, Intel is setting some standards for ultra-thin computers. The thickness cut-off for these devices will be 20 millimeters or about 0.8 inches. In an article in The Washington Post/Bloomberg News, an Intel executive is quoted as saying that the new computers will have days of battery life on standby, start up in just seconds and retail for less than $1,000, all with a size and weight advantage.
One of the limitations of these devices has been the lack of connectivity. There just isn't a lot of space for connectors. That problem is being rapidly marginalized with WiFi and Bluetooth. Now you can print directly to a Bluetooth printer without a physical wire attached to a computer. (As an aside, you can print to most new HP Printers with an iPad using Bluetooth). With WiFi, you can backup to an external hard drive, also without have a physical wire connection of any type. It also used to be important to have a CD/DVD player for movies and such. The days of using DVDs are also numbered, think Netflix. Apple is about to announce a new service it is calling iCloud. So the movement to non-physical connections will continue unabated.
Another problem of the ultralights has been computing power, however Intel has developed its new Sandy Bridge chips to run the next generation of laptops. Quoting from the Washington Post article, "Intel, based in Santa Clara, California, expects to have 35 tablets based on its chips on sale by the end of the year. It will demonstrate 10 of them during Maloney’s speech, which happens today at the Computex industry show in Taiwan." The fastest of the new chips, the Core i7 and the Core i7 Extreme will reportedly be the basis for the new ultralight computers.
Would I buy another new computer? Will the sun come up in the east tomorrow? Would I buy an ultralight? Good question. We have been using an iPad for some time now and recently purchased a combination protective case and keyboard. The Bluetooth keyboard, although a little smaller than normal, is quite usable and really extends the usefulness of the iPad. It is a lot more convenient than the Apple keyboard for the iPad. But is the iPad a full blown computer? Yes and no. I will have to see what comes with the new light weight computers. I was not persuaded to purchase a MacBook Air over a MacBook Pro for a number of reasons, including connectors. But the world is changing and ultralights might be in my and your future.