Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The return of the Transportable Computer

Many, many years ago, when I was a starry-eyed, 12-year-old geek, I would thumb through computer magazines and drool at the ads for the new and super fast 286's (yes, that long ago).

Compaq Computer - an upstart in those days - had a transportable model, it had a tiny screen and weighed a ton, but you could, in theory, carry it from place to place. That is a far cry from all of the laptops I currently own. Obviously, as time went on, laptops became smaller and more powerful.

But recently, there has been a more interesting phenomenon, in that it would seem laptops are overtaking desktops as home computers. Maybe this is because of their inherent portability, or because laptop firepower (i.e. display size, cpu speed, etc) has pretty much caught up to that of the desktop. In addition, Wi-Fi wireless networks have made it even easier for you to move your laptop around the house and surf the net - seeing that you are no longer chained to within 12 feet of your DSl/Cable modem.

And just as the cost of PC's has come down significantly, so to have the cost of laptops. For between $500-1000 today you can get a brand new laptop these days, and while the $700 laptop isn't powerful enough for a corporate road warrior, it is definitely powerful enough for the average e-mailing/photosharing/mp3-playing/word-processing consumer. (In fact, there is a project out now aiming to produce a $100 laptop for children in 3rd-world and developing nations). These laptops are also aimed more at the 'moveable desktop' concept - that is for people who plan to use these at home and never move any further then from the den to the living room and back again. In that vane, Dell has introduced the XPS M2010.

The M2010 is an interesting cross between an all-in one desktop and an oversized laptop. It has a 20.1" LCD, a wireless keyboard and very interesting looking CPU. The whole thing can be carried like a giant laptop (complete with handle) from place to place and also used as a TV or DVD player (it is Windows Media Center enabled and comes with a remote).

It is a very cool piece of hardware, however, I have to say at $3500 - there are probably not that many people who will buy it. Even Dell alludes to their target market - the tag line on the base configuration reads - Be a show off.

No comments: