I WAS TEMPTED into tech journalism because it was sold to me as a fast-moving industry with something exciting always around the corner. And at first, it was like that.
Then I got used to the same execs spouting about the cloud, megapixels, apps, and the world’s biggest taxi company owning no taxis. Now I’m bored, so very bored.
But this isn’t going to be a rant about the Apple’s lack of innovation, or smartphones now caught in a cycle of iterative updates; there’s not much else current phones need in my humble opinion. No, it’s laptops that have caught my ire.
The faithful laptop has helped transform everyday work and computing into something a lot more flexible and mobile. The current generation ultraportables are generally rather lovely things, adding a dose of slim elegance into computing, while some gaming laptops and mobile workstations now sport some proper desktop-bothering specs.
But still… I’m a bit fed up with them. I recently reviewed the Asus ZenBook UX430UA, and while its a very good ultrabook, it’s utterly devoid of any innovation over its predecessors. The same can be pretty much said about all the current crop of laptops.
Now I’m not expecting PC makers to try and reinvent the wheel, I just want to see future laptops come with a host of notable features rather than one or none.
Take the Google PixelBook, for instance. It has a very neat 360-degree hinge and clever palm rests that also acted as traction pad to stop the machine from sliding around when it’s propped up by its keyboard deck.
There’s innovation out there it’s just in dribs and drabs and that’s frustrating as heck because I’m the kind of chap who wants have all the metaphorical cakes and eat them.
I don’t want bezel-eating displays, Windows Hello, and Thunderbolt compatible USB Type-C ports to be standout or nice-to-have features for high-end laptops, I want them to be the norm.
Equally, given the work Microsoft’s boffins have put into Windows 10 to make it both touch and mouse friendly, it annoys me that touchscreens on laptops are mostly optional extras, rather than the standard.
And while I’m no expert in tooling and manufacturing, surely it can’t be that hard or expensive to pop 360-degree hinges into Windows 10 ultraportables by default, rather than having to choose between a clamshell or convertible chassis.
Yeah, I get that not everyone wants to prod at a laptop’s display or flip its screen around, but surely having the option wouldn’t hurt. Really, options are only a problem when they overwhelm you; just go into a US Starbucks and try and order a coffee.
But it seems to me all the laptops makers don’t want to do that. Nearly every laptop I’ve messed around with lately lacks a certain something that holds it back from greatness and paving the way for others to follow.
The Surface Laptop decided future-proofing isn’t a thing and eschewed a USB-C port. Apple’s MacBooks did the opposite and decided USB 3.0 devices were all just a legacy dream.
The 2018 Dell XPS 13 traded the much loved SD card reader for microSD. While the PixelBook offered a lovely mix of hardware, Chrome OS and Android apps, only to fail with optimising the later.
Compromise blighted each of these machines from setting the standard all laptops should aspire to. And I think that’s blocking the way for the next step in laptop evolution.
If some form of hardware and feature standard was set for each laptop category – think ultraportable, gaming, workstation etc – by some sort of consortium of Microsoft, Google, Apple (year right) and laptop makers, then we could see a proper foundation on which future feature-rich laptops can be built upon without compromises.
Once touchscreens, dramatic displays, practical port selection and convertible credentials are part of every new laptop, then production costs will come down and laptop makers will have the scope to think beyond shrunken bezels or fancy hinges and focus on a fresh wave of innovation.
Let me spitball an idea. You know those laptop chassis that you can plug your phone into to essentially have an Android laptop… why can’t we have that feature in the next batch of Windows machines so we can pseudo dual-boot Android and Windows 10. Microsoft might frown at the licensing implications of such a move, but screw it, I’d like to see laptop makers take that kind of risk, rather than just release a Rose Gold model of their latest laptop.
Or how about every gaming laptop with Nvidia graphics comes with a connection to the GeForce Now streaming service whereby extra power from the cloud can be used to boost the pixel pushing power of the laptop’s hardware allowing thin, light laptops to have the power of much beefier machines.
And Apple, for goodness sake just bring iOS apps to macOS. Timbo Cook might have shunned the idea by saying Apple cultists don’t want such a mix-up, but then we don’t recall them asking for talking shits in the form of Animojis either. Just give it a go, you might like it.
These are all just ideas, but they aren’t a million miles away from some of the tech rumours I stumble across. But rather than remain rumour fodder and ‘what ifs’, I want to see laptop makers grab innovation and give it a right good shake.
Afterall, we have the technology and I’m already bored of being bored. µ
Source : Inquirer