The future of laptops

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by wankey, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. wankey macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2005
    I over heard one of my bosses talk the other day and they were saying how smartphones (well BlackBerry to be precise) are so close to replacing the laptop and immediately I drew up some concerns.

    Although the latest smartphones have a 700mhz processor, up to 16 gigs of storage they have a tiny 2 inch screen (resolution doesn't count!), a patheticly tiny keyboard and an ergonomics professors' nightmare.

    So this lead me to think about our current laptops. What will they evolve into?

    Personally, I think smartphones will eventually hit a plateau (ie they won't get any faster because the battery life will last 5 seconds), probably around the same speeds as our laptops.

    Our laptops will probably hit Macbook Pro sizes (with Apple laptops being rediculously well engineered and thinner) but with vastly more hardware in them.

    I'm just going to hypothesize what a Macbook Pro will look like in 2020 (ten years or so):

    MacBook Pro 15.4 formfactor (unibody design... .5 inchs thick)
    16 inch (fits RIGHT to be bezel) 2560x1200 Ultra high res DPI dependent full multitouch glass display
    1TB XDR RAM using Quickconnect 128x
    CPU 3.0ghz 32core processor
    GPU 256 stream CUDA processors Ram shared with on CPU using ultra faster quickconnect interlink
    10 TB SSD Flash drive\
    USB 3.0 x 5
    DisplayPort 2.0
    NO DVD (in 10 years everyone will be using their smartphones to rent movies from BlockBuster then transfering to laptop through 902.11p to rent movies or download them from iTunes at full 1080i Bluray)
    Wireless 902.11n, WIMAX
    10 hours battery life (assuming some sort of Battery breakthrough happens)

    Hmm, I dunno people. Do we need that kind of computer?
  2. SkyBell macrumors 604


    Sep 7, 2006
    Texas, unfortunately.
    I think your boss is right, smart phones will be replacing laptops. When technology evolves to the point when it's practical to do so, of course, but I don't think that's too far off.
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I laughed. :p I'm guessing you don't know what the "prequel", 802.11 actually means, and why the next gen won't be 902.11.

    And about the rest of the specs, I think your user name pretty much describes it all.
  4. zachplaysguitar macrumors 6502


    Aug 15, 2008
    Richmond, VA
    It seems to me that someday soon someones going to make a breakthrough with battery life. I can see laptops charging very quickly but lasting for like 24 hours. That'd be nice.
  5. liquidtrend macrumors 6502


    Jul 26, 2008
    once a smart phone comes out with a 17" display...
    i will accept your bosses statement.

    my laptop has already "hit" macbook pro size.
    if you arent talking about macbook pros but you were talking about other laptops in general...they have "hit" those sizes as well.

    as for your speculations on future computer specs.
    and an answer to your question.
    i have recently came from the future and can tell you that, yes, we will need a computer with that kind of power.
    considering the fact that 20 years before now, all you needed was a 66mhz system to do what you needed to get done in the world.
  6. TSE macrumors 68030

    Jun 25, 2007
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    What I can see happening is laptops getting stripped of both their hard drives and their optical drives to make ultraportable when the internet becomes even more widespread and dependable. In everyone's home they could have a "server" that basically acts like your hard drive in a laptop but is at your home and you connect to it via the internet. Optical Drive will soon die out and be replaced by the internet as well.
  7. ejb190 macrumors 65816


    One product will never meet the needs of all users. There is a big difference between a MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air. I would argue that those product lines need to diverge even farther to create products uniquely suited for the users of the future. While a power user might be happy with a full-featured, semi-portable monster for the occasions that they hit the road, there are people out there like me who need some serious computing power in a PDA form. If the interface is built right I don't need a keyboard.

    Personally, I would like to see a lot more of "form meets function". I got a Compaq Contura Aero about 12 years ago. It was an ultra portable notebook before such things were cool. And it met my needs as a college student perfectly. Not the most powerful computer by any means, but it was enough for me.

    In Grad School, I went to a G3 PB Wallstreet. I dreaded carrying that thing in my backpack on my 1/2 mile walk to and from the office each day. (And if I was just doing data collection, I often went back to my Compaq.)

    Today I do field work for a state agency. I have a Trimble Nomad PDA we are working with to do all of our data collection paperless. I have a Dell Latitude laptop that never leaves my desk because, quite frankly, it's too big to cary around and the display isn't bright enough and the battery doesn't last long enough to bother using it in my car. Besides, the Nomad does everything I need.
  8. okrelayer macrumors 6502a

    May 25, 2008
    I see the laptop taking over the desktop (its happening now!) and the mobile phone taking over the laptop. There will always be a need for a full size machine (meaning full keyboard and such).

    Infact. I see it going the way of

    *A cinima display with optical drive, speakers, bluetooth,usb, and maybe a hd. Its left in your home at all times

    *a notebook computer without an optical drive, but still carrys the features we have today. Connect to your display when you return from whatever you had to do that your phone couldnt do.

    *a mobile phone that is similar to say the iPhone, but more capible for handling processes. Will beable to take pictures/movies/internet/listen to music ect

    I fully see the optical drive going away (atleast in apple's future). I like the way this looks. This setup is not very far from where we are. But it enables us to be as portable and still full figure as we need to be.
  9. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    Something tells me this is more a list of personal dreams and desires for future laptops and not a practical assessment...

    - I don't think that in the future we'll all use ONLY laptops, ALL with a monster screen. You forget that some people highly value portability and convenience and do not require video-rendering power.

    - 902.11 (?)

    - Download all content from iTunes? This would be approaching Big Brother proportions; I personally like to have a choice of where to purchase music. True, iTunes is the best but I shop around. Apple is not stupid enough to make the same mistake M$ with IE.

    - 1TB of RAM in a laptop? I have 2GBs and it does me fine. The processor speeds and RAM level you suggest are way out of proportion to the everyday use that 90% of computer users need.

    - Quote: "(unibody design... .5 inchs thick)" 5"!!! :eek:

    That being said, I would like to see a touch-screen MacBook Pro. I know it's coming someday...

    I see the future as some dystopian world-city, where a merged corporate conglomerate runs everything. In this world-city - where no one really knows his neighbour, love is reduced to cyborgs and babies are grown in test tubes - Oracle has merged with Microsoft, Apple with IBM & GM with BMW and there are propagandist TV screens in the streets showing low-res commercials of the success of manufacturing. Big Brother boasts of environmental prowess yet our world-city is fraught with smog and debris. I watch BLade Runner too much...
  10. iParis macrumors 68040


    Jul 29, 2008
    New Mexico
    Uhhh... no.

    Maybe like a 5TB hard drive, but not a 10TB flash drive.
    And a TB of ram? You'd have to have an amazing processor to do that, yes... I'm implying that you're 32 core isn't going to happen.

    A lot of those specs just seem like something you thought up in a day dream.

    Those specs are more likely to happen in a Mac Pro than a MacBook Pro
  11. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    Yes, it'd surely be nice. But besides Li-Manganese batteries (which, for all intents and purposes aren't that different from Li-ions), exactly which "break through" in batteries do you foresee?
    I foresee incremental advances, nothing more, nothing less. The only ways to gain more battery life all of a sudden would be make the screen smaller, use slower processors, and so on. The rest, especially on the battery tech-side of things is incremental at best.
  12. 0098386 Suspended


    Jan 18, 2005
    I don't see laptops going. There will always be need for portable document handling, editing etc. Laptops fill that perfectly, of course something like an iPhone can display and (hopefully) be able to edit but it's no replacement for a full 100+ key plus laptop.

    Just as desktops have always stayed with us I'm sure we will always keep laptops, regardless of how powerful phones and handheld devices get.
  13. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    Mine only has 79 keys. 81 if you count the power button and trackpad button. :eek:

    He, he, I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself – your point is very valid, though :)
  14. zachplaysguitar macrumors 6502


    Aug 15, 2008
    Richmond, VA
    I'm not really sure, but then again if I did I'd certainly be letting someone know. Most likely it will be a very different technology in that it is only a battery because its portable power. It seems that the current method of storing energy in a battery isn't going much further in efficiency. Many times innovations are something no one's would ever imagine.
  15. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    We will al possess laptops driven by phantom power.
  16. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    One can hope, for sure. But the thing I question was you being able to "see" something like that come to fruition. You even claimed it would be some time "soon", which would imply that it was some promising technology waiting to become efficient and commercialised.
    I took it as if you had an idea where that might come from – be it capacitators, fuell cells, or "old school" battery technology reinvented.

    Just make sure it isn't 48 Volts. I'd hate to get that "tingling sensation" at a voltage of 48.
  17. 7on macrumors 601


    Nov 9, 2003
    Dress Rosa
    Over in Japan cellphones for the most part have replaced laptops. Facebook, IM, email, Stock quotes, etc are all done on Cell Phones by the majority. Even watching TV! I have always said, want to know the future? Look at Japan :p

    We might get there, when the 20-somethings replace the 50-somethings.
    Eventually I can see many homes where the only computer is the cell phone. Maybe dock it and have it connect to a keyboard and monitor for a full "desktop" experience.

    And the only people with "computers" will be the geeks and gamers :p

    And yet, sometimes I think to myself that we did go from a horse-and-buggy to landing on the moon in only 70 years. What will the next 70 years bring?
  18. dmr727 macrumors G3


    Dec 29, 2007
    The screen is the big problem for me. My Blackberry is great, but if I need to read a lot of data from a .pdf or similar, it's a nightmare.

    I could see the smartphone replace the laptop if there were some way to connect a full sized keyboard and LCD to it - for the times that I want to do *real* work on it while in the hotel, etc...

    Perhaps some sort of existing laptop form factor (a keyboard, track pad, and LCD) with a jack on the side to connect a smartphone, which would provide the processor and data storage. Kind of like a thin client of sorts.
  19. zachplaysguitar macrumors 6502


    Aug 15, 2008
    Richmond, VA
    What would be cool is if the smartphone could project a 'screen' in the air, without requiring a surface. Then, for documents or other items that require a large screen it would be easy to view them without taking up any space.
  20. Tosser macrumors 68030

    Jan 15, 2008
    LOL, and knowing about the law of physics how would you imagine that to happen?
  21. No1451 macrumors 6502

    Oct 20, 2008
    Ottawa, ON
    I don't see any of this being feasible. However, I see more of a move towards cloud computing, once the internet is able to handle something like it anyway. Your phone, laptop, and desktop would all stay nicely in sync and fully interoperable.

    1TB of ram? really? REALLY? Do some research and realize that at some point its not possible to make the modules any smaller(we're already getting down to sub 40nm for processors and the like, ram is limited in the same way, too low and the switches start to lose stability).

    As for the 30 core processor, again, do some research, there have been several processors with large amounts of cores, Intel themselves had one(80 cores I think it was), and so did a startup, but each core was only clocked at somewhere around 900Mhz. And also, Larrabee, Intel's next big gambit in integrated graphics, is basically a many-core refresh of the older Pentium architecture.

    Either way you cut it, in the next few decades, I don't see phones taking over, go home and try to watch a movie on your phone, then realize that you just failed.
  22. PowerFullMac macrumors 601


    Oct 16, 2006
    Not too sure about 32 core or 902.11n but the rest could easily happen in 10 years.
  23. blackfox macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2003
    It is hard to predict the future - in technology, as in everything else - it just doesn't proceed linearly. Who knows what new tech will spring up.

    Nevertheless, if I had to hazard a guess - I'd say oled technology - so your computerscreen would be much like a sheet of paper - able to roll up, perhaps fold. It would also be touch screen - with the logical progression of the tech we see in the iPhone/iPod touch.

    Perhaps at some point the whole computer would reside in this "paper" form - but perhaps prior it would reside elsewhere - either in a small form factor somewhere on your person - or as someone else suggested, perhaps far away - accessed via a network of some kind.

    I'm pretty happy now, I might add. I might be too old to understand tech in 15 years - I may become my father, who couldn't ever learn to program the VCR.
  24. PowerFullMac macrumors 601


    Oct 16, 2006
    I dont get this bit, my iPhone as well as other touchscreen phones like the Instinct and the BlackBerry Storm can play great quality movies just fine... :confused:
  25. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    Different people all need different things. In my office, all 4 staff work from apple laptops hooked up to dell 20'' and 24'' screens. There's not a single desktop here.

    Hardcore video workers will always need desktops, as 4k video of the future will need staggering amounts of cpu and memory space for editing / fx work.

    I had a 15'' powerbook, and i dreaded carrying it, it was too heavy. If it was a paperlight 15'' of the future, I would still find it awkward because of the size.

    I love my macbook 13'' because of the size, it fits perfectly with my a4 notepad and books. My partner finds hers too heavy (she's small) and is getting either a MBA or netbook soon.

    Netbooks are selling like hot cakes at the moment, and the 7''-10'' screen form factor couple with reasonably good cpu power and memory seems to be exactly what a lot of people want.

    I predict lots of people will do stuff on cellphones, lots will find a 7''-10'' netbook is what they want, lots of others will be happy with a 13''-15'' laptop, and a few will have 17''-20'' laptops.

    As miniature projectors improve, perhaps cellphones will one day be able to project high quality images. Arrive at work, take out your cellphone, put it in its stand, and it projects (or connects to) a large high quality display, wireless keyboard / mouse / other input devices, and it has all the memory and cpu power you need for almost all typical office work.

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