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There are some major drawbacks with today’s laptops. Some of these bothers me a lot. Battery life is one of these things. I know there are some Sony laptops out there with 6 hours or so of battery life, but I only get about 2 on my PowerBook.
Weight is another thing that really bothers me. No matter if you’re a student or a business guy who carries around you laptop in you all day, you know how annoying the weight of a laptop is.
In this article I will explore the future of mobile computing the way I predict it. There are no scientific evidence behind my predictions, this is just my thoughts and ideas.

As I already mentioned, one major drawback with today’s portable computers is the battery-life. Why can’t they make computers with 24 hours of battery life? There are several reasons for this, one major reason is because of weight. I guess it would be no problem creating a laptop with today’s technology with 24 hours of battery life. Just hook up a couple of UPSes to you laptop and you’re set. However, It would probably not be very portable, since the weight of the laptop would turn it more into a huge server rather than a portable laptop. Let’s explore this for a while. What can we do to change this? As I see it, there are a couple ways we can achieve this (which can possible be combined for higher efficiency).

More efficient CPUs. Developing new CPUs with lower power usage is a given one that the CPU manufactures are constantly working on. However, I would also suggest that we lower the performance and focus more on batter-life. I’ll get back to why I think this later on in this article.

Switch away from traditional hard drives. One component in the computer that uses up quite a bit of power is the standard hard drive (which is a 2.5″ hard drive in most (all?) laptops). Do we really need to go for this approach? Why can’t we use a small flash-drives for hard-drive? Flash-drives are far more power-efficient than regular hard drives, and they are also far less sensitive to damage since they have no moving parts. In addition to this they can also access the data quicker. The downside is that the price per megabyte is really high for this kind of storage, but I’ll come back to how we will solve this later on.

Batteries with higher capacity. This is a field that is being researched a lot these days. Fuel-cell batteries seems to be something that will change the battery-world quite a bit of they now manage to make these stable and less dangerous. The question remains if they ever will be allowed on board a commercial jet in the post 9/11 era.

Now we’ve dealt with the internal part of the computer for a bit and how we can make those more power efficient, now let’s move on to the features that the laptop of feature will offer.

Touch-screen. I know, this is fairly common today, but I think we just seen the beginning of this trend. Let’s say you have a ultra-portable laptop with great battery life, wouldn’t this make a perfect e-book reader? You just flip and twist you monitor and you have a perfect book. You can read, high-light and make comments right there on the screen. No more carrying books around, you have it all in your laptop.

Wireless Gigabit network. In the post 802.11n era, I think we will start seeing country-wide networks that are freely available to the public. Google WiFi is just the start, Hight speed Internet connection will be taken for granted as we look at water and air today. Sure, there will be plenty of companies who will be lobbying against this (such as T-mobile etc), due to their own interests, but they will eventually realize that they’ve lost the war.

Biometric authorization. I’m still not sure which of the biometric methods that is the better one, but I’m sure we will see more of biometric authorization in the future.

Now lets sum up what I’ve written so far and think about it for a second. We now have an ultra-portable laptop with a slow CPU, a small hard drive, but a battery life of 24+ hours. However, we also have a Gigabit Internet connection available wherever we go, so what can we do with this? Well, a lot I’d say. Why do we need a big local hard drive if we always have a high speed Internet connection available? We don’t. Some of you might start to see where I’m going. Remember back in the days when we used those terminal-computers? Everything we ever needed was located on the server. I like that idea. Seriously, it’s brilliant. How many of you guys have ever dropped or lost your laptop? How much data was lost when that happened?

Thin-clients such as Citrix offers similar solutions today, but they tend to be very slow, and they only work (as far as I know) with desktop solutions (except for the client software).
If you have a hight speed Internet connection wherever you go, why do you ever need to store any data or do any calculations on you local computer?

Instead of booting up you laptop you operating system, you have a small loader on your flash-drive or in your BIOS that initiates the network card, create a secured tunnel to your company’s server and connects to a terminal window. In the terminal you have all you data accessible, always available from whichever of you terminals you connect. No more worries about taking backups of all your data on a regular basis, the server takes care of that for you.
In addition to that you don’t need to worry about sensitive data. Even if you loose your computer, all your data is located on the server anyway, and since they need you biometric authorization to access the data, the client is useless to them. Yey! no more laptop thefts.
Now when we’re connected to our super-fast server, why do we need a fast CPU on our laptop? We don’t, since all calculations will be done on the server anyways.

So when will this be possible you might wonder. It’s actually not that distance, everything except for the Gigabit WiFi would be possible with today’s technology.


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