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Blurring the Line Between Laptops and Desktops 176

Posted by timothy
from the large-smallness dept.
bart_scriv writes "BusinessWeek looks at the latest offerings in ultra-portable PCs, offering up some specs and pictures. Some of the highlinghts: removeable 19-20 inch LCD dispays, dual NVIDIA cards and customizable exteriors. On the downside, some of these machines weigh almost 20 pounds and all of them sport a pretty high price tag — they probably won't be replacing desktops or laptops anytime soon."
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Blurring the Line Between Laptops and Desktops

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  • weigh 20 punds? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScottLindner (954299) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:10PM (#15564469)
    That's not a portable! My laptop is heavy at 8lbs and it sucks to carry around with all of the gadgets and gizmos. Heck... even my SFF is lighter than 20 pounds. I love the concept but the weight has to improve big time.
  • Ultra-portable? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:14PM (#15564499)
    What the hell gives those things the name ultra-portable? For that matter, who would actually want any of these things? It has none of the advantages of a laptop, so basically it's a desktop that costs more than most laptops, with mid to high-range performance.
  • Re:weigh 20 punds? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:16PM (#15564520) Journal
    You're a wimp!

    I'd love to be able to carry, or cheaply ship a real computer to sites when I have to travel, or even set it up back at the hotel rooms so I can squash bugs, compile, and do database stuff on a *real* computer.

    It really sucks trying to do some sort of data manipulation involving millions of records, tens of gigabytes at a time, on a pentium M laptop with 512 megs of ram and one of its rinky-dink little hard drives. And many times the space is so tight on the clients server, I really have no choice during an upgrade to migrate the whole thing to the laptop (or usb drive) and watch the poor thing suffer overnight.

    I've been trying to talk the boss into letting me put together a high-specced shuttle cube PC that I could ship out with a 15' LCD for just such an occasion. Once I had them overnight my office desktop to me, because it was apparent that my laptop just couldnt cut it.

    So, like plenty of technologies, just because it's not useful to YOU doesn't mean it isnt useful to anyone.

  • Re:Ultra-portable? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zork the Almighty (599344) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:19PM (#15564561) Journal
    It would be good for lan parties, but I suspect it's really a way to get people to take their work PC home.

    That being said, I'm sure that since the margins for these things are higher it will soon become unfashionable to carry around a lightweight computer and have an absence of lower back problems. Long live marketing!
  • Re:weigh 20 punds? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by creimer (824291) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:30PM (#15564656) Homepage
    That's nothing... In the ancient days before laptops, there were "luggables" that were often mistaken for suitcases and frequently beaten up by gorillas at the airports.
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:44PM (#15564755) Homepage
    How many people here are looking for a 15+ lb. machine to replace their desktop priced at $2000+ USD?

    My stepfather just bought one. I don't know if it weights 15 lbs, but it's a beast by portable standards. It's purpose isn't really desktop replacement, but to showoff their cpu-intensive software to customers with a setup that is relatively easy to take on a plane. It is not intended to be used while on the plane. I'm pretty sure this is a fairly uncommon requirement.

    Okay, now how many people are looking for a sub-5 lb. machine in a laptop form factor that can run basic productivity software with excellent battery life priced at less than $800 USD?

    Hey now, it's also gotta have enough beef in it to run freecell! But yeah, one would think there are tons of people in that group, particularly if you could knock a couple hundred dollars off that price.

    Why are there so few options for the latter scenario? And an even better question: why are there so many options for the former scenario!?

    My guess? Margins on the latter are much better than the former.
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:45PM (#15564771)

    Here is what I'd like to buy: a laptop, but without the keyboard, monitor, touchpad, speakers, and optical drive. Basically a little brick I could carry back and forth between work/home and drop into a docking station that's hooked up to a full-size keyboard, mouse and 21" LCD monitor. If you ditch all the human I/O devices (keyboard, touchpad, monitor, speakers) and commit to using an external optical drive, the thing shouldn't be much bigger/heavier than a portable hard drive.

    Alternately, I'd be happy with a "very fast" portable hard drive that has an elegant plugin interface to a desktop box. Then I could install everything on that drive and just lug it back and forth. The issue there is that I'd need to have "very similar" hardware in the two locations.

  • by billstewart (78916) on Monday June 19, 2006 @05:52PM (#15564821) Journal
    Your basic Shuttle PC weighs about 4kg before you add the disk and CPU, takes standard PCI cards, has an optional handle for the top, and costs about $200-300 empty, maybe $700 heavily loaded, plus you'd need an LCD monitor of whatever size is convenient and a little keyboard. That'll weigh a lot less than these misnamed monster laptops, use standard parts so there's a viable upgrade path, and cost 1/4 as much.
  • Re:weigh 20 punds? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Monday June 19, 2006 @06:17PM (#15564999) Homepage Journal
    The first laptop a company ever issued me was a 486 but it did weigh a solid 10 pounds or so. To add insult to injury it didn't come with an internal modem (Or the company was too cheap to spring for it) so I also had to carry along an external modem and power supply for same. The laptop's own power supply was only slight less obtrusive than the nuclear reactor tower you get with the Xbox 360.

    You ain't lived until you've had 15 minutes to get from one side of the Atlanta airport (Or Heathrow if you're on that side of the pond) lugging all that crap along. Fortunately that was a more innocent time. If you tried that sprint today the TSA would probably shoot you.

  • Re:PowerBooks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pollardito (781263) on Monday June 19, 2006 @07:52PM (#15565531)
    My Titanium PowerBook is more powerful than your average desktop (except for the slow HD). It handles multimedia perfectly and has TV and audio outputs. I haven't gotten it to choke on a single game yet.
    given that most of the games available for a Powerbook were designed 3-4 years ago, i can totally believe that you haven't seen it choke on a single game yet. Nethack only takes so much juice to play :)

    seriously though, i wouldn't take my Powerbook anywhere near a 40-person raid encounter in WoW
  • by dias_flac (983656) on Monday June 19, 2006 @09:39PM (#15565958)
    "I've never seen a mac in use by anyone but trendy mcpopcollars and wannabe computer guys. Face facts, it doesnt run the software that I (or the majority of the world) need on a day to day basis."

    Wow. I guess this guy doesn't get out much. Apparently the world doesn't need MS Office, Final Cut Pro, iLife, Doom 3, MySQL, C++, and a multitude of other applications, programming languages, and games that are available. I guess since this guy's so smart, perhaps he can tell me how these companies somehow make a profit and pay the bills by providing software that he and the majority of the world 'don't' need on a day-to-day basis. I guess the US Army doesn't need the farm of Xserves they use to keep their Website running. I guess the sizeable percentage of music production studios and film houses - both indie and pro - don't need the plethora of software that helps give their projects life.

    I guess the rest of the world relies only on SQL Server and Visual Studio on their laptops while they sip lattes at their local coffee houses. I guess all of the scientists, students, business owners, soccer moms, musicians, digital artists, magazine editors, and IT professionals (like me) don't use anything but Microsoft's wares to fulfill our every computing need. I guess we're all 'wannabe computer guys', just like the engineers at Apple, right?

    Wow, what insight. I'll bet you can create an entire two-button Web form all by yourself in Visual Studio. Heck, I imagine that you can probably link controls and textboxes to records in your 20 GB database of p0rn and view them at will! Boy, ADO .NET really serves its purpose, doesn't it?

    Outside of the dual GPUs and incredible weight of the aforementioned 'portable' products, my 17" PowerBook has all of the features listed. Including a wide-screen. And my Apple weighs less than seven pounds, and is about an inch thick. It feels like I'm carrying a magazine. That's why we won't 'shut the F up'. Mac users pretty much have everything that they need, including database software and development tools. For the most part, they like their computers, and like using them, instead of having to just deal with them.

    And about the article, for the rest of the /.tters that may be reading this - personally, I can't help but to feel like chuckling when I read about how so many people who posted to this article mention how heavy laptops used to be, are now, and apparently will be, when Apple has provided such a slim and light unit. Of course, Mac OS X won't serve everyone's particular needs, but when I think about the sheer weight and girth of these new offerings from the major widget manufacturers, and the fact that they will SOON be available, I wonder if anyone would consider installing Windows XP or Vista on a MacBook Pro...when Apple works out the kinks.

    Hey, Mr. Me-And-The-Rest-Of-The-World-Needs-Nothing-More-Th an-Dot-NOT, just let me know if you require any more reasons as to why Mac users won't 'shut the F up'. I'm dying to tell you.

    Can't help you with the hug, though. Cheers.

    (there goes my karma)

  • Re:weigh 20 punds? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) * on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:36AM (#15566685) Homepage Journal
    you youngens. The osborne I, with a Z80, was 25 pounds. And it did not have all the fancy complicated stuff that makes the modern so-called laptop unreliable.

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