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iPad, Ultrabook, Netbook, Notebook…

Just today, when I’ve commented a new blog from Rosiv, I
noticed that this was also a critic review on how time has
changed about mobile hardware and what we can do with
it there and now.

Would anyone remind how he/she has worked mobile 10 years ago? See for yourself when you read this blog.

The fact is that today’s people have an urge demand for more speed and more compactness while being out of home or office. So let’s travel back and see why I find Rosiv’s new blog and it’s title “Spring, Apples and the art not to fail on something…” really fitting!

If you remember laptops 10 years ago, you’ll probably remember many things:

Really powerful notebooks were bulky, pricey and did not have a good battery runtime. Let’s explain this taking a good example: toshiba has brought out a Satellite 5200-P902 model that had a 1600×1200 resolution display and a GeForce FX5600 Go, quite remarkable the display resolution, quite poor the 3D power (but actual titles then were playable!) and the battery lifetime when you used it at full power. the 3.4kg coloss with it’s ony 14″ display did not have a very good stamina. Integrated WLAN… yes, optional, and draining more power off the battery. Portable… barely. One wouldn’t carry this honey around for several hours. the Price: almost 2000 Euros.

in 2010, Apple brought out the MacBook Air. Pricey, yes but moderate: for 1600 Euros you got a nice piece of computer. Okay, Gaming was still limited to some titles and the 3D power was sort of… weak but that’s what the MacBook Air wasn’t concepted for! The runtime was ways better than from usual notebooks in that form factor and the Slimness… astounding. You could have asked yourself: How did Apple cram in all that powerful hardware into such a slim nutshell.

Sure, there were netbooks that were small and portable too, yet not very expensive. But you get what you pay for. So were the netbooks especially one thing: Slow, small-screen and hardly suitable for serious gaming. That’s also what netbooks weren’t concepted for. Their main advantage were: Take your tiny friend with you, search for a WLAN, or (when you were lucky and got a model with 3G built-in) good signal strength in your cell network and work independently from any local-bound computer. Worked fine and netbooks are still very attractive to some consumers.

The time has changed and now there are several gadgets on the roll. Let alone the era of the tablets which were celebrating a revolution with the publication of the Apple iPad. There were several design stuides also already on the public market but none of them were as accepted as the iPad when it hit stores in 2010. Tablets are great when working outside and when you’re not willing to take a buly notebook with you. Yet the simplicity of the tablets have easened some tasks. They’re ready when you need them. Instantly. One of the disadvantages of the netbooks. due to their rather limited cpu power, they were not as instantly available as tablets and when you fed them difficult ducuments or websites, the CPU already topped out. That’s where the macBook Air took place. Heavy notebooks. No Way!

Today it seems as if the tablets have already reached their top and Netbooks (Ultrabooks now) seem to gain back a piece of the big cake. Netbooks are now equipped with the nextGen Atom processor which is soehow faster than it’s predecessor, the initial Atom processor family yet the graphics unit still lacks power to playback actual 3D games. If you see a game on the iPad 2, then you’re really dazzled and astounded about the power it brings to the day. 3D Games… no delay and fluid as if it was the most common task for a tablet. Apps, no thing, there are hundreds and thousands of them ;) – Each of these help you expanding your tablet’s tasks to fulfill. Battery runtime? Also no surprises here: Due to the moderate power demand of all the built-in components, runtime boosts up to 10 hours of independent work time. With the release of the new iPad, there was a new competitor on the market: Finally watch content with fullHD resolution and experience an ultimate display resolution on a mobile device. the iPhone 4 revolutionized the display market with it’s astounding Retina display. Now it’s the same technique in the new iPad… finally. The drawback: the high resolution display wants to be fed by a potent GPU. The problem: More GPU power means less battery runtime or same battery capacity means less ipad runtime. Simple as that. However people expected an iPad that could fulfill both statements although technology didn’t allow for such a steep improvement yet. However Apple managed still to cram al into a tiny shell, slightly thicker than the iPad2 and with a more powerful battery. Thus allowing same runtime as the ipad 2.

However there’s one glitch still existing: How to feed such a beast of graphics with the same CPU? The CPU part of the A5X hasn’t changed to the A5 and so it’s no surprise that CPU-based benchmarks still show similar results. However the graphics power has vastly increased. Yet are people not happy what the new iPad offers. Of course I am also complaining about one thing, that’s the network connectivity via LTE, only available to Northamerican territory due to the LTE chip only operating on the LTE frequencies there.

The other stats are quite remarkable for that small device and earn my respect. A small gadget that allows to deal with everyday’s tasks with quite some comfort makes the new ipad for sure a respectable companion. But back to what’s ahead of us and why time has changed our life.

However a new era of notebooks is hitting the stores soon and giving a bit headache to the MacBook Air. While the MacBook Air still has same specs as it’s predecessors except a faster CPU, Thunderbolt port and a slightly higher resolution panel, the Ultrabooks are now entering the ring of competition and seem to perform well. Two years later, the PC world has managed to cram in powerful hardware with moderate GPU power and lots of features into one slim shell. Bingo: The ultrafast Ultrabook has been born. I must admit: I like a 15 inches Ultrabook. Big display, powerful hardware and some other specs such as USB3.0 and backlit keyboard (you’ll never want to miss that feature again once you have it!) and/or a high-resoluting display. So one of my favourites is the new Samsung U900x4C with a 15″ display all crammed into a 14″ body at a total weight of 1.5kg – that’s portable.

Startup times of under 20 seconds (possible because of the SSD working inside) and standby reactivation in under 3 seconds are astounding values that match the MacBook Air and sometimes even surpass it. Whatever this year is coming on to us. I am excited to see the new goodies and one of them will probably find their way into my inventory.

But back to the comparison: So how has time changed the hardware? Let’s have a small comparison chart:


Aspire One

MacBook Air
iPad 2
new iPad
Size 14.3″ 10.1″ 13.3″ 15.0″ 9.7″ 9.7″
Display 1600×1200 1024×600 1366×768 1600×900 1024×768 2048×1536
CPU Pentium 4m Intel Atom Intel I5 Intel I5 ARM A5 ARM A5x
Cores 1 (2) 1 2(4) 2(4)-4(8) 2 2
Speed 2.8GHz 1.6GHz 2.5GHz 2.8GHz 900MHz 1GHz
GFlops/s 3.7 8.6 72 98 26 32
GPU NVidia
GeForce 5600
3D Power OK Bad Good Good Medium Good
HDD 250GB HDD 320GB HDD 128GB SSD 256GB SSD 64GB Flash 64GB Flash
3.5h/1.5h 8h/4.5h 6h/1.5h 9h/4h 18h/6h 17h/4h
Weight 3125g 1260g 1535g 1485g 607g 650g
Released 2002 2010 2010 2012 2011 2012

As you can see… 10 years later, tablet computers have half the power of a current notebook/ultrabook and ten times the power of an oder notebook.

Also the weight from notebooks have halved while runtimes have been doubled.

According to Moore’s law, there should be not much room anymore for big improvements. Yet I am thrilled to know where we are 10 years later. Corning has already shown visions of in-glass-embedded computers where the glass is the interface/surface to operate with. Maybe that vision will come true soon and maybe battery lifetime will still enhance according to the efforts of modern technology research. But until you can act like in Minority report, I guess there are still 20 to 50 years to go. And up then it’s doubtful whether I still live or this blog does…

March 15, 2012 Netspark - 1594 posts - Member since: May 9th, 2011 No Comments »

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