The future of netbooks

The future of netbooks

Summary: What technologies will the netbooks of the future incorporate as standard? Here are ten we expect to still be around in 2012 and five we don't.


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  • 8-hour battery life
    We're almost there with some of the bigger battery packs, if you don't mind typing slowly in the dark. But as the netbook market grows and evolves away from using older chip designs, some of the extremely effective power management in newer products will kick in. And barely a day goes by without someone in a white coat announcing a major breakthrough in lithium ion cell construction. Most of those won't make it, but enough will.


  • Instant On
    Why, exactly, does a low-power design with all its data in flash memory have to ever really turn off? No, we don't know either. The architectural divisions in PC design — where a separate BIOS chip runs through a whole set of pointless tests before letting the processor get going on an operating system that loads off a slow hard disk before firing up the user environment — are just a hangover. Bung everything in the same flash memory, have a decent suspend mode, build your OS like Splashtop so it gets going quickly when you do have to start from scratch, and forget you ever had to wait three minutes to get a browser up.


  • Phone emulators
    Another daft idea, right? A netbook is not a phone, after all. But now that companies like Apple — OK, just Apple, so far — have reignited the mobile applications market, there's money in making neat little programs that you want to carry around with you all the time. Who wouldn't want to make more money by selling them on more platforms? And since a netbook running a phone emulator won't cannibalise any actual mobile phone sales, you just ship an emulator for your mobile platform and gain another revenue source with minimal investment and less risk. Oh, and if you've got an ARM chip in there anyway, performance will be just swell.


Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Reviews

Rupert Goodwins

About Rupert Goodwins

Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.

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  • Great article... but

    you left out the HD vrs SSD issue. Will SSD's take over the netbooks ?
  • Mostly agree

    I think you've covered most of this as well as any non-crystal-ball-holder can, with one notable exception.

    The Cloud (cue ominous music). I suspect in the not to distant future there will be a really major security leak that will scare the pants off almost everyone. I can't believe it is anything other than an incident waiting to happen.