More memory, bigger screen, touch input, different operating system, more speed, better graphics—what improvements would make for a laptop/notebook model that would make us want to replace the one we have right now? Was the notebook of your dreams unveiled at CES (Consumer Electronics Show, in Vegas) a couple weeks ago?
The single feature that would be most tempting to me would be Intel’s new Sandy Bridge platform and latest Core CPUs. (Just in case there are any users out there who are on the same newbie wavelength as a participant in a computer beginners class I was teaching a while back, I’ll clarify that CPU stands for Central Processing Unit, not “Certified Public, uh…” But she was a bookkeeper, after all.
Sandy Bridge is what Intel code named the latest permutation of the platform-bar-raising line, some members of which were released last year. Apple has not copyrighted the letter i, so far, and these Intel chips have a nomenclature that follows a Core i3 and i5 and i7… pattern.
Intel says second generation Core processors are based on a new 32nm micro-architecture. They are more energy efficient, and have better graphics and 3D performance than their predecessors.
Exciting graphics to go, in a laptop? The performance we used to think we had to have a desktop, or rather a workstation, to get—and then some? And 3D? This is in the CPU itself, with no need for a separate graphics processor? Yum!
And Turbo Boost 2.0, the latest version of the technology that “overclocks” each core? Turbo Boost sounds like a buzz phrase to promote something without conveying any information concerning its nature, except that it is speed-related. The test lab results Intel offers claim “content creation up to 42 percent faster and gaming up to 50 percent faster.” (Actually Turbo Boost 2.0 speeds up and slows down the processor, so as to improve energy efficiency. Features with similar names and comparable effects have been found in vehicle transmissions, from way back.)
Gamers, game designers, music lovers and musicians are licking their lips. Animations. Streaming media uploads and downloads. Grabbing and editing tracks in real time, and all this while balancing the thermal headroom.
Laptops have used integrated graphics for a long time, to pack more into smaller or thinner form factors. But most integrated graphics tended to be pallid and sluggish, and unable to handle 3D games well enough for enthusiasts.
The new i3, i5, i7 processors in laptops now available are quad-core. Later this year dual-core second gen Core processor models will make their appearance. Some 500 new PC models will utilize Sandy Bridge’s new architecture, Intel claims.
Quick Sync Video will accelerate encoding and decoding, and translating, of video formats. (Look for new “codecs,” the term that is an elision, or a Reese’s cup collision, of code and decode.)
Intel Wireless Display 2.0, dubbed WiDi 2.0, wirelessly directs content to large-screen HDTVs at 1080 hi-def pixels per inch.
Then there’s Intel Insider. I suppose they couldn’t call it Hollywood Insider because that name is taken—but this Sandy Bridge feature provides direct access to movies that couldn’t be viewed on PCs in hi-def, before.
A NetGear receiver box would be needed, to handle the video output from the computer to the TV or whatever device is the target.
Last year’s gee-whiz-golly WiDi 1.0 was exciting as a first-of-kind, but it couldn’t function as a real-time secondary monitor, due to signal delay. Also, it couldn’t play back protected DVD or Blu-ray content.
Since then, Intel has made some deals that enable use of certain protected content, including new Hollywood releases in the golly-whiz-gee formats.
Intel Insider (Oh, clever. From the company’s label slogan, “Intel Inside,” get it?) provides a secure path for digital content and supports HDCP 2.
Is your new-laptop lust unbearable yet? Will you pop for a new one with Sandy Bridge’s latest innovations? Will you dump your desktop in favor of a laptop with a faster, multi-core, feature-richer processor?