Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How-to: Cool New Laptop Trends

Here's a great new article from's Legal Technology by Alan Cohen. Laptop Add-Ons: Taking the Taste Test describes three new technologies quickly becoming popular in customizing your new laptop. Of course, as with any new technology, you always want to research a bit and decide whether you want to be on the cutting edge or bleeding edge. Either way, I decided the article was excuse enough for me to go create a new dream laptop.

You may have noticed, as mentioned by Cohen, that the customization options for computers can be quite overwhelming, especially with all those scary acronyms and numbers. Cohen's article helps with at least three of the options that you may find available now for your newest mobile computer: 1) solid state drives, 2) backlit LED display, and 3) mobile broadband access.

While solid state drives (SSD) look to be the greatest thing since sliced bread for those of us who may be termed clumsy, they are yet pretty small in size (64GB as opposed to the standard 120GB hard disk). They are also incredibly pricey. I would have to pay $475 more for a hard drive that has left than half the space. Eep.

The option of a backlit LED display is not nearly as financially frightening and it's much easier to find than a SSD, though you may need to choose a higher-end laptop to get it. Or, if you're a Mac guru, you can take the easy way and get a MacBook Air. The dream laptop I created had the backlit display standard, but I was of course building on the best model. When I experimented with some of the lower-priced base models, it wasn't even offered as an option to upgrade.

The third technology making some waves is that of having internal broadband mobile, meaning that you can access the Internet through a cellular signal rather than having to find a Wi-Fi spot. There are several drawbacks to this service right now, the main one being that cellular plans are not known for being easy to understand or cheap; not to mention that the coverage is certainly not all-pervasive in our rural Wyoming areas. But in a pinch, if you have the option, it's nice to be able to use it if necessary. Cohen suggests that if you do want to have this capability, however, that buying an external card is often less expensive. I would have had to cough up an extra $150-200 if I wanted internal broadband mobile on my new heavenly laptop.

Now I just need to find an extra $3K lying around to actually buy this. (If I went open source with the operating system (Linux Ubuntu) and application software (OpenOffice, Zoho, Google Docs), though, I could easily cut close to $1,000 off the price. Hmmmmm, something to seriously consider.)

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