As I write this column from the Intel Developers Conference, I am connected wirelessly, making it easy to forget that most still have yet to experience what it is like to be connected to the network almost every place you go without the use of the modem.
At IDF, Intel showed not only the technical advances the company will be bringing to the laptop market over the next year but the industrial designs that are coming as well. This is one of the differences Wintel users have over the Apple folks: Wintel folks get to see what is coming and vote on potential designs; Apple folks have no such vote. Historically, though, Im not sure that this has been much of a benefit to the Wintel side because the creativity advantage has always been with the Apple folks.
I tend to be more interested in the industrial designs, and one of the more interesting ones was from Lenovo (the new name for Legend, the largest PC manufacturer in China). This has an elegant and creative hinge design—in other words, a clamshell tablet design. It also sports a lid-top display, which, much like a dual-display cell phone, showcases time-sensitive information such as incoming e-mails and instant messages.
An Intel design that was also showcased features the combination of smart card and fingerprint security (this combination is considered vastly more secure than one or the other because the fingerprint authenticates the smart card and smart cards can be left in machines, and fingerprints, once compromised, cant be easily replaced). This box, which comes with a 15.4-inch screen, has a built-in camera and array microphone, anticipating that the need to visually connect to remote employees will increase as will the capability that comes from the proliferation of wideband wired and wireless networks.
The final design showcased at the San Francisco show is targeted at the rapidly growing consumer mobile space. The design represents the natural evolution of the mobile Media Center PC. It boasts a 17-inch panoramic display and a removable wireless keyboard with integrated pointing device (using Bluetooth) and is tuned for high levels of graphics performance. It also has PVR capability built-in and complies with the Universal Plug and Play specification for connection to other household appliances. In addition, it has a built-in array microphone and camera for VoIP videoconferencing.