Mike Schaeffer's Weblog
Wed, 24 May 2006
A good couple of weeks for laptops...
Sorry for the long delay between posts... it's been a busy couple of months.

The last couple weeks have been excellent for the laptop space. A bunch of new machines have been released/announced that look really first rate.
  • The "One Laptop Per Child" Prototype This is the result of the famous $100 laptop project at MIT. It looks cheap, simple, and bulletproof. When the machine is closed, it's sealed well enough to tolerate rain and sand storms. The machine has also been designed with an unusual display that offers good contrast in sunlight and 200dpi resolution for reading electronic books. For developing countries, this seems like it's the most valuable use case: as a cheap way to dissemenate lots of textbooks and information to folks that would not otherwise have access. The display can also switch into a more conventional color mode for running Fedora Linux. To be frank, the unique attributes of these machines seem like they'd be useful to almost any laptop user. The OLPC laptop can be pre-ordered in the US for $300, triple-price: The extra money goes to fund two laptops for children in the developing world.
  • Dell D620. I saw one of these in the Penn bookstore the other day and came away impressed. Not only did Dell do the usual CPU/chipset upgrades, they switched to a widescreeen display that'll work better in an airplane seat. Price seems pretty much the same as the older D610, so this looks like a pretty good value for a metal chassis 'professional' laptop.
  • Samsung Q1-SSD - This is the first laptop with a fully solid state disk: the usual rotating media has been replated with a 32GB flash drive. This quiets the machine down and provides good disk bandwidth for faster boot times. I'm also willing to bet that 'disk' access times are better by orders of magnitude. This is Korean-market-only right now, but this is hopefully a positive sign of things to come: 32GB is enough space to do lots of interesting things, and if this allows smaller, quieter, faster, lower-power computers, I can hardly wait.
  • Apple MacBook - a 13" widescreen laptop running Mac OS X with a Core Duo, and priced starting at $1099. This seems like a bargin.

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