2016 was quite the year for the laptop market. The competition was favorably stiff, as each brand tried to do their absolute best to come up with the technology that would crush its rivals.
Despite the success of the tablet, laptop sales didn’t suffer much last year. Ultrabooks and 2-in-1s flourished in a market where trying to find a decent laptop-replacement tablet proved fruitless.
Last year also opened the eyes of many traditional gamers, who thought laptops would never be as powerful as desktop computers.
The reasons ranged from power efficiency limitations to overheating, but all these were dismissed by products like the remarkable Schenker XMG U727 and the even more decorated ASUS ROG GX700: the world’s first liquid-cooled laptop.
Evidently, therefore, notebook manufacturers went in hard last year. However, going by 2017’s “laptops coming soon” list, as well as the already announced hardware from industry players like Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA, things are bound to heat up pretty severely this year.
Below is a look at our expectations for the laptop in 2017, and why you should be excited if you aren’t already.
Hardware Makers Won’t Slow Down Innovations
Gone are the days where power meant having a car-sized desktop PC with all sorts of performance modifications. Nowadays, you can walk into a retail shop and pick out a laptop that will comfortably labor through your demanding apps and games
That said, hardware manufacturers aren’t slowing down this year. For starters, Intel Corporation (INTC) has already made its new 7th generation Core i-series processors – codenamed Kaby Lake – available for desktop PCs. The chips range from an entry-level Core i3, all the way up to a 10-core Extreme Edition Core i7 (soon to be launched). It is now only a matter of time before new laptop releases feature the new tech.
So, what can we expect from the new generation CPUs? In addition to the obvious improvements such as better overclocking, power efficiency and graphics upgrades, laptops with 7th generation processors will support Intel’s new Optane memory: a memory module that is designed to virtually improve the read and write speeds of hard drives.
Intel is also planning to follow up Kaby Lake with Cannon Lake, which will be based on its first-generation 10-nanometer production technology. We are expecting Cannon Lake U-series processors to appear in ultrabooks and 2-in-1 laptop/tablet devices later this year.
Moving on from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) also has a few tricks up its sleeve. Its 7th-gen (Bristol Ridge and Stoney Ridge) processors — which the company announced last year — are expected to be significantly faster than their predecessors, while simultaneously giving Intel chips a run for their money.
AMD might not be doing enough to ward off the fierce Intel competition, but it’s certainly got its claws out for NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA). Through their Alienware line, Dell amazingly made the previously desktop-exclusive AMD RX 470 Polaris available for laptops late last year.
More manufacturers will undoubtedly follow suit. It will also be exciting to see how these new AMD cards will fair in comparison to NVIDIA’s upcoming GeForce 20-series. What is apparent, however, is that 2017 will see gaming laptops reach heights never reached before.
Design’s Dramatic Moves
The laptop’s internal hardware has come quite a long way in the last few years, but the design has evolved just as drastically.
Not that long ago, laptops were clunky, bulky and mostly devoid of any attention to detail. But in the quest to be crowned “the fairest of them all” manufacturers have recently gone to great lengths to come up with some really stylish products.
Now, you will find a laptop that is almost as thin as your smartphone, with a beautiful exterior, feathery weight and a premium finish that will make heads turn when anyone sees it.
But what can we expect in 2017? Well, for starters, there will be an even bigger emphasis on portability. 2016 saw the overwhelming success of the 2-in-1, thanks in great part to the Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Surface Pro 4. Hybrids are now worthy replacements to traditional PCs, and the world knows it.
It is, therefore, no surprise that manufacturers have more than a few brilliant 2-in-1 and ultraportable releases lined up for this year. Asus, for instance, is ready to take the market by storm when it makes the successor to its bestselling Chromebook Flip available for retail.
Dell also has a convertible version of its XPS 13 laptop in the pipeline, which with a nearly bezel-free screen is expected to be the smallest 13-inch laptop yet. The company is also planning a convertible version of the Latitude 13 business laptop to be unveiled soon after the XPS 13.
HP’s EliteBook X360; advertised as “the thinnest business-centric 2-in-1,” and Lenovo’s Miix 720 are also exemplary-designed products to watch out for.
But perhaps what we all can’t wait to see is Razer’s awe-inspiring Project Valerie. The futuristic and somewhat impressively ludicrous piece of technology aspires to bring portability to immersive gaming with three automated, foldable 17.3-inch 4K screens for the most expansive viewing experience we have ever seen in a notebook.
Microsoft hasn’t said anything about a new OS version, but expect more features and an overall improved design language with Windows 10 Creators Update version 1704, which as the version number indicates is set for release in April, this year.
Although test builds never show the full picture, the latest Insider Version of the upcoming update features some new settings to help users dictate how updates will be installed. You can pause Windows updates for up to 35 days, and also choose whether or not to include driver updates when updating.
Also included are tweaks inside Settings to help users get to the right options faster, a Microsoft Edge browser improvements, more Windows Defender functions, smoother animations, among other generous features.
While the update will be available for manual download, we can safely expect it to come preinstalled in some of the laptops planned for release after April.
The next biggest notebook OS is Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) OS X, and rumor has it that plans for the next OS X 10 update are underway. MacOS 10.13, the follow-up to Sierra is presumed to be unveiled around mid-2017, and so far, nothing other than UI tweaks and app redesigns can be predicted for sure. Apple probably hasn’t even settled for a codename yet. For now, all we can do is sit and wait.
Although we have our expectations, no one can know for sure how the laptop scene will be when the year ends. From the look of things, however, there’s a high chance that things will be great.
About the Author
Vigilance Chari is a freelance writer currently covering tech news and gadgets at LapopNinja. She is an International presenter and published author. When she’s not writing, she spends her time as an enthusiastic professional party planner and part-time painter.
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