01 September 2009
Will the mobile 'phone replace the laptop?
Will the mobile 'phone replace the laptop computer? The latest mobiles are so powerful that users often use them to check their e-mail and surf the web even when their laptops are nearby. It is just easier to use the mobile rather than open the laptop and then boot it up, runs the argument.
However, two factors may come together to give the laptop a new lease on life. The first is the phenomenal growth in the netbook market and the second is the introduction of the amusingly named dongle.
Netbooks are often seen as a computer that is smaller than a traditional laptop but bigger than a mobile. They have the advantage of being cheap and a reasonably good model can be picked up for about £200 or so. Their disadvantage is that they are not usually very powerful - most use Windows XP as their operating system instead of Vista, for instance, although the newer models are almost as powerful as their larger cousins as the above video shows. However they all suffered from the standard disadvantage common to all computers in that they needed to connect to the web via either an Ethernet cable or a WiFi point.
The introduction of the dongle a couple of years ago changed all that. A dongle looks like nothing more than a slightly over-sized USB memory stick, but it allows a computer to be connected to the internet via the mobile telephone band. Thus, and for anyone who is even the tiniest bit creative, the netbook and dongle combination looks like the winner in this contest simply because writing anything on a mobile is a fiddly and difficult process.
That said, the battle is by no means over. It is possible that some enterprising manufacturer will come out with a mobile handset that is slightly larger than that which exists today, and will couple it with a detachable keyboard. At a stroke that would remove the netbooks' advantage and throw everything into flux once again.
All good fun, isn't it?