Meet the New PC: Not the Same as the Old PC


On the software side, Apple’s AirPlay, which allows easy streaming of content to home entertainment systems, has defined ease of use for wireless displays; Intel’s WiDi (a wireless laptop-to-TV connection) has been less successful. At this year’s E3 gaming trade show, Microsoft announced SmartGlass, which aims to accomplish the same goal but will use bidirectional streaming so that it isn't just a one-way street.

Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor delivers mainstream x86 CPU performance at a much lower power budget than previous generations of CPUs. While Ultrabooks first saw the light of day with the earlier Sandy Bridge CPUs, it’s Ivy Bridge that truly delivers on the promise of longer battery life and new PC shapes and sizes, most of them sleeker, lighter, and more efficient than past designs. At the recent Computex trade show, laptop makers showed off a --some radical, others consisting of only minor changes to existing designs. The , for example, is a laptop that has a second touchscreen on the outside and works as a tablet when it's closed.

Companies are also experimenting with exotic materials to reduce weight. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon and Gigabyte’s X11 both use carbon fiber as the main chassis material. Toshiba is readying a 21:9-aspect-ratio system with a native resolution of 1792 by 768 pixels, which can present widescreen movies in their native format.

It’s unclear which designs will win consumers' hearts, but it’s good to see serious experimentation after years of boring, 15.6-inch look-alikes.