Home >Technology >Gadgets >Opinion: The evolution of laptops from bulky machines to compact, dual-screens

The world around is being cluttered with too many screens and India hasn’t been slouching on that front either. An overload of screens, which was once considered an assault on our senses, has now become a part of our everyday lives. Moving beyond TV and computers or laptops, we are always connected through smartphones, often carrying more than one to segregate professional from personal. But that’s not all! When running out of cash, the ATM screen is our go-to resource. At airports, we would rather get the boarding pass from a self-help kiosk and drop the baggage at the counter instead of bearing a long queue.

I sometimes pause and wonder “How many screens per second are we living." With every passing day, the world around us is being increasingly populated with screens. No matter where we go, the black mirror follows us—at workplaces, home, indoors and outdoors, buses, trains, airports, there is simply no escaping now. However, one may halt and wonder, what does this explosion of the screen mean for the evolution of laptops? From clamshell designs to athletic architectures, laptops have certainly come a long way. Yet, the future may hold true integration of multiple screens, with a pursuit to de-clutter and help multi-taskers prioritize better.

It was 1982 when Grid Systems, under the leadership of John Ellenby, popularly known as the “godfather" of laptops, launched the first-ever laptop as we recognize today—clamshell and portable. Named the Compass, the laptop was, however, noting like a modern-day notebook. Despite the clamshell design, the laptop was heavy (weighing 5 kilos) and expensive (a present-day equivalent of over $20,000).

However, the Compass led to Apple, which released its first portable laptop in 1989, which may have been priced lesser but was still questionably portable, weighing 7.2 kg. It was the 90s when some other popular product ranges greeted us, for instance, the 1992 ThinkPad, which is still an active product line. It folded the screen at the top and keyboard at the bottom neatly in half, also offering TrackPoint allowing users to operate the mouse on the screen. In 1996, Toshiba Libretto may have been the first entrant to the subnotebook category, owing to its sleek design. With the dimensions of a novel, the laptop weighed only 840 g, garnering immense popularity within the market for its industry-leading easily portable attribute.

While tracing the evolution of laptops, a standout aspect has been the consistency in the design of laptops’ architecture. While the machines have surely shrunk, the year 2018 saw the growth of the “thin and light" category priced at an affordable range. But not much has shifted in the age-old clamshell design.

We made a leap towards the weird and wonderful design of laptops when Windows 8 debuted over half a decade ago. It led to the rise of interesting designs, noteworthy to mention the Yoga laptop range and other athletic designs from the leading OEMs. However, the quirky designs have come and gone, without defining the generation. The industry, thus, in the need of a serious makeover and to de-clutter the proliferation of multiple screens, is perhaps headed what may be a significant epoch in the laptop space – the advent of dual-screen laptops. Brands are tinkering with the idea of adding another secondary screen to the traditional design.

A dual-screen laptop allows the user to perhaps check the work emails on a secondary screen while focusing on the major task at hand on the primary one.

Professionals can develop the PowerPoint presentation on the main screen, while constantly brainstorming on the messenger app opened on the secondary screen. Gamers can utilize the dual offering to focus on the high-adrenaline action-packed formats and leverage the secondary screen to take stock of their arsenal, zoom in on the map, or simply stream music online. In a nutshell, dual-screen laptops are here to make life easier for the multi-tasking clan and take some pressure off from having to utilize multiple screens. They would also solve the conundrum for users to select between gaming devices and work laptops.

With their razor-sharp focus on delivering high horsepower to enable productivity and multi-tasking, the dual-screen offerings are the torch-bearers of an integrated and de-cluttered future.

In days to come, laptops will continue to get more powerful and play a significant role in the lives of users. The high-powered machines would empower users to venture into critical tasks such as 3D modelling, animation programs, and more. With the machines getting ready to take charge of critical roles, the market for consumer notebooks and laptops will only get enriched with superior and disruptive offerings.

Arnold Su is Business Head, consumer notebooks & ROG, Asus India

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