Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Laptops: Growth and Shrinkage

A few months back a friend asked me for a recommendation for a new laptop. Her home had been burglarized and the thieves had taken her old 17" laptop and a bunch of music CDs. I told her to get a 14" or 15" with as much RAM and hard drive space as would fit her budget. She asked why I didn't recommend replacing her 17" with another 17" and I told her they're just too big and bulky to be portable. I told her she would want to leave a 17" laptop at home, as she had done with her old one, instead of carrying it around with her. I couldn't get her to accept that the 17" laptop had fallen out of fashion though. She ended up hunting around until she finally found one and bought it. A couple of months later she told me I had been right. After lugging around the new 17" for several weeks and comparing it to her best friend's 15" laptop she agreed that it was too big to be easily portable.

Just a few years ago the 17" laptop was the golden boy of portable computing. They were hailed as desktop replacement units, perfect movie-watching machines, and every laptop manufacturer offered several 17" models to choose from. Flash forward to today and the 17" laptop is a rarity. Most manufacturers only offer a couple of different configurations of them, nowhere near as many as they once did. Most laptop buyers have concluded that size matters and a 17" is just too much. It's amazing how that works. Today's laptops are, for the most part, smaller, thinner, and lighter. The 17" that used to be normal is now considered to be a monstrosity.

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