Modern laptops the portable PCs of today look a lot different than they did even just a couple of years ago. Take a look back at the evolution of the modern laptop. Every year dozens of new laptops come to market, sporting the latest hardware.
Boasting new capabilities, and flaunting innovative designs. As laptop hardware and capability becomes increasingly commoditized. Design moves to the forefront as a deciding factor in how well a new system is received.
The Modern laptops Category Has Undergone.
But just like anything else tomorrow’s successful trends are impossible to distinguish from today’s fads and experimental faux pas. What we can do, however, is take a look back, and see where the trends of today started.
In the last few years, the laptop category has undergone some massive changes, starting with the sea-change shift to slimmer, more portable designs. It has also spun out into different directions, as hybrid designs have come to market, and new computing paradigms have grown in prominence.
Some of these are simply continuations of general trends in computing, like the move toward thinner and lighter ultraportable designs in general, and applying these same design concepts to new categories, like gaming.
Those Modern Laptops.
Others, like hybrid designs that merge laptop and tablet, are direct responses to market shifts as tablets grow in popularity, laptop makers have taken on the challenge of offering tablet capabilities in versatile new laptop designs.
But while it’s easy to see the trends that have taken hold of the current laptop market, it’s not always so simple to pinpoint where they got their start. While some of these design concepts may have popped up even earlier than shown here, some specific models proved certain concepts viable or brought a new idea into the mainstream.
Modern Laptops Ultrabooks.
The biggest trend in personal computing today is the ultrabook. Over the last two years, the once-staid laptop has shifted to become not only more mobile, with an emphasis on battery life and lightweight designs, but more versatile, with the addition of touch- capabilities.
Take, for example, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus ( at Amazon)(Which opens in a new window), one of the best ultrabooks we’ve reviewed. The 13-inch laptop measures only 0.54-inch thick, and weighs a little more than 3 pounds, making it immensely portable and easy to use on the go.
The Ultrabook was Still Just a Concept.
The internal battery lasts for more than 8 hours of use and for days of standby time. This means you don’t have to worry about packing along a charger or making it through the day on a single charge. All this comes with impressive performance and a gorgeous 3,200-by-1,800 Quad HD+ touch screen.
Until late 2011, however, the ultrabook was still just a concept. Born to compete against the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch. Which shifted perceptions of what portable productivity could be, the entire ultrabook line started with the Asus Zenbook UX31-RSL8 ( at Amazon)(Opens in a new window).
The Slim Design Ditched Several Features.
While not even the first ultraportable laptop we reviewed, it was the first to hit the market being called an ultrabook and the first in what would become the new standard for laptops. The slim design ditched several features in favor of thinness, shedding the optical drive.
Several ports, slimming down to a respectable 0.66-inch thick. With more than 6 hours of battery life and performance that topped the popular Apple MacBook Air, the Asus Zenbook UX31-RSL8 set the tone for the then-nascent category.
The Asus Zenbook UX31-RSL8.
But while the Asus Zenbook UX31-RSL8 was the first system in the PC Labs to bear the ultrabook moniker, it wasn’t the system that took the thin and light concept mainstream. As mentioned above, that distinction goes to the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch.
The second iteration of Apple’s super-thin all-day work-or-play laptop. The Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Thunderbolt) stepped up the ultraportable concept with a newer Intel Core processor, offering a surprising amount of productive capability in such a slim design.
That change altered public perception of what a laptop could be, and brought to mainstream consciousness the expectation that the PC could be light, portable, and long-lasting without breaking the bank.
While the ultraportable concept naturally caught on for consumer systems, common wisdom suggested it would never come to gaming laptops. After all, gaming rigs are built for performance and the sort of high-octane processing and graphics that are used in such powerhouse machines.
Well, if the current crop of gaming ultraportables is any indicator, those ideas are a little out of date. Graphics card manufacturers are now making GPUs with slimmer profiles and more efficient processing.
Letting gaming PCs pack more capability into ever-more-portable systems. The current MSI GS70 Stealth (GS70 2OD-002US), may not offer the sort of face-melting frame rates seen on larger gaming rigs, but thanks to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M discrete GPU, it offers playable performance whether at home or on the road.
A Gaming Peripheral Company Introduced.
But while several gaming PC makers are now offering ultraportable systems alongside the usual chunky gaming rigs, there was a time in the not-so-distant past that the very idea was unheard of. It wasn’t until gaming company Razer until then just a gaming peripheral company introduced the Razer Blade.
That gaming went ultraportable. The laptop looked like a Mac painted black. But under the hood, the Razer Blade leveraged Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors and Nvidia mobile graphics to hit playable frame rates in current games even on the go. Since then, Razer has continued to evolve the Blade lineup.