Looking back, looking ahead: The week in laptops

Best laptops of 2008, laptops for back to school, and new models from HP, Gateway, Fujitsu, and Asus.

Ah, summer. Summer means long sunny days, vacations at the beach, and--if you're in the United States--the Independence Day holiday. Which is why this weekly wrap-up is coming a day early: tomorrow my colleagues and I will be busy eating grilled meat and watching fireworks, all in the name of patriotism.

Viewfinder

Because it spans the middle months of the calendar, summer can also be a time of reflection. We took the opportunity this week to look back on all that's happened so far this year and came up with a list of notable notebooks from the first half of 2008 . We also pointed our viewfinder to the months ahead, when parents and students will be scouring the weekly ads for a back-to-school laptop (check back all summer as we post more back-to-school reviews).

Another theme to emerge this week: solid-state drives. OCZ Technology Group announced three low-cost models in its Core series of 2.5-inch drives. Apple significantly cut the price of the SSD-equipped MacBook Air. Meanwhile, CNET Labs staffer Dong Ngo uncovered a device that could let you make a less-expensive DIY solid-state hard drive . And SSD manufacturers defended themselves against charges that their products were energy hogs.

In product announcements this week, we saw a pink version of the Fujitsu LifeBook P8010E (too bad it's not available in the States). Gateway added three new models in its existing notebook series; all three include 64-bit Windows (stay tuned for reviews). HP broke out its first Puma-based systems, the Compaq 6735b and the Compaq 6535b. Germany-based Cizmo revealed the specifications of its Centrino 2-based gaming system. And Asus announced the ruggedized B51.

Meanwhile, the rumor mill is generating whispers that Everex will launch a 10.2-inch Netbook and that Asus is readying the Eee PC 903.

Other news worth reading: Nvidia revealed issues with some of its laptop GPUs , but gave no specifics; AMD showed long-term gains in market share, according to iSuppli; and the TSA has given the go-ahead for passengers to use newly designed carry-on bags that will let them pass through security without having to take their laptops out for the X-ray inspection.

Finally, my colleagues at CNET U.K. had a bit of fun comparing two breezily named laptops; behold MSI Wind vs. MacBook Air .

Have a great holiday!

About the author

    Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.

     

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