Should you wait for Intel's Sandy Bridge laptops?

Systems based on Intel's 'Sandy Bridge' processors are coming soon. Should consumers sit tight until laptops arrive sometime in the first quarter?

commentary Should consumers hold out for laptops based on Intel's 'Sandy Bridge' processors? In a word, yes.

Why wait? Sandy Bridge technology is better than anything Intel has offered to date, and it's almost here. Intel is already shipping the processor to PC makers, which means when the chip technology is announced at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 5 , systems will be in the pipeline.

As CNET has already reported , Sandy Bridge should offer better graphics and multimedia performance on the retail laptops that many consumers buy. In some cases, the performance improvement will be incremental--and even imperceptible--for everyday tasks, but there will be clear gains in gaming, transcoding (converting a movie from one format to another, for example), and Intel's Turbo Boost technology, which speeds up and slows down the processor to optimize performance and power, respectively.

Laptops, similar to the ultraslim 12.5-inch Lenovo IdeaPad U260, will come with Sandy Bridge processors and more intelligent cooling technology.
Laptops, similar to the ultraslim 12.5-inch Lenovo IdeaPad U260, will come with Sandy Bridge processors and more intelligent cooling technology. Lenovo

"They have to get smarter about how they improve performance. You have to shift where the focus on performance is. So things like Turbo Boost and integrating the graphics into the CPU (main processor) is how they do that," said Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at IDC. "Application authors can use graphics and expect that the better graphics will be there," he said.

And smarter also means intelligent designs, yielding laptops that, while running faster, run cooler. Some models now feature Intel cooling technology, which means they don't get as hot in the hot spots, typically on the bottom of system.

That also means more laptops should emerge that are slimmer and lighter, using processors like the rumored ultra-low-power LM and UM series of Sandy Bridge chips. Lenovo will undoubtedly tap Sandy Bridge for thin designs, while Sony and Toshiba should update their well regarded thin-and-light laptop lines. And large laptop stalwarts like Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Apple should follow suit.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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