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Reporters' Roundtable podcast: Future of laptops

It's been four years since laptop computers passed desktops in U.S. unit sales. But laptop vendors can't rest, with the Netbook phenomenon sweeping the world and the iPad coming.

It's been four years since laptop computers passed desktop in unit sales in the U.S. But laptop vendors can't rest. The Netbook phenomenon swept the tech world in 2009, changing the rules for the category. And this year, tablets like the iPad might change the nature of personal computing yet again.

To discuss the future of laptops and personal computing, our guests are: from Lenovo, makers of the Thinkpad, Competitive Analyst Matt Kohut; and from HP, which now owns the Voodoo PC line of products founder, Rahul Sood, now CTO of HP global gaming.

Now playing: Watch this: The future of laptops


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Show notes and talking points

Lately it seems that the computer as we know it is battling the Internet or the "cloud" as the primary computing platform. Comment?

What's up in the Netbook/notebook conflict? Why did Netbooks take off? What's their weakness?

Why has the tablet computer never taken off? Can Apple pull it off?

Future of touch on standard notebooks?

If a laptop can be a decent gaming PC, what happens to the desktop market?

Operating system: Pretend Microsoft isn't listening to this podcast. Talk about Windows as a mobile OS. OSX? iPhone OS? Linux? Chrome OS?

Matt: Talk us through the U1 and Skylight

Let's get into technology a bit:
Chips and architecture--where are we going?
Solid state storage. Will the HD die? When?
Computers keep getting more powerful, but battery tech not keeping pace. Discuss.

New designs we can expect in laptops?

Discuss interesting experiments in laptops, like the U1, or creative UIs, like Bumptop.

What's the future for *desktops?*

Recommended reading: Matts blog, Inside the Box.
And Rahul Sood's blog.

Bonus content: After we turned off the recorder, I asked Rahul and Matt about switchable graphics on notebooks. Rahul said that integrated graphics are getting so good, the need for dedicated or discrete graphics cards in notebook will soon vanish. And this from a guy who founded a company that made computers for gamers.

NEXT TIME: The future of maps and mapping with Peter Birch, product manager of Google Earth, and Nick Black, co-founder of Cloudmade, a company working on commercializing the OpenStreetMap project. For updates, watch my twitter feed. E-mail comments to, and get all the show notes as well as replays and downloads of the podcast on the blog. That's all for this week!