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The laptops of tomorrow will make us even more productive -- and it's terrifying

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The AchieVer

The laptops of tomorrow will make us even more productive -- and it's terrifying

Commentary: Work will never be more than a click away!

Intel expects its Lakefield processor will enable new varieties of PCs.

Intel mockups of new devices powered by its 10th-gen processors.


I'm writing these words on an iPhone as I stand in line at a McDonalds knockoff in Taiwan. I'd rather be away from my phone, but alas time is short and this article won't write itself.


I just got out of Intel's Computex keynote and in a moment I'll have to zip across town to another convention center. Subsequent lines in this column are likely to be written on a MacBook in the back of a taxi.


You may not be a journalist, but I would wager that some variant of this experience sounds familiar to you. We have phones and laptops on our person approximately 100% of the time, so opportunities for productivity are constant. And if what I've seen at Computex is any indication, this cram-it-in-where-you-can style of work isn't going anywhere. Productivity will always be an option.


The culprits? Intel and Qualcomm, mainly. These two semiconductor behemoths are competing against each other to get their processors in as many devices as possible. Time is money, and these companies are thinking you'll give them money if they give you laptops and tablets that save time. So battery life gets longer, wait times get shorter and your productivity allegedly gets a boost. 


Qualcomm is one of many companies at Computex promising a "new era" of PCs. Qualcomm powers Samsung's new 5Gphone, plus similar upcoming phones fromLG, OnePlus and Nokia. Samsung wants to make 5G laptops happen too. This will be done with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8cx chipset, which is in Lenovo's Project Limitless, the world's first 5G laptop. 


At its keynote, Qualcomm compared the 8cx's performance to a laptop running an Intel Core i5. In a web-browsing test, Qualcomm found that its own processor could load 10 web pages around 13 seconds quicker than Intel's. Another test, this one focused on multi-tasking, showed that the 8cx could save 1 minute and 11 seconds over the Core i5. Using some impressive mathematical gymnastics, Qualcomm senior VP Alex Katouzian showed how an 8cx-powered device could save you almost 11 work days of productivity a year. 



Then there's Intel. Its two chief Computex announcements were Project Athena and its new 10th-generation Ice Lake chips. Ice Lake is a substantive jump over Intel's 9th generation processors and allows for AI power, longer battery life and much thinner laptops. Meanwhile, Project Athena is a new class of laptop.


For a company to get a device branded as a Project Athena laptop, it must reach certain spec requirements: It needs to have a "real world" battery life longer than 9 hours, it needs to add 4 hours of battery life with a half hour of charging, and it needs to wake from sleep in less than a second.





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47 minutes ago, The AchieVer said:

In a web-browsing test, Qualcomm found that its own processor could load 10 web pages around 13 seconds quicker than Intel's

So what? The limiting factor is how fast the user can read these pages. I would say that the same thing comes when comparing writing on phone/tablets and laptops; the limiting factor is how the user is typing. Might be from another generation, but typing with or without a real keyboard are different worlds. Too bad that this journalist does not use a speak-to-text application, he would be more productive.

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Posters here have pointed out that the 8cx / i5 comparison benchmarks may not be enirely fair...



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