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.
"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.