Editorial: Thin laptops are the new mainstream, but what about battery life?

Bandwagons, trains and Tranes. Can’t say that these three have a heck of a lot in common in most regards, but one thing’s for sure: trying to stop this trio would be a Herculean task. And so it goes with laptops — once upon a time, it was good enough to have something that resembled a portable tower, but these days, the ability to even see the chassis at all feels like a negative. I exaggerate, of course, but the proverbial race in the laptop world is hardly about price; it’s about thinness. Intel’s unstoppable quest to plaster the Ultrabook term as far and wide as possible has led to a change in the way consumers are viewing portable machines, and Apple’s devilishly thin MacBook Air certainly played a role, too. What we’re left with is a very curious priority list, and I’m wondering if too many OEMs have stopped to wonder if the “obvious” is indeed the “right.”
I’ll be the first to confess that I love the look of thin. Samsung’s Series 9 and Acer’s Aspire S5 might just be two of the sexiest machines to ever be built, and Dell’s original Adamo was primarily of interest due to one thing: its jaw-droppingly thin frame. But there’s some saying about putting form before function that seems to apply here, particularly when keying in on battery life. I’ve no doubt that the marketing and research teams for PC makers far and wide understand the realities of the market place, and perhaps the average consumer really doesn’t need more than four to six hours of life on a single charge. Five years ago, squeezing that much life from machines under an inch thick would’ve required some sort of wizardry that exists only in a rarely visited corner of West Hollywood. But today, I’m a dreamer. And I’m dreaming of a laptop with “all day battery life” — something that could be screamed from the rooftops, and honestly, something that could probably be accomplished tomorrow if our laptop options weren’t on such a diet.

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