There was a time when we judged a PC on its processor speed. Those days are gone but not forgotten as thinner, lighter, faster is the new selling mantra for manufacturers and it looks as if Apple is caught up in the race, too. Where is this race going?
My new MacBook weighs in at just a hair over 2-pounds. It is so light that I’ve worried it might bend when I hold it by a corner. It’s lighter than the similarly sized iPad Pro with a keyboard. yet, even this marvel of technology engineering is not as thin or as powerful as HP’s new Spectre.
Word on the proverbial streets is that Apple plans to drop the aging analog headphone jack on future iPhones which will make for a thinner case (or, more battery space, or something else; Apple hasn’t said). The nature of technology indicates than our devices will get ever faster. The nature of design indicates that our devices may get ever lighter.
But there has to be a limit. What is it? The laws of physics are being challenged with every new model. A new iPad Pro, the smaller model, still weighs a pound, yet it is faster than any previous iPad Air model, so it’s easy to see that the trend toward thinner, lighter, faster has not changed.
That brings me to bragging rights.
Somehow thin is perceived as sexy. iPhones are thin. iPads are thin. MacBooks are thin. Watch isn’t thin enough. But when was the last time you put ‘thin’ on the list of criteria for a new device? What? You didn’t? The reality is this. Thin looks better than thick on commercials and videos and bullet points and comparisons, but is thin a requirement for us to choose our devices? Does anyone care that one device is 2mm thinner than last year’s model, or a competitor’s model?
Apple brags about thin. HP brags about the thin on the Spectre line. Samsung brags about thin. Thin is in. But thin also has problems and, again, it’s those pesky laws of physics. Chips create heat. In electronic devices, heat kills, so there’s an inherent need to make sure a device, however thin it may be, can keep itself cool.
Technology gadget manufacturers are running into a wall regarding just how thin devices can be, and I suspect we’re almost there today. If iPhone 7 and 7s are about the same thinness as the previous models, then you’ll see that they are as thin as they can be given today’s state of the technology art. The same holds true for tablets and notebooks. We’ve reached the end of thinner and lighter, that intersection where today’s battery technology, CPU speeds, and heat, meet up to prevent devices from becoming even smaller, thinner, lighter, and faster.