Great news for personal computers:
But this revolution is not just about falling prices. Personal computers — and the companies that make their crucial components — are about to go through their biggest upheaval since the rise of the laptop. By the end of the year, consumers are likely to see laptops the size of thin paperback books that can run all day on a single charge and are equipped with touch screens or slide-out keyboards.
The industry is buzzing this week about these devices at a telecommunications conference in Las Vegas, and consumers will see the first machines on shelves as early as June, probably from the netbook pioneers Acer and Asustek.
“The era of a perfect Internet computer for $99 is coming this year,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, the chief executive of Nvidia, a maker of PC graphics chips that is trying to adapt to the new technological order. “The primary computer that we know of today is the basic PC, and it’s dying to be reinvented.”
An unexpected group of companies has emerged to help drive this transformation — firms like Qualcomm, Freescale Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics, which make cheap, power-saving chips used in cellphones and are now applying that expertise to PCs.
My cheap Acer laptop is OK, but it’s a bear to lug around. I’ll be happy to replace it with a $100 notebook.