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Computer Hardware Trends to Watch in 2015

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 2/10/2015

The annual Consumer Electronics Show – aka CES – has come and gone. What kind of goodies should we keep an eye out for in 2015? Read on to find out.

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    If you look at the last few years, you notice a trend in computing focused on making things smaller and lighter. This trend gave us some extremely light laptops, but the cost of this feather-light weight was a decrease in screen size and loss of functionality. Manufacturers didn’t have the space to include high-powered processors and external ports. I’m happy to say things have changed drastically.

    Although nothing revolutionary, this year we’ll see manufacturers really refine their models. As an example, Lenovo is releasing the LaVie Z models later this year, which offers powerful specs including top of the line Intel i7 processors, full of external ports – all at a sub two-pound weight (Figure 1). Other manufacturers are offering similar models, small, fast and super lightweight.

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    Although consumer enthusiasm towards convertible tablets is still lukewarm, manufacturers will continue pushing this trend in 2015. The good news is that Microsoft’s Windows 10 sounds like it will overcome many of the obstacles put up by Windows 8. However, it’s still about a year off so if you are in the market for a new laptop you may want to hang on a little longer.

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    Everything else will be Smaller, Lighter, Faster

    Everything else will be Smaller, Lighter, Faster 

    Now that manufacturers have the “perfect” laptop under their belt by making them smaller, lighter and faster, they are starting to focus on literally everything else. Samsung is releasing a new portable hard drive that is about the size of a few credit cards stacked on top of each other. The T1 offers a high-speed SSD drive in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB versions. Due to the size and expensive V-NAND memory, these guys are spendy – about $600 for the 1TB model.

    So-called “stick” computing will become more mainstream with Intel joining the fray. Intel will be offering an incredibly small “stick” computer – similar in size to the Google Chromecast for about $150 this year (Figure 2). The Compute Stick will offer an Atom processor, onboard memory, internal storage and can be powered by USB. Although it will run Windows 8.1 or Linux, the compute stick can be used for media streaming, light productivity and social networking.

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    New to the Game

    Plenty of crazy new gadgets were introduced and discussed at CES. Expect to hear more about virtual reality – mainly the Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s recent announcement of HoloLens. Although Oculus is supposed to start selling in 2015, I don’t expect it to be a household name for quite some time yet. Oculus is still struggling to find the “killer app" which will make the Rift a must-have item.

    Although 3D printing has been around for several years now, with prices continuously falling, 3D printing will continue making headway into both business and consumer’s hands. HP is entering the 3D printing market with their new Multi Jet Fusion printer – to be released in 2015 to testers. It probably won’t be long until HP, Canon or Epson jump into the consumer 3D printing space – it just may not be this year.

    I expect 2015 to be a year of refinement as opposed to new and exciting breakthroughs. Some of the new tech is still a ways off from being mainstream (think VR and 3D printing) while the rest will be incremental refinements of existing tech. Not that there is anything wrong with that!