Slim, thin, compact, light-weight, ultra-portable, no matter what adjective or phrase you want to use, there’s no denying that thin is in -- for electronics, that is. It’s hard to say when the trend started; did it began with the Apple aesthetic of super streamlined, compact devices, or did the flat-paneled television craze expand out to every gadget on the market? No one can say for sure, but it looks as if this is one trend that isn’t going anywhere. As a matter of fact, it’s the wave of the future.
Now, we’ve all heard the saying (usually applied to socialites) that you can never be too thin or too rich. It seems as if the thinner a device is, the more rich a person has to be to purchase it, but does thinness have any kind of correlation to quality? Does it actually make the device better? Aside from being more convenient to carry around, is it a better device if it’s streamlined?
These are just some of the questions we’re hoping to answer. We’ll also discuss new trends in electronic design and Apple’s influence on the thin, compact electronic craze.
It’s likely that most consumers don’t think about the amount of work that goes into making a device more compact; after all, it’s not as easy as just shrinking the exterior, but then again, it’s not their job to worry about such things. It’s the job of technology companies and their engineers to figure out how thin every aspect of a gadget -- from its processors to its memory and display -- needs to be to make the device slim, yet powerful.
In terms of processors for these ultra thin devices, Intel is pretty much at the top of its game. The chip giant has become synonymous with the creation of faster chips capable of packing more computing power into smaller packages. As we’ll soon find out, however, Intel may have some competition from Samsung, who is diligently working on creating low power, highly efficient chips.
According to Anne Hunter, Samsung’s Vice President of Foundry Services, Intel has been doing high-k metal gate 32 nanometer chips for high performance computers. “But we are the first company to offer it in low power systems for consumers,” she said.
So what is the significance of high-k metal gate and what does it mean? “High-k metal gate” refers to the use of an element called hafnium. Traditionally, silicon dioxide is used for the gate layer in a transistor, but this new use of hafnium means that chips can be incredibly small while also improving performance. So to answer one of our questions: yes, sometimes a smaller, more compact device will be of better quality than a larger, more bulky device, because this type of new technology allows for an improved, streamlined performance.
It appears as if Samsung is trying to revamp their entire image. This was made especially clear when the company launched its new 2.5-inch hard drive in early April, which is capable of storing 640 gigabytes of data and operates at 7,200 RPM (rotations per minute). Though this is the fastest hard drive by the company, its competitors have released far better, some as far back as almost two years ago.
It could be said that Samsung led the trend in thinness as it pertains to the company’s TVs. When Samsung first released their LCDs, there were none like them on the market, and even in 2010, Samsung still has the competitive edge. As Riddhi Patel, an analyst at iSuppli was quick to point out, “No one else has LED-backlit LCD TVs that are as thin as Samsung.” This, of course, is a major advantage, especially when considering this factoid from Display Search : By 2013, 90 percent of the TVs sold in the U.S.A. will be LCDs.
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