It’s a strange concept. The idea that a technology could be getting worse as time goes by seems unthinkable. But I think laptops are, and here’s why.
Consumer electronics is an industry constantly moving forward, and at a rate faster than any other. Tablets, smartphones, smarts TVs – all distant concepts a mere ten years ago, now firmly at the centre of our day-to-day lives and improving every day.
In fact, those three technologies are exactly why the current state of laptops is so noticeably lacklustre. A piece of kit that predates any of them by a good 20 years, laptops seem to be running out of steam.
Cheaper and cheaper laptops
Are laptops literally getting worse? Of course not. Processors are updated every year, displays continue to pack in more pixels, and lighter and stronger composites are working their way to the production line. But these are minor improvements to the average consumer. Compared to smartphones, for example, it’s as if the laptop industry is standing still.
Rather than striving for the latest innovations, laptop manufacturers are doing whatever they can to offer their products at a lower cost. Tablets and smartphones have made an irreparable and eternal mark on home computing. Most people nowadays, whether they are aware of it or not, probably don’t even need a laptop for what they want to do. It seems like the only way computing manufacturers feel they can compete is by slashing prices.
What good is a £300 laptop if it’s flat-out awful, though? Even around the £500-£700 mark we’re still seeing laptops that fill us with apathy rather than awe. Cost-cutting will always impact on quality, and there’s little way around that.
Laptops need a jump start
Which? laptop review scores have taken a noticeable dip over the past six months, and the same problems are endemic throughout all of those poor-testers. Big-name components that under perform due to poor optimisation. Terrible build quality and cheap materials. Dreary displays and muddy audio. It’s obvious that the money you save has been ripped from the production line.
In a time where laptop manufacturers, petrified of their own impending irrelevance, are doubling-down, consolidating, and offering you what you’ve already seen before for cheaper, the exact opposite is needed.
Today, brands like HP release upwards of 100 laptops a year. The differences between them are often indistinguishable, and that market saturation just means that you, the consumer, has a diluted pool of devices to choose from.
Like a shark, if a technology stops moving, it dies. Smartphones and tablets are now the great whites of the market, and it’s only a matter of time until they gorge themselves on the tender, aging flesh of the laptop. A serious re-balancing of priorities is urgently needed.
Yes (77%, 1,563 Votes)
I don't know (16%, 324 Votes)
No (7%, 133 Votes)
Total Voters: 2,020