The Dream Laptop for Productivity and Portability

Ignatius Bagussuputra #computing#productivity

My best dream laptop for working while traveling

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For years, we’ve been tolerating the atrocious laptop market that hasn’t had any significant improvements or innovations. If we choose power and performance that can match a desktop, we’d have to carry a bulky and heavy brick that can’t even be used without being stuck near a wall with a power outlet. If we choose portability, we’d have to sacrifice performance and power, and it rarely even last for more than 6 to 10 hours at best. There is no world where we can have both, until recently…

Working at Home

Some context beforehand, my current laptop is a 2018 Dell XPS 13 that immediately dies every time I try to turn it on (yes, even while plugged in) and can’t even last for 3 hours afterwards on a full charge. So, for the past couple of years, I’ve only been able to do any considerable amount of work from my desktop PC. Don’t get me wrong, it has its perks as I’m able to set up more than one display and have a lot of things opened without needing to Alt-Tab multiple times — anyone that works with graphics or as an editor knows.

I have tried going back to working on the go with a laptop. Aside from the problem I mentioned previously, I couldn’t help but imagine how it would be if I bring my desktop workspace on the go. I could still do most of the stuff I needed to do with a single display, but it feels lacking when I’ve gotten used to more than one. With the battery issue, I’m basically carrying an underpowered desktop without any of the benefits.

The Laptop Market

I started looking for a new laptop and saw a couple of promising ones which tries to integrate another display, but they seem to lack something, I couldn’t quite describe what it is. Mostly the ASUS ZenBooks, it seems they’re only useful to a really small and specific people that could use the small and nonstandard display above the keyboard.

That was until the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i comes out on 2023 with its full dual display screen. It looks perfect at first glance, I almost immediately bought one if not for the fact that it takes ages for most of the newly released products to be available outside of the US and EU. Fortunately, it gave me enough time to realize that I don’t want another 13-inch Intel-based laptop full of bloatware and mandatory accessories I need to bring alongside the actual laptop.

If I were to get a new laptop, I would want a 16-inch screen as my backpack is already equipped to carry one and I don’t care about the weight because I’ll mostly spend my time working with it on a table, not carrying it. At CES 2024, ASUS announced the 14-inch ZenBook Duo which is a full dual-screen laptop that comes with an integrated stand and a detachable keyboard-trackpad combo that can be stored within when the laptop is folded.

ASUS ZenBook Duo (2024 UX8406)
ZenBook Duo from ASUS Official Website

It truly seems like the perfect portable workstation that I’ve been looking for, but I haven’t had the best experience with the battery longevity of x86-based laptops. With it being another Intel-based laptop and the fact that these problems hasn’t really changed since forever, it’s fair to say that I’m worried if it’s really worth the price and if it would be able to last for years to come.

The Breakthrough

Near the end of 2020, Apple released their first ARM-based laptop powered by their new M1 chip. We were skeptical back then and software support was basically non-existent. Little did we know, that was the beginning of a major breakthrough which takes the word “portable computers” to a whole new level. The MacBooks with their Apple Silicon chips are now way ahead of the game in terms of everything, it’s not even a competition anymore.

MacBook Air M3 (2024)
MacBook Air M3 from Apple Newsroom

With the MacBook series being recommended everywhere and the newly released MacBook Air M3, there’s essentially no reason for anyone in any field to buy anything other than a MacBook — obligatory, other than those who needs to work or use Windows-only software, games, and such. Those persons are still stuck with these “old-gen” laptops with barely-usable battery life, which includes me.

Catching Up

While Apple is busy dominating the market, it makes me wonder if non-Apple silicon laptops would ever catch up. That was until Qualcomm made an announcement for the Snapdragon X Elite, the chip that might take the rest of the market into the same standing ground as Apple Silicon laptops. It boasts a 10x performance increase in AI tests compared to the (also newly released) Intel chips with NPU.

Snapdragon X Elite Infographic
Snapdragon X Elite from Qualcomm Official Website

Honestly, I don’t care too much about the performance increase, the current chips are already more than enough for most of the things that I do. It could perform 10x better than Apple’s M3 chip for all I care, I wouldn’t still buy it if it doesn’t last as long as Apple Silicon. If it can perform reliably and consistently without needing to be plugged in after only a couple of hours, I’d be more than happy to buy one.

Best of Both Worlds

Now, with the design “perfected” with the ZenBook Duo and the chip (hopefully) “perfected” with the Snapdragon X Elite, I’m just waiting for the day when these two would come together and make the perfect laptop for me. I don’t think I’m even asking for much, I just want a dual 16-inch Windows laptop that can last for the whole day on a single charge. I don’t even need it to have the most powerful chip in the market, as long as it’s portable enough to be carried around and can survive for years to come.

I’m pretty sure this dream laptop of mine will come someday. Until then, I’m happy to see that a laptop I can actually use reliably is not too far away from being a reality. What do you think? Let me know in any of the socials we’re on.


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