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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Intel launched Centrino 2, but what can I do with it?

Intel Centrino 2 logo
This entry comes one week too late, but it's still relevant in the long term. I had been invited last Wednesday to a launch party for Intel's new notebook CPU, the Centrino 2. There was actually a bigger event in the day, but I couldn't attend due to other commitments. At that daytime event, bloggers were treated to a live demonstration of the CPU's features and its WiMax capability (in addition to sailing on a posh yacht).

The evening event consisted more of a hands-on demonstration by notebook manufacturers. Various notebooks were set up for us to play on. I took the chance to also mess around with Windows Vista, Windows Movie Maker and watch an Intel video on YouTube.

There were also some sales managers to hawk their wares. Aside from talking a bit about the notebook designs, they rattled off about the internal specifications and so on. It helped that they knew they were talking to a technically savvy audience, since their spiel would have been lost on mere mortals.

Which brings me to the point of this entry. Though I'd like to believe that I am "technically savvy", I've found that I've become less interested in such mundane specifications. Teraflops? Nanometre circuitry? 200 pins? I tune out when I hear such things.

(BTW I pulled out those tidbits out of the air. If you're interested in the Centrino 2's specifications, look elsewhere.)

What I was really interested in knowing was: what can I do with all of that whizbang hardware? Which explained why I fiddled with Movie Maker rather than listen to a long list of numbers and data. I had more important questions, like: how fast could Movie Maker export a two-minute movie clip with various transitions, titles and effects?

Because that's what it's like in the real (consumer) world. We want to know how this technology changes how we do things. Technology is supposed to make us more productive, and there's little evidence to refute that. The question now is: how much more productive does new technology make us?

Here's a personal example: my iMac sputters when it plays back HD video, like those trailers that Apple provides. While the audio plays, only certain frames appear every now and then. That's because the hardware can't process all of the video data that it needs to. And that spoils my HD experience.

The Centrino 2, on the other hand, (supposedly) plays back HD smoothly and clearly. Do I care that it requires 150 billion transistors (repeat disclaimer about specification) to do that? Nope. I just want to watch my film, dammit!

Here's another example, albeit an old one: which music player would you buy:
  • one that has 5GB of space, or
  • another which can hold 1,000 songs in your pocket?
I've read rumours that Apple is most certainly going to use Intel's Centrino 2 CPU in its upcoming line of notebooks. When it does, I hope that it answers the questions that consumers want to know. Not about gigahertz and parallel processing structures, but about what you can do with this additional power, like watching 1080p HD movies or completing a Photoshop script more quickly.


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