Where did all the modular laptops go?

Not so long ago just about every company manufacturing portable computers seemed to offer a whole raft of options with the basic model so you could have one or two batteries, or you could have a CD drive (’twas pre-DVD then) instead of one of the batteries or you could have…. well, loads of different things that probably served to seriously complicate the buying decision for most people.

However, these days the portable is very much a standard issue device with not a whole lot of uniqueness to really distinguish the products from different manufacturers. There still remains some specialism of course but mainly that’s severely limited so, for example, Sony tend to specialise in expensive multimedia models and, as always, Apple plough their own furrow in the marketplace. A year ago I’d have added that for a mini portable it was Asus but that marketplace is now totally swamped by offerings from the other manufacturers.

What’s missing from that sameness are the little things. For instance, I’m looking for a portable right now and would like to have an AV socket on it yet there doesn’t seem to be such a beastie these days and instead some have HDMI connections which are handy but it would have been nice to have been able to connect camcorders and whatnot that are only a few years old and don’t have HDMI. Likewise, I’d have liked to have been able to continue to use some PCMCIA devices but everyone seems to have moved on to ExpressCard slots now.

On the software front it’s nice to see that several flavours of Unix are on offer these days, notably on the netbooks of course in that it would seem pretty ridiculous to be spending far more to buy the wordprocessing software than it did to buy the computer.

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