HD drives in Lenovo and ThinkPad notebooks in 2007

High definition (HD) optical disk drives will probably be integrated into Lenovo notebook lines some time in 2007, claims Lenovo's Arimasa Naitoh, the man responsible for the development of the ThinkPad and Lenovo notebooks.

Naitoh, vice president, Development for Lenovo's Notebook Business Unit, has worked on ThinkPad and notebook development since 1974, originally for IBM and now for Lenovo following its acquisition of the IBM personal computer business.

He confirmed that Lenovo was currently supporting both the Blu-ray and HD-DVD platforms and that both were being evaluated for how and when the integration would occur. Naitoh also commented on the 1x write speed of Blu-ray as a problem, adding that hopefully speeds will be higher by next year.

The comments were made as Naitoh was outlining his vision for the future of notebook development in the coming years to journalists in Sydney, Australia.

In the discussion, Naitoh claimed that the most significant "pain point" for notebook users and designers alike was weight. Naitoh said that while users accept large albeit slim notebooks with large displays and full keyboards, the need to reduce weight without losing performance and battery life is a paramount challenge for notebook manufacturers to overcome.

Performance back on the agenda

"For the past few years users have been telling us that performance is not a problem. They say make it cheaper, make the battery last longer," stated Naitoh.

That's changing, he claims, to a push back to high performance to support additional loads from a range of software, particularly background applications, and in anticipation of the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft's new operating system.

In addition to the integration of HD optical drives, over the next two years Naitoh expects memory size requirements to double from 2GB to 4GB, disk drive capacity to go north of 200GB, and improvements in Lithium Ion batteries enabling up to eight hours of mains-free operation.

The current range of Lenovo 3000 and ThinkPad notebooks predominantly feature standard aspect ratio displays. Naitoh predicts that moving toward widescreen displays will dominate the notebook environment. It's a move for Lenovo that would include HD optical drives that offer - in addition to increased data storage capacity - high definition widescreen video.

Also expected is integrated high-speed wireless networking via both Wireless WAN (WWAN) and the still to be finalised 802.11n local area wireless standard that could offer performance of up to 600 megabits per second.

"This could potentially change the game," Naitoh said of the always-on wired area wireless connection. "And it's location aware."

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