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2008 laptops to get LED backlights and Blu-ray

MSI predicts new standard for laptop specs

High-end laptops launching in 2008 will likely include more colourful screens thanks to light emitting diode (LED) backlights and Blu-ray Disc optical drives, according to an executive from Micro-Star International (MSI).

But other technologies such as WiMax and solid-state discs (SSDs) probably won't see as much widespread use, said Sam Chen, director of laptop PC sales at MSI.

There are a number of new technologies people are likely to find more readily available on laptops this year. For one, the size of the standard screen is likely to expand to 15.6in from the current mainstream standard, 15.4in, said Chem. And colours on those screens will probably be better due to the use of LED backlights, which are coming down in price.

LED backlights not only help create a better picture, they save power compared to current mainstream backlighting technology, Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFLs).

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More laptop PCs will launch with Blu-ray Disc optical drives inside this year as well, Chem predicted. Blu-ray Disc, the high definition optical disc in line to replace DVDs, gained a march over rival format HD DVD earlier this year when Hollywood studio Warner Bros announced it would shift from producing in both formats to just Blu-ray alone. The decision means five of the seven major Hollywood studios now back Blu-ray Disc exclusively, while the HD DVD camp has just two, Paramount and Universal.

On Monday, market researcher Gartner said that it expects Blu-ray Disc will be the winning format in the consumer market by the end of this year.

Currently, MSI makes laptops with either HD DVD drives or Blu-ray Disc drives inside. Chem suggested that in future, the company will likely only use Blu-ray Disc.

A few other technologies people may find in greater use in laptops this year is digital TV and better, 2-megapixel webcams. Digital TV is growing, Chem said, and people are likely to demand it on more than just mobile phones.

WiMax, the wireless technology in line to replace Wi-Fi for wireless internet use may be a function included in a lot of laptops, but it probably won't drive sales because the technology has yet to mature, said Chem. Outside of some major cities, there are few WiMax networks being built globally, he said.

Energy savings will also be one of the biggest trends this year, as companies vie to offer laptops with better battery performance and more environmentally friendly materials inside. "This is an important trend. Al Gore's film 'An Inconvenient Truth' really pushed environmental issues to the fore, he said.

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