The top 10 PC technologies and trends to watch in 2017
Hot Solar Cells
By converting heat to focused beams of light, a new solar device could create cheap and continuous power.
But a team of MIT scientists has built a different sort of solar energy device that uses inventive engineering and advances in materials science to capture far more of the sun’s energy. The trick is to first turn sunlight into heat and then convert it back into light, but now focused within the spectrum that solar cells can use. While various researchers have been working for years on so-called solar thermophotovoltaics, the MIT device is the first one to absorb more energy than its photovoltaic cell alone, demonstrating that the approach could dramatically increase efficiency.Standard silicon solar cells mainly capture the visual light from violet to red. That and other factors mean that they can never turn more than around 32 percent of the energy in sunlight into electricity. The MIT device is still a crude prototype, operating at just 6.8 percent efficiency—but with various enhancements it could be roughly twice as efficient as conventional photovoltaics.
VR PCs on your head
Though some critics love to knock PCs as dinosaurs, laptops and desktops have gotten sexier, faster and even smarter. For every blue screen of death, there are droves of technological enhancements driving PCs into the era of virtual reality, 4K video and 5G connectivity. Here are the top 10 PC technology and trends to watch next year.
VR devices will come in many new shapes and sizes, with some of them acting essentially as PCs that fit on your head. Dell, Asus, Acer, Lenovo and HP will release mixed reality headsets, which will allow users to interact with 3D objects that pop up as floating images superimposed on a real-life background. The devices will provide a new level of human-computer interaction, making it more fun than ever to create 3D objects, play games, watch moves, and have interactive Skype calls. These “holographic computers,” as they have been called, will have Intel chips, an integrated GPU and possibly a 3D RealSense camera to identify objects, measure distances, and provide new perspectives on surroundings.
Storage prices will go up
Prices of SSDs are going up due to shortages, and that could have an impact on the price of laptops, 2-in-1 computers and storage. Dell’s XPS 13 with Intel’s Kaby Lake chips and a 512GB SSD, for example, is not available right now. Other laptops with 512GB SSDs are priced unbelievably high. Most PC makers are offering 128GB or 256GB SSDs in PCs by default. Choose storage wisely, as it isn’t easy to screw open a superthin 2-in-1 to replace an SSD.