updated 11:05 am EDT, Fri May 25, 2007
Intel Metro and Macs
A computer manufacturer is set to produce Intel's Metro ultraportable concept, according to sources in touch with BusinessWeek. The magazine claims that an unnamed builder will turn the prototype into reality later in the year. This would mark a radical departure from the company's traditional concepts, which are often shown at the company's in-house Developer Forums solely as inspirations for other manufacturers rather than direct blueprints.
Extra details about the Metro notebook have surfaced, the publication says, that may hint at its ultimate manufacturer. Created by the Oregon product design firm Ziba, the Metro achieves its record 0.7-inch thickness (slightly thicker than the Motorola RAZR V3) by using an entirely flash-based, solid-state hard drive in place of the conventional hard disk, freeing room for other components inside. The change would also improve battery life and would combine with a magnesium housing to weigh less than 2.3 pounds without an optical drive.
Communications would also be a specialty of the Metro. In reference form, the PC would include a hybrid wireless chipset that connects to both Wi-Fi as well as the wide-area WiMAX format. This would be ideal for business travelers and others who need access to the Internet regardless of where they may be, according to Intel's Patrick Lynch.
Ziba's example would also cater to women and constrant travelers with a flap that attaches magnetically to the notebook, adding a shoulder strap for carrying and protecting the main shell while providing basic information from the outside, such as a calendar, without consuming any extra power until the information changes.
While no company has shown an overt interest in the concept or is obligated to use all of its features in a final model, the development may heavily favor Apple, whose designs have increasingly stressed thin profiles and rounded edges similar to those of the Metro. A number of the hardware features also directly recall claims by analysts and other sources of a Mac subnotebook in the second half of 2007. That system would also use flash for some or all of its internal storage; the Metro also has a backlit keyboard for typing in the dark, a staple of today's 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro systems.