This blog post was written by Howie Chan, Business Analyst at TechAlliance.
Looking at today’s smartphones and laptops, I’ve come to believe that we’ve hit a point where we no longer need faster and more furious devices.
Ask the average consumer what the difference between a 2.4GHz quad core Q6600 CPU is and a 2.3GHz quad core snapdragon 800 is and I guarantee they couldn’t tell you which one was newer.
When you look at a computer flyer from your local BestBuy or Staples, they don’t really give you much information about what you’re getting – besides listing the “speed” (usually measured in GHz). I’d wager the farm to bet that your average geek squad couldn’t explain the difference between Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge, let alone the upcoming Haswell microarchitecture.
Tech-talk aside, when buying the next phone or laptop most users are satisfied knowing it’s faster than one they already have.
The speed of a CPU in a device isn’t always the bottleneck. In fact, because of how we use hardware today, hardware in most scenarios isn’t the choke point. A lot of different things affect user experience: hardware, connectivity, and software inefficiencies are some general categories I like to lump problems into.
I’m not going to dig deep into hardware-tech stuff, but it generally involves the components within the device including (but not limited to) the cpu (cache, cores, voltage), gpu, ram, and battery.
Connectivity kills user experience. In a lot of cases you need a consistent internet connection to experience the web, a service most Canadians have little control over. When choosing your next device, think about the provider you’re going with. If you’re data heavy and on-the-go, don’t go with the little guys (they can’t handle the bandwidth nor have the coverage). Tip #2, move to where the LTE is; thankfully, incumbents in the wireless telecomm sector don’t charge for speed increases like they do for their wired services or in the States – yet.
Software bugs and poor design plague the app and software space. Just look at Windows Vista compared to Windows 7. Users experienced a “huge” difference in speed, most of which was due to software UI changes. Software can also be used to compress files or optimize data usage. I’m not going to get into it, but TRIM support, Nvidia Optimus, and grass-roots codecs have changed the way we access files and view media. For example, Netflix’s video streaming wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for their methods of data compression.
Look to advances in user experience not speed. Hardware improvements will be limited to thinner form factors and reduced energy consumption. The biggest changes will come from software: cloud-based apps, efficient UI designs, and intuitive search are examples of things rapidly being adopted by the average consumer.