Notebook PCs coming out this year will likely include Blu-ray optical drives, as well as more colourful screens thanks to LED (light emitting diode) backlights.

So says an executive from Micro-Star International (MSI), who also predicts more environmentally friendly attributes.

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

There are a number of new technologies people are likely to find more readily available on notebook PCs this year. For one, the size of the standard screen is likely to expand to 15.6-inches from the current mainstream standard, 15.4-inches, as users snap up notebooks with bigger screens, 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, CCFLs (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps).

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 Web cams. 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 notebook PCs, but it probably won't drive sales because the technology is still too early, said Chem. Outside of some major cities, there are few WiMax networks being built globally, he said.

Energy savings will be one of the biggest trends this year, as companies vie to offer laptop PCs 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.