17 February 2008

"Cute" + Technology = Drool

Once upon a time, in the mid-1990s, I was a "road warrior" with platinum frequent flyer miles, suffering from that shoulder ache you get from lugging too much junk in your carry-on bag. The biggest piece of junk, of course, was the laptop computer. 

To ease my shoulder, I bought a Toshiba Libretto, one of the first micro-notebook computers. Unlike the PDAs that were all the rage at the time, the Libretto runs *real* Windows software (Win 95 I think?) and has a real keyboard, although I am pretty sure most people could not type on the thing because the keys are so tiny. Importantly, it weighs in at just 2 lbs with the standard battery. It has a modem (remember those?) and an external floppy drive, although I can't remember whether I had to buy that separately or it came with the thing. (At the time of purchase -- 1996ish -- a floppy was all you needed!) It has a 75 MHz Pentium processor, so it was pretty much standard/high performance 10 years ago. In the photo above, you see the Libretto (left) with my Mac Mini and a CD, for size comparison. You can imagine how big the screen and keyboard are. Or click here.  

In addition to being practical, the thing was a very cute conversation piece. Even in Japan, where I traveled a lot, most people had never seen one "in the flesh." So OK, it's not "elegant," but it's functional, compact, and it cost me about $1400. I can't remember whether that included the spare oversize battery &/or any other gizmos I may have bought at the time. 

These days, I am no road warrior. I have not booted the Libretto in years. When I need a notebook at home, I have a 7-year-old Dell. Most often, I sit at the computer desk and use my sweet iMac (pat pat). If I need Windows, I also have a desktop Dell that is faster & more powerful than the laptop (but I have not booted the thing in months). For work, they gave me an IBM laptop that I occasionally carry to meetings or classes, but mostly it sits in its docking station.

So I don't *need* a MacBook Air, but dang if I don't want one. 

As the Houston Chronicle's Dwight SIlverman points out, the Air has the same sex appeal as an iPhone. I should note that I took the photo above with my iPhone. I like sex appeal. In fact, John Gruber at Daring Fireball suggests that the MacBook Air is made for me. It is, he says, the computing analogue to a sporty convertible coupe. Lest anyone forget, I drive a yellow Mini Cooper convertible.

The nay-sayers point out the Air's lack of "necessary" features: just one USB port oh n0z! no Ethernet port, oh n0z! no optical drive, oh n0z! The list goes on. These factors do not concern me. I do worry about battery life; when I bought the Libretto I did get a spare battery, which I occasionally needed. I also hate it that the built-in mouse has only one button. Sorry, Mac purists: I am a right-clicker.

But hey, let's put this in a different perspective for this non-power-user: When I bought my Mini Cooper, I had a choice between the base Cooper and the Cooper S that has the awesome supercharger and some other sweet performance features. I had the $. I could have bought the S, and, in fact, I drooled over it for a long time. In the end, however, the "S" did not come in yellow, and yellow was more important than zoom. (I do not regret the decision, except very occasionally when a little more straight-line acceleration would enable a pass that would relieve some drive-time stress.)

I'm going to go back to The Woodlands Mall today to drool on the Air again. It's sunny, so I might even drive with the top down & iPod blaring through the Mini's speakers, just to get into the right mood. 

1 comment:

Dwight Silverman said...


The one button on Mac notebooks is not an issue. You can configure the touchpad so that a two-finger tap brings up the right-mouse menu. It's the very first thing I do when I set up a new Mac. The one-button thing is moot.