Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reflections on an upgrade … netbooks


One of constant fun things about going mobile is the continuing evolution of the hardware to support our efforts … the main item is, of course, the computer … I have had my trusty thinkpad x61t for well over a year now and it has been a great machine …. extremely fast and solid …. some of the same attributes that went into the original purchase are back to present new standards in machine choice.

Let me digress for a moment as there has appeared a new class of mobile machines that have taken the markets by storm since I have had this machine …. enter the “netbook” class of computing … loosely defined by machines in the 2lb weight category with limited widescreen format and low power processor … as the definition evolves with so many new machines, the ultimate useability factor comes into play.  I have looked and played with many a machine and really thought hard about this choice for mobility, but there are two MAJOR concerns from my standpoint.  Screen size and keyboards … what those represent are the ultimate interface points for us as humans to them as mobile tools ….

Picture spending working time with a new machine … my thinkpad has one of the best keyboards in portable computing, bar none … I have used it for ten hour marathon work sessions using keyboard and pen and it has served me well …. I tried typing on several netbooks and came away with the impression that long stretches of work would be physically impossible … the keyboards are tiny which is the form factor of the machines, this will make the hands need to cramp up to fit the keyboard … not a good idea.  Point two, the screen which represents the second thing that you are in constant contact with … from my standpoint (I have glasses and are moving on in age) the beautify widescreen presentation is an open invitation to eyestrain …. in deference, manufacturers have gone from 7in to 10in and are threatening 12in screens as this factor begins to emerge as a adoption point for many consumers.

Mobility is a wonderful thing and the ability to be useful as a tool is the upgrade consideration that must be extended to any equipment purchase … the siren call of a two point machine is out there, but the ultimate bridge to your mind goes through the interface of man and machine … thus, what you see and how you touch are the basic concerns for any purchase ….

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