Monthly Archives: June 2012

Why I’ll Never Give Up My PC


Oh man, what a hellish 10 days this has been.

Before we get too far, let me just warn you that when the doorbell rings, this little chat will be over. I don’t care if I’m in mid-sentence. That’s it. Period. End of story.

The reason: tucked under the arm of the hand attached to the finger pressing the doorbell will be my precious Lenovo ThinkPad. It’s been 10 days now since she sputtered and failed, and five days since I’ve last seen her. I sent her off in a box last week to rehab in Atlanta and then I packed up and hopped a plane to San Jose, in the other direction.

I returned home last night. And she’ll show up any minute, her arrival trumpeted by the chime in the entryway.

Don’t worry. This isn’t a fable on the perils of casual backup. We’ve all heard too many of those. Besides, my data was backed up, so the issue wasn’t even in play. Sort of. (If anyone knows how to tease your contacts, calendar and tasks out of Outlook when it doesn’t want to expose them, I’d love to hear from you.)

Rather, it played out more as a mash-up of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol theme, with a glimpse into a present-day vision of a computer-less future sprinkled with an insight or two from Technology Past.

I decided to load present-day Windows 7 and Office 2010 onto my nine-year-old ThinkPad x31, an ultra-portable whose time has clearly passed. Not an ideal solution by any stretch. But I had real work to do, so I wasn’t going to be without a laptop. And as I like to say, I only make room for one device in my briefcase and one in my pocket. So the tablet didn’t make the cut. And so I headed off to San Jose with nothing but an old laptop. And a smartphone. With an eTrade app.

(And, uh, my MP3 player. OK, two MP3 players.)

Tell you what: let’s cut right to lessons learned. Because as I said, once that doorbell rings…

1. Size does matter. Manipulating multiple inter-connected spreadsheets felt arduous on the X31’s 12.1-display, even though it was only 1.3 inches less than my ThinkPad X220. (Now where is that UPS driver?) Once in the Bay Area, though, I was able to reverse that deficiency thanks to a delightful 27-inch display made available to me. Except in the most extreme instances, most of us would choose a laptop over a smartphone for any serious content creation. That’s obvious.

What may not be as intuitive, though, is that the bigger-is-better tenet applies across the spectrum. For work, a 13.3-inch laptop beats a 12.1-inch laptop. And a 12.1-inch laptop trumps a 10.4-inch tablet. Sure, there are advantages to the tablet. But getting work done isn’t one of them.

2. Storage capacity does matter. Try to find a tablet with more than 32GB of flash. Yes, I know they’re out there. But $699 for a new iPad with 64GB? Hell, I can’t even squeeze everything I want into my 32GB MP3 player! Storage was a big deal on my trip. I frequently swapped files with a couple of flash drives and a USB hard disk. And the X31 has a 100GB hard drive!

3. The cloud does matter. I much prefer to physically have what I need in hand, locally. That said, the past 10 days would have gone much smoother had I been taking advantage of all those storage services up there in the sky. Nothing like leaving the barn door open to teach you what you needed to know yesterday.

Hmmm. Come to think of it, maybe this is a why-you-should-back-up story. Whatever the case, I can tell you that next time…

Computer’s here. See ya!

Why I’ll Never Give Up My PC2019-12-19T16:15:15+00:00

Next Week, the PC Gets Interesting Again


May you live in interesting times. It’s an ancient curse. Or is it a blessing? There are volumes devoted to that age-old issue. In my world, though, there’s nothing gray about this topic. I get paid to answer questions, so interesting times are a blessing. Straight up. When clients don’t have any questions, now that’s a curse.

These are blessed times we live in, my friends. At least it is in my world. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been two years since Apple sold the first iPad. The year before, the tech world marveled at the vitality of the PC. Incredibly, shipments grew in 2009, defying gravity at a time when the rest of the economy seemed to be in a free-fall. My, how things have changed.

Today, many of you now are busy chiseling the epitaph onto the face of the laptop’s tombstone. Sorry, I don’t mean to spoil the ending. I know you’re still working. But from what I gather, it’s going to read something like this:

“Here lies the laptop
Sluggish, heavy, unresponsive
We’d miss you
If we didn’t all have iPads”

You might want to put the funeral plans on hold for a while, though, because the PC is about to get interesting again. The ecosystem, sparked by Intel’s Ultrabook initiative, has been hard at work trying to erase its shortcomings, which together singed a hole in the market wide enough to drive more than 100 million media tablets through.

I’m fond of saying that equilibrium for personal electronics stands at two devices, one in the pocket and one in the briefcase. When we buy a third device, it’s for picking up the slack for one or both primary devices.

If you’ve strolled down the aisle of a commercial flight during the past year, you might conclude that what the iPad brought to the computing world was Solitaire. I’m being facetious, of course, though the real answer is interrelated.

First and foremost, the tablet is tackling the laptop’s deficient battery life. It’s giving us a chance to read, watch a movie — and yes, play Solitaire — without siphoning any of the juice needed for productivity apps.

That’s how the tablet pushed its way alongside the laptop in our briefcases. That it’s a more recline-friendly form factor, that it boasts superior battery life, that it’s easier and quicker to engage and access is why we’re turning to it more and more.

Many of us still opt for the laptop for more creation-centric tasks. But because the tablet is more accessible, it wins out for anything that we can do equally well on either device, like researching something on the web.

So there’s a lot riding on the PC ecosystem’s response, which kicks off in earnest at the Computex trade show next week in Taiwan. It will be the coming-out party for dozens of new laptop models. They’re sleek and sexy. They’re more responsive. They boast better battery life.

Many of them are convertible clamshells that double as tablets for reading, gaming and watching video. Some have touchscreens or offer them as an option.

If you have a tablet and a laptop, these new portables probably won’t convince you to go back to one device. But if you’re deciding whether to buy your first tablet or replace your current system, I’ll bet that one of these new laptops will lure you in.

All in all, a good first step toward bringing us back to equilibrium, and a good reason to put off finishing that tombstone.


Original post: Reprinted with permission.

Next Week, the PC Gets Interesting Again2019-12-19T16:18:48+00:00