Finally, after years, I’m in love!

29 Feb 2004|Darrel Rhea

Yes, I’m crazy in love with my wife Nancy (blush), but that isn’t what I want to write about (this time). Of all things, I’m in love with…a new computer.

That’s right. After getting new computers regularly for 25 years, I just took delivery on one that is making a quantum leap in my experience of using these nasty boxes. It is fundamentally changing my behavior at work and at home…and in a good way. My new computer/software combo is allowing me to work and play in a way that is natural to me. Designed to adapt to the ways I like to work, manage, and communicate, I have more freedom to be at my peak creative. This shift is profound and completely surprising, given that the product is the result of incremental improvements of technologies that have been around for a long time.

As a reader, your defenses should be WAY up about now because this is sounding like computer ad copy hype you have been reading for eons. But bear with me. This system represents a wave of changes that will probably impact you soon.

After working on new technologies and living in Silicon Valley for decades, I’m pretty hard to impress. As an avid consumer of tech toys, I often experience the bleeding edge of entertainment and productivity tools that are “almost ready for prime time.” I have seen first hand how difficult it is to design and deliver a compelling new experience based on new technology. As a design researcher, I am also a professional critic (a surprisingly easy job with tech products as most all of them are an embarrassment). And, I don’t love all the tech toys I get: most offer the promise of life-changing affordances, but deliver frustration.

So what is this new device that has me purring?

The product I’m raving about is a tablet PC (Toshiba’s new Portege M200)
This class of device is what many of you will want next. I can tell because it seems to be evoking jealousy and lust from my associates. (Don’t you just hate that?)

I’ll save the technical descriptions for some other time –or you can just hit the reviews– but it is a smallish laptop with a screen that can flip around and close to turn the whole device into a tablet. Fast processor, hot graphics chip, centrino wireless, good battery life. All the basics you want in a light portable laptop.

So what’s the breakthrough here?

The form factor. What sneaked up on me was the difference in the posture required to use this puppy. Note how with a regular laptop, I assume the painful computer pose natural only to stenographers.

Upright jpeg.jpg
After 8 hours of this, I feel like trading jobs with a ditch digger.

Now see the not-so-subtle difference. This is how I normally take notes in my note book. I can do this in a meeting without people feeling like I am mentally checked-out. And most importantly, I am relaxed.

Tabet dkr kickback.jpg

I can even doodle, taking notes that are more graphically-based than text-based—and ultimately more intuitive to me. I tend to think more in mind maps than in outlines and paragraphs. In fact, I did these sketches on it in a few minutes.

But this is the tip of the iceberg… Next time I’ll cover how the new software apps and connectivity features are opening up new world for me

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