Small enough to use on the bus

Small enough to use on the bus

It is time ultra-thin notebooks made their mark in the mainstream market. It’s time we starting extolling the virtues of light notebook computing to all and sundry and as part of this grand scheme, I am writing this on the bus on the way home.

It’s normally 45 minutes of unadulterated boredom as the bus crawls along one of the most notorious urban arteries in Sydney, stopping every 200 metres to let off some poor granny. But not today. I am happily tapping away at the keyboard of Fujistu’s newest edition to its ultra-thin lineup — the LifeBook P1120. I’m also making a few mistakes, because in the world of slimmed down computing, even the keyboard is on a diet.

But it’s not really an issue — I’ve been typing for five minutes or so and I have pretty much got the hang of it so I am unfazed.

There are a heap of other features in this little machine to keep me happy, like the TFT touchscreen yeah baby! Not only that, but I have been balancing the notebook on my lap and I am still cool as a cucumber, even though this blasted bus has no airconditioning. That’s because the Lifebook P1120 is one of the few notebooks on the Australian market that uses Transmeta’s Crusoe processor. Increased battery life is the main reasoning behind the Transmeta decision, but it also means less heat, so the only thing you have to worry about on the bus is getting motion sickness.

But the best bit is that I am getting looks of sheer envy from other passengers. One guy is yapping away on his Handspring Treo phone-cum-PDA, which scores pretty highly on the cool gadget front, and even he is looking a bit green — and not with motion sickness. That’s the sort of reaction that this Lifebook produces. People love its size. They love the built-in wireless connectivity, and they love tapping away at the touchscreen with a stylus.

So why is it that when they actually go and buy a notebook, they end up with a heavy, desktop replacement brick? My guess is that it is the lure of the optical drive. The P1120 is too small to incorporate a CDRW or DVD but it comes standard with an external CD-ROM. Besides, most people already own a desktop for all that burning malarky.

The Lifebook has got 2 USB ports, an integrated V.90 modem and 10/100Mbps Base-T LAN connectivity. It also has a VGA port. That’s all I need in a notebook, but if you look at sales to date, I am clearly in the minority here.

People love the beefed up versions. Maybe it’s the $3399 price tag that puts them off, but I’m not convinced. Perhaps, this machine will provide an answer. As for myself, I am considering becoming one of those evangelical technology types, travelling around the country on buses, inciting people to throw away their notebook bits and bobs in favour of slimmed down mobile technology. Then again, maybe I’ll stick to my day job.

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