My Perfect Computer

Doesn’t exist. Yet. To be fair it wouldn’t be my only computer, but let me share what I would describe as ideal for the business person who travels, or presently carries a laptop, or would like less weight, or would like to reduce the number of Batman utility belt attachments you carry around with you.

My perfect machine would be a touch oriented tablet device (pen enabled but pen not always required) with a backlit LED display of about 7×9 (inches – I’m old enough to still think in imperial measurement). It would be thin, less than half an inch. It would have 802.1n wireless connectivity and incorporate telephone and 3G data services. Of course this would require the carriers not to have rate plans necessitating a second mortgage on the house to pay the usage bills, but that’s a different rant entirely. It would use an advanced Bluetooth like personal area network to connect based upon proximity, via secure transmission, to a desktop integrator where peripherals such as keyboard, mouse, DVD burner, SATA disk and display would connect. In my ideal world, by putting my perfect computer down in proximity to the PAN device, the peripherals would become active automatically, and when I picked up my device, the connection to the PAN device would automatically terminate returning full independence to my device.

My perfect computer would support removable super high speed SD cards, but would also incorporate Solid State local storage to hold it’s OS (that OS better be small, lightweight and not stuffed with unnecessary crap) and the apps that I need to do my work. I’m not specifying the OS, although I have my preference thoughts, but one of the services the device would provide would be automatic sync services to PAN attached large volume storage using some fast and reliable methodology. The sync service would also allow me to determine what stays on the device and what gets moved off to external store by criteria. I think that this could be done using open source tools like rsync coupled with some policy models sort of like those in Chronosync or Apple’s Time Machine.

There’s been lots of criticism of Apple’s MacBook Air because of the lack of integrated DVD burner. My Air, and my Lenovo X41 as well, don’t have integrated burner/readers. Both use outboard devices that are easy to plug in to high-speed USB when I need that function. I log about 80K airmiles a year, and have not watched a real DVD on a machine in the last four years. Instead I use H.264 converters to put my video needs on my laptops if I want to watch a tutorial or a videocast in the air or the hotel room. Mostly though, I listen to audiobooks or music, so of course my perfect computer would do all of the above. It would of course have a built-in camera capable of doing both stills and video as well as realtime video conferencing using something like Skype. If it could display eBooks, like the missing in action for Canada Amazon Kindle, that would be cool too.

From a connectivity perspective, my ideal device would have both USB2 and FireWire connections. I’m very interested in the videocasting space, and FireWire is a given for that, if I want to import “footage” I have shot. In fact, the lack of FireWire on the MacBook Air is my biggest criticism of that device. I’m not expecting my perfect device to have the horsepower to do proper editing a la Final Cut, but it would be good to be able to pull stuff off an external device in addition to that captured locally.

This ideal device wouldn’t replace my main computers, in fact it would most likely replace the Air or X41, both of which for me, are really second machines, selected for weight and size more than anything. Do I think that my vision is possible? I do. In fact the rumorists (newly created word, licensed for your use under the GPL 🙂 ) are already speculating about this kind of thing this year or next. I hope so. I’ll buy one when it’s available. Wouldn’t you?

Until next time, peace.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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