Unshelved comic strip for 11/13/2003

Laptop Dreams

As I get invited to more conferences I'm spending more time on the road away from my computer. My laptop is six years old and won't even pretend to run Photoshop or Visual Studio. And no DVD player to watch my Buffy and Angel boxed sets on the road. It's about time for a new laptop.

First dilemma: completely replace my desktop or just use the laptop for travelling? These days laptops are so powerful that there's almost no reason not to do the former. I do have a fancy high-resolution flat-screen display on my desk, but most laptop display systems can now drive it. So let's say the laptop replaces the desktop. Fewer logistical problems that way anyway.

Because I'm often either doing artwork or software development (which both eat up a lot of screen real-estate) I want the highest resolution screen available. Right now that's the Dell Inspiron 8600 with a wide-aspect WUXGA (1920x1200). The 8600 is a "desktop replacement", both big and heavy, but it really would be replacing my desktop so maybe that's reasonable.

Meanwhile, I'm very attracted to a Tablet PC, namely the Gateway M275XL. The huge advantage there is the pen-aware screen. If I can avoid lugging a graphics table around, all the better (especially since my current one needs to be plugged into AC power to work). And it would be very space-efficient on airplanes and other constrained spaces to be able to hide the keyboard when just reading email, watching DVDs, etc. But the current crop of Tablet PC's have two big drawbacks.

  1. Not one yet has a screen resolution over XGA (1024x768). Hey, my 6-year-old laptop does 1280x1024!
  2. Limited in expandability - the Dell won't go over 1MB RAM, which is enough now but probably not in a couple years.

Finally, there are the ultraportables, like the Sony TR2A, which say "If you're going to sacrifice expandability at least make it really small and light." And the Sony has a 1280X768 screen which is small but higher-res than the Tablet PCs.

I don't know which way I'll go. I guess I'm just hoping someone will come up with a high-res ultraportable expandable tablet pc. Oh, and inexpensive, because we'll need to sell a lot of stuff before I can convince Gene to have Overdue Media to buy me one...

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