Today's laptops have been segmented and compartmentalized
into two or three distinct categories. The largest notebooks typically weight
7+ pounds and come with huge 15" screens, multiple media drives and
insanely hot and power hungry Pentium processors. Depending on what you
get, a laptop of this class will typically work for three or
so hours on battery power alone, all the while barbecuing your legs with its' heat.
Should you be carrying around the computer for a long time you will know full
well that 7lbs eventually feels a lot heavier.
The full-size notebook may be powerful and well equipped for the occasional business
trip, but if you are lugging around 8 pounds of computer gear with you
everyday, you're either going to need a really good bag like the Waterfield
, or intelligently decide its
time to shed some of that weight for the bare essentials.
Now just to be clear,
I'm not about to tell you that full-size notebooks don't have a very useful place in the
world of computing - that would just be insane. Notebooks and subnotebooks exist in
harmony and each class is designed with specific uses in mind. Full-sized notebooks, while portable,
are best used at a desk. Subnotebooks are best for situations where the user
is always moving around, away from both desk and power plug.
Take for example our little silvery NEC UltraLite.
Since it only weighs about 3lbs, and measures a scant 10.4" x 8.3" it is easily
held in one hand while the other is free to type. A full-size notebook
may have a 15" screen, but with its size and weight is damn near difficult
to hold in one hand and type on without being dropped to the floor.
Feel free to test this theory with your own notebook if you like.
Of course the pundits to the emerging
class of sub-notebooks will all bring up the driveless point, and in a way they
are right - a driveless notebook is not that useful when you're far from the
network and need to move some data to or form the hard drive. Lacking a floppy
or a CDROM the notebook looses a lot of its real world usefulness.
However what those legacy folk are missing is the real question.
That question being how often do transfer data to a floppy, or load up a
CD-ROM? More likely than not, if you're in the field you'll find yourself
working madly away on the keyboard with little need for the disc drives. [The
emphasis in that sentence is on WORKING , not watching DVD's,
or reinstalling Office XP on that 20 hour flight to Taipei.]
And therein lies the beauty of the sub-notebook formfactor. In its most essential configuration the notebook is
trimmed down to just a display, a keyboard, a hard drive, and a
few vital data ports. The end result is incredibly compact, lightweight, highly portable
and expandable. When drives are needed they can be added by simply connecting a
USB cable. When they aren't, you needn't lug around the extra weight.
Japanese consumers have flocked to the subnotebook formfactor,
and as a result there are many different notebooks available on the market
there. North American users are really only now starting to see the added versatility
and benefits of the subnotebook. Now this isn't to say that full-sized
notebooks are going the way of the dodo, as that is hardly true,
rather it is more akin to choosing the right tool for the
right job. And in that same sense, the Crusoe processor is inherently the better
processor for this formfactor. Its' light power requirements and low thermal outputs are optimal
for subnotebooks where the key features are lightweight and longer battery life.