How to get good portability

Yesterday, I drooled over the MacBook Air. At least until I found out that it has an integrated battery. Then I sulked in a corner.

I still have the fundamental problem: How do I get good portability? The answer still seems to be eluding me. Understand — this is more a question than anything else.

Okay, what do I define as good portability? As a start:

  • Light (2 lbs or less)
  • Small (11″ screen or less)
  • Functional (a PDA, although cool, doesn’t help me deal with 8 MB RAW images from my digital camera)
  • Spacious (I want to download potentially hundreds of 8 MB RAW images from my camera so I can process them — an 8 GB SSD is a little too small)
  • Runs Windows XP or Mac OS X (so I can run apps like Lightroom and/or Photoshop)
  • Connected (wireless access with hardwire ethernet backup connection)
  • No integrated battery! (And relatively decent battery life, of course.)
  • Sub-$1000 cost (and sub-$500 shouldn’t be a major issue)

I don’t think I’m asking for much, really. It’s not like the technology doesn’t exist. What seems to be missing is the cohesive package. You can find all of these elements in various implementations that are out there, but not in one place.

Examples:

  • MacBook
    Not the Pro, just the regular one. It’s working on small, but it’s still too large — 13″ screen. It’s 5 lbs, which makes it a bit tough to lug around in a camera bag. And it’s $1,250 to start. Otherwise, it handles everything else.
  • MacBook Air
    A very high drool factor. But major detractions: It’s $550 more expensive than its “little brother”, and there’s that integrated battery thing. Not to mention it — apparently — has the same-sized footprint. Sure, it fits in an envelope, but that’s not going to work for a bag that can’t fit the envelope!
  • Latitude D430
    A nice little Dell would be grand. Except that it’s over a grand. $1,300 to start. It’s 12.1″ screen is nicer to deal with. I have a D620 at the office, and it works very well (except for the usual Windows crap, anyway) and a few people here have the D430 (the ones who move around more often). At least it’s under 3 lbs.
  • Asus Eee PC
    Way on the cool side, and rapidly approaching what I want. Really small, well-connected, you can load Windows XP Home and Mac OS X on it (given, the latter needs to be hacked into the system), it’s under a kilo, it’s cheap, and even if it has an integrated battery, I might let that slide. But it’s memory is limited to 8 GB. I suppose you could use an external USB hard drive to expand, if needed, though. Anyone know how to hack in a regular hard drive?
  • Everex CloudBook
    Not out yet — it’s coming later this month to a Wal-mart near you — but a direct competitor with the Eee PC. It’s similar in specs, but includes a much larger hard drive (30 GB). Here’s the “but” — it uses gOS. Which means you’re not likely able to run either Photoshop or Lightroom. It could run Gimp, but so far I’m not sold on using Gimp for mass image editing. Especially for in-the-field work to see if you got that shot just right.
  • Sony VAIO TZ-series
    In one word: Price. That’s the reason why I wouldn’t/can’t buy a Sony. Nice system. Way too expensive.

Right now, the Eee PC seems my best option. Not ideal by a long shot (I can do the PC + external HD option for less than $1,000 — I lose longevity due to battery drain), but at least possible.

I wonder how long until someone can get this handled completely?

2 Replies to “How to get good portability”

  1. I’m really interested in seeing what comes out in the next 6 months. We’re going on a photography trip to the US southwest at the end of October and we will need to get a laptop/storage device of some sort before we go. I never thought I would see the day when I would use (and need) 16 GB flash cards, but I burned through 2 or 3 of them a day on a trip last fall. And anything that requires using vista is NOT an option!

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