Which is odd to me. Though I was probably predisposed to noticing them over the other PowerBook sizes, it always seemed to me that the 12-inch size — one of which I own — was the most popular of them all. Or, at least, among my friends and colleagues, it was that size that seemed to be the most prevalent. Perhaps it was their generally more portable form factor that accounted for that impression; while more 15-inch and the 17-inch models might have remained anchored to desks because of their greater weight, the 12-inch models were free to gallivant around town, making innumerable appearances in coffee shops, outdoor plazas and conferences.
Right: Back in black. The sexy, new, black model MacBook sitting on the hood of a car like some kind of cheap strumpet.
Losing the easiest to carry professional portable that Apple ever made is a shame, but what’s even sadder is that, finally, after like a decade of sitting around with my fingers crossed, I’m giving up hope that Apple will ever ship a true sub-notebook. The 12-inch PowerBook was certainly compact, but it wasn’t ever particularly lightweight, and over the years, Apple’s laptops in general haven’t gotten any slimmer.
What I’ve been pining for is something like my old Sony PCG-SR7K VAIO: a truly small notebook that weighs in at no more than two or three pounds. Of course, I’d want it sturdier than the VAIOs, which were notoriously fragile, because I’m sure to get about ten times more usage out of a super-lightweight portable than I would from my PowerBook. And I’d be willing to trade in any number of other conveniences, too: take out the optical drive, fix the hard drive, limit the RAM slots, shrink the pixels on the screen, whatever it takes.
What I want is ‘Don’t think twice portability,’ a concept that Apple seems to have more or less abandoned. With a notebook like my VAIO, I’d carry it around as a matter of habit, without even a second thought, because its weight was so light as to be almost inconsequential. With my PowerBook, I really do have to evaluate the situation, ask myself if it’s truly necessary for me to bring it along, estimate how long I’ll need to lug it with me. That’s not what I want out of computing at all, and I don’t think it’s what Apple wants, either — wouldn’t they rather give me every reason to keep it with me wherever I go? If nothing else, it will increase the chances that I’ll break it, giving me an excuse to go running with my credit card for a brand new model every eighteen months or so. That’s called a win/win.