Bingsop Fables

The Laptop And The Notebook: A Fable

Macbook Pro

Once upon a time there was a Laptop (AAPL) that belonged to a mid-sized wazir of the realm. It was a rather large laptop as laptops go, with a big, roomy heart filled with all kinds of good things, an impressive collection of ports, and big, strong hardware that could stand the test of any situation into which its owner might put it.

The Laptop had served its owner well for many moons and was proud of itself. "There is no function I cannot perform should my master demand it," it said to itself at times when it was charging, at rest after a long day at the office, on the couch at home, or on the road in a random hotel room somewhere. "Be it spreadsheet or word processing or even photography, I am up to the job." And then the Laptop slept as its owner did the same.

One day, when the market was doing nothing and American business was slogging through another day of senescence, lethargy and malaise, its owner was watching CNBC at his desk when a commercial came on. It showed a slender, lovely hand inserting a notebook computer into what looked like an 11"x14" envelope. This Notebook was so thin and light that it only took one little hand to slip it into that small enclosure, and was silver and carried a sexy logo to which the owner had already formed a symbiotic attachment.

"Wow," said the owner, "Yum yum yum." And so are major purchasing decisions always made.

And so the owner went to the online store that dispenses happiness for those who seek it in those quarters, and pre-ordered the bright and gleaming Notebook, along with the remote DVD drive that was necessary because the tiny unit did not have one built in. "That is a small compromise to make, given its amazing lightness and elegance," said the owner to himself. He also acquired all the necessary chargers, since his older ones were not quite right either. "All new hardware requires these kinds of initial investments," the owner added to himself.

Ironically, it was from the Laptop that the owner ordered all this new gear. "That's all right," the sad Laptop told itself as it conveyed the credit card information to the online store. "This is just a little Notebook my master can utilize when he's making short trips to the coast. Due to its tiny size, it cannot do all the wonderful things of which I am capable!" And the Laptop felt sanguine, as we all do for some reason even when it's not particularly warranted.

Then one day in the spring the new notebook arrived in a big box with the logo on it, the one for which the owner had already developed a drooling affection. And he opened up the box and there was the wafer-thin, juicy, sexy little Notebook. "Ah!" said the owner in a paroxysm of joy, and he held the thing to his bosom and the music swelled in his imagination and all was right with the world.

That night, the owner put the Laptop on a shelf in his closet. "Oh my," said the Laptop, looking around at the shelf on which it had been placed next to an IBM (IBM) ThinkPad and an old HP (HP) printer with nothing but serial ports. "This don't look good."

Several weeks went by. The owner and the Notebook went everywhere with each other and for a while they were very happy. True, he found the lack of a firewire port very annoying at first, since it made the transfer of data from his other computers -- once the soul of simplicity -- into a complex wireless process that he detested. And his face fell when he also realized that all of his remote hard drives no longer worked with the new Notebook, making his photos and iTunes folders suddenly difficult to access.

But the Notebook was indeed very light and easy to transport, and people did notice it wherever he went, which made him feel very good about himself (at least for a while, until everybody else started having one). He barely complained when the wireless feature on the new computer had difficulty reading his existing network. After only two nights of cursing and yelling, that problem was solved as well. So he was happy for a while.

Then one day he took the Notebook on a transcontinental flight. For some reason, on this particular journey, he was not upgraded to Business and was therefore consigned to a Coach seat that had no power outlet. "This will be no problem," he said rather smugly to himself, "since my new Notebook is advertised to have five hours of battery life." As the plane took off from New York, he took out the silver platter and began working.

After about ten minutes, he saw the battery indicator slip from the original 5:00 hours quite abruptly down to 3:25. "Hm!" he exclaimed to himself. "That can't be right." He turned off the wireless feature and dimmed the screen in hopes of extending battery life but within a few moments the indicator had now slipped to 2:20. "Well," he muttered to nobody in particular, "This bites."

In the end, the owner got about three hours of use out of the Notebook, perhaps a little less. In the old days, he would simply have swapped out a new battery into his old Laptop, which was now languishing in the closet back in New York. But the new Notebook, as a concession to weight and overall bulk, had a built-in battery that could not be replaced with a fresh one and required a full charge before it could pop into maximum life again. The owner said nothing. But something shifted in his heart.

When he returned to New York, he put the Notebook on his nightstand and plugged it in. "You're cute," he said to it, running his hand along its sleek, smooth skin. Then he went to the closet and got the Laptop down. "Hello old friend," he said to the Laptop.

He opened it up and remembered a few things, like how many tunes he had stored on its capacious hard drive, and how he really didn't mind the old operating system, which somehow felt a bit more solid and well-baked, and how it was nice to have 30 gigs of photos at his disposal, and how much he appreciated the ability to watch movies and burn DVDs from a dedicated optical drive, not to mention how nice it is to have every port a person might need right at one's fingertips.

Today, the owner still takes the little Notebook here and there, like when he's going to Starbucks (SBUX) for a cup of coffee and a few hours on the web, or perhaps when he's definitely upgraded transcontinentally to a seat that for sure has a power jack. The rest of the time, however, the Laptop is still #1 in his life and will be for quite some time to come... unless he gets really serious about the Big Mother Desktop he's had his eye on for a while.

But that, my friends, will be another story entirely.

31 Comments Add Comment

No matter how sexy and wafer-thin your new Notebook is, a battery that gives you three hours instead of the promised five is unacceptably lame. They owe you a new one, Bing.

That is SOOOO cute!
A computer Love Story!
And, it sold me on the AAPL Laptop!!!

If the Logo owner of the sexy little Notebook would just re-introduce the 8 1/2" x 11" (exact EXTERNAL dimensions) 12" (diagonal screen) PowerBook laptop into its Intel processor line, it would have All-of-the-Above of both the sexy little Notebook AND the good old Laptop. (I get stopped everywhere I go with my "old" state-of-the art PowerBook and told how neat--read, "sexy"-- and what a great size it is. And when I tell people I could produce a feature film on it, they say just "Wow!".)

I got choked up reading that. I really felt bad for the Laptop for a while there. I nearly cried when he fell back in love with the Laptop.

just wait 'til the airlines and/or FCC latch on to this story, and find out that this guy had his wireless enabled on an airplane.

BTW: I get 5 hours on my MBA.

BTW2: Have you ever tried using a laptop continuously for 5 hours (or even 3) in a coach seat?

zest one wafer-thin notebook, monsieur, oui, you can do it, you must ave it, it will be absoluement delicieux...

The only thing not well-baked is your article... Most external firewire hard drives have both usb and firewire interfaces and in fact most of the external storage options available in stores are USB only. Mac OS 10.5 is rock solid and once the unit is setup there is little need for an external CD/DVD drive. Wireless connection is NO MORE DIFFICULT THAN ANY OTHER MAC. Battery life on ANY laptop sucks and there are external batteries/ devices that can extend life. What is your deal?!?! The MacBook Air is not for everyone and commands a premium price, if you want different features get a regular old MacBook or MacBook Pro. Bottom line you can't go wrong with any of these units.

If you ever get the urge to play with Linux, pull that old ThinkPad down and give it a go. I've got Ubuntu Linux running on my boyfriend's old ThinkPad right now. As a movie/photo/music*/internet/email/occasional -Hemingway-moment machine, it's perfect.

* I don't have an iPod, I have an old Rio, which doesn't care what program you use to put music on it or what format the music's in. If your player does, good luck.

I don't feel sorry for the guy or his little MacBook Air. He's obviously a Mac Junkie like the rest of us who read Blogs like this. He'll no doubt buy the next Apple Product Steve Jobs lovingly shows us. We're hooked! All of us! Ain't it Great? Have you been to any of the Apple Store openings?

Get a Life!

That was nice! I was wondering how those wafer thin notebooks worked. Now I will NEVER buy one.

Love the old, it's not always necessary to embrace the new.

MacBook Air currently #6 best selling on Amazon. Hot tip, buy AAPL. Cheers!

My apologies for the nitpick but I believe the said commercial shows the hand pulling the notebook out, not putting it in ;-)

First of all, I've read the reviews and blogs and I don't think very many people are getting 5 hours on the Air with the airport turned on the screen on anything above a whisper. If they are, then my machine was flawed right out of the box and that's never happened to me with a Mac. I prefer to think that this is the way it really is.

Next... I love the Air. Anybody who didn't see that from this story wasn't really listening. But there's no way that remote disk thing is any way as easy as the old migration route. It's interesting. There are people out there, no matter how much you demonstrate your love for AAPL, act like you hawked up a loogie on their mom when you say boo to anything about the company.

The port situation is a pain. The battery life is a bit of a letdown. I still love it and use it when I travel. But I've remembered my love for the MacBook Pro that is my main squeeze and nothing will ever distract me from that primary relationship again. Or at least for a long, long time.

Sigh.. journalism.. so inherently flawed.

I have a MacBook Air. And I have a USB hub. And in that I can plug ... ohhhh.. eithernet.. FIREWIRE drives.. dongles.. whatever I need. Guess you havent heard of those?

I thought the article was pretty good- not wonderful, but creatively written, which I believe the media in general could use more of... I guess that's what blogs are for.

Anyway, I'd just like to point out that the commercial (partially ruggedized) versions of Panasonic's Toughbook line look pretty good-the case is a well-finished, pick-your-color magnesium allow which is very strong and light. It also has fairly good specs to back up the well-built exterior: while it's not a gaming desktop replacement, it'll handle just about any task you can throw at it.
The best parts overall?
*They weigh about 3lbs!
*Use Intel Core 2 Duo processors
*Have shock-mounted HDs (not just a fall sensor!)
*Have -VERY- LONG battery life; a few of their models last 8-10+ hours
*Oh and I almost forgot- most or all DO have an internal DVD drive :) enjoy!

Now what as anyone saying about not being able to cram a bunch of power, good looks, features, ports, and long battery into a small light package for not a ton of money?

I'm not trying to flame Apple or be a Panasonic sales rep here... I just want people to know that Apple isn't the only choice, and often it's not even close to the best choice! And if you consider "sexiness" to be a valid, important parameter in technology purchases, and think Apple is full of this well you're a Mac junkie, I will not argue with you because it's impossible, and you deserve to get duped by Jobs each time he half-bakes a shiny white enamel onto the latest PolymacMer Super-Model Gascloud

I was in tears after reading this... poor little notebook. I went and gave my MacBook a big hug after finishing this article.

Now, back to reality... the MBA is a great, innovative laptop. Is it for everyone, no. It fills a certain niche for some users, and will not be suitable for other users. That's why APPL offers three main models. Choose wisely...

Isn't that way everything is in life?

Hi Bing, Excellent !!! Loved it ... everybit was true .. :)

Grant from Jersey city ..
I do use a Panasonic thoughbook
and let me tell you 8 hours battery ?? only when you shut it off.
In a normal working situation you will get 3 .5 to 4
if the battery is brand new.. oTher than that it is a good machine but quite different form the Air including the price..
As far as battery goes soon I am sure we will see plenty of addons that will extend the battery life of the air

my first blog post. Apple faithful since the Apple II. The Mac Book Aire in like an interesting concept car. Has some features i REALLY like, but it's not ready for the streets i drive. What i wan to see, in the same case as my current MacBook Pro:
More battery life, partially achieved by having a 500 gig hard drive with a 64-128 gig solid state drive sitting on top of it. the solid state drive will have the operating system and my every day tasks (email, word processing, etc) on it. Pictures, movies, music, TV shows, big spreadsheets etc will reside on the hard drive. There will be one more USB port, a 10-key pad in the setup (there's room, just re-think the keyboard), and everything innovative the iPhone has brought to the party. And a truly faster, more efficient processor - not just another 6% incremental gain. Give us an entry level model, Apple, to keep that magic price point, then let us road warriors put about $1,000 of extras on to make the laptop of the future.

Battery life depends on what you are doing, as the manufacturer says. Playing a DVD uses more battery than writing text.

Wireless system installs are a little scary, but how often do you do a whole new system install (Windows users don't need to answer that). Many apps are downloadable. I just downloaded CS3 from Adobe instead of buying a box.

I predict that I'll buy a MacBook Air in late 2008 without the DVD attachment. With the $ saved between the MBA and a 17" MB Pro, I'll add another 23" Cinema Display to my stable.

It's nice to see a post that clearly took more time and care than a typical run-of-the-mill posting with snarky comments. I'm not talking about you, Bing. That being said, I don't know anything about Air's battery life, but carrying a spare battery on the plane may be a thing of the past as the TSA recently banned spares with carryons.

Have you named your Laptop and your Notebook?

May I suggest "Silda" for the Laptop, and "Kristen" or "Ashley" for the Notebook?

Author seems to forget that extra batteries are not permitted in carry on. And that he drink himself to sleep while on the tarmac - so working in the air really isn't an option.

Gee... I was thinking of Big Bob and L'il Eddie...

Though not a MBA, I too own a beautiful little machine- a ToshR50 0. It is ridiculously, light, impossibly cute and, though it has much better connectivity than an Air, it still can't compete with my TiPowerbook for a feeling of solid workmanship.

But is there a place for my R500 and your Air? Sure, just not every place.


"I have a MacBook Air. And I have a USB hub. And in that I can plug … ohhhh.. eithernet.. FIREWIRE drives.. dongles.. whatever I need. Guess you havent heard of those?

I call BS on that. You cannot plug a FireWire drive into a USB hub.

The commentor is lying, plain and simple.

"The commentor(sp) is lying, plain and simple."

um, ever heard of a usb/firewire hub? i got one!

Folks who think you can't take spare batteries on planes anymore haven't read the new rules carefully (or at all). You can bring spare lithium ion batteries in CARRY-ON luggage, but not in checked bags.

from TSA:
● Under the new rules, you can bring batteries with up to 8-gram equivalent lithium content. All lithium ion batteries in cell phones are below 8 gram equivalent lithium content.

Nearly all laptop computers also are below this quantity threshold.

● You can also bring up to two spare batteries with an aggregate equivalent lithium content of up to 25 grams, in addition to any batteries that fall below the 8-gram threshold.

Enjoyed reading it, good writing with it's ups and downs. I quoted and liked here a post on my blog. Think it's nice to pass it forward because reminds us about the spell the commercial lay on our buyer sight.


A man has to be a "man" and a woman has to be a "woman." I would've been more impressed with McClellan and Dee Dee McCall (sorry, wrong Dee Dee.. McCall is from the Hunter/Fred Dryer TV series, ha) if they had quit their jobs when they knew about the "ethical issues" AND then wrote a book than what they actually did.