One of the benefits of being someone who gets to use a lot of different mobile devices is the conversations these devices start with those interested everywhere I go.  Whether I am in a coffee shop or a business meeting pulling out one of my mobile […]

One of the benefits of being someone who gets to use a lot of different mobile devices is the conversations these devices start with those interested everywhere I go.  Whether I am in a coffee shop or a business meeting pulling out one of my mobile devices invariably starts a conversation with those around me who are wishing they had a good device to use in their own work.  Most of the devices I’ve carried around and used a lot are convertible Tablet PCs that are good notebook computers in addition to the Tablet stuff and that is what catches most people’s attention.  Everyone is familiar with notebooks and how they look and work and that is what most people have in their mind when they think about mobile technology they can use in their own life.

MbaSince the introduction of the MacBook Air (MBA) a lot of conversation has taken place about how thin it is and how that is what people looking for notebooks want for themselves.  I have said in the past that I don’t think that thin is the primary attribute that people want in a notebook and the many conversations I have held with regular people drives that point home to me time and again.  I base this observation in large part due to the reaction that folks have to the different convertible notebooks that I carry and use.  It is interesting that no one ever says to me "how thin that device is" even though most of the notebooks I am seen using certainly qualify.  Not MBA thin of course but definitely thinner than most notebooks out there.  No, most people notice the overall size of the notebook and other features it may have.  The Tablet bits intrigue almost everyone who find that could be useful in their own work but no one ever states that thin is important to them.  Features, price and overall size carry the day in these conversations.

Cimg0398I do find that the smaller the notebook is the more attention it grabs from others, a point driven home since i have been carrying the Fujitsu P1620 every day.  The Fuji is not that thin compared to other notebooks I have used but the small size starts a lot of conversations and I find that many do feel that a small notebook could fit their work and that definitely interests them.  I hear a lot of people state that the small size would make it so much easier to carry and travel with and when they see that feature-wise it has few compromises the reaction is very positive.  I have seen that same reaction every time an Asus EEE PC enters the room.  Of course when I swivel a screen around for Tablet work it blows a lot of people away no matter what device I am carrying as most have never seen one in the real world.  Just about everyone comments that the Tablet features could aid them in their mobile work but no one feels the thinness of the notebook is a big deal.  So based on my interaction with real people I can state that small trumps thin in the notebook world, and Tablet trumps non-Tablet too.  I will be very interested to hear some real sales figures from Apple after a while to see how many of the MBA they are selling.  While everyone I talk to thinks they are sexy not many have indicated they intend to buy one or that the thinness would aid them very much in the real world.

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  1. Totally agree – especially given the (almost) identical conversation I’ve just had with our IT guy – He was thinking of a UMPC or P1610 (which I have) as he’s just been on holiday, and had gadget withdrawal whilst away – he sees the smaller form factor (not necessarily thinner form factor) as being a big plus.

    Telling him about the P1620 has only whetted his appetite…

  2. James, i couldn’t disagree more. Thin matters to me more than most other things. My dream device is 1/4″ tc1100 form factor. Said differently, just give me a bigger iphone. At 1/4″, a tablet is the thickness of a notepad and i believe inking gains broader acceptance. Perhaps just me but i would never bring any existing slate to a meeting-too geeky. MBA will be a test case for thin. By the way most mainstream users are still lugging 1.5″,5.5 lbs. units-hardly a discerning test group but obviously the bulk of the market. Great site.

  3. Well, duh, yeah. Who didn’t agree with that Wired Blog headline?


  4. James you are 110% correct! The Macbook Air may fit into one of those large inter-office envelopes, but I can fit TWO P1610/20s in that same envelope. Steve Jobs doesn’t get it. Thin is not the most important attribute in notebooks. Size and weight are (at least he got the weight idea, but made too many sacrifices to get there).

    I watched the Apple keynote bloggers in real-time this January and we all nearly choked when we saw the size of this thing. Other than thickness, it is almost identical in dimensions to the 15″ Macbook Pro. It’s absurd. I was ready to jump ship to Apple if they had brought out something roughly the size of the Sony TZ Steve Jobs so smugly compared themselves to (while totally missing the fact that the TZ is so much more computer in a smaller package).

    Everyone is amazed by my P1610, and Fujitsu has gotten a number of sales due to my demonstrations for people in factories, airports, etc. People don’t realize that companies are perfectly capable of making small, lightweight laptops because all they ever see in the chain stores are 14-17 inch, 5-9 pound monsters.

    Bill, you say you disagree with James, but it seems to me you actually do agree with him. Your ultimate device being an updated, slim TC1100 gives it away. You value smaller form factor too. Why would you choose a 10″ slate to make thinner? Why not one of those oversized 14″ tablets out there? Or even a 12″ tabler? Because “small” matters to you too.

    Yes, I wouldn’t mind a thinner notebook/slate at times, but *never* at the expense of size. I’ve been using small form factor latops too long to give up those attributes.

  5. It’s not that I don’t think thin is important, because I do.

    I just don’t think it’s any more important than any other dimension of a notebook/tablet. To me, the overall space that a device takes up is important.

  6. Ahhh crap. Too too true.

    I think you just pushed me over the edge.

    I’m going to order the P1620, and sell the P1610, if anyone out there is interested in the loaded P1610, in perfect working condition let me know!

  7. I totally totally agree for my use case. i have ordered the 1620. I will say, obviously a lot of people will not care. In my company which is a consulting company, you should see the huge laptops my developers lug around. They look at my small tablet devices and just shake their heads. My brother who is head of development for a drug company just shakes his head at my effort to be paperless and take all my notes on a tablet. But for me, with a truely mobile lifestyle, smaller is better. A thin but big laptop, still takes almost as much room in my bag, still is hard to use in the car by the side of the road, still is hard to balance in my lap in a meeting, still take a lot of room on the conference table when in a meeting in slate mode. Give me small. If it’s really thin, it’s killer and I think we’ll get there too.

  8. The market for the portfolio replacement tablet pc should be a great market. It would be great for professionals that are running around in meetings all the time, students, amongst others.

    I don’t want to carry a notebook or pad of paper around.

    Add to this device a business card scanner and one of those small pen scanners. Not bad…

    Add a detachable or mobile phone bay and that would be even better.

    Weight should be no more than 2.5lb. Screen somewhere between 10 and 12″.

    Built in EVDO, Wifi, Bluetooth, Wireless USB (just for laughs)…

    2-4 GB RAM.

    attachable or wireless mobile keyboard…

    a couple USB ports..

    If we spec it they will come….

  9. Forgot a couple items:

    1. Active Digitizer for those of us that love to hover.

    2. Thin. Remember the NEC Tablet… It can be done, especially with current technology…

    3. Resolution. Dont’ make the Shift mistake..

    I agree with everyone else, Thin is Great, but not without being Light Weight…

  10. Let me repeat the comments I made at gbtm site. I think the type of laptop that can get most great benefit by thinness is a tablet pc. I also had NEC litepad and it was a real joy to write on. Poor battery life and underpowered CPU killed it, but I really love the thin form factor. I will be all over MBA if Apple will revise it into a tablet one.

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