Ten years after the iMac broke the ice and computers started to penetrate every corner of our lives, now people seem to be rushing for smaller, lighter machines – the so-called netbooks or UMPCs. During the last holiday season, I was in one of those large electronics stores and was intrigued to see the difference of population between the “netbook” area and the conventional, larger notebook display counters. You could see the crowd gathering around those mini PCs like a rush-hour station from across the whole floor. To admit I was there to consider one of them for myself. I was sick and tired of having to carry around an additional 2 kilos for “just in case I need it,” and I imagine many people shared my opinion.

For many years manufacturers had claimed how “light and compact” their notebooks were in spite of their high spec (I know they’re always doing their best.) My honest opinion is: now you’re talking about what “light and compact” really means. True, these machines don’t have the power and speed of larger ones, but after all, like the sales clerk told me “most people rarely use their PCs for something other than emails and the internet.”

The interesting thing is, it seems both the users and the manufacturers are yet to find out what is ‘just the right size.’ There are already models with a keyboard too small for large hands or a display too fine for aging eyesight. The final decision should rely on what people feel comfortable with – an endlessly interesting question, one that is not easily answered.

by Keiko Ihara (Photograph by herself)