The laptop I want, 2011 edition

I want a new laptop. After nearly three years with my Dell M1330, I’ve been trying to come up with a set of requirements for whatever I buy next, and they end up based around things that I’ve found annoying with my Dell. Now, to be honest, there isn’t much. I like my M1330, mostly. However, there is one thing that’s viciously annoying: it’s too heavy.

What? I hear you say. 1.94kg is too heavy? What are you, a six*-stone weakling?

The reason it’s too heavy is this: when I’m at a conference, I carry the laptop, with its 6-cell battery, and two 9-cell batteries, and the power supply which is a huge great big brick of a thing. And my shoulder hurts.

So, there I was thinking: what I want is a laptop which will last a whole day without recharging, and has a really small power supply as well.

Sidebar: “Runs Ubuntu perfectly” is, of course, another requirement. And you’d have to talk pretty fast to persuade me that buying a laptop without Ubuntu already on it is a good idea. End sidebar.

So, I had a number of semi-related thoughts, which looked like this.

  1. Why not buy a netbook? No, that’s a crap idea. I don’t want two computers. I want one which is perfect.*
  2. Clearly ARM is the way to go here. You get 7 hours life! Off a 3-cell battery! Even given that every laptop manufacturer on the planet could bullshit their way through a solid brick wall when it comes to expected battery life, that’s still easily enough for a whole day and more besides if you threw an 8-cell or 9-cell battery in it. Gimme gimme gimme.
  3. Now, hang on. I’ve been hearing “there’ll be ARM laptops this time next year” for the last decade at least. I mean, the bloody Acorn A4 was an ARM laptop* fergawdsake and that was in 1991, and that was the last real one that existed. ARM laptops are not just jam tomorrow but jam, marmalade, peanut butter, honey, and Mrs. H. S. Ball’s Original Peach Chutney tomorrow. How many more times do you have to get burned by this expectation, Charlie Brown?*
  4. My phone’s got an ARM chip in.
  5. My phone’s got a bloody small power supply, too; thin cable, small plug, just what I want for a laptop. Charges over USB too, if I need it to.
  6. Hey, that Motorola Atrix thingy where you plug your phone into a “lapdock” and it becomes a laptop powered by the phone is a good idea, isn’t it?
  7. Hey, that Asus Padfone thingy where you plug your phone into a tablet shell and it becomes a tablet powered by the phone is a good idea, isn’t it?
  8. Hey, that Eee Pad Transformer thingy where it’s a tablet that docks into a keyboard to become a laptop is a good idea, isn’t it?
  9. Wouldn’t it be nice if my phone and tablet and laptop all shared the same data?
  10. 64GB micro SD cards exist now, don’t they?

…and all these thoughts lead me towards the idea of having my phone, which runs Android on top of a Linux kernel, plugging into a “laptop” which can also be separated into a “tablet”, and which runs Ubuntu. Since all the storage and CPU are in the phone, the “laptop” bit can basically be entirely full of batteries (maybe some extra RAM, I don’t know) and so it’ll have superb battery life, especially since it’s ARM and therefore lasts longer anyway.

So, something combining the Atrix, the Eee Pad, and a standard socket so any “enabled” mobile phone can plug into it*. That’s what I want. For Christmas — and this is not a joke; I actually want to be able to buy this for myself by Christmas 2011 — please, manufacturers. Is anyone working on this? I suspect that, like most of the stuff I want, it doesn’t and will not exist, but maybe I can get close…?

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