Not-So-Big Love

12" PowerBook

I had no idea. I had no idea that there was so much free-floating love out there for the late 12″ PowerBook. But the appearance of the MacBook Air has clearly wafted that familiar perfume back in the air, causing Mac geeks all across the world to adopt thoughtful, misty-eyed expressions that their wives/husbands/girlfriends/boyfriends will never understand. It seems like each and every day I come across another love poem to the long-lost 12″ PowerBook, rendered in fussy tetrameter.

You are now expecting me to say something bitchy about these people.

I totally see that. Clearly, you’ve been paying attention to these writings of mine. But…no. I have Mad Love for many unique old beasties of the computerological persuasion and when we both happen to be checking into the No-Tell Motel with our vices at the same time, I think there’s a certain gentlemanly agreement not to bring it up at church when we’re with our wives. Or under any other circumstance.

Still, I don’t get the affection for the 12″ PowerBook. By a lucky coincidence, I happened to have 12″, 15″, and 17″ PowerBooks in the house at the same time that I was shopping for Lilith 7. I spent a whole week round-robining between the three and I came back to the 15″ every single time.

The 17″ was fab, but traveling with it wasn’t practical. As for the 12″…it gave nothing and took plenty.

It was a smaller screen, so I didn’t have that extra 3″ of width that I depend on for tool palettes and drag-and-drop areas. It was a cramped little keyboard and I had to slow down my typing. And the damned thing was just 12″ wide. I know that this fact was made plain in the packaging and advertising, but facts is facts: a niddley-narrow little notebook is fine if you’re working at a desk, but unless you’re about 11 years old, it’s impossible for actual lap use unless you’re willing to keep your knees clamped together tighter than a female PR rep forced to enter Gene Simmons’ hotel room to discuss the next day’s radio promotions.

Actually, not even then. Even when I had it on a table, my hands seemed to overwhelm the thing. I kept looking for places to insert AA batteries into the machine.

For all that, the smaller size offered me no advantages of any kind. It’s nice to have a compact machine, but honestly, it wasn’t as though I was being forced to jam my Titanium PowerBook into my laptop bag via the narrow end just to make it fit. A narrow notebook is a bit lighter, sure, but isn’t necessarily more portable.

But when you make a machine thinner? That I can work with. It means that I can fit more stuff into my laptop bag; in some cases, it means I can get by with just one carry-on. It makes the machine easier to grip, easier to tote, harder to drop.

So: I don’t get it. The MacBook is prolly the best compromise between size and practical concerns. It certainly fits into more bags than Lilith 7. I’m pleased that I can finally take my beloved 10-year-old Tenba bag out of storage and press it back into daily service. The 15″ sort of fit inside it, but the bag accommodated it only under protest. But the MacBook’s narrower profile costs me nothing (in a practical sense) in screen or keyboard real-estate.

Give me a MacBook. Or give me a MacBook Air, with its fullsized keyboard and screen and cleaver-thin profile. Keep your 12″ Slab-O-Mac. I hope you two are very happy together.