Mac Musings

Now That's Different!

- April 20, 2000 - Tip Jar

Have you heard about the new one pound PC? I heard about it on Slashdot on Wednesday. It's an impressive example of thinking different, something Apple certainly doesn't have a monopoly on.

The Pocket EPC System is small. At 5.9" long, 4.2" wide, and 1.25" thick, it's about the size of a stack of 4x6 file cards. In the photo, the computer itself is the smaller piece next to the CD-ROM/floppy drive docking module - it may be the first computer smaller than a Diskman.

Starting at $899 with the dock, the base system includes a 466 MHz Celeron processor, Windows 98, 64 MB of memory, a 6 GB hard drive, a speaker, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, microphone and earphone ports, two USB ports, a VGA port, and S-video out. It also has a touch pad built right into the computer.

As if to stress the Pocket EPC's portability, it even comes with a carrying case. Just set it down, connect it to a monitor and keyboard, plug it into the electrical outlet, and you're ready to compute.

This one pound wonder is smaller than most external drive cases - much smaller. I've been inside the iMac, which has one of Apple's smallest system boards ever, but don't think you could pack it into a case this small, although I would love to see Apple produce a computer like this.

Picture it. Instead of toting a hard drive or Zip disk with files between home and work, you could toss the whole computer in your brief case or large purse. You could work anywhere that has a keyboard and monitor.

The only thing missing from this machine seems to be ethernet. (Do you think the Wintel world will ever get the idea that 10/100 ethernet networking - not some cheaper, slower alternative - should be a standard feature on every computer?)

I'd love something like this. Here are some starter specs, Apple. Why not see what you can do:

  • 400 MHz G3 with faster options
  • 64 MB memory, expandable
  • 6 GB hard drive with larger options
  • two USB ports
  • two FireWire ports
  • 10/100 ethernet
  • 16 MB ATI or 3dfx video
  • VGA and S-video out ports
  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports (in case you get stuck in a Windows office)
  • integrated touch pad, speaker, microphone
  • analog microphone and earphone ports

And to keep it from being perceived as a "me too" product, some things to make it distinctively Apple:

  • AirPort ready, possibly via dock
  • rechargeable battery supporting sleep
  • ruggedized design (like the iBook)

This could share a lot of iBook and PowerBook parts, but eliminating the need to run off battery power and the expensive flat panel display.

We're looking at something about the same size as a 500 page mass market paperback (which I just measured at 4.1" wide, 7" tall, and about 1-1/4" thick). Wow!

I'll even suggest a name: the MacBook.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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