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If this post is ignored, I vow that I shall make the computer industry taste the “oddly” cupric sharpness of my cold, hard steel

Posted by r on April 29, 2012

(edit 3.19.13: This one’s just a dumb rant about the crappy state of laptop hardware for my personal purposes. I just needed to vent. Ended up buying yet another nice little Acer, but it was a compromise. Anyway, carry on.)

It’s really time for me to buy a new laptop. This cheap little Acer has been good to me for 2.5 years of truly ceaseless, thankless thrashing. It has survived 12-16 hours of daily use and abuse, falls onto concrete surfaces, pre-sleepytime head-crashes, dog-crashes, and willfully abusive open-cased carrying-about with only so much as two replacement keyboards and, most recently, a broken headphone jack to show as battle scars. All this for $400? I have no regrets.

The Acer was a distinct compromise between power and size/battery life when I bought it– a compromise that was much more biased toward the small size/battery life side. But now that I basically use it as my only system (my desktop having literally burned up 1.5 years ago and not having been replaced due to my lack of a place to set one up), those compromises are becoming untenable.

Disheartened by how horrible the current laptop market really is, I plunked down $70 for a new battery a few months ago to get that sweet, sweet 5-hour battery life again. I hoped it would sustain me another couple years. But the 160GB drive– while fine for a “satellite machine”– is WAY too small for the way I use a computer, even just with the data I “need to have with me at all times,” and I’m constantly having to dump stuff off to external drives.

The 2GB of stock DDR2 RAM is not nearly enough for the way I use a “main” computer either, and since it’s “obsolete” DDR2 (with the machine having no empty slots either), it’s realistically too expensive to replace with more, even just going up to a still-meh 4GB.

And ye olde not-even-Core Duo processor is totally fine for most basic tasks (…until Chrome gets involved; I don’t care *what* you say, my main determination after four months of daily use is that Chrome is slow as molasses and a CPU-hog to boot). But once I start having to render huge REAPER projects in the background while working simultaneously on grading student papers in LibreOffice, the poor little thing just doesn’t cut the mustard. Listen, I’m totally willing to wait on the ones I love– but only for so long, y’know.

Now, with the very serious “inconvenience” of a busted headphone jack thanks to my inattention and clumsiness (I tripped over a headphone cable and brought the whole thing crashing off the desk straight onto the ground), it’s time to face facts: It would be more financially feasible to sell this thing on Craigslist and replace it with a modern laptop than it would be to upgrade it toward my actual needs, in the hopes that it will hobble along for another couple years.

…Problem being that all new laptops still suck. 

I started shopping seriously yesterday, and every time I begin this process I have to reach for my cane an hour or two later, because by that point I am practically blind with rage.

Every good idea that was fairly common in laptops of even three, four years ago has been obliterated from the current market. This is largely Apple’s fault for making several incredibly bad ideas seem trendy. But it’s also the fault of the other commodity-hardware makers. They have let pro-grade business class machines slide into utter mediocrity (fuck you, Lenovo, for what you’ve done to the Thinkpad name). They have let consumer-grade machines get even worse.

Make no mistake, the current crop of machines on the shelves is cheaper and more reliable (at least as true sit-in-one-place desktop replacement machines) than they have ever been as a general rule. They are also needlessly bulky, HORRIBLY ugly, stupidly blinged-out battery hogs.

Spend a few more bucks on a so-called “Ultrabook” and what do you get? No friggin’ RAM, the insult of a fucking SSD that couldn’t store my last year’s worth of course content alone (to say nothing of being able to handle constant DAW-requisite read-write operations), and expandability, and size / battery life that are still totally unacceptable for what you are paying.

And everything is still widescreen. Why? Hasn’t the laptop market gotten more expensive and more blah because of the Tablet Revolution, since all the sales and R&D are allegedly going into that sector? Let those fucking casual users have their widescreen on their iPads or whatever, and you know they already all have them due to the douchebag-must-have Angry Birds, so let them fucking go already.

Bring 4:3 back for the rest of us who actually need a real productivity machine when we shell out the cash for one. 4:3 is a million times better than 16:9 / 16:10 for getting work done of ANY kind. 1366×768 is the most useless fucking resolution ever, especially when blown up to 15.6″+.  But EVERY GODDAMNED MACHINE you’ll find on the shelves– or even at the highest end of the business lineups of Dell and Lenovo–  is 1366×768. Every. Fucking. One.

So this is it. This is my calling. I am putting out a call for real this time to the venture-capital wilderness. Give me a couple billion dollars and I promise you, I will bring serious laptops back.

I will mercilessly slaughter the remorseless masters of shitty, plasticky commodity hardware and target the needs of real users, serious users, people who need to use things other than Facebook and Netflix when they sit down at a computer.  Capital in hand, I will make it my mission, with a fury and vengeance the likes of which the hardware world has never seen.

Jobs is semi-long dead now; good fucking riddance. The world is ready for the truth. The world is ready… for the anti-Jobs. Now more than ever, the world needs function over style– and affordably so.

Here is my proposed specification for the first laptop from my would-be company. I don’t have a company name in mind yet, probably something that will purposely scare off anyone who doesn’t need a real computer. How about… Manthefuckup? Yyyyeah, not sure about that one. Also not sure on the product-line name, although I kind of like the ring of the Masochistron 900-Series.

Anyway, here is my spec in progress, and so help me gods, I will spend at least two continuous hours using a razor-blade-Bedazzled baseball bat to beat the ever-living shit out of any R&D engineer in my employ that dares cross me in the slighest fucking way in my desire to bring this exact machine to market for exactly $799 by 1Q 2013. I have learned one thing about running a tech business from Jobs, after all.

And since I know no one will actually give me two billion dollars to single-handedly right this sinking consumer-electronics ship… here’s a much more “reasonable” system configuration I could probably learn to deal with begrudgingly, but have yet to find. So: I will legitimately offer $50 in cash to anyone who can find me a viable NEW AND CURRENTLY AVAILABLE laptop with 1) an i3 or i5, 2) a passable keyboard, 3) at least 3 hrs of battery life, 4) a weight of less than 6.5 pounds, and 5) a 1440×900 screen for 6) under $650. Totally serious about this. The money’s sitting right here in my Paypal account for the lucky winner. Have fun shopping, and/or losing your fucking mind.



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