Note Of Advice For Noisy Rev-heads

Sydney Morning Herald

Tuesday March 2, 2004

Charles Wright

If you need your notebook to rev like a Ferrari, then the owner, not the notebook, needs fixing, writes Charles Wright.

From time to time, we are confronted with a piece of reasoning that so challenges our view of reality that we spend the rest of the day wondering if all our brain circuits are still functioning, or if we should be taking those two daily glasses of medicinal red wine in a dramatically smaller glass.

A case in point sprang from a website called EWeek, where some IT "analyst" called Rob Enderle claims that the reason some firms experience failure rates exceeding 30 per cent for notebooks is that "people simply were abusing their machines".

The reason for this, he opines, is that their employers aren't paying enough for notebooks their employees "could be proud of".

That is, we believe, one of the most absurd comments we've come across. We doubt that too many people deliberately abuse their mobile computers, be they $5000 ultra-light speed machines, or heavy-as-lead clunkers.

While some people may well take a blunt object to their little electronic friends, in our opinion we think these incidents are more likely to arise from sheer frustration - after one too many rounds with Microsoft's operating systems perhaps - than from a notebook-induced inferiority complex.

There are several reasons why notebooks have a relatively high failure rate. The principal one is that, being portable, they are more subject to the laws of gravity than desktops, particularly when absent-mindedly left balanced on the roof of a car or, after a power cable has silently serpented itself around an ankle, dragged off a hotel room table.

Notebooks often are taken from air-conditioned offices into hot, humid cars, thus suffering hard disk failures from condensation.

And because they are often used in cramped conditions, they're more likely to be damaged by accidental spillages - of medicinal red wine, for instance.

What makes us more relaxed about our drinking habits, and suspicious about Enderle's, is his extraordinary passion for Acer's new Ferrari notebook - which we happen to have been playing with for a couple of weeks."

Every other notebook I have ever had pales in comparison," Enderle gushes (eweek.com/ article2/0,4149,1523503,00.asp)."

From its three coats of highquality automotive paint and Ferrari branding on the case to its brushed silver interior and tastefully etched logos, this machine is a thing of beauty.

When I walk into a room with this baby, even the Apple users join the throngs of admirers."

Enderle, it emerges, has bought a notebook because of a paint job and a Ferrari logo. We, however, were not impressed by the paint job. Compared to Apple's PowerBooks and the iBook, we thought it looked tacky.

Then there's THAT sound file."

One impressive piece of execution," says Enderle, "is that when you fire the machine up it plays a WAV file of a Ferrari race car revving its engine. That alone is worth the relatively low price of admission. Even when I'm in a meeting, I don't turn the sound off because of the unbridled envy that seems to show up in the eyes of my, granted, mostly male, co-attendees. So far, no one has complained."

One of our most cherished rules of notebook etiquette is that they should make as little noise as possible in public. When it comes to meetings, we even get sensitive about keyboard noise.

We weren't entirely unamused when we first heard the sound of that blurting Ferrari. It was cute even the second time we turned it on. By the third time, we were reaching for the mute button. We can't help but feel that the look in the eyes of Enderle's co-attendees is not, in fact, unbridled envy. We won't be at all surprised if Enderle fires up that Ferrari sound file and someone - accidentally, of course - silences it with a cup of coffee.

As it happens, there are some good reasons why someone might consider Acer's Ferrari notebook - in spite of that paint job and the engine revving. We'll outline its pluses and minuses in a review next week.

© 2004 Sydney Morning Herald

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