The gift-giving holiday wisked past me with my wife asking what I wanted for Christmas. I threw in the usual I want a new laptop. My current home computer,  Tabby, is six years old. For a laptop this is old! But Tabby still works ok. In fact I partitioned its 80GB hard drive and installed Windows XP Professional Tablet edition on the C Drive and Windows 7 Ultimate on Drive D. Both worked very well (side note: Win7 boots much faster than XP on this Celeron 800Mhz machine). Bear in mind that Tabby has a 1.2GB RAM (256MB base memory and 1GB on the expansion slot).

I do envy people using the iPhone not so much because of its sleek, cool design but because of what it represents – the opportunity to have a single device to make phone calls and also to do some light computing work – like micro-blogging. But for the type of work (video editing, writing, surfing like help – all at the same time) I do, the iPhone ain’t the slavehorse for me.

I thought about a Netbook. These devices are becoming more gorgeous the longer you hold on from buying one. The new Asus EeePC T91 for example is almost everything I want in a slavehorse except it is uses the Intel Atom processor – which for the uninitiated is not designed for anything beyond surfing the net, writing on a word processor, or watching a video – one at a time. The minute you load a game on a Netbook, it stops being a thing of beauty.

Mind you laptop prices are coming down faster than underwear. Today the cheapest laptop can be had for as low as HK$4,500 (US$576 ) – or about the price of a Sony Vaio P series (a slick Netbook but a Netbook nonetheless). But I am veering of course from this discussion.

What I want is something similar to what Sports Illustrated claims will be the new digital magazine of the future (read 2010 if you believe their advertisement). If you haven’t seen it, click here. I promise its going to knock your socks off.

Of course it probably needs a digitizer (pen and mouse) and a keyboard, plus a stand so I can look at it like a normal laptop while typing or editing videos.

Will this device really come out in 2010? Who knows? A lot of¬†people are throwing their weight on the rumored Apple tablet due out in early 2010 (I say early because the months keep getting pushed back). But I don’t trust Apple to come up with a device that has everything you ever wanted plus more. Sure they could come up with a sleek new design that is generations ahead of everyone else is. But Apple also has a tendency to deliver just enough to wet your appetite and then force you to wait for the next generation for some of those features you wanted in the device at launch (Just look at the iPhone 3GS and its built-in camera -most smartphones come with 5 megapixels).

Apple also has a tendency to not include everything on the device on day one and built-in. Instead the vendor creates an ecosystem of add-on suppliers to give you the special digitizer, the superduper speakers, the pouch to carry your new toy, etc. So much new must-buy add-ons are tied to owning an Apple device purchase. Plus on top of that you are locked in to Apple technology the minute you get sucked in to buying one of its devices. Its just the way Apple works (Can you update your iPod music using software other than iTunes? I don’t think so).

I would love to see Microsoft Surface installed on a portable device. I think it has everything anyone would ever want in a computing device.

If only they could bring it down to a truly portable formfactor.

For now, I will hold off any new purchase and patiently wait for things to come. I just hope Armageddon doesn’t arrive until after I’ve tried my hands on the next best thing.

Happy New Year everyone!

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