Everyone, meet Karen. Karen, everyone.

Funny how, since I’ve not blogged for such a long time, I actually forgot I had one. There I was thinking – man I should blog about this (topic), but how? Then I realized I had good ol’ lefthandedlayup. Shame shame.

Anyway, ladies and gents, meet Karen. To the world, an IBM X21 P3, 256mb 20gb laptop. To me, Karen Walker of Will & Grace fame, my latest PC in a long line of PCs named after fave sitcom characters.


Here are the reason I got it + some observations:

A contact at a company that specializes in refurbished laptops gave me a heads up several weeks ago re six units of this coming in. I know this guy knows his stuff, so I pretty much decided to get one right away. I reviewed this same exact model 4 years ago and I was really floored by it, the only prob being its price back then (90k ~ 120k), which I felt was too high considering people probably weren’t that comfortable using a PC with no cdrom drives yet (you have to attach one, or get a docking station to use a CD or DVDrom). However, I really liked its incredible light weight and portability.

Since I reviewed it, it basically became the basis for all the other notebooks I ever reviewed especially with regards to practicality, and how I learned that, after all that’s said and done, weight (followed closely by size), usually becomes people’s primary consideration when picking laptops.

First time laptop users often go overboard, trying to pack as much features as they can, thinking number of features is the key to a good laptop (no thanks to all those misleading ads and bad gadget review magazines). However the opposite is true. The trick is to choose only those that are important to you, choosing smaller sizes and growing from there. I promise you, this way of thinking will start to make sense when you realize you’re getting a hernia from carrying around a heavy laptop bag.

In my particular case, (we’re talking about me here, remember? Me me me!), I wanted, but never felt I necessarily needed, a laptop – and therefore was willing to wait for the right time and price to get one. I guess you can attribute my willingness to wait to the fact that I’m one of the lucky idiots in this country who used to get chances to review these things. There was even one glorious time I actually had eight laptops at once. I was actually lending them to my 14 and 16 year old niece and nephew and ask them what they thought so I could meet my deadlines. Notable units I remember well is an Apple MacBook 17″ and an Acer Aspire with a built in tv tuner and dvd authoring functions. Fun aside, this gave me an insight into what was important to me, especially after seeing that despite the best of features, I much preferred bringing the smaller, more portable units with me when I go out.

Ok and for my finale (I realize I’m droning on and on now), the X21 – sorry – Karen is one of two laptops I’ve ever really wanted. The other one being a *tadaaannn* a Mac, specifically the G4 with an anodized aluminum skin which I wrote about here. Butch Dalisay himself pointed out the model to me which I initially mistook for something else. Apparently he’s been using the same model for the past 3 years and is just as happy about it, and by God if Butch Dalisay is happy about it then that’s about as high a compliment as you can give to the thing as you can get. The specific model I tried was actually a client’s unit which I tried out.

There are actually two other units worth comparing to this, one being one of those Sony Vaio models and another loaner, a pretty Fujitsu Lifebook. Both are terrific, however also terrifically expensive, starting out in the 100-120k range. Both however, not making it to my final list because of the one thing I don’t like about modern laptops – the heat.

And now we’re talking about heat, I get to the last reason why I like Karen. Karen’s *just* a P3, which means it doesn’t heat very much. Heck, it doesn’t even have a fan. In comparison, the units of today have these big honking outlets at the left area that occasionally turn on to jet out a burst of hot air – which is great if you’ve got arthritis in your hands, and would need the heat therapy, but for the most of us, means that we cannot put laptops on our – gasp – lap.

And this, specifically, is where Karen shines. I have watched the whole of season 3 and half of season 5 of the Sopranos with Karen sitting either on my stomach or raised on top of pillows on my bed, with completely no worry about it singing me. I have kept Karen on for days on end, mirroring my websites (so I can work on them offline), watching the occasional video, even playing a few mp3s – with hardly a twitch of complaint from it at all.

And finally finally finally? (yes I’m not yet finished), it’s an IBM. Linux loooove IBMs. Case in point, Thinkwiki.org – a whole online wiki just on installing linux on thinkpads. As if I needed it, since everything, and I mean everything, including sound and wifi drivers – worked instantly on my Xubuntu installation. Even the hibernate and suspend functions work flawlessly – things that you’d normally think you’d have to sweat blood in buckets for before you get to work properly, even on Windows.

Ok I realize now I’m droning, and speaking like a geek. Hey can you blame me? I’ve had laptops before, but this is the first time I’m gonna say I’m completely happy with this one. And this feeling is what I had been trying to preach since way back in my tech writing days – that feeling of a great buy – getting something that fits exactly perfect to your needs, without compromise. Something that I’d still enjoy buying and owning even if I had more money to buy a later model.

Heck, that’s for sure. I mean just the mere fact that I won’t be able to watch Sopranos, the greatest TV drama of all time (Vanity Fair’s words, not mine), on my bed using any of the new laptops because it’d get too hot or too heavy to put on my chest is enough reason for me to choose this one.

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