I got a new computer this week. I went retro and got a desktop, which was kind of a big deal.
Every computer I’ve ever had, all the way back to the Kaypro II I bought in 1982, has been a portable. The Kaypro was the size and weight of a 1950s sewing machine, maybe one with a couple of bowling balls tied to it, but technically it was portable. A series of ever-sleeker and more powerful laptops, mostly Toshibas, followed it over the years. The most recent went into commission in June 2007, just before I went to New Mexico for Taos Toolbox.
Five years is a long lifetime for a laptop that functions as a writer’s primary computer. My work spreadsheet reveals that I’ve written 31 nonfiction books on it, in addition to tens of thousands of words of fiction, correspondence, journal entries, and blog posts. I needed a new machine–but what to get?
For years I’d staunchly maintained that only a portable computer would do for me. I liked knowing that I could take it anywhere, and I did take my laptops on quite a few journeys. But now that I have a smaller, lighter, netbook for travel, and do email on my phone, and will soon have one of these, it’s been a few years since I moved my primary computer at all. So why not think outside the laptop box?
I chose an HP all-in-one that actually takes up less space on my standing desk than the Toshiba laptop. I didn’t get the biggest or the flashiest screen, just a 20-incher, but trust me, it’s like Cinemascope next to the 15-inch laptop screen I’ve comfortably used for lo, these many years. Not great news, productivity-wise: movies and video look really good on it. The wireless keyboard and mouse that came with the computer are cheap and janky, but easily swapped out for something better. Otherwise, I’m happy with it.
Did I mention the touchscreen? It’s sweet. I may never mouse again.