Apple's new iSUV.

The latest gadgets and tech toys.
Jan. 7 2003 6:12 PM

Apple's New iSUV

PowerBook: too sexy for its shirt
PowerBook: too sexy for its shirt

Steve Jobs' traditional unveiling of new Apple gizmos at the annual Macworld conference in San Francisco surprised even the most zealous Apple boosters today. Amid a tech recession that continues to power-dive, Jobs took the stage to trot out a two-hour market-defying parade of products. The crowning touch: an enormous, silver-skinned laptop, half computer and half Cadillac Escalade.

Apple's 17-inch PowerBook is the computer equivalent of a tricked-out hoopty. Easily the largest laptop ever, its 1-gigahertz processor beats beneath a casing made of what Jobs calls "aircraft-grade aluminum." Its metal sides bristle with beefed-up data ports, and it comes standard with a DVD burner and a new super-WiFi system, aptly named Airport Extreme, fast enough at 54 megabits per second to carry a hundred video streams. Status-conscious laptop toters know you can never be too rich or too thin, though, so the $3,299 behemoth closes its lid to a mere inch in height—deliberately slimmer than its predecessors. Capping the theme, the PowerBook's keyboard is under-lit like a mall cruiser with a soft, fiber-optic glow that emanates automatically whenever the room lights dim. All that's missing is a subwoofer and tinted windows.


To drive its larger-than-life message home, Apple has hired 7-foot-5 Houston Rockets center Yao Ming as the new PowerBook spokesmodel, placing him on life-size posters and in TV ads that pair him with actor Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer and the company's other new PowerBook—its smallest ever. Side by side, the two computers bear an uncanny resemblance to this year's hot cars, the Hummer 2 and the Mini.

Most computer users will find a 17-inch screen and gigabit data jacks about as useful as 4-wheel drive and roll bars. Yet, judging by the number of attendees jotting down "$3,299," Jobs and company have hit the same consumer brain button that keeps the H2 on backorder. While everyone else was out cost-cutting, Apple built a lust object. Among the rows of jaded industry journalists at Jobs' feet, two things were obvious: Nobody, but nobody, really needs this computer. And everybody wants one.

Paul Boutin is a writer living in San Francisco.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Dear Prudence
Oct. 21 2014 9:18 AM Oh, Boy Prudie counsels a letter writer whose sister dresses her 4-year-old son in pink tutus.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 10:41 AM Taylor Swift Just Went to No. 1 on iTunes Canada With 8 Seconds of Static 
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.