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.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?