Why I love my Libretto

Imagine carrying around a PC the size of a VHS videocassette. Then imagine carrying the same PC and having it dual-boot Windows 98 and Windows NT. David Parkinson is living your dream.

I wanted to buy a standard laptop in 1998. One thing put me off. What was it? The size.

I don’t want to lug two cases
Many manufacturers were trying to make laptops with bigger and brighter screens, but all I saw was another large, heavy bag I'd have to cart around. Instead of these goliaths, I wanted something I could put in my briefcase—something I could work on anywhere.

The number of CE devices out there caught my eye, but I needed a machine on which I could install the same software I had on a desktop, along with NT Workstation and Windows 98.

How about a PC the size of a VHS cassette?
I found what I was looking for in the Toshiba Libretto 100CT. This PC is approximately the size of a VHS videocassette and, when zipped into its leather case with power supply and port replicator, it’s still only a little bigger than a letter-size sheet of paper.

Nearly two years on, and it’s still going strong. Well, okay. So perhaps the battery doesn’t run as long as it used to, but that was never the Libretto’s strongest feature.

A 2-GB disk is ample most of the time. I added 32 MB of RAM to take it to 64 MB when I began dual-booting Windows 98 and Windows NT Workstation.

Once I mastered the tiny keys (I write most pieces for TechRepublic on the Libretto) and became adept with the weird pointing device operated by your thumb, I was happy.

So it doesn’t have a built-in CD or floppy drive. It does have the standard 2 PCMCIA slots though, and the floppy drive that comes with the Libretto has a PC card attachment.

CD? I use a Sony Discman that has an Adaptec SCSI card option.

Network? A Xircom 10/100 Ethernet & 56 Kbps modem card never leaves the slot.

At a push, the infrared port fires off print jobs to the growing number of equipped printers.

What to do when its life cycle is complete
One day the Libretto will pack up, and hopefully I will have found a replacement for it. But it will likely have to be an equally mobile machine that isn’t going to tear my arm off after I walk around a site audit with it, or force me to lug two cases out of the car every morning, or make me find as much desk space as a “desktop” when I want to set it down.

Its P233 processor is looking a little jaded against other laptops now—the 64 MB of RAM is never going to move Office 2000 very quickly, and the wide and narrow screen is a little odd, but it’s portable and reliable. Still, someday it’ll need replacing. I just hope I find a worthy replacement.

Contenders ready?

David Parkinson lives and works out of the green and pleasant land of Ribble Valley in the North West of the UK. He loves football, MS NetMeeting, and reading contemporary fiction. David wishes he could travel more but knows he can't have everything. You can e-mail him at David.parkinson@ctrl-key.co.uk .

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