from USA

Clamshell in Distress

Everybody’s talking about the G4 Powerbook, that sexy silver thing. But IBM is rethinking the laptop altogether, with their new ThinkPad TransNote.

First off, it’s huge--13"H x 11"W x 1.3"D. The reason? Orientation. It doesn’t open like a clamshell, horizontally--it opens like a book, vertically. "The clamshell [configuration] has its limitations," said I.B.M. Marketing Manager Tom Grimes. "We're trying to design systems that work the way people do instead of getting people to adapt to the way computers are designed."

On the right side of the "book" is a traditional pad of paper, that comes with a special ballpoint pen. On the lower left half of the book is a screen. Anything you write on the pad can be made to appear on the screen, digitally. (The pen is tracked with radio waves.) You can then store your notes as graphic files.

The screen flips up on a stalk to reveal a keyboard hidden underneath, in case you need to type. Also, the screen can be flipped towards you, like a traditional laptop, or flipped towards your enemies across the boardroom table. (The image compensates by orienting itself appropriately.)

Lastly, the spine is soft, so you can fold the book inside out, using only one half of it at a time. At 13" long it’s a little unwieldy, but innovation has its limits. Price? About 3,000 clams. Er, bucks.


Mercedes Spends

What can they be thinking? Daimler-Chrysler has announced their American rollout of the Unimog, an SUV to end all SUVs. It’s wider than a Humvee, a foot longer than a Ford Excursion, and nearly three feet taller than any SUV on the road. Making this the first passenger truck you can use to kill yourself by simply jumping off its roof.

Also, the thing weighs six goddamn tons. 12,500 pounds, which puts it in a class of vehicle exempt from Federal safety, emissions and fuel economy requirements. Good thing, too: this bad boy gets 10 miles to the gallon--with diesel fuel.

Originally designed for German military forces, the six-figure pickup-truck-style vehicle will be available with ‘lux touches like a/c, leather interior, and GPS. This is the first monster truck you can use to crush rows of Plymouths and still know exactly where you are on the map.


Stool Samples

Chairs and couches, not stools, have always dominated the sitting world. No one wants to be Stoolman of the Board, nor is there such a thing as Stool Potatoes.

Yet, at this year’s Home Design shows in Paris and New York, there was (pardon the pun) a whole crapload of stools. Why? They’re diverse. Unlike chairs and couches, stools stow away easily. Some of them stack. Lacking backs, they do double duty as miniature tables, holding books, ashtrays, coffee, and the like.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so let me give you the equivalent of seven Gs worth of text:

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