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Apple Laptops and the "Port" Authority

You may or may not agree, but Apple's Pismo Powerbook G3 is still a widely used Notebook... notably due to it's speed and componentry. Pismo's garner a unique audience. Some are curious PC users, some are upgrading from a previous Powerbook or iBook, some are G5 or even Intell Mac Users looking for a fun reliable laptop. Whomever you are, Pismo is a rich and enjoyable experience that will not leave you a step behind. It's a current and bona fide attractive laptop that will actually get you looks and respect. I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I recently mused on Apple's regard to the Apple Logo on the back of it's laptops... .that Pismo was the last to have it face the user, and then invert upon opening. But there is one aspect to using an Apple laptop that engineers did everything they could to maintain for as long as they could..... until function trumped form, until structure trumped aesthetics. Consider the Titanium G4 Powerbook. You'll notice that, like the Pismo, all the ports are in the rear of the computer. USB, VGA, FIREWIRE.... all of it. Even still the Power supply. Doing this came at a great cost to the structure of the Titanium. The left and right flanking hinges were necessarily so far apart that it created unbalanced tension and undue stress on the minimalist frame. No doubt the design was elegant, but it was fragile. All at the expense of having rear seated ports. Why was the aft placement of the ports so important? Previous Powerbooks like the 1400 and 3400, even the Wallstreet series had ports to the left and right sides.....

When Pismo/Lombard was designed a holistic endeavor was desired. Most strongly was the wish that no matter what a user might attach to Pismo, the only visual the user would see would be... Pismo. Great Feng Sui. The creative process isn't necessarily stunted by a protruding Flash Drive, or a Power Cable, or a USB and Firewire Cable or two.... but when you see what ... well, nothing looks like.... Wow, keep it coming. And Apple tried to keep it coming, but with the unstable nature of the Titanium Powerbook , Apple decided to forgo the visual for the structural. Powerbook Aluminum, iBook Dual USB, MacBook and MacBook Pro... all with ports and power side facing. All until the MacBook Air. Notice how even the AC power port has a rear facing profile.... it tapers to the back, not the side. Doesn't this underscore how important the uncluttered visual is to Mac Engineers.... I think it does. And I think the MacBook Air is a precursor to what Apple Laptops will be in the future...... June '08?

The users' unencumbered interaction with an Apple product has always been of chief importance to Jobs and Apple. But not until technology catches up can the return to rear port placement laptops be designed. I don't think that is too far off. And when it does return, the return to Pismo will be complete. But just keep the Apple "UP" when the lid is open.

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Comment by macdownunder on May 27, 2008 at 4:20am
The other opportunity with rear facing ports in a laptop without a high density connector (like the Duo's had) is that you can make a port replicator (eg 'bookendz') if all ports are on one side (ie rear). Ports to the side make this very difficult.

Compare the Bookendz for a TiBook to the Bookendz for a AlBook to see the difference.


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