Five Computers With Soul
Boys and girls,
Today I will tell you about five computers (in fact, two computers, a video game console, a MP3-player and a cell phone) that really have got the thing that most others lack—the soul.
How often did you wonder—what distinguishes classy iMac from standard gray box computer out of Taiwan? Design? Wrong. Taiwanese no-name boxes have often imitated iMac's design, but never had the same feeling. Usability? Stability? Power? You can often get more, but you'll never compensate lack of spirit by spare megabytes of RAM.
So, today I present to you five pieces of consumer electronics—that really have got soul.
iPod isn't great because of 80Gb storage or big screen. It isn't great because of flashy features. No. iPod is great despite DRM obsessiveness of Apple, despite little customizability and despite high price.
It was the first and only MP3 player that has got soul.
Its little brethren haven't got any; its imitators haven't got any, but iPod has the character of classy prostitute—expensive, stylish and damn sexy.
You never thought that music player can be your friend, but pals at Apple show you the contrary.
4. PlayStation 3
I don't want to participate in holy war of next-gen (or better to say, current-gen) consoles. Xbox 360 is insanely cool and Wii is my personal favorite (for having first innovative control scheme in last 20 years of console development).
But what Xbox can compensate with power and Xbox Live, and what Wii takes with quirky controllers, Mario and Zelda, PlayStation can quickly reclaim with soul. Wii has spirit of its own — childish, quirky and cartoonish, but PlayStation's psyche is of real video game hero. PlayStation's design was created by God's hand, PlayStation's CPU actually is mini-supercomputer of sorts, having eight independent cores, it's HD is large enough to last forever, and so on and so on.
But what you feel when you turn this god-machine on? Strong, silent guy that will spend countless hours with you, real friend whom you can trust. This is PS3's soul. Sony wasn't first one to create a friend-console, but PS3 is the only one that can be included in this Top 5.
3. iMac Core 2 Duo
Even if Apple products feature prominently in my blog, I'm not an Apple fanboy. My main desktop is Windows-based, and I have many complaints for Macs.
Even more, I disregard Mac Pro (which I still remember as Power Macintosh back from G3 days) as one of the most disgusting leviathans in computer industry.
But iMac… iMac has got soul, soul very powerful and still innocent. iMac's spirit is one of geeky schoolboy that got rid of acne and bought some stylish clothing, but still is very geekish inside. With each year iMac grows wiser and more powerful; it loses its teen innocence of early iMacs.
But what it doesn't lose—it's its spirit.
Let's admit — iPhone isn't that great. Clumsy touchscreen and draconic deal with Cingular are only the tip of iceberg.
In fact, iPhone's greatness consists of two parts—one being heavy marketing hype and other being soul of this cellphone.
iPhone is hybrid between iPod and iMac with some GSM adaptor thrown in, and its spirit is Frankensteinic mix of its parents. iPhone is female geek, and not just female, but feminine, and it tears itself apart between lipstick and calculus, perfume and Star Trek.
Perhaps it will grow up and lose teenage paradox of its nature… but for now, iPhone's psyche is most complicated and problem-ridden of living, breathing, thinking machines from 2007.
1. Cray SX-6
Thinking about #1 machine with soul almost drove me mad. And what saved me from life spent as drooling vegetable, you'd ask?
It was this machine.
To my shame, I've never seen it in action. I'm only fed with talks of those who did. Supercomputers are boring, admit it. They are as lifeless as machine can get… But this one got spirit of its own.
What brought it on the number one spot is its infinite power. I won't describe it to you — you know it yourself, and if you don't, you'll never imagine it.
But with great power comes great responsibility, and this chap bears all of the responsibility. It is wise and stalwart, akin to PlayStation 3 grown twenty years older, but it also retains some basic pleasures of youth. God help you to use this masterpiece as weather calculator or something akin to it… But I think that it is the machine is exactly one that can host artificial mind.
Too bad we haven't got any at the moment.
(c) Ivan Cherevko, 2007
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