Not too long ago I decided I was unhappy with my laptop when it comes to writing. It isn’t a bad laptop — a lightweight, compact, fairly recent Sony Vaio — but there are things about it I don’t like. Like a hot lap, for one. Waiting for it to start up, for two. And though it has a good battery life for a laptop — something like 4-5 hours on average — it positively paled in comparison with an old piece of equipment I have sitting around: a Hewlett-Packard Jornada 680 H/PC.
For those unfamiliar, an H/PC is a “Handheld” PC. I put that in scarequotes since my Jornada and other gizmos like it are hardly PalmPilots. My Jornada had a smallish but still touch-typable keyboard, a touchpad mouse, and ran Windows CE (HPC Pro). If never got hot. Because it has no hard drive (all its software is in RAM or ROM), it was instant-on, instant-off. No waiting for bootup or shutdown. And while HP advertised 10-hour battery life, I very often topped that. Problem was, my HP was 1998 technology. And even it was a tad big sometimes.
Enter my new electronic writing instrument, an H/PC that puts my HP to shame: an NEC MobilePro 900c. Bought on Amazon for $150 (I paid a bit more for one that had an extended-life battery), this thing is everything I wanted: touch-type keyboard, compact, long-life, more up-to-date software, instant on…
In fact, the only thing I didn’t like was that, since I bought it used, my MobilePro had a few scuffs and scratches. It didn’t look as nice I would like.
Now, Mary Robinette Kowal recently customized her laptop using stickers, creating a brilliant typewriter look for her machine. It’s fantastic, but I haven’t the patience for it. Plus, the design of the MobilePro is less sticker-friendly. What to do?
Paint. Lots of paint.
First things first, I had to disassemble my beloved little computer. Now, I’m not the kind of fellow to get too anxious about this sort of thing — which is strange, since I certainly am the kind of fellow who dove right in with a screwdriver, not really bothering to take notes — but seeing my MobilePro in pieces did freak me out a bit. Of course, nothing to do for it but to carry on.
Priming. If I had to do it over again, I would have done more sanding before I primed. Now that I’m done I’ve found a couple small spots where the paint didn’t stick as well as I would like — I’m pretty rough with my equipment, so I want durability. I was just too impatient to sand for hours.
After priming: paint. Lots of it. For the top and bottom, I used a metallic red. For the inside of the clamshell, I used gunmetal. Then I coated and coated with clear-coat. Here you can see the end results: some great looking pieces of plastic and a whole lot of computer innards, which I’m preparing to put back together.
And here it is, sitting on my floor. I’m glad to say that the rebuild went smoothly: no lost (or extra) parts, and it worked the first time I hit the power.
All in all, I was able to take an already fairly unique little machine and make it truly my own. Go MobilePro!