I’ve been thinking about what my ideal portable computer would look like since attending theDefrag 2009conference last fall.

I’ve been thinking about what my ideal portable computer would look like since attending theDefrag 2009conference last fall. I was sitting in a session I couldn’t engage in, looking at all the open computers around me. There were PCs, Macs, and tablets, large and small. None seemed quite right.

I loved the tablet I had a couple of years ago, but it was thick and heavy with limited battery life.

Then the iPad rumors started and I got interested. Now that I’ve seen the announcement, I’m back to designing my own ideal computer. All my specifications exist, just not all together in a single computer.

After a lot of thought I want a modular approach to life, which influenced a lot of decisions.

My ideal portable computer would be a slate, pad, whatever you want to call it. It should have a 12” to 15” LED LCD screen, with about a 1/2” bezel around the edges and be in the 1/2” to 3/4” thick range. Weight should be between 2 to 3 pounds. I was hoping to go OLED, but they are still crazy expensive at that size.

It would not have a physical keyboard. It would have an on-screen keyboard like my Android phone. In addition, in a tribute to the 1997 brilliance of Jeff Hawkins, it would also support Graffiti, the constrained writing input so successful in the Palm Pilot. It would also let me attach a folding keyboard via Bluetooth or its USB connector. I’ve got a great folding iGo Stowaway keyboard that is small, light and types well that uses Bluetooth.

There has been a lot said negatively about Windows 7 on a tablet requiring a stylus to work well. Actually that’s fine by me; Iwantthe ability to use a stylus, something some touch screen computers give up. Holding a stylus, or a pen, isverynatural for me to draw, point and write. Other times I might just use a finger. But it should be my choice, not a hardware constraint.

My ideal computer will have a built in webcam, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Wireless USB. I wouldn’t put 3G or 4G in it since then it would be locked to a single carrier or technology. The small portable 3G/4G hotspots like the MiFi would give me 3G/4G and more flexibility (plus more battery life). It would also have a USB port (I can live with one since I have a drawer full of tiny 4 port hubs), an SD card slot and 3.5mm microphone and stereo headphone jacks. I’ve decided to give up a wired RJ-45 Ethernet port to keep the ports to a minimum, I can use a $10 USB Ethernet adapter. Much as I hate to say this, I’m also giving up my VGA connector, using a DisplayLink adapter instead. VGA connectors are just too big.

Before specifying processor or operating system, let me outline an absolute software requirement. I want to be able to seamlessly take control of my “home” computer, running Windows 7 Professional on a quad core processor with gobs of memory and terabyte hard drives. There are programs like Logmein and Microsoft Mesh that approximate what I want, but I want the capability cooked into the system of my slate. I also want my slate storage to appear all the time as a drive on the desktop and my desktop drives to appear on my slate. My recent experience with my PogoPlug shows that storage can appear as a drive regardless of where you are.

Given that requirement, I frankly don’t care if my slate runs Windows 7, Linux, or Android (I am pretty sure Chrome OS won't have the features I'm looking for). I do want support for being able to write and do spreadsheets offline in Office compatible formats. I also want Flash support.

The operating system will define the processor and other computer components. If it’s Windows 7, I’d go with a CULV dual core processor. For Android or Chrome OS, I’d go the next generation Tegra processor. Any choice probably means between 2 and 4 GB RAM memory.

 I would be happy with a 32GB solid state “hard drive” given that appears to be the sweet spot in price and capacity (and the fact I have virtual access to my terabytes at home). I really don’t need an optical drive built-in (I have a tiny USB optical drive to use if I need it).

Finally, I want a battery that lasts for about 6 hours when I’m using the computerand another 20 hours in standby mode. That will let me attend a conference or meeting all day, be productive when I need to and not have to power down or hibernate when I’m not using the computer. I am willing to take screws out to change batteries, I don’t do swaps to keep running, but batteries do wear down so it has to be replaceable.

Based on comparable costs of components, etc., the base slate should have a cost of goods in the $200-$300 range, meaning it could sell for $400-$500. All my modular add-ons would add another $150-$200, depending on the 3G/4G module.

With my ideal computer, I can sit on the couch using it as a simple Web browser. If I’m in a meeting I might use the stylus and write notes like it was an electronic legal pad. For presentations, I add the DisplayLink and my Logitech wireless presenter and I’m set. For serious writing I can pair a folding keyboard. When I’m home, the wireless USB would dock with my monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. All the time I have access toall my Windows programs (and I have a lot) on my powerful desktop.

I can hardly wait. I suspect we may see a lot of my needs met before the end of 2010, maybe even that HP slate I am hearing rumors about.