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09. 05. 2006

Laptops that fit in Birkin bags


I was in Chicago last week and met up with Douglas Krone from Dynamism for cocktails. I’ve been a long time fan of Douglas’s work, and spent most of the late nineties drooling over lightweight laptops with keyboards double printed in both English characters and Japanese Kanji. Since 1997 the company that Douglas founded has been the go to team for acquiring laptops, PDAs, and sundry gadgets that aren’t sold in the United States.

The goal of the company is to provide Four Seasons style concierge service for the boutique electronics market. Call them up and you’ll get a flesh and blood human answering the phone. Your account representative will not only answer all your questions before the sale, but assist with tech support issues afterwards. Good relationships between the company and customers have been the goal since Douglas brought his first IBM PC100 back from Japan.

Douglas parked his pimped Segway outside the bar and started pulling cell phones out of his pockets on the way in. An HTC TyTN, a Samsung x820, a Sidekick 3, a Nokia E61 . . . you get the idea. When your business is selling the latest and greatest electronic gear it’s easy to develop a “four cell phone in the pocket” habit. Continually testing new devices allows a real world vetting process to signal which winners get added to the catalogue.


One of the phones Douglas threw at me was a Samsung X820. I can say that I’ve held the world’s thinnest cell phone, and it’s sexy. At slightly more than a quarter of an inch thick the X820 can fit in the otherwise useless #5 change pocket on a pair of jeans. Tri-band support makes it compatible with most foreign and domestic networks and there are 80mb of onboard storage for audio files and photos. Nice wide buttons make typing easy, and the phone software is very responsive. Dynamism’s price is in the $330 range, and that’s only a few dollars more than a network unlocked RAZR V3i.

While phones like the X820 are imported for their raw coolness factor, some others are brought in because they offer features that their US counterparts are missing.

e61.jpgThe Nokia E61 is billed as a Blackberry killer. The multiband phone runs business apps and productivity software on top of the Symbian OS. One key feature is that the phone supports 802.11 Wifi for data transfer, and a VOIP client to piggyback voice calls off of available wireless signals.

Cingular will be offering a new version called the E62 later this year, but it’s missing the 802.11 and 3G features at Cingular’s request. The added value of Wifi service is a desperate necessity for some professionals, and they’re willing to pay the premium to get their hands on a device that can meet their needs.

Dynamism has traditionally been a favorite of ultra competitive male executives and hardcore technology fans. Those who like to buy the best and brightest gear for bragging rights have always come to Dynamism. The customer demographic has begun to change in recent years and the number of female customers has sharply risen.


Dynamism is one of the few companies to have specialized early on in the ultra-portable style of laptops that are high on features and low on weight. Lightweight laptops have been eagerly snapped up as female executives find themselves traveling more. Subnotebook laptop keyboards are the perfect match for a woman’s smaller hands, and Douglas says that several celebrity customers have written in to say “Your Panasonic R5 fits perfectly in my Birkin bag.”

Like most of our male readers, Douglas can’t identify with Popgadget stories on women’s issues, but reads the site for product design news. Good design sells, and it doesn’t hurt that laptops like the Panasonic T5 are available in 14 colors. A blaze orange laptop is a great way to differentiate yourself in a meeting or stand out in a crowd of students.

Dynamism might have started out selling laptops, but they’ve gradually moved to offer other electronics. Their idea was to carry the few best products in each category, and to support them better than anyone else. That support is where Dynamism shines.

The Dynamism experience is all about service. From Douglas: “We’ve been around for almost ten years, and we’re going to be around for the next ten. You might save a few bucks buying a cutting edge laptop on eBay, but good luck finding the guy that sold it to you if it breaks.”

That’s the strange angle to buying a laptop that isn’t sold in the US. In a traditional scenario the laptop gets taken to the nearest authorized repair facility, but it’s almost impossible to get maintenance service on an out of region laptop.

To overcome this limitation, all Dynamism electronics are covered with a one year FedEx Rescue Warranty in addition to the standard manufacturer warranty. If your little buddy needs service that can only be provided in Japan, then Dynamism will pay for round trip FedEx International Priority shipping to get the gear fixed as soon as possible.

Posted by Johnny    Category: devices
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Symbian is based on the EPOC32 OS from Psion PDAs (from way back, I'm afraid) and has never had anything to do whatsoever with Linux. Please get your facts straight guys... ehh... girls...

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