Breaktime Blog: Batman’s Atom-Powered Foe

Over the weekend we saw the new Batman film. We enjoyed it (although the volume levels continue to remind us we’re getting old) and beyond describing it as a “bruising experience” I’ll leave it for everyone to discover the movie on their own.

But something did catch my eye early in the film, during the stock exchange scene, that had me chuckling. Despite all the of gadgetry available to characters throughout the film, the fusion reactors, armed motorcycles and flying battleships, the bad guys pull off the heist using nothing other than a Dell Inspiron Duo – an Atom-powered netbook from 2010!

I’ve been a happy owner of a Duo since buying one for a user at work and being intrigued by its unique reversible touchscreen. It seemed to hold a lot of promise (the usual motivation for early adopters!) for hybrid use, but the reality was that I settled in to lots of satisfactory use as just a netbook – and a chunky one at that, as the screen left it looking quite rotund. I even turned the touchscreen off eventually.

Since seeing it, I’ve been trying to work out why on earth it appeared in the film at all when you would have expected something a little more Bond-esque…

The most obvious possible reason is, of course, product placement. Dell servers appear in at least 2 of the trilogy (haven’t seen Batman Begins recently enough to confirm, but it’s likely they’re there too), so it can’t have cost them much more to shoehorn another device in. See how deliberately we’re shown the bad guy flip the screen to convert it to a tablet! Although perhaps someone somewhere forgot how long movies take to get to the screen given Dell say the Duo is discontinued…

An alternative (and less cynical) idea is that someone on the film saw one a Duo and thought it would fit that bit of the plot quite well – its portability and the ability to convert it into a tablet was certainly useful to aid the getaway, although I’d question whether using one while in the middle of a high-speed motorbike chase is realistic…

I like to imagine that, like me, someone involved in the making of the film saw one and thought that it looked cool and represented a new PC form factor with a strong future ahead of it. Of course the prevelance of the iPad, the arrival of the Ultrabook format and the prospect of keyboard-attached Surface devices for Windows 8 (like an iPad/Ultrabook hybrid) mean that, aside from rumours, that’s not likely to be the case. But it’s nice to feel that maybe I wasn’t the only one excited by something new.

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