Magazine article The Spectator

You Might Smirk but Ainol Will Change the World

Magazine article The Spectator

You Might Smirk but Ainol Will Change the World

Article excerpt

I once had an idea that it might be fun to write a technology column. What Jeremy Clarkson did with cars, I thought, and Giles Coren and A.A. Gill do with restaurants, I could do with. . . phones and stuff.

It could be one of those launchpad-type columns, I thought, where you don't really write about the stuff you're supposed to be writing about at all, but invariably end up writing about yourself. I do love them.

Where was I? Oh yeah . Technology. I tried it for a couple of weeks, online. I reckon I probably could have invented a new genre, if I'd stuck at it, but I wasn't that sorry when the project faded away. The problem was, once you've talked about the colour of a thing, and how many buttons it's got, there usually isn't anywhere else to go. 'You know the way your BlackBerry isn't quite solid enough to be used to beat a man to death?' I was writing even before I'd finished the first article. Phones are just phones. Tablets are just big phones. Laptops are either unusually thin or they aren't. It doesn't provoke thought, this stuff. It narrows it. It turns it in, not out.

All of which, anyway, is my preamble before I start to tell you about a thing I bought the other day which I reckon might change the world. It's not an iPad. (Although did you hear that Apple sold three million of those in the first weekend? Three million!

And no one even knows what they're for yet! ) It was made in China, and I bought it on eBay to see how well it worked. It's an Ainol Elf.

Yes. An Ainol Elf. No smirking. Actually, hell, smirk all you like. They're asking for it. They've got a slogan, which is the only bit on their website in English, and it says 'Enjoy Life, Enjoy Ainol'. You can imagine all these proud Chinese technology executives, doing dignified presentations to western businessmen, and completely not understanding why they are all laughing so much.

'But what is it?' you're probably wondering. 'What does it do, this Ainol Elf, besides offer up the opportunity for Hobbit-themed You may smirk, but Ainol will change the world porn jokes?' Basically, it is an iPad. Although not really. It runs Google's Android operating system, which is what you've probably got on your phone if it's not an iPhone or a BlackBerry. It's not quite as good as an iPad, truth be told, although it does all the same stuff. And it costs £70.

An iPad costs £400. This, £70. Am I making this exciting enough? Are you getting the 'it might change the world' vibes I'm intending? …

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