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A new harvest of green gadgets

The Mac Book Air at the 2008 Macworld conference in San Francisco. The ultra-thin computer measures 0.76 inches at its widest point and tapers down to 0.16 inches. The backlit LED screen is 13.3 inches and will come with a 1.6 or 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and an 80GB hard drive with one USB port.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

KAI RYSSDAL: Green is the new green in American business. Companies are betting there's money to be made in being environmentally aware. Tech companies might have the biggest hurdles to clear. Their products are loaded with all kinds of dangerous things, and yet we all want the newest model of whatever the hottest toy is. Consequences be damned. So we've got Kevin Pereira from G4 here with some gadgets that might make the thoughtful consumer green with envy. Hey Kevin.

KEVIN PEREIRA: Always a pleasure to be here.

RYSSDAL: And it is always fun when you come because you bring cool stuff. What do we got?

PEREIRA: That's it. Well I come bearing some green gifts today.

RYSSDAL: Aha.

PEREIRA: I mean not only are the innovations in front of me the latest and greatest in tech, but they are good for the environment and good for the environmentally conscious.

RYSSDAL: Alright, so let's go with that little Apple computer thing you have there.

PEREIRA: Oh yes, this little Apple computer thing that you've seen everywhere being pulled out of a manilla envelope, this is the MacBook Air, and it is one of the thinnest, lightest laptops available, under three pounds.

RYSSDAL: It is kind of wizz-bang. You also have the Marketplace home page up, which is good.

PEREIRA: Of course, of course, what else would I browse?

RYSSDAL: Yeah, alright well now let me ask you this. Great we can take it out of a manila envelope, and it is small and it's sleek and it's very Apple-esque in its feel here, but so what? Right? I mean talk to me about the greenness of this thing.

PEREIRA: Well, you know, Apple in the past has been chided by many, many environmental organizations, Green Peace just being one of them, for their not so eco-friendly approach to creating hardware, and this past January, Steve Jobs took the stage at Macworld and said, the environment is now Apple's concern, and this laptop represents that first step. First of all, entire aluminum casing.

RYSSDAL: Sounds nifty, right?

PEREIRA: Completely recyclable, the inside is made without any harsh chemicals for the cabling. PVCs they call it, no BMRs, fancy acronyms that are sure to make the environmentalists shine with glee.

RYSSDAL: Even though, you know, this is in a lot of ways a second computer, right? Nobody's going to use this as their primary workstation, daily-grind gizmo.

PEREIRA: Right, yeah, this is really designed for road warriors, and as a secondary laptop, because it lacks an optical drive. It lacks so many other features that you just expect to have on your main workhorse PC.

RYSSDAL: So in a way, it's a little bit like when you buy a new refrigerator that's got the Energy Star thing, and you put the old one in the garage, but you keep that full of beer going anyway?

PEREIRA: Exactly, yes, yes. Your old laptop is filled with the PBR and in the garage. This is the one that you keep in the kitchen to make yourself look environmentally conscious.

RYSSDAL: Alright, what else do you have?

PEREIRA: What else I have here is the savior to many, many forests in the future. This is the Amazon Kindle, and it's the new eReader.

RYSSDAL: Wow, it's light.

PEREIRA: That you can't get even if you wanted it. It's just simply sold out.

RYSSDAL: Is it really?

PEREIRA: Yeah, I mean it's been backordered since it was announced, but they're finally starting to catch up on shipments but this truly, I mean in your hand right now you're holding over 200 paperbacks.

RYSSDAL: OK, but it's ugly.

PEREIRA: Yeah, it's a first generation device, is how Amazon would like you to say that I'm sure, but no, yeah, it's not the prettiest device of all, but it feels OK, and that's the most important part. This is something you're going to be holding for hours on end.

RYSSDAL: Let me get you to the marketplace of this thing for a second. Amazon just bought Audible, Audible.com.

PEREIRA: Right.

RYSSDAL: Is that combination, when you wrap it up in the Kindle, sort of the death of the paperback, maybe not today but in five years?

PEREIRA: Yeah, certainly not today, but yes five to 10 years from now. This is absolutely the future of that, and plus that little device that you're holding in your hand does play MP3s and has a headphone jack, so the perfect combination of Amazon's digital book downloads and the Audible you know podcasts, audiocasts, books on tape.

RYSSDAL: Alright, let me throw this to you though. You come in here with all these fancy new things. What do you do with the old things?

PEREIRA: I like to "Gcycle" them.

RYSSDAL: Alright.

PEREIRA: Look, there's 1,001 environmental programs, and I don't mean to shamelessly plug the one the network I work for, G4s affiliated with, but it really is a phenomenal program. It's powered by Earth 911 and you can go to Gcycle.org and right there you can put in your zip code and it will literally tell you, I mean you can select what do you have: a battery, a laptop, a TV. Whatever the device is, a cell phone. We'll show you where and how you can easily dispose of it, and maybe get a little tax break as well.

RYSSDAL: Kevin Pereira hosts a show on G4 television called Attack of the Show, he's here every now and then with fun stuff. Today it was green. Kevin thanks a lot.

PEREIRA: Great, thank you.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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