Kenny's Cafe Corner

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mobile Computing Lust

I'm not usually a materialistic person but lately I've been consumed with a lust for tech gadgets. Ever since my old Pocket PC PDA died out on me, I've been missing the ability to take notes and do a wildcard search for the content of these notes. After all, I'm pretty absent minded but always on the look out to organize my life better.

While my buddy Jacky kept pestering me to get a Sony PSP I hesitate when the only function of such a device is to play games and view movies, albeit they're pretty pretty games and the PSP's screen is gorgeous!

Anyway, thanks to the
100 Dollar laptop project, the idea of a low cost mobile device somewhere between a PDA and a laptop notebook inspired companies such as ASUS and Twinhead to come out with a mini-notebook product line.

Now if you're the type that thinks mini-notebooks are under-powered notebooks and oversized PDAs, then you're technically correct but missing the point of such products.

These are the criterias that mini-notebooks fulfill:
- Lightweight (lightweight enough...they're usually less than 1 kg or that vicinity).

- Data input with a keyboard is still faster than writing with a stylus (though the smaller keyboards can be uncomfortable...)

- Screens are slightly larger than PDA, thus web browsing slightly better. Yet the screen should still be small enough to save battery power and provide a smaller form factor.

- Solid state hard drive (SSD) to provide better shock-proofing. Currently there are capacity limitations with SSDs but it's still better than a PDA's.

- Low power consumption. You're in a bus, why would you need to burn a DVD? Do you really need such a huge LCD screen in such a crowded place?

- Low cost. At RM1300 to RM1600, it is the price of a mid-end cellphone and a low-end notebook.

- Lots of USB ports and card reader ports.

Note these are the features that make a mini-notebook stand out from PDAs and notebooks. It also inherits all the goody features of its older brothers and younger sisters...such as wireless connectivity, mobility and an OS that allows other applications or drivers to be installed. You may also uninstall the default OS and re-install your OS of choice! Something that is very hard to do on proprietary systems sold by Apple or Sony.

The fact that mini-notebooks might come without an optical drive or has smaller hard disk capacities do not bother me.
First, optical drives are on the way out...slowly but surely being replaced by flash memory. These are getting cheaper, is read and writable, has larger capacities is a more superior storage medium than optical disks.
Second, external flash drives are cheap! If you want to install a game, transfer a portable game into a 4 Gigabyte flash drive and plug it into your mini-notebook. There isn't even any need to install the sofware!
Or maybe you want to watch a video of a TV episode you downloaded while on the train to work, all you have to do is transfer the files to a large capacity thumbdrive. As of this date, a 4 Gigabyte flash drive or card should cost less than RM130.

For once, I'm beginning to see the wisdom in Steve Jobs' design decision not to include a built-in optical drive in the iMac.

So here are links to some of my lust-worthy PDA replacements....
(I've chosen the smaller models because small is beautiful!)

ASUS Eee PC 8G

ASUS Eee PC 900

ASUS Eee PC 901

Twinhead Twinmate E10

Frankly, I'm slightly more attracted to the Eee PCs. They have better built quality, smaller in size and lighter. I don't mind if they're slightly under-featured or has lesser specifications compared to the E10.

I'm going to check out the Eee PCs at Low Yat Plaza after work hours this week. I wonder if the Linux based models will be cheaper than the Windows based models. Can anyone tell me if I can install any application or games in the Linux OS as I like?
What's the ease of installing something in GNU Linux? Nevermind, it should be quite an interesting adventure ...hehe!

There is a demand for these devices, as evidenced by the popularity and sales figures. I know I want one! ;)
:: posted by Kenny, 10:29 PM | link | 1 comments |



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