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     Ultra-portable/Handtop PCs hitting the marketplace
    Computers
    A new class of PCs are finally becoming available to the general public. The have been anticipated so long, they have been dismissed as vaporware. They are small form factor PCs, basically 5”x 5” x 1” and weighing less than 1 pound. They are full blown Personal computers, with 1Ghz processors , 800x600 screens, Windows XP operating systems (not Windows CE), 10-30GB hard drives, USB, sound and network capabilities.

    They are bigger than a HPC, PDA, or hiptop, but smaller than either a laptop, or tablet PC.

    This class of pc are so new, they have not settled on a common name.

    There is
    - uPCs
    - Ultraportables or Ultra-portables
    - handtops

    or perhaps their product names:
    - Flipstart - A Paul Allen startup
    - OQO - One of the first to market

    The OQO is the one commonly available and being snapped up by users. Software Development magazine profiled it, and it appears on a number of gadget lover’s wishlist blogs. But no one is really certain who the target audience is. Criticism of the concept is more common than praise. According to Gizmag, The OQO is aimed at running vertical applications or corporate executives who leave their notebooks in their docking stations and do not carry them around. Prices are starting at US$1899

    Paul Allen's Vulcan company is coming out with the FlipStart, which has no pen computing abilities. It should be competitively prices with the OQO. Sony and Antelope have eventual release dates for their products too.

    My own personal opinion is that it would be an effective tool for traveling sales and technical staff. You can hook it up and run slideshows. You could type key information from on site customer visits. Busy traveling executives who leave behind their notebooks rely on cell phone calls to their personal assistants to get the information they need.

    I have been very interested in the Tablet PC for a couple of years. I had a chance to try one out, and the handwriting recognition is not as smooth as I had hoped. If I were traveling and taking copious notes, the Tablet PC would be a useful tool. I think that the next generation of mobile processors in the 2mhz range will finally bring it into its own. Another revamp of the recognition tools should bring enough improvement to make it useful to me.

    The OQO ships with Wacom’s pen computing utilities. I think that a pen is a must for one of these devices. USB and Wireless Networking would also be required. A VGA port or simple VGA adaptor to use a projector would be valuable for performing demos. Portability and durability are the keys. One reason I think these devices may be a few years away from full reality is that they still use spinning disk drives. When the day finally comes that flash memory is competitively priced to hard drives, these devices and other similar ilk will spread like wildfire.

    My requirements for a super portable pc are
    • Light
    • Thin enough to fit in a padded briefcase
    • Durable enough to be dropped or bumped around in transit
    • Useful sized keyboard
    • USB
    • Handwriting recognition
    • Networking
    • Full powered operating system Windows/MacOS/Unix
    Some of the applications I would run are
    • E-mail/Contact Manager
    • Document Viewers: Word, Excel, Acrobat PDF, PowerPoint, Microsoft project
    • Text Editor
    • VNC/Remote Desktop/PCAnywhere
    I would use it for
    • Viewing Mail and Contacts
    • Composing small e-mail responses
    • Viewing documents, eBooks, manuals,
    • Sending documents to network printers
    • Searching the Web
    • Writing Notes
    • Playing simple computer games (Cards & Puzzles)
    • Remote desktop connectivity for system support
    Because I don’t want to lug stuff around and also I feel it would be easier at a home PC with full sized monitor and keyboard, I would not use it on the road for
    • Programming
    • Composing Documents
    • Playing DVDs ort CDs
    • Playing Complex Computer games
    • Downloading files
    • Editing Photos or Videos
    I am looking forward to testing one.
      
    Posted on Thursday, March 31, 2005 @ 18:23:54 UTC by BB
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