Gadgets

I’ve been playing with (evaluating for research purposes) the new breed of Asus Eee (900). I really like it, the thing it has over it’s previous version is the larger screen size. It doesn’t seem that much bigger, you notice that the bits where the speakers were has gone and the screen looks less like a letterbox but the real difference is when you view very text heavy sites especially those sites which have some fixed fonts/navigation panes and other such stuff which meant a lot of scrolling on the old Eee. It’s a highly enjoyable little machine.

We’ve also got two flips on order and I’m looking forward to those little gadgets. I really like the way you can do the ‘straight to YouTube’ stuff with them. Patrickshowed me a competitor to the flip and it was great fun and very useful to have at the conference he was hosting. He hasn’t blogged about it yet but I’m sure he will. These are relatively low quality (640×480) video devices with built in hard drive that up load direct via USB to PC or straight onto YouTube. They make video blogging very simple and also because they’re tiny they are very easy to keep on you to catch that special occasion. They are in the top ten fastest selling gadgets in the U.S. so keep an eye out for them. They’re only about £100.

Finally some not so good gadget news. Despite my best efforts I haven’t been able to get a Sony eBook Reader or Kindle. We spoke to Amazon about the Kindle and they said it’s US only and you need both a US postal address and credit card to order one. We suggested they market it internationally and they said they had no plans to do so at the moment. Sony was a similar story. I’ve also not been able to supply a work iPhone because Apple Europe are marketing the iPhone as a home user device and not a ‘business device’. The distinction here is that we can’t order these on behalf of people in the organisation because the contract etc. must sit with them, also the way the contract is set up is all a nonsense. I’ve told Apple’s European marketing manager about it and he did send a nice reply but said that Apple was currently not supplying it as a business device and he would try to get this changed but thought it would be unlikely to happen soon.

This wouldn’t annoy me so much but that the Sony and Kindle devices are both based on eInk which was pioneered in Cambridge Research labs just down the road from us (along with sites in the US and Japan which also worked on derivatives). We were in discussion with them about getting the raw eInk technology to use with an SDK but they stopped replying to us when it came close to launch so I guess we’re not allowed this until the US says we can have it. Boo!

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Dell enters the Eee arena

I spotted this article (not because of the woman on the beach you understand!) and thought it worth passing on. Dell is going to create a rival to the very popular Eee PC. I presume the Dell and HP machines will both be running Windows (although I haven’t checked this) and I’m wondering now what portion of the Eee’s being sold are Linux compared to Windows? It would be interesting to see if people are happy to live with Linux and its lighter touch OS or whether they want to have the familiarity of the Windows system.

I for one enjoy the Linux environment on the Eee and find it refreshingly simple. The kids love it too and it’s simple to rebuild and since I’m doing everything in the ‘cloud’ these days I don’t need to worry so much about having anything on the diddy machines that’s going to get lost if the kids do a crash and burn job on it by downloading the latest Cartoon Network alpha release plugin.

 

The £100 laptop – the “one” for education…

I’ve been reading with interest the stuff about the Elonex one . It’s being targetted as the one for education. I however am not so convinced but I’m hoping to get my hands on one to try out shortly.

 The reason I’m not convinced is that it’s a lower spec than the Asus Eee (300Mhz compared to 900Mhz) 128Mb RAM compared with 512 Mb RAM, 1GB memory compared with 4GB memory. I feel that it may be a compromise too far. I love the Asus Eee and you can pick one up for betwene £160-£200 (if you can get one!… since the battery factory burnt down supply has been slow!)

I was discussing with colleagues the new version of the Eee which is claimed to have touch screen and possibly GPS as well. We were discussing the merits versus potential disadvantages of this, for example the screen is now 9″ rather than 7″ and size does matter with these things but smaller perhaps being more desirable than larger in this case!

Anyhow I think that the Eee and one and other such devices are set to bring mobile computing to a much larger audience. Anyone who saw the Gadget show last night where they compared the Eee to a Macbook Air and Sony Vaio will have been plesently surprised that Tony Hawks sacrificed some of the more funky features of the big laptops to have the portability of the Eee and he rated it top (although Gadget show rated the Vaio top even though it takes 3.5 minutes to boot up!).