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!

Electronic toys…

I received a remote control helicoptor for christmas, it’s a tiny one for flying indoors. I’ve been asking Nikki for one for ages but I think she thought I was joking. She finally took the hint and bought me one and I love it.

 It’s got all the things this gadget lover likes, it’s difficult to control and takes a level of mastery, it’s easily knocked off course by ‘trade winds’ coming from the kids banging about the room and it’s very addictive. My 16 month old daughter Hannah loves it and laughs when I start flying it around. By the way it’s blades are all hidden inside a band so can’t harm anyone and it’s only 6 inches long and made of polystyrene so it’s kid friendly.

This aside the other pressie I got which I like is Mario versus Sonic at the Olympics for the Wii. It’s great for exploring the new interface in new ways. It’s very hard work though especially the running races and swimming, my arms ache for ages afterwards. I think they need to bring out Wii trainers so that you can do the running sports whilst actually running, have I just invented something useful here? – I like the skill based sports especially archery, I did archery for real and was Irish U18 school archery champion back in my youth so I thought that the game would not appeal to me since the virtual is unlikely to match up with real life play but actually it’s just as enjoyable and the skill required is similar in many ways (i.e. judging wind etc.) it would be good if you could adjust the power of the shot by the amount you pull back on the controller but maybe that’s in version 2 or in a level I haven’t opened up yet. I’ll let you know as I explore it further.

The kids got the usually amount of gadgetry including Pixel Chics and Tamagotchi. We have two Tamagotchis that talk to each other and can play games together. They can also download stuff from the computer. Jordan got an electronic guitar that interacts with a stereo (if you wish) or can be used independantly to teach you to play. It’s also good fun and makes learning the guitar much easier for kids. It comes with it’s own CD tutorial too.