Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Need For A Connection

So it's day two of this blogging experiment and today my brain has wondered in a direction it does often for a desire that has yet to be filled, mobile computing. Engadget posted the pics of the Asus 9" EEE PC and the shot of the guy hold it just makes me want one in my clutches as well.

I have been discussing the EEE PC's for a while with PixelGirl2dot0 because of her need for a more mobile plat form than her current gigantic desktop replacement Sony laptop. She needs something small and simple to be able to take with her when she travels for work and for the days when she ventures out of the home office into the real world to actually socialize with flesh and blood people. Not to mention that she can't go on a real vacation with out fretting about needing to check her email to make sure that the online keyword marketing world isn't falling to pieces without her there.

I on the other hand don't have a straight forward need. I rarely will work from home now. I won't travel much for work. I have a nice laptop provided for me by work that's not too terribly over sized or heavy, not a carry around all the time laptop but still I don't need a pack mule to carry it around for me either. The EEE PC fits a different niche for me, the desire to always be connected. I have an Ipaq PocketPC that I keep with me a large percentage of the time. It can get on the net over WiFi and I can get a net connection over Bluetooth dial up on my cell with it. But it's so limited. The dial up connection is slow and flaky so downloads are a pain. The browser does not support flash so no YouTube or flash based sites. Not to mention that the formatting on the small screen for most sites in Pocket IE is terrible. Verdict: it will suffice to fill the spur of the moment need but doesn't really fit the bill for the true desired experience.

So let's talk about what I'm looking for and the devices out there that wet my appetite for the features that come close.
1 The device needs to be small so it can be with me all the time.
2 Connection WiFi is good but EVDO (or similar cell based tech) or WiMax is better.
3 Flexibility, I don't want a one trick internet browsing pony.
4 A real connected feel (a browser with flash, Skype, googletalk...)
These are the main features that a device for me really needs to have.

So lets talk about the devices that have peeked my interest and how they work and how they don't based on that list.

1 The EEE PC
This device for anyone who might read this and doesn't know about is a small laptop built by ASUS and by small I mean they have life size profile picture of it with the screen open on the cover of magazines. It has a solid state hard drive and can run either on Linux or Windows XP. They come in different screen sizes and with varying amounts of storage. They have built in WiFI and could take a USB EVDO adapter. They have a suite of built in applications and could easily have new ones added just like a standard laptop. They also have real browsers since they are running full real operating systems. Built in webcam is a plus. The negative is that it's still a laptop even though it's small it's not pocketable small. It's maybe pursable if a girl wants to try to carry it but that is even stretching it. Still the device is getting great reviews and looks like the tops for filling all the requirements. Will I need to go shopping for a new man bag if I get one? Probably.

2 The Nokia N800 and N810
These are small internet tablets running custom Linux firmwares. They can browse the web with a full functioning web browser and a host of other apps. The Linux OS allows a ton of flexibility and potential. The device has already been modded to be used as a mobile PEN testing device. Size is just a little too big for your pocket but a guy could squeeze it in if they needed to. The built in cams and skype make communication easy. Connected with WiFi and can dial up over Bluetooth. The battery is great on these with a long runtime. The 810 has a built in slide out keyboard and a built in GPS receiver too. The downside, I wish the hardware was a bit more expandable. I'm not asking for much but a USB port would be nice to get a flash drive hooked up or an EVDO adapter. The whole thing does have me very tempted though I must say and I would love to take one for a test drive.

3 The HTC Touch
Nice PocketPC phone with windows mobile 6. Great interface even without a keyboard. EVDO connection and very pocketable for a windows mobile phone. Downside it's still a pocket pc without a real browser. If Verizon would hurry up and get this thing it will probably be sitting in my pocket but sprint who has it now doesn't have the coverage area I need.

4 The IPhone
Upsides it has some nice apps, it's pretty, it's clean. Downsides Apple, ATT, apple fan boys. That's all that needs to be said there.

5 The Kindle
You say "Hey that's an Ebook reader not an internet device" I say hold on a minute. Amazon teamed up with Sprint to put EVDO in this device so it could download books on the go. That's really cool. Even cooler is that they added a web browser in that still hooks up to that free yes I said FREE EVDO. Downside not that expandable and the browser is going to be awful basic on a digital paper device. Oh and look on the plus side is the battery life of this thing, wow. Oh and Amazon if you can hear me, get these things in a brick and mortar somewhere so we can feel them before we drop $400.

So that's my list of devices. My ups and downs. I really would love to try some of these things a bit more to have a better opinion on them but some are hard to find (EEE PC, Nokia's) and others are just down right unavailable (kindle).

I think the tech world has really become like a good stripper to us nerds. They show you all kinds of nice things but tease us so we will keep dropping down cash in the hopes that we can get it all one day.

It looks like some people have gotten USB host mode working on the N810.

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