prusik: Newton fractal centered at zero (Default)
[personal profile] prusik
Palm just announced the Foleo. If we take Palm at their word, it's a smart terminal for your smartphone. The flash video at the web site has Jeff Hawkins talking about how it will turn your smartphone into your primary computer. The spin at the website is that it gives your smartphone a full size screen and keyboard. I don't do the smartphone thing, so I have absolutely no interest in the device.

Now, it's possible that the Foleo is really a full-fledged Linux based subnotebook. In that case, $600 is noticeably cheaper than other subnotebooks on the market. (I think one of the Samsung Q1 computers is around $1000.) I think that's too good to be true. So, the Foleo is probably not designed to be usable on its own. (This isn't to say that people won't try or that they won't succeed.)

In any case, I'm not interested in the form factor.

Raon just announced the Everun. Now, this is in the form factor that I am interested in. Actually, it might be a little too large for my pant pocket, but it would be close. It's supposed to be $600-$900 and have 6-7 hours of battery life on the standard battery. This makes it both the cheapest machine in the form factor as well as the one with the longest battery life.

Now, it also has lots and lots of buttons. It's hard to see how to hold it without accidentally hitting a button. The keyboard doesn't look very usable. And, as perhaps the killing stroke, for me, it comes with WinXP Home. Given that, in the crappy keyboard scenario, I'd like decent handwriting recognition, I'm more or less resigned to running some M$ OS. So the problem, oddly, is not that it's WinXP. It's that WinXP Home, of course, doesn't do handwriting recognition. M$ doesn't sell WinXP Tablet separately. The Everun maxes out at 512MB RAM so I'm pretty sure that no one would enjoy running Vista on the thing. (I could install ritePen on it, but I'd also like Chinese HWR.)

Raon's previous product, the Digital Vega, was essentially the Everun without the keyboard. (Yes, someone built a computer which had no way of entering text.) The reviews basically made it sound like a video iPod with better screen resolution and more codecs. The Everun sounds like a kicky video iPod which also does e-mail and web browsing. It's probably nice, but I find it hard to imagine curling up in a corner somewhere and writing with it.

I saw an OQO Model 02 in person today. Wow, it's exactly as small as advertised. The Sony Vaio UX, usually claimed to be about the same size, looks huge next to it. The interpolated 1200x720 display mode is surprisingly good. (The native display resolution is 800x480.) I didn't have any trouble reading 10pt text at that resolution. The thumb board was also surprisingly usable. I can see why reviews point it out as a highlight. The keys are not all where I expect them to be, but the modifier keys are sticky with indicator lights. The joystick on the thumb board is easy to use. Hopefully, there is a control panel somewhere which configures how fast the pointer moves. You can't tap the joystick to left click. That's too bad since that's the intuitive motion. Also, the thumb board layout is biased towards right handed people. (i.e., I'd want the joystick on the LHS, not the RHS.) If I had to, I could probably get used to the layout, not to mention thumb boarding. But sustained writing with it would probably be annoying. (I'd have to do handwriting primarily. It has the same physical size screen as the Newton. So, with ritePen installed, it's feasible. But I couldn't test out HWR. No pen around and I didn't bring mine. Also, I think the store model had XPPro installed anyways.)

The cooling fan does, in fact, have a high pitched whine. It's not bothersome in the middle of a computer store. It might draw attention in a library. This is not a theoretical example for me. Part of writing is research. I'm imagining me in, say, the NYPL for the Performing Arts. I request access to reference material which they have to pull from the closed stacks and is only usable in a special reference room. Even though that room is full of people reading reference material, it is absolutely silent. I may annoy the people around me with this. OTOH, it only comes on when the OQO does something computational intensive. This would not be entering text via the thumb board. I don't know if handwriting recognition would cause the fan to spin. I kind of doubt it since the Newton does HWR and it's pretty wimpy in comparison. (ritePen claims to be a successor to the Newton recognition engine.) So, this may just mean that browsing to YouTube in a library is a bad idea.

The easiest way to get the cooling fan to spin up was to browse to YouTube. Now, I don't know if the store model was misconfigured or if all OQO Model 02 are like this, but to a page with flash video consistently crashed Internet Explorer. It's possible that the machine just isn't beefy enough to deal with YouTube at all (as opposed to just playing back at a really crappy framerate.) However, I'd have thought that someone would have complained about that on the web by now. (The Nokia N800, when it was first released, played flash videos at an extremely poor framerate and that was all over the web.) And I haven't found any such complaints on the web. (I did see some video of the OQO playing video though. Now, if I saw the video of the OQO playing video on the OQO, I could make a video of that and...)

Obviously, I couldn't check if it fit in my pocket.

Based on 5 minutes of playing around with it, I think it's pretty nifty. It certainly could be an electronic moleskine pocket notebook, but that's the one aspect I couldn't check out. If I were a really well paid business person who did lots of travel, I probably would have bought one already. However, I'm not. So, at $1800, I'm still going to wait for Vista issues, if any, to shake themselves out. (Likewise, OQO, itself, may have some quality control issues which need shaking out.)


prusik: Newton fractal centered at zero (Default)

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