Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

War Brewing on the Inexpensive Laptop Front

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the cheaper-just-means-more-toys-faster dept.

Portables 370

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting look at the war brewing on the inexpensive laptop front. With everything from the Eee PC to the OLPC, the trend in slimming and trimming seems to be continuing. "The market segment is so new it doesn't have a name yet or even an agreed-upon set of specifications. Intel, the chipmaker, calls the category "netbooks," recognizing that much of what people do on their laptops involves going on the Net. The new machines are also being called ultra-low-cost PCs, mininotebooks, or even mobile Internet gadgets. In appearance, they have the familiar clamshell design, but they're smaller, with seven- to 10-inch screens. They offer full keyboards (albeit with smaller keys) and weigh less than three pounds. Perhaps most important, the majority cost less than $500 - some as little as $299. Intel says it expects more than 50 million of these netbooks to be sold by 2011. It's introduced a tiny, low-power processor to run them called Atom, which puts 47 million transistors on a chip about the size of a penny."

cancel ×

370 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Only one loser. (0, Troll)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304594)

M$

Re:Only one loser. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304618)

You Fail IT.

Licensing fees fail as price drops to $200. (4, Interesting)

inTheLoo (1255256) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304880)

IT fails M$. Today, you can buy a laptop for $300 that works great for what you want or the same thing for $400 that runs XP poorly. The choice is obvious and it's going to become more obvious when it's $200 vrs $300 and the performance and feature gap widens. M$ only dominates because they have preloads and subscription or begware replacements won't work. No one is going to buy a $200 computer that's coin operated or advert crippled when they can have the same thing without those problems. Face it, it's over for the Soft.

Re:Licensing fees fail as price drops to $200. (4, Interesting)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304936)

I bought a $300 laptop with Vista... there's no saying MS can't be (or already aren't, as has been documented) flexible with their OEM pricing scheme to accommodate lower priced hardware (or loss leaders for that matter)

$300 Vista laptop. (0, Troll)

inTheLoo (1255256) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304990)

Pleas return it to it's rightful owner as soon as you can. Vista alone can cost more than that. OEM pricing runs out of wiggle room at $200. "Loss leaders" and other monopoly rent schemes will get them another round of $1.5 billion anti-trust fines.

Re:Licensing fees fail as price drops to $200. (0, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305108)

I bought a $300 laptop with Vista
No, you didn't.

OT: Sockpuppet (0, Offtopic)

willyhill (965620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304950)

Anyone posting on this thread should be aware that "inTheLoo" is a sockpuppet account of twitter, one of eight accounts (so far) created by him to game the moderation system.

Re:Licensing fees fail as price drops to $200. (2, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305134)

"No one is going to buy a $200 computer that's coin operated or advert crippled when they can have the same thing without those problems."

Damn right.

The I-Appliance BBS

  http://www.linux-hacker.net/cgi-bin/UltraBoard/UltraBoard.pl [linux-hacker.net]

is full of interesting hacks on the leftover hardware from companies with "sell a crippled computer" business models. People want small fully capable computers, not broken shit that fits someone else's idea of what they should want.

twitter just rules (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23305198)

I love, I mean absolutely love, how you play the game. You basically troll with one account, some stupid one-liner obvious throwaway comment, wait for people to take the bait, and then descend on the thread with your other accounts with the usual "M$ Windoze suxxorz M$ is dying free software is perfect and flawless and you work for M$ if you disagree" spiel. Cha-ching, karma city.

You definitely deserve credit for that. It's just bloody impressive that the moderators keep falling for it again and again.

Kinda makes me lose hope that Slashdot will ever be a place where intelligent and reasonable discussion will ever take place again. And it's all just so you can feel smug about yourself. Well played.

Will it be "Colonel Panic?" (-1, Offtopic)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304754)

Or will it be "General Protection Fault?" Find out Sunday-Sunday-SUNDAY! in the battle royal between these two seasoned warriors. We'll sell you the whole seat but you'll only need the EDGE!

Re:Will it be "Colonel Panic?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23305048)

Neither.

It will be Guru Meditation Error.

-1 Loser. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304758)

Looks like the biggest loser from twitter's nonsensical attacks on "M$" has been twitter.

I have a feeling that twitter is the biggest loser wherever he is.

Re:Only one loser. (1)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304806)

Except every one of these machines is capable of running Windows, and most of them come with XP installed, either as standard or as an add-on option.

So yah, MS is really getting their asses kicked on this one.

XP Capable. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304938)

is just as big a joke as Vista capable. No one is going to buy the XP version of EEE PC and even fewer people are going to DIY wreck the things. 4GB is not enough space for XP and fiends and the installed system won't run as well as what you can get for $100 less.

Re:XP Capable. (0, Flamebait)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305058)

No one is going to buy the XP version of EEE PC

I will. Fuck off, sockpuppet.

Palm or PocketPC (2, Interesting)

KevMar (471257) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304624)

why not give them a Palm or PocketPC with a bit larger display and a keyboard.

what more do they need?

I bet you can get every TYPE of application they need on one of those.
So it wont run MS office or possibly even open office. But do they need much more than a notepad with spellcheck?

are you kidding? (4, Insightful)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304744)

Have you looked at PalmOS or Windows Mobile? They suck as operating systems. PalmOS isn't even multitasking. Windows Mobile has numerous restrictions relative to desktop Windows. Furthermore, no, they don't offer "every type of application". Many applications for those systems are designed for tiny screens and don't scale up. Also, having two different kinds of apps on the mobile and desktop system is a major headache. If that kind of stripped down OS and application appeals to you, get a keyboard for your phone.

Fortunately, it's not an either/or choice: Linux actually scales really nicely from mobile to desktop devices.

I don't care about the OS myself (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304894)

so long as it supports remote desktop connection..

I can run the horsepower I have at home just fine.

Re:are you kidding? (1)

faragon (789704) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305124)

You're right. It's so sad to se a powerful 520MHz ARM XScale processor in the Toshiba Portege G900 running Windows Mobile 7... it is slower than my old 8MHz 8086 running GEM (from Digital Research) !!!

Unfortunately, I found no way of loading Linux in it (some other smartphone devices such as the ones made by HTC are easier to hack).

P.S. I did not bought the smartphone, it was a present from the company for which I work, for my personal use, and also to be able to test some nice remote desktop access software done by us (as upgrade from a Nokia 3410, in my opinion outperforms the G900 as phone, despite the lack of bells and whistles).

Re:Palm or PocketPC (2, Interesting)

BigFoot48 (726201) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304862)

No one is writing software for the Palm and Pocket PC anymore. Vibrant websites on PDAs four years ago are now dead, with latest reviews being 2006. If it can't run XP, I don't want it. I'll be buying an Eee PC 900 the week they come out in the US. --A "proud" owner of two Pocket PCs--

Re:Palm or PocketPC (4, Insightful)

fygment (444210) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304878)

Who are 'they' and 'them' and why are you assuming you know what they need? Seems like ASUS Eee's success suggests that it nailed what 'they' and 'them' need.

Re:Palm or PocketPC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304934)

Goddamnit, you're either a troll or a Dumbass of Legend.

I am not able to run Wine on a Palm/PocketPC. Therefore no windows apps. Mostly, windows games.

When the Eee has a full-fledged Ubuntu 8.04. I can do anything I can do with my desktop with it and it syncs without problems.

And for "every type of program" - nowhere close. Decent cbr's? Music players? Online games?

Heck, I wouldn't be able to *connect* with most palms because I use a bluetooth pan for internet.

Re:Palm or PocketPC (1)

kolbe (320366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305050)

I own a Treo 680 and while I can use a Web Browser, SSH, Telnet, TinyVNC, and even read Acrobat or Word files on it, there's just no real replacement for the power of a true PC.

While these Netbooks may lack the features of a full blown Laptop, they still run a fully featured Operating System with features that far exceed the capabilities of a mobile device.

Beyond this, these units just "feel" like a PC in all sense of the term. As a follower of K.I.S.S or "Keep it Simple Stupid", these devices are getting closer to being an ultimate portable.

Price War? (1, Interesting)

ittybad (896498) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304630)

It was nice for the gasoline prices back then; it will be good for laptop prices now (at least, the mini-notebook prices).

Breaking News (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304632)



Rush Limbaugh is a pedophile.

It makes sense (4, Insightful)

loose electron (699583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304638)

These devices serve a need - web surf, email, document edit, spreadsheets. If you exclude gamers, thats 80% of the market for a laptop. Personally, lugging a big heavy laptop is a no-go for a lot of us.

Re:It makes sense (1, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304832)

I have a $500 full size laptop, and I don't find it hard to carry around by any means. It's has a 14.1 inch screen and is pretty light and pretty thin. It weighs just over 5 lbs, battery included. Comparing it to the eee PC, it's quite a bit bigger, but neither one can just be shoved in your pocket as you leave the house. Both of them require some kind of backpack or shoulder bag to bring with you. So as far as I see it, the ultraportables, don't really offer much in terms of portability, because you can' just put them in your pocket, and a standard laptop lets you get your work done much easier.

Re:It makes sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23305044)

I agree - the eeePC still dictates the usage of a man-purse or something like it, so why not get the whole package and have your compatibility, games, and CD drive?

The combination of small, but normal laptops and super portables like the iPod Touch and Nokia N800 are where it's at, and where it is heading.

Re:It makes sense (4, Insightful)

Blahbooboo3 (874492) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305110)

I have a $500 full size laptop, and I don't find it hard to carry around by any means. It's has a 14.1 inch screen and is pretty light and pretty thin. It weighs just over 5 lbs, battery included. Comparing it to the eee PC, it's quite a bit bigger, but neither one can just be shoved in your pocket as you leave the house. Both of them require some kind of backpack or shoulder bag to bring with you. So as far as I see it, the ultra portables, don't really offer much in terms of portability, because you can' just put them in your pocket, and a standard laptop lets you get your work done much easier.
Have you ever carried for business travel a 3lb or less laptop? When you feel what a big difference it is when you are lugging it on your shoulder for hours versus the 5+ lbs model then you realize it IS a big difference.

Oh, so you say pack it in your carry on? Yep, have done that too. Trust me you can feel the weight difference (part of it is the weight distribution of the larger laptops) when you're climbing stairs or up escalators or lifting it to the overheard space on the place .... etc etc etc

And it is not like I am a small out of shape guy. Any weight held or carried for a period of time gets heavy.

I love my 2.8 lb thinkpad. I would NEVER go back to the former Compaq 5-6lbs model EVER for my usage on the road.

Re:It makes sense (5, Interesting)

kolbe (320366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304940)

As a Systems Administrator, I just need a device that can give me Internet and shell access. When I travel to customer sites or abroad, I absolutely loath lugging around a laptop. What Admin doesn't wish they had a small portable device for connecting to LOM's, Devices, or Serial Consoles? With a USB RS-232 Serial Adapter and WiFi, one can reasonably do it all with less.

My Eee PC with Slackware 12.1 is probably the best thing I could have hoped for. It just does everything a UNIX Admin needs and is very compact... now I have more room for my Frappacino's and O-Scope in my bag!

Gotta be thankful Technology is getting to the point where smaller is becoming affordable.

Re:It makes sense (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305068)

I'm pretty sure I'll be buying an EEE for my daughter when she starts college in the fall. She 'needs' IM, document editing, and web browsing. Why spend twice as much for a 'full featured' laptop? If she wants a gaming PC she can save her money and buy one!

Re:It makes sense (5, Funny)

DogDude (805747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305114)

Personally, lugging a big heavy laptop is a no-go for a lot of us.

If you're talking about modern laptops, I'd like to suggest that you talk to a doctor. No grown adult should consider a 5 lb, 10"x16" chunk of plastic either "big" or "heavy", and it shouldn't require "lugging".

Oblig, (0, Troll)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304674)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of those.

Re:Oblig, (0, Troll)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304740)

I, for one, welcome... OW! OW! STOPPIT!

(lame humorless slashdot filter encountered. don't use so many caps. it's like shouting. really, tone it odwn in here mcgrew, this is a library not a goddamned bar)

Re:Oblig, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304866)

Yeah, a beowulf cluster of those *might* end up being just as fast as my T61 Thinkpad...

Re:Oblig, (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305102)

Actually, I was seriously thinking that a huge pile of inexpensive, efficient, low-power systems might be useful for something. If I were to link 500 of these things together It might be useful for something... weather forecasting, maybe?

More interested in the education than the net (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304676)

I am interested in getting my bro (15 yrs) an EEE PC to give him some exposure to coding (Python) see if he likes it or not. However, there will be little to no wifi for him to he hoping on... so I am wondering useful the EEE PC will be for this, especially coupled with the small screen and keyboard size. The prize point does make it my top pick right now however. Any one have any experience with this?

Re:More interested in the education than the net (0, Flamebait)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304762)

I'm brain dead, too much work today. I'm getting lysdexic. I read the comments as

I am interested in getting my bro (15 yrs) an EEE PC to give him some exposure to coding (Python) whether he likes it or not. However, there will be little to no wife for him to he hopping on...


Re:More interested in the education than the net (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304772)

Have you considered looking here [ebay.com] ?

Re:More interested in the education than the net (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304776)

If he doesn't have stuff that he wants to do, giving him the computer isn't going to help much, so make sure that it can at least do web stuff (a 15 year old will surely want a MySpace page and the ability to edit stuff for it) and that it works with pygame so that he can work with visual stuff if he wants to(or javascript for that sort of thing).

On the other hand, if there are projects that he is interested in, it isn't going to matter much if you give him an EEE or something nicer, he will figure out a way to do at least something with it.

Re:More interested in the education than the net (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304790)

However, there will be little to no wifi for him to he hoping on.
why not just get a wifi router, they dont cost much these days.
Alternatively expose him to aircrack-ng (http://xkcd.com/416/ [xkcd.com] )

However if its not really going to be used as an ultraportable, then why not stick a cheap desktop together as for about the price of an EEE you can build a low spec desktop than can be built upon at a later date, ( e.g if he moves on to compiled languages).

Re:More interested in the education than the net (3, Informative)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304868)

I love my Eee PC. It's great for note taking and web browsing. But it's not good for programming and would probably be a frustrating first computer.

If your goal is to get your brother interested in programming, don't make him use a tiny monitor and keyboard, get him a low-end desktop PC with a real keyboard and acceptable screen. If you're on a budget, you can pick up a used monitor for almost nothing and spend everything on the box.

The correct term... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304698)

...is the Osbourbe 1.5, if the screen size is anything to go by.

Psion (1)

Dannkape (1195229) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304704)

If these things just hit the shelves here in Europe, I might finally be able to find a decent replacement for my (long broken) Psion Series III.

I really liked the size of the Psion, and the Windows CE "powered" Pocket PC I get when it broke, just couldn't compare with it, even though it had a CPU that was 50 times faster, and had a color screen. (Among other things, I simply couldn't find any software remotely as useful as the Psions built-in apps...)

MIGs? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304706)

The new machines are also being called ultra-low-cost PCs, mininotebooks, or even mobile Internet gadgets

Cool, I always wanted my own MIG [wikipedia.org] !

Re:MIGs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23305202)

Do you have time to do ANYTHING ELSE but post on Slashdot? Sweet Jesus, ever article I read has your posts scattered all over the place, mostly talking about your journal or how you just had eye surgery. Maybe we have exactly the same Slashdot reading schedule and you just happen to post on the articles I read, but holy crap...

Blast from the past! Handheld PC - H/PC - Palmtop (4, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304708)

What about Palmtops, or H/PC? [wikipedia.org]

Remember the NEC Mobile Pro, or the HP Jornada? Practically the same formfactor, reborn.

Re:Blast from the past! Handheld PC - H/PC - Palmt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304854)

Those weren't quite as powerful, so I suggest we call them High performance ultra-low-cost PCs (Hulc PCs). To further define the genre, all devices should be painted green.

Re:Blast from the past! Handheld PC - H/PC - Palmt (2, Interesting)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305032)

Honestly, if a WinCE handheld (meaning pretty much anything running whatever the latest Mobile version of Windows) had a decent sized screen with a resolution of 1024x768 or more, and even the tiniest of actual QWERTY keyboard (like the one on the Rumor cell phone) - it would completely own the world.

I use a hx4700 right now and the only two issues stopping it from replacing my laptop for 90% of what I do are - 640x480 screens quit being useful about 12 years ago, and the on-screen touch keyboard at that resolution is a two-fold joke (the keys are way too small to hit with the stylus for any kind of typing whatsoever, and the on-screen kb still takes half the screen, meaning you can't see what you are typing.)

The applications are pretty much there. When I'm on the road I need wifi enabled IE or Firefox to surf the web / do web enabled work. I need to view pictures, maybe edit a .doc or .xls. I need my calendar and the ability to queue up emails for my work mailbox (sync'ed with Outlook when I am anywhere near my work network.) That's about it - anything else is gravy. If my hx4700 had a little bit larger screen (again - big enough to do something useful via TermServ, which it already has installed but is worthless at 640x480) and a keyboard I could use while seeing my screen - I'd be golden.

I was hoping the new Eee (with the 8.9" screen) was going to do this for me, but the resolution is still a touch shy (1024x600, when 600 tall is still a little short). I'd eagerly have given up the built-in camera for a little more screen resolution (make or break purchase criteria, actually.)

Re:Blast from the past! Handheld PC - H/PC - Palmt (2, Informative)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305106)

The [WinCE] applications are pretty much there. When I'm on the road I need wifi enabled IE or Firefox to surf the web / do web enabled work. I need to view pictures, maybe edit a .doc or .xls. I need my calendar and the ability to queue up emails for my work mailbox (sync'ed with Outlook when I am anywhere near my work network.) That's about it - anything else is gravy.

To the road-warrior business traveler, maybe.

The platform is still pretty useless to the application developer, the artist, the musician, the scientific researcher, etc...

Limit is in the I/O (4, Insightful)

elh_inny (557966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304714)

To me that the natural directions - chips are getting smaller, consume less power, so getting ultra-portable gets more affordable.

Now the limiting factor in usability of those devices seem to be not the processing power, but human interaction.

Both the keyboard and the screen are inevitably small, which makes typing and reading a challenge.
Some say that the future is in portable projectors and virtual keyboards, but that doesn't seem to be the ultimate solution - you need two flat surfaces and some headroom for those, which seems not to be the case for instance in an airplane.

I think challenges like efficient voice commands, or even brain waves (aka NIA) are the solution for input.

For the output again a direct interface to the nerves or to the eye, or else, there will still be need for full sized peripherals, so it won't matter how small can the computers themselves get.

Re:Limit is in the I/O (3, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304770)

Wearables might come into their own. The screen can be shrunk to the size of a pair of glasses (and a stereo display means you can move the apparent position of the screen). Keyboards are a little more tricky but perhaps people will be okay wearing them on their wrists or on a belt.

Voice commands are interesting. This does need an improvement in technology to really be viable still, but that probably will happen. Then we just need to have someone come up with a really good verbal UI. Yeah, it will happen but I'm not holding my breath.

Pecard says: (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304968)

"...a really good verbal UI."

"Computer. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot!"

Yeah, that will be a big hurdle to get over, but possible.
The other problem I can see that would need addressed is this:
Imagine going into a Starbuck's....packed with caffeinated yuppies yakking to their PC's--it would be overwhelming!

Re:Limit is in the I/O (2, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304826)

That's why I always wanted one of these [pcworld.com] . It was lightweight like an EEE or whatever, but it had a 10" screen, reasonable keyboard, and was really thin (if it's not thinner than the MacBook Air, it was at least close). There's a lower limit to the length and width if you want good usability, but you can always make it thinner and lighter...

Aside from the slow processor and the fact that it wasn't a Tablet PC, it was almost perfect. I wish they'd bring it back with those deficiencies removed -- even at $1000, I'd buy it in a heartbeat!

Re:Limit is in the I/O (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304964)

I think challenges like efficient voice commands,
Unfortunatly if you try using voice commands in crowded areas/trains youll end up with plenty of spam.

even brain waves (aka NIA)
Unfortunatly i dont want to actually load up porn every 6 seconds, if the computer was reading my brainwaves i would never get any work done, check slashdot,XKCD,forums,pron o wait it doesnt even need to read my mind.

I think the trick is to cross bread them with phones, youll end up with something like the N810, but hopefully bigger so the keyboard is usable while loosing the requirement of a surface to use them on (plus in small areas you can fall back on touchscreen).
I think the actual problem with the current generation is battery life, to be truly portable they need LED backlighting, and longer lasting batteries, preferably with external chargers so you can take a few with you for longer trips.

Re:Limit is in the I/O (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23305088)

Both the keyboard and the screen are inevitably small, which makes typing and reading a challenge.

The wee keyboards reflect the broadened market: Asia, women, children. We've got enough market now to support devices that are bloody awkward for big hands. One-size-fits-all is no longer a requirement for success. I'm jealous, frankly. I'd love to use these little things but my paws find even regular laptops rather cramped.

Display size isn't as big an issue - it just has to be very sharp. Pundits love to joke about the old Osborne's 4" CRT, but the truth was it worked fine. It had the same number of scan lines and the result was sharp characters that were as easy to read as print, which is the key threshold. (That's not creative memory - I've still got mine.)

People with smaller hands, and a shorter eye to lap/table distance, will happily take the size and weight advantage over display real estate for a portable device.

The downside to this, from my view, is there probably isn't going to be enough market to make successful keyboard alternatives for large hands on small devices. I'd always hoped for something small with a playstation or tablet interface, but I'm thinking those are going to remain vapourware and expensive respectively.

TYPO - 5" not 4" for Osborne. Sorry - nt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23305172)

nt

Re:Limit is in the I/O (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305154)

Both the keyboard and the screen are inevitably small, which makes typing and reading a challenge.
Reading isn't a problem with a 7" screen, since you basically have the same usable width as with a piece of A4/letter paper, in terms of height you of course have to scroll, but that isn't much of an issue. Much more important than size is DPI, but the OLPC has that area with its 200dpi pretty well covered. The only area where screensize can be an issue is if you have dozens of windows floating around, but as long as you maximize them or run in fullscreen you won't really have a problem.

The keyboard on the other side is hard to solve, when they keys aren't even large enough to fit all your fingers on the home row it can get annoying and I wouldn't want to type a lengthy text on that and of course the thing isn't large enough to fit a bigger keyboard in. Maybe its time to dust of IBM's TrackWrite [wikipedia.org] again.

Re:Limit is in the I/O (2, Insightful)

coaxial (28297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305180)

Voice commands will never be a primary interaction method. Why? It's just too hard to speak. Think about it. When you speak, you can literally think of nothing beyond the next word you're going to say. Under fMRI scans, the brain lights up when given even the most basic spoken interaction tasks. Conversely, when someone is interacting with the world in a nonverbal way, the brain is less active, thus allowing multiple tasks (e.g. thinking about something else) to take place.

Also, lets just look at the efficiency of interacting through voice. It's horribly inefficient. Just compare how long it took you to compose (create and revise) your post by typing, versus how long it takes for you to do it with only verbal instructions. Voice is just too slow.

Full laptop is better (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304720)

I personally find a full-sized fully-functional laptop much better. You can get them around $500 right now, and most of them will browse the Internet and write up simple office documents quite well. The mini-laptops are nice as a third computer (desktop, laptop, mini-laptop), but like the SMART car, are only useful to those who can afford to have the third one as a luxury.

Re:Full laptop is better (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304794)

If you have a desktop, and a mini-laptop, why do you need a full sized laptop?

Re:Full laptop is better (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304932)

Because if you actually want to get any real work done while away from home, a laptop works a lot better. An ultraportable is good for some web surfing, or some simple document editing. Maybe sending a few emails. But if you have to do any coding, edit some images (larger than the screen resolution), or work on large spreadsheets, then the tiny screen and cramped keyboard could prove to be quite limiting.

Re:Full laptop is better (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304960)

I disagree. Most users only need a laptop to play mp3s, chat, shop, and do light web stuff. The heavy stuff is why you have a first computer. If a contingency comes up where you need to create a multimedia presentation or write a thesis before you can get to your main box you can always borrow the local geek's portable gaming rig or use the desktop in the library or the back room. If you need massive screen real estate or processing power on a regular basis from your secondary computer, chances are you're not an, "average user". It's like saying a SMART fourtwo doesn't make a good second car because the situation might arise where it snows 2 feet files you're at work and you won't be comfortable driving it home or you might take it out to the pub and be unable to ferry three drunk chicks you picked up home. Those aren't likely. If you have kids you might have to pick up from school and ferry to extra curricular activities on a regular basis or live an area where freak blizzards are a common occurrence the fourtwo's not for you, but that doesn't mean it's not a good second car for someone who just needs something to putter around in.

Re:Full laptop is better ... or is it? (1)

fygment (444210) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304962)

A full laptop is a hot, heavy, short lived mother to lug around. And is the latest dual core or multi-ghz processor really necessary for anything but gaming, visual arts and number crunching? Something lighter, cooler, and with a longer battery life to surf, email, do some light editing, and read an e-boook seems to be in order for day to day living.

Re:Full laptop is better ... or is it? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304998)

I'm not saying you need a super fast machine. On the contrary. You could have a low power computer, but just make it full size.

Re:Full laptop is better (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305182)

"are only useful to those who can afford to have the third one as a luxury."

That's still a lot of people, and with sufficient market penetration used units will trickle down to other folks.

intel created this market (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304724)

intel developed the atom and platform 1st(1), has basicly created this market making it possible for this market to exist not supply a demand implied

(1) eepc was based on its reference platform

Re:intel created this market (3, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304836)

Contravening my sig again, but how much did intel pay you to post this comment? Products have existed in this space since the 1980s from GRiD computer. The market for handheld computers was created by Palm Computing. Nokia brought out the first credible, modern webpad. Intel is an also-ran in this area.

Is running Linux really a problem? (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304732)

From the article, "Many run on an operating system called Linux, favored by the technorati but little known among most computer users."

Is this really a problem? I think that most of the people who don't know Linux aren't really aware of what Windows is either. They'll probably call any windowing system "Windows". As long as there are pictures to click on and it opens windows, it will be of little or no concern.

Re:Is running Linux really a problem? (3, Interesting)

nedburns (1238162) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304792)

I agree. I configured my wife's eeePC for "advanced mode" (replacing the default GUI with KDE), and after a few frowns she was able to find everything she needed. It runs fast, doesn't catch viruses, and has an intuitive interface. Running linux in the segment form small, simple machines is no problem.

Re:Is running Linux really a problem? (2, Interesting)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304976)

I think that most of the people who don't know Linux aren't really aware of what Windows is either
You are right... but wrong. They may not know what Windows is, but they do know that they use it at work, their current computer, and they know that "windows is on everything" and "windows just works".

Yes they may not understand what an OS is, but they know Windows and they know where the start menu is and where hearts and solitare is. They also know that Windows is the old fogey next to the cool Mac guy.

However there are many computer friendly people that have no idea what Linux is. It could be anything to them. Go around the office and ask your accountants and marketing people if they know what Linux is. Now do you think that your accountents and marketing folks are just the stupid users you make "non-linux knowers" out to be? Probably not. In fact, they may be the "computer nerd" in their little circle of the world.

Re:Is running Linux really a problem? (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305010)

I think the bigger question is, since when are we the "technorati" -- i thought pretentious words like that were reserved for Apple fans and the like? You know, the turtle-neck wearing, New York Times-reading, latte-sipping "sophisticates" for whom consumer electronics are more interesting than anything they could build on their own?

Next question is, even if we qualify, do we really want to?

Re:Is running Linux really a problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23305072)

...for whom consumer electronics are more interesting than anything they could build on their own?

Given that the devices we're discussing are consumer electronics, isn't this kind of an odd stone for "we" to be casting?

Re:Is running Linux really a problem? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305104)

I think the bigger question is, since when are we the "technorati" -- i thought pretentious words like that were reserved for [...]
Pretentious words like that are reserved for whomever the speaker/writer wants to insult.

Re:Is running Linux really a problem? (4, Insightful)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305064)

It didn't sound to me like the article was making it out to be a problem. It didn't say it was a bad thing that these ultra-portables run Linux. It just simply stated that most people haven't heard of Linux. In addition, it complimented Linux by saying that smart people like it. That's almost as good as saying "Try Linux, you'll like it unless you're stupid".

I'll keep my iPhone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304746)

For portable web access, nothing beats an iPhone.

Re:I'll keep my iPhone. (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305040)

other than:
Being cheaper
Running Java
Running Flash
Having a full keyboard to type comments

I guess the answer has to be no... (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304750)

Yes... but can it run Vista...

Re:I guess the answer has to be no... (2, Funny)

amolapacificapaloma (1000830) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304824)

no

Nothing new here (in case you were wondering) (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304798)

Except if you never heard about a company that sells dumb terminals for a PC including virtualization software. Google for Ncomputing in that case. It's not a laptop.

The Shit Laptop (tm) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304802)

I'm starting a company called the Shit Laptop (TM). It'll be made exclusively in third world countries that have cheaper labor than India or China. And when that country become "too expensive", I'll just move it to another country that has cheaper labor.

In the meantime, as I grow, my operations in the USA will be continually diminished until everything is off-shored to cheaper countries. And then, one day, when the people of the USA are so poor that they can't even afford The Shit Laptop, I'll know that the USA is now the cheapest country in the World to manufacture The Shit Laptop and all of my business operations will then be off shored to the USA. You see, by that time, China, India, and the rest of the Third World will be the rich ones and America will be the poor slobs.

The Economists who said that globalization is the right thing for economic growth, will be in other countries making their cushy big bucks because America will not be able to afford to employ them. Of course, they will adjust and completely revamp their theories to coincide with economic reality - they are never right. Economists are ALWAYS behind economic reality - they're always trying to figure out what the markets are doing and they then create theories to describe what reality is doing. In other words, economists don't have a fucking clue. The market rules - the economists drools.

Sincerely,

The Rich Elite

P.S. Suck it peons!

Why so expensive? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304808)

Why are these machines so expensive? You can get a core duo lappy with a SXGA 15" panel, 2GB/160GB and a DVD burner for $650 brand spanking new (bluetooth, centrino, all that... from Dell) so why can't I get 200MHz single-core, bluetooth and maybe wifi, a VGA-res 16-bit color transflective TFT (say, 5"?) and an SD slot or two (3xSDIO+SDHC would be ideal, barring more slots) for around $200 or less? Four hours is sufficient battery life, although I would like more. I'm not going to write a novel on it. For that matter, why is an XO $300? Bah, humbug.

Re:Why so expensive? (2, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304954)

Why are these machines so expensive?

Because price only scales up with features, not down.

Re:Why so expensive? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305046)

Because price only scales up with features, not down.

It currently costs only $130 to produce the XO and that's got a dual-resolution screen, an internal mesh-networking wireless access point, and a fantastic power system, as well as some storage, audio... I call shenanigans.

Re:Why so expensive? (4, Informative)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305056)

For that matter, why is an XO $300?
The current production cost of an XO is ~188 USD [wikipedia.org] . This is how much they cost as part of the "Give one Get one" program (the other ~$200 was a charitable donation).

Why are these machines so expensive?
Just because you can get specs X for $650 doesn't mean you can get specs X/2 for $325. There are all kinds of reasons (size of market, supply and demand, scaling of technology, base costs, etc.)... but the end result is that for most metrics, the "metric per dollar" vs. "cost" graph is non-linear. There is a sweet spot of lowest dollar/performance, with fringe cases (ultra-cheap or ultra-performance) having a price premium.

In the case of these ultra-portables, a significant fraction of the cost also comes from the engineering and components required to make them so small and lightweight. You can of course get a clunky 200MHz laptop for real cheap (old model off eBay, for example), but it will not be as light or slick as the Eee PC or others.

The prices will probably keep dropping. But frankly I'm amazed at how cheap these ultra-portables already are: compare the performance, size, and price to what was available even 5 years ago and see how far we've come!

Re:Why so expensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23305132)

Hmm - Batteries, screens, R&D, distribution, marketing, and just plastic parts probably contribute most of the expense to bottom-tier laptops, and those are going to be essentially the same between an eeePC and a Dell bargain bin laptop.

It's the same reason that you don't see $5, 10GB hard drives - the cost of development, materials, and so on and so forth is bigger than revenue you can get if you go too cheap and minimal. The actually technology of the system isn't the driving factor at that point.

If you really want something like that, just buy used.

Re:Why so expensive? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305156)

Scale is not directly proportional to price. If it were, a nano-battery would cost next to nothing to buy. Wait until the demand picks up (and it will, because these are currently at a good price point), and you'll see parts manufacturers making more and more parts for these little guys, and the price will drop slightly, increasing demand again. Hopefully the price for bigger machines doesn't increase due to parts shortages though.

OLPC? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23304844)

Why do the OLPC and Classmate keep getting included in these articles?

Don't get me wrong, I have an OLPC, I love it... but the OLPC was only available for individual consumers for a month, is no longer, has no plans on being available to us again, and was never designed for us in the first place, but instead designed to be available to governments and to be operated by children. The Classmate is in the same boat as well. Which naturally puts these in a class completely separate (not arguing better or worse, just separate) from the rest of these 'netbooks' referred to, certainly completely different than the EEEpc.

In short, they has no place being compared to the new wave of sub-mini-net-whatever-books.

So not to repeat, but why does everyone insist on including them?

Standards...what the hell! (-1, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304848)

In this mininotebooks market segment, standards have been ignored. That is, one cannot grab memory from the Eee, stick it into the OLPC system and still expect the system to boot! It's pathetic, just like in the Linux world.

Sadly, just like on the Linux front, things on this front will get worse before they get better. It's my hope that there emerges a difference as compared to the Linux world where things are well into a decade [of serious Linux use] and we still have no standards on which package manager to use, and which file, with which version should be where on the system...let alone the [version] numbering.

By the way, I expect to be labeled troll or even worse but that is the truth.

Re:Standards...what the hell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23305020)

My eee has a stick of standard DDR2 200-pin in it. Swappable with quite a bit of notebooks out there. Your complaint is analogous to moaning that you can't take memory from your iPhone and stick it in your N810.

Re:Standards...what the hell! (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305074)

They all use standards just not the same ones, they are interoperable though!
RPM -> Deb , no problems
A alpha/Beta is still a alpha/Beta a .0 is still a release and a .1 is still an SP1, what more info do you want from a version number.

Re:Standards...what the hell! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23305094)

By the way, I expect to be labeled troll or even worse but that is the truth.
This is a pet peeve of mine. Your post raises good issues, some of which I've preached about for a long time, so don't get me wrong when I call you an idiot.

The sentence of yours that I quoted is just plain stupid. Yes, it may make some mods think twice before applying a down-mod, but it doesn't make your post sound any more intelligent. It's an argument by tautology. "You may disagree with me, but I'm right!" Like saying "face it", it adds nothing to the discussion other than telling us you really really think you're right.

Being told to agree with you is not in any way persuasive.

Linux: Year of the... 'Netbook'? (4, Interesting)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304858)

It seems like when you're dealing with price points of one to several hundred dollars, this is a big deal for free software, specifically Linux. When you're talking about adding anywhere from 25% to 100% of the cost of the computer just for the operating system, it paints things in a different light. That, and you'd have to put an older (soon to be non-supported) version of Windows (XP) on the thing. I can't see these running Vista anytime in the near future.

Should be interesting to see how this impacts the OS playing field...

Re:Linux: Year of the... 'Netbook'? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305118)

It seems like when you're dealing with price points of one to several hundred dollars, this is a big deal for free software, specifically Linux. When you're talking about adding anywhere from 25% to 100% of the cost of the computer just for the operating system, it paints things in a different light.

Which is why, if necessary, Microsoft will just have a specially-priced version of Windows just for the OEMs selling them.

That, and you'd have to put an older (soon to be non-supported) version of Windows (XP) on the thing. I can't see these running Vista anytime in the near future.

By the end of this year, these machines will baseline with dual-core 1Ghz+ CPUs and 2-4G of RAM. More than enough to run Vista. Which is right around the time I expect they'll _really_ pickup in the market - when they become useful as the only machine most people need to have, rather than a toy that must be supplemented with a "primary" computer.

Should be interesting to see how this impacts the OS playing field...

Very little change.

Impact on OS market- 'Netbook'? (1)

entropyfoe (1003942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305138)

It already has impacted the OS market...Microsoft has had to promise to keep XP alive to serve the "Netbook" market. They cannot conceed this segment to Linux without a fight and Vista will never run on these little puppies.
-Jay

Re:Linux: Year of the... 'Netbook'? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305166)

If as a lot of people claim one of the main bariers to linux use is that nobody even knows about it, then 'netbooks' , andriod & ubuntu are going doing a hell of a lot to fix that.

Once people know about & are familiar with linux thats leaves us with:
Interoperability (this ones pretty much solved tbh)
Pre-installed OEMs (well dells got our back here)
Hardware support (getting better)
Coherent Interface (hmm i cant actually see this getting fixed)
Lack of proprietary software
To sort out.

OLPC Redux (5, Insightful)

speroni (1258316) | more than 6 years ago | (#23304948)

The OLPC looked like an awesome product when it started. I was designed for use in the middle of no where for children in under developed nations. There was a buy one - give one program going on but that got shut down for some reason.

Lately Negroponte decided it should go with windows instead of the original open source OS, which prompted Bender to resign. And there is a general sense that they have sold out.

For a while it looked promising, I wanted to pick one up. Thought it would be great for camping. Get some PDF books and read it on the go in the open sunlight with a water resistant clam shell and a hand crank power supply. This seemed much better than a Kindle to me.

There was even a lot of DIY home brew hacks going on at first. People using it along with Arduino for some neat applications.

Alas... why must everyone sell out.

UMPCs (4, Informative)

HeavensBlade23 (946140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305022)

I was under the impression the preferred nomenclature was "UMPC". That's what I always hear them referred to as.

Netbook? (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#23305136)

Seriously, if all you need to do with a laptop is surf websites, then an iPod touch is better since it fits in your pocket when you're not using it. It also has email, Google Maps and YouTube. No it doesn't have a real mechanical keyboard, it doesn't have IM (yet), the screen isn't as big and the browser doesn't support Flash.

A small laptop may be more powerful and allow you to install other applications without limitations, however if you don't always carry it with you it doesn't really matter.

If it can't fit in my pocket, I'm not carrying it around "just in case".

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>