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Building the Dream Google Smartbook

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the call-it-the-ijoojoo dept.

Google 53

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Mel Beckman conjectures on the functionality necessary to make the Google 'smartbook dream' a reality, prioritizing the features any smartphone/netbook hybrid would require to succeed. From multitouch, to SSDs, to dual-boot capabilities, the list goes beyond what early Android-based entrants have to offer but remains within the realm of possibility, especially if Google CEO Eric Schmidt's hints at a future Chrome/Android OS convergence come to pass."

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53 comments

Google Fartbook (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362692)

Also known as the GFart Beta, it will be entering production in Q2 2010.

Not the Google way... (3, Insightful)

Apathist (741707) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362796)

But Google doesn't try to get it completely right the first time. They release and iterate... and it is that philosophy which is (one of) the foundations of their speed.

Re:Not the Google way... (1)

crimperman (225941) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363004)

> But Google doesn't try to get it completely right the first time. They release and iterate... and it is that philosophy which is (one of) the foundations of their speed.

You know right up until the last word I could have sworn you were describing Microsoft.

Re:Not the Google way... (2, Funny)

Marcx77 (1193559) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363098)

You mean the second word didn't point you in a certain direction?

Re:Not the Google way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30363342)

Doh!

Re:Not the Google way... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30365816)

Maybe i would use the word convergence instead of iteration. "Google way" includes a cloud usually, and different ways to access it depending on hardware/software installed. Take maps, i.e. They have Google Earth and Google Maps, and they converged in the cloud. But also they converged in other devices, like cellphones (there your location can be given in an approximate way if you dont have gps), and it kept evolving taking advantage of gps, accelerometers and cameras. What is the "dream" google maps device? All of them.

Some evolution is needed in the books front, at the very least to make a Chrome OS netbook with no storage a viable reading device, but for sure they will stay in the cloud (wont be surprised if Google signs agreements to enable users to "Buy" Amazon/B&N ebooks into user account, or enable users to "upload" their own books in some set of formats) so you will be able to read them (and continue reading) in whatever device you can access with a google account. Some will have some features nicer for reading books specially (tablets, screens with pixel qi technology, etc) but "best" could be defined for what else you can do with them, or how portable they will be, cheap, etc.

I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362802)

I for one welcome something.

Re:I for one... (1)

uuddlrlrab (1617237) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363248)

"...welcome our new Anonymous Coward Overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a random /. poster I could be helpful in flamebaiting, hijacking discussions, and general trolling."

You did it wrong.

More buttons! Less necessity for touchscreen(?) (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362886)

There's one UI concept which seems quite easy to grasp for most people (even so called "computer illiterates") and yet almost unused...except in many ATMs.

Buttons around the screen, pointing at menu/iconbar just next to them, with action changing depending on context. Yeah, probably they could be only below the screen for physical stability of the laptop and overall small size with relatively big screen, but it's still worthy of consideration IMHO (weren't they present in old Psion palmtops? Quite nice UI-wise back then, supposedly)

Quite cheap in themselves, perhaps less need for touchscreen...

PS. And please, primarily ARM.

Re:More buttons! Less necessity for touchscreen(?) (1)

rdebath (884132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363024)

It's been tried, that's what the function keys were originally for. If you go back to the serial terminals you have a line or three at the bottom of the screen for 'function key labels' that are linked to the Fkeys.

The problem is that unless the menu tree is very small the users have no feedback as to where they are in the menu tree and the "get lost" far too easily. With cascading menus the tree is right there. For general use you would need something to help like that.

Still it didn't stop it being very very quick for some users.

Re:More buttons! Less necessity for touchscreen(?) (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363072)

I think the thing it didn't work has more to do with the fact that such terminals were from the time when UI was generally...rough.

Don't forget that this concept is very successful - in ATMs. Also, I quickly checked UI of old Psion palmtops, and they do have something close (though buttons are single-purpose); I do remember they were applauded for their UI.

Chrome OS GUI, whatever it will end up looking like, will be certainly quite "simple". I wouldn't be surprised if you had difficulties finding any menu trees, at least for typical operation.

Re:More buttons! Less necessity for touchscreen(?) (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363184)

My phone has 2 buttons on the left and right at the bottom of the screen, and contextual menus on the screen right above them.

Re:More buttons! Less necessity for touchscreen(?) (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363234)

Yeah, mine phones have those too. Majority of phones do, actually. But they are perceived as quite distinct class of devices from small laptops and almost as "passe", in times of large touchscreen smartphones...

I hope ATMs have more potential to show the validity of the concept for smartbooks. Their screen sizes are similar. And they have many buttons around the screen.

Re:More buttons! Less necessity for touchscreen(?) (1)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363622)

Windows mobile and most phones have such buttons. The two physical buttons next to the Dial/Hang Up button, which also linked to the touch screen soft button, does exactly what you mentioned.

Re:More buttons! Less necessity for touchscreen(?) (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30365298)

I want every screen to be a touch screen. Not being able to just reach out and poke a screen, especially on a laptop, is a huge liability. And no, I haven't [yet] tried to do it to a non-touch-screen with disastrous results. I keep expecting to, though.

Re:More buttons! Less necessity for touchscreen(?) (1)

Ksevio (865461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30368082)

Oh like at Six Flags where they have the LCDs with pictures of the people on the rides outside and labels on the top saying "This is not a touch screen, please do not touch screen."

Of course my friend poked the image anyways "just to make sure".

Re:More buttons! Less necessity for touchscreen(?) (1)

StayFrosty (1521445) | more than 4 years ago | (#30365334)

My Sony PRS-505's (ereader) UI can be almost completely controlled by buttons like this running along the right side of the screen. I think the UI is incredibly easy. My mother has used it as well and she had no issues figuring it out.

google dreamsmartbook(beta) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30362890)

The new product name for their dream smartbook

Want! (2, Interesting)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362932)

If I can run ssh, VNC and NX on it that is. And Firefox, Thunderbird and evince. And Cisco VPN. That's my basic set of tools.
If it's a full featured phone too I'd spend maybe $500 on it.

Re:Want! (2, Interesting)

the ReviveR (1106541) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363188)

If I can run ssh, VNC and NX on it that is. And Firefox, Thunderbird and evince. And Cisco VPN. That's my basic set of tools. If it's a full featured phone too I'd spend maybe $500 on it.

Maybe you should keep an eye out for Nokia N900.

Ssh, Vnc and firefox work pretty nicely already.

Evince and vpnc (if that is ok for cisco VPN) were ported for N810 so I think those will also be available soon. Don't know what is the probability for NX or Thunderbird though.

Capability is only 50% of the sale. (4, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362948)

Instead of focusing only on capability, Google's management should also consider the style (of the netbook): the user interface and the aesthetics.

We can easily find a generic x86 notebook that has more capability than a MacBook Pro, but the profit margin of the latter is much higher than the profit margin of the former. The reason is that the MacBook Pro has appealing style. The user interface is comfortable, and the MacBook's case and keyboard are attractive.

A brand-new MacBook Pro does not sell for less than (approximately) $900.

The MacBook Pro is one of those uncommon products which is extremely successful because its touchy-feely features are more compelling than its techy features. The MacBook Pro is a triumph of the business major over the engineering major. Would Apple, in its early days, have been successful if Steve Wozniak (techy guy who designed the product) and Steve Jobs (touchy-feely guy who set design goals on how the product should appeal to consumers) had switched roles?

If Google's management expects to succeed in the market for netbooks, then the management should consider style in addition to capability.

Fashion requires persuasion (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363262)

It's not quite as simple as that. Other manufacturers provide high-end notebook computers often with features that Macs lack, and some with quite expensive "designed" cases. But they do not get the market share. Aesthetics are terribly culture-dependent; we laugh at heavy Victorian furniture which then was the height of style, and we now look at the Demoiselles d'Avignon and just see a "modern painting" while most of our ancestors saw it as shocking and ugly.

Apple have persuaded people that their house style is the height of computer aesthetics, I doubt people will ever laugh at it, but we can safely assume that in 10 years time they will just be another bit of anonymous noughties computer junk, while something completely unexpected may be regarded as a style icon of the period.

Google are evolving a house style; the change will come when (if) that style is perceived as being more aesthetically successful than the Apple one, not the other way round.

Separate handset? (1)

ResidentSourcerer (1011469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30378864)

One my peaves is that I cannot use the keyboard with the phone in my ear. I would like the device to come with a separate ear piece/mike, or alternately, a handset about the size of a soup spoon. Either would have a single button for pickup, hangup. As long as I'm in bluetooth range of the netbook, I can use my phone.

I also want voice recognition.
Netbook -- Grocery list -- onions, oranges, crackers. End.
Netbook -- phone Laura's cell. Retry every 10 minutes until answer. Don't leave message End.
Netbook -- Put short order on Apple. Sell 2000 shares at 185 End.

Full size keyboard - no (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362962)

Why do I have to have a full sized keyboard. At that point it is too large, I want something small and cheap for on the go. Something I can chuck in the bag and not worry about. The moment you fit it with a full sized keyboard it is too big.

It is like the increasing size of netbook screens, aynthing beyond 10" is really to large, and 9 is big enough.

I also don't understand the fascination of things like ethernet ports, WiFi is perfectly adequate for a netbook. Kill the port and make it robust.

Re:Full size keyboard - no (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363048)

I have an eee 900 (one of the earlier ones if you remember). It has an ethernet port which I use moderately frequently. The thickness of the eee is one of the causes of its robustness: it has a *HUGE* hinge on the screen which will never break, unlike so many other laptops. That makes the case deep enough to fit in an ethernet port comfortably without affecting the structural integrity of the machine.

Re:Full size keyboard - no (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363090)

They seem to be describing typical, and quite expensive at that (from all the hardware features, battery time, small thickness), laptop.

I don't think they realize what kinds of machines Chrome OS will target.

Re:Full size keyboard - no (4, Insightful)

rdebath (884132) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363092)

You're still thinking of the personal organiser of old. It's a good market slice but it's not what these are aimed at.

Netbooks (and by extension a netbook with a built in phone) are more aimed at the sort of place where normally if you're doing a lot of typing you'll be using a big computer but right now you're stuck on a train for an hour or three (or in the back of a car) so you have time to convert the notes you took in the meeting into a set of minutes. But you've just been in that meeting for two hours and a normal laptop would have a flat battery ... :-(

Another option is that the note taking and web browsing (aka "research" and "email") is all you need the computer for.

The keyboard is essential for the use cases of a netbook it doesn't have to be a full speed keyboard but you must be able to almost touchtype on it.

If you think about it this looks like the perfect terminal (browser or whatever you want to call it) for Google wave ... enough smarts to run a wave locally but with a solid enough connection for group working.

Re:Full size keyboard - no (1)

theManInTheYellowHat (451261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30364994)

Back in 1995 IBM unveiled the ThinkPad 701C which had a folding keyboard. These should be resurrected and put into Netbooks. It really was a slick way to shrink a full sized keyboard. For some reason that notebook was the only one ever to have that keyboard.
I have a BlueTooth Folding keyboard that is almost OK but it lacks many keys and you are forced to use meta keys for too many items.

Re:Full size keyboard - no (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363252)

Ubuntu/linux in general won't work with many broadcom chipsets out of the box, you have to connect to the internet "manually" with an ethernet connection/cable.
 
Besides, when the screen is inevitably shattered/ripped off in a freak accident with a 6-year old, you can plug it into the home network as a NAS server, or in many cases with the newer models featuring HDMI out, a HTPC. Many if not most netbooks ship with gig-e onboard now.
 
also a lot of offices don't have wifi (or the admin isn't around to share the WEP key with you) and if you're traveling on business you're screwed without an ethernet port if you need to check email or send your boss an update. i guess you could carry around a USB eithernet dongle but... why? internal ethernet ports probably cost the manufacturer $0.25 to implement.

Screen size tradeoff-remote handset (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363174)

One thing I find as time goes on is that I want smaller computers. I don't do serious graphics work on the move, and increasingly I find myself using a netbook more than my thin and light laptop which replaced my large screen laptop. Any of these can be plugged into a large monitor when needed, and currently I only ever need a DVD writer for things that will be installed to legacy machines.

The thing I want is quite simple: a Nokia web tablet but with a Bluetooth connection to a very small, very simple phone handset that has dialling buttons and makes calls. I want to be able to use this with the actual phone safely in a bag or inner pocket. A handset the size of the Toshiba G450 [gizmodo.com] would be ideal. If the thing could also be used as an occasional mouse, that would be perfect.

Author is a little clueless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30363210)

"The basic pedigree of any smartbook falls between that of a smartphone and an ordinary notebook. Today that means about a 1.6GHz dual-core CPU, a gigabyte or so of RAM, and around 100GB of disk space"

uh, isn't that the standard specs for a netbook? Since this is designed for very light duty processing there is no reason to go with an expensive powerhog cpu(yes, even the atom, especially with the required chipset is a powerhog compared to embedded/mobile phone CPUs). Most likely they will run on Snapdragon or similar platform.

Also since only the OS and applications will be stored on the disk why would it need 100 GB of storage?? Not to mention 100 GB SSD aren't very cheap.

I tried to read the rest of the article carefully... but it's basically a list of buzzwords.

Gadget-oriented point of view, missing the *needs* (1)

Alberic (777137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363538)

I suspect most of us on /. would NOT go for a netbook conforming to the article.

What about the weight ? The battery life ? The compact and lightweight charger you can carry in your jacket pocket without a doubt ?

The article doesn't cover the essentials, just the crunchy bits, the gadgets that would seduce the masses.

I certainly hope those gadgets won't get to us at cost of battery-life, not-so-useful functions, failure in case of a fall ("operate in in the palm of left hand, just typing that list before it gets out of my mind... oops." ).

I think people would go for a shiny feature-packed netbook. But what people *need* is certainly more than a gadget. Want to sell ? Make shiny stuff and a lot of buzz, that should do it. But what people who don't buy computers easily ask to the nerds around is "Will it be reliable ?"

Wrong: Keyboard, Windows (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 4 years ago | (#30363726)

3. Full-sized keyboard
Some netbooks take little to inappropriate lengths, as it were, with keyboards that are just slightly smaller than full size: generally about 90 percent as large.

Wrong. My favourite 'laptop' ever was a Toshiba Libretto, about the size of a paperback book. My favourite laptop now is a Dell Inspiron Mini 9. What's great about these machines is they're small - the Libretto slipped easily into a jacket pocket, yet (running Debian) it was a full blown machine on which I ran everything from Apache to Oracle. The Mini 9 isn't as small, but it still fits easily into my bicycle bag - which wouldn't take a full laptop. Some users who are poor typists and have fat, pudgy fingers may have difficulty with small keyboards. Good typists adapt. And when on the move small trumps big every time.

A standard VGA graphics-out port is a given, since you'll want to use your smartbook as a presentation tool (although that may require running Windows -- horrors! -- in place of Android).

Wrong. It's key to giving this machine decent off-power-grid performance that it runs a processor very much more frugal than an Intel. It needs to be an ARM (my preference), or a MIPS, or something new. Whatever it is, you will be able to run presentations - either Open Office will be ported (very probable), or something new will be written. You will not run Windows.

Re:Wrong: Keyboard, Windows (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30364306)

You're dead on with the non-Intel requirement. The tantalizing stories of new ARM-based netbooks (or "smartbooks" as I've heard them called) have kept me from buying.

What I want:

1. ARM-based processor. This means low power, meaning longer lasting battery life. Ideally something around 8 hours would be fantastic. Presumably this would also mean fanless (which means quiet, and thin).

2. Small - maybe 8" to 9". Also, light. My current aging setup is a PDA with bluetooth folding keyboard, for a total weight of about 1.5 lbs. I'd like something around the 2 lb weight range, or less. I no longer carry around my 5 lb MacBook unless I absolutely have to - it's simply too much weight (combined with books, sometimes lunch) to be lugging around a city all day.

3. Linux-based (or at least an option). Main reason my PDA/keyboard setup is no longer that viable is because it's a pain to use tools like scp, and there's no modern web browser. I'd like a machine to run ssh (and scp), definitely rsync, and have the option of installing open-source stuff like Perl, R, and LaTeX.

4. $200 price point. Don't subsidize it by requiring a wireless subscription, either.

I saw a prototype Pegatron machine that looked like it would meet all of these, but it's not available yet... every time I search, I keep hearing that these machines are just around the corner. In summer, they were coming about for Christmas 2009. Now that it's December, I hear they are coming out in Q1 2010.

Re:Wrong: Keyboard, Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30366246)

Have a look at openpandora (http://www.open-pandora.org/),
it has everything except it is not a phone. (and its not out yet...)

Re:Wrong: Keyboard, Windows (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 4 years ago | (#30372584)

I saw a prototype Pegatron machine that looked like it would meet all of these, but it's not available yet... every time I search, I keep hearing that these machines are just around the corner. In summer, they were coming about for Christmas 2009. Now that it's December, I hear they are coming out in Q1 2010.

H'mmmm... one of these [engadget.com], you mean? Yes, I'd definitely buy one!

Re:Wrong: Keyboard, Windows (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30365076)

3. Full-sized keyboard Some netbooks take little to inappropriate lengths, as it were, with keyboards that are just slightly smaller than full size: generally about 90 percent as large.

Wrong. My favourite 'laptop' ever was a Toshiba Libretto, about the size of a paperback book. My favourite laptop now is a Dell Inspiron Mini 9. What's great about these machines is they're small - the Libretto slipped easily into a jacket pocket, yet (running Debian) it was a full blown machine on which I ran everything from Apache to Oracle. The Mini 9 isn't as small, but it still fits easily into my bicycle bag - which wouldn't take a full laptop. Some users who are poor typists and have fat, pudgy fingers may have difficulty with small keyboards. Good typists adapt. And when on the move small trumps big every time.

A standard VGA graphics-out port is a given, since you'll want to use your smartbook as a presentation tool (although that may require running Windows -- horrors! -- in place of Android).

Wrong. It's key to giving this machine decent off-power-grid performance that it runs a processor very much more frugal than an Intel. It needs to be an ARM (my preference), or a MIPS, or something new. Whatever it is, you will be able to run presentations - either Open Office will be ported (very probable), or something new will be written. You will not run Windows.

To summarize the first point of your post: 1. Wrong. A few computer users albeit a very small minority, don't care about keyboard quality and size - they're willing to adapt to any keyboard, maybe just for the hell of it, because adapting makes them feel smart. This tiny group of users should be the focus of Google's strategy.

They should just buy the CrunchPad's hardware (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30364012)

and slap ChromeOS 1.0 on that. The CrunchPad sounds like it would be the perfect device to use as a proof of concept for later Chrome devices.

Re:They should just buy the CrunchPad's hardware (1)

mbeckman (645148) | more than 4 years ago | (#30366432)

That's actually a brilliant idea! (assyming the hardware really exists ;)

I know what the deal-making feature is for me... (2, Interesting)

nani popoki (594111) | more than 4 years ago | (#30364176)

As an owner of an XO-1, the thing that keeps me using my little green laptop even though it often gets mistaken for a kid's toy is battery life.

I fly to vacation travel. (I defy anybody to drive to Hawaii.) From Boston, Honolulu is at least 12 hours away. In-flight movies being what they are, I usually read a book or two. With my XO, I can listen to MP3s, keep a journal, read an eBook or play games. (Freecell and Adventure keep me amused.) I can even use my StarChart program to plan star-gazing while out there. [shameless plug]

What I can't do in the air (yet) is browse the web. Having the necessary apps stored locally is therefore a must and a device that needs "the cloud" to function is useless for air travelers. But I digress -- I was saying that battery life is the deal-maker with respect to netbooks for me.

I have two batteries for my XO. In flight, the wifi has to be turned off, which gives the XO over three hours of playing time on one battery -- more if I turn the back-light off and use the monochrome screen mode.

If the layover is sufficiently long, I can re-charge at least one battery while waiting for the flight from the west coast to the islands. Usually, I arrive after the cross-country flight with both batteries discharged, re-charge one and get most of the way to Hawaii before I'm out of power. I know of no other netbook-like device presently on the market that can do as well.

So rather than high-speed CPU, lots of storage, the ability to play HD movies or all the other features that seem to be standard in the current crop of netbooks, give me a machine that's frugal of battery, small enough to fit in coach class and equipped with enough built-in functionality to keep a man amused for six to eight hours.

Re:I know what the deal-making feature is for me.. (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30365104)

As an owner of an XO-1, the thing that keeps me using my little green laptop even though it often gets mistaken for a kid's toy is battery life.

I fly to vacation travel. (I defy anybody to drive to Hawaii.) From Boston, Honolulu is at least 12 hours away. In-flight movies being what they are, I usually read a book or two. With my XO, I can listen to MP3s, keep a journal, read an eBook or play games. (Freecell and Adventure keep me amused.) I can even use my StarChart program to plan star-gazing while out there. [shameless plug]

What I can't do in the air (yet) is browse the web. Having the necessary apps stored locally is therefore a must and a device that needs "the cloud" to function is useless for air travelers. But I digress -- I was saying that battery life is the deal-maker with respect to netbooks for me.

I have two batteries for my XO. In flight, the wifi has to be turned off, which gives the XO over three hours of playing time on one battery -- more if I turn the back-light off and use the monochrome screen mode.

If the layover is sufficiently long, I can re-charge at least one battery while waiting for the flight from the west coast to the islands. Usually, I arrive after the cross-country flight with both batteries discharged, re-charge one and get most of the way to Hawaii before I'm out of power. I know of no other netbook-like device presently on the market that can do as well.

So rather than high-speed CPU, lots of storage, the ability to play HD movies or all the other features that seem to be standard in the current crop of netbooks, give me a machine that's frugal of battery, small enough to fit in coach class and equipped with enough built-in functionality to keep a man amused for six to eight hours.

If you like battery life, you might be interested in an Asus 1005HA. Mine with Windows 7 lasted through my last 9 hour flight (I was reading pdf papers and writing a bit on it) and still had 15% battery life left when I turned it off for landing.

No underpowered laptops (1)

MxTxL (307166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30364446)

I don't want an underpowered laptop or a netbook. It's stupid. If i want a fragile gadget that takes it's own bag to carry around, I will carry my regular laptop.
What I want is a phone size appliance. I have an iPhone and it does most of what I want out of a mobile device.

What I want in addition to what the iphone offers:
Slightly larger screen
Open platform (like android), no restrictions, fully hackable.
Phone/device not tied to any carrier (most important)

Give me that, and I will gladly pay real money for it.

Re:No underpowered laptops (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30364814)

How about one of the many open phones (you mention Android as one example), that's either a SIM free version or available on multiple networks? We already have "phone size appliances like Iphones" - they're called phones :)

Re:No underpowered laptops (1)

MxTxL (307166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30365258)

Name one that isn't either hobbled with poor hardware or poor interface. Or one that is really hackable.

The Archos Internet Tablet almost hits the sweet spot for me... but even the Android implementation on it is neutered and not fully open.

I want something that takes the phone form factor, but whose primary purpose isn't phone. The iPhone/droid/touch of the world are nearly that but sadly tied to a carrier.

Think slightly bigger than iPhone, smaller than CrunchPad. Big enough to be useful but small enough to pocket and have with you at all times.

USB host and peripheral in same device (1)

Gunstick (312804) | more than 4 years ago | (#30364982)

Why can't I connect a USB harddisk to my phone?
Why can't I connect my netbook as harddisk to my PC? (ok, file share may work, but it's more cumbersome than just plug the USB cable)

So what I would like is a device which can act as a usb storage but at the same time also accept other usb storage devices connected to it.
Thanks for USB to be an assymetic protocol, why didn't they do it like firewire in the first place?

What's the point of dual boot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30365826)

The usual reason, I suppose, is so you can run Windows as well as something better. Why should a netbook have an Intel CPU, which is required for Windows? The platform seeks low power, so whatever the CPU it isn't going to be blindingly fast. A netbook is not something designed to play Darkfall at maximum graphic resolution. Dual booting is one thing that a netbook does not need.
-- newall

Talk about missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30366288)

Could these knuckleheads be any less creative, really? Why not think function rather then feature.

Ultraportable (think pocket size)

This would require either a folding display (LCD, LED, or eInk) or a mini-projector.
Might as well make it 1080p.

Multi-touch input.

The problem with touching the display screen is that you can't see through you fingers or fingerprints.
How about a touch pad or gesture recognition? And throw in a keyboard overlay for good measure.

Software emulation instead of dual boot.
With a multicore ARM cpu one core could translate while the other actually runs the code.
Native WINE could be used for the OS calls.

Lots of connectivity, USB 3, hdmi, WiFi, WiMax, 4G, bluetooth ...
Also camera, headset and stereo Mics. Throw in voice recognition as well.

Don't worry about the performance.
The equation for performance is

Gross Performance - OS drag = User Performance.

Less OS means more User for any give chip and there will always be hardware improvements.

"perfect" device (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30366544)

OK - here's a starter list for my ideal device (saying this without owning a netbook, droid or iphone):

Hardware wise:
1. Something in the size/form factor of the Droid. Big screen, slide out keyboard, etc, but a little thinner, easy to put in a pocket. But make it "sexier" like the iPhone (but with a physical keyboard - it's not that I mind touch keyboards so much as the screen real-estate they take when they are on screen).
2. Support use of a full sized bluetooth keyboard/mouse.
3. Docking station/charger where I can drop it in and have it connected to a full sized, (at least 1280x1024 or 1366x768 res) screen, keyboard and mouse.
4. Make it at least as "capable" as a dual core atom (though the ARM, etc processors show a lot of promise as far as speed and battery life go) w/ nvidia ION graphics
5. Removable media slot - sdd cards, etc, to store docs, pics/videos, apps, etc on, read pics/video from digital cameras, etc.
6. Make it "project" video on the wall, and project a keyboard (ala the laser keyboards) on the table so I can have something like a full laptop experience without hauling around a keyboard and monitor (yeah, I'm dreaming, but these technologies do exist :) ).
7. "enough" ram to run multiple apps simultaneously ("enough" depends on the state of the os, software, etc whenever this comes out. 2-4GB would be reasonable)
8. Camera with led flash, able to take good quality pics and video (basically comparable or better than the droid at least). Ability to turn on/off the led flash to use as a flashlight as well :)
9. Microphone so it can record annotations, and sound with video.
10. GPS for nav software, etc.
11. Battery life? Something comparable to a good cell phone rather than a netbook/laptop (i.e. measured in days rather than hours)
12. 3G, 802.11b/g/n, bluetooth 2.0 connectivity
13. headphone and microphone jacks

Software wise:
1. Run some merged version of Android/Chrome OS (we are talking google here, after all)
2. Be able to run productivity apps - open office, chrome/firefox/safari/whatever, ssh/scp, VPN software to connect back to the office, etc - i.e. the kind of stuff you'd want on a netbook.
3. Google Maps nav software, of course.
4. Open platform to develop new apps (of course)
5. Voip based softphone (so I can just get a data plan and save money, vs having to have the hardware and phone plan to do "cell" calls). Would depend on data coverage (quality and scope) for success (i.e. probably have to be available on verizon)
6. Basic video conferencing
7. Multitasking - talk while surfing the web, etc.
8. Some decent games, for those boring meetings :)

So basically - I want a device the size of a droid/credit card, with the capabilities of a voip phone and a netbook, with some additions.

What I would want in a "Dream Google Smartbook"... (2, Interesting)

johnkzin (917611) | more than 4 years ago | (#30366598)

a) call it what it is: a netbook ... smartbook is a pointless re-naming of the device category. Stop it.
b) TI OMAP 3xxx CPU (the 1GHz one)
c) Slate Tablet or Convertible-Tablet Netbook format -- either way, 5 way dpad and "Android Buttons" next to the screen
d) PixelQi hybrid LCD/e-paper 9" or 10" touch screen, multi-touch, 1280x720, 1280x768, or 1280x800 native resolution
e) DVI-I out, supporting 640x480, 800x480, 800x600, 1024x600, 1024x768, 1280x720, 1280x768, 1280x800, and 1280x1024 resolutions (the non-HD/wide screen resolutions using letter boxing to show an HD/widescreen resolution of the same width; so, a 1280x1024 monitor would show the 1280x720/1280x768/1280x800 native resolution of the device, with the black bands at the top and bottom of the screen)
f) 2-4 USB Host/OTG ports (keyboard, mouse, storage, network, etc.)
g) 1 mini-USB for charging and data sync (it's ok to ALSO have a conventional charger, this is just for opportunistic charging at any USB port that's available)
h) 3.5mm headset (bi-directional, so you can use it with VOIP/Skype/Google-Voice)
i) 1GB - 2GB RAM
j) 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB storage options
k) 1 or 2 full size SDHC slots
l) Android, with both the built-in Android browser, and the Chrome browser
m) The Android x86 and Acer port of Firefox for Android
n) Throw in a Fennec port to Android
o) 8+ hours battery life, even with Wifi and Bluetooth on
p) Wifi b/g/n
q) Full bluetooth stack (DUN, PAN, FTP, HID, BIP, A2DC, etc.)
r) PCI Express Mini card slot, for user-added 3G (or for carrier subsidized models)
s) fast-boot/splashtop optimizations for Android (perhaps some of ChromeOS'es ability to check the validity of the OS)
t) Android can easily/seamlessly hand-off to other OSes (UBuntu-ARM, Mer/Maemo, Windows CE, maybe ChromeOS if an ARM CPU is used; or Ubuntu, Windows, or any other available x86 OS (ChromeOS, etc.) if an x86 CPU is used)

The Aspire 1420P convertible tablet netbook might be a good start, if it was scaled down to 10", and changed to a ARM CPU with a PixelQi display.

I have more thoughts about it at: http://johnkzin.livejournal.com/55488.html [livejournal.com]

Don't you mean DynaBook? (1)

strangeattraction (1058568) | more than 4 years ago | (#30367100)

Wasn't this mental exercise called DynaBook aka Newton aka "personal intelligent communicator" aka "personal digital assistant". BTW the Coke has just announced "Coke Zero" aka Diet Coke aka Diet Pepsi. Are our attention spans really that short?

I think this guy has it wrong. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30367180)

GPS, accelerometers, and a compass in a netbook? Maybe i tablet but that is over kill on a netbook. A gps maybe but even that is iffy. Knowing where you are is great for things like finding a restaurant or store but netbooks tend to be used indoors and getting a GPS lock can be iffy at best.
3G/4G maybe but the customer friendly solution is tethering. I don't want to buy a second account just for my netbook. Bundle it in for an extra $5 a month or let me tether.
Touch screen? On a netbook? Seems like a tablet smart phone thing again to me. Maybe but I really don't want to take my hands from the keyboard all that often. Maybe I would like it if I tried it but I don't think so.

Camera, mic, and speakers plus a headphone jack? Yes
This is what I think a killer Smartbook/Netbook needs.
1. Long battery life. I want to run all day on a charge.
2. Small and light. No it doesn't have to be super thin if it means I loose battery life or standard connectors. I want something that is easy to carry and use.
3. WiFi and 3/4G but only if the 3/4G is cheap enough.
4. A good screen. It doesn't have to be huge 9 or 10 is fine but make it clear and I would like it to be high resolution. Let's get that DPI up.
5. Must handle HD video playback including FLASH.
6. A good UI for a Netbook/Smartbook.
7. An App store. Yes I know the internet is your app store except a lot of users don't want to hunt all over the Internet for an App. A lot of developers don't want to run an online store or advertise their apps.
An App store gives the user the convenience of just one place to look for apps and one interface to install, uninstall, and update apps. I know this will inflame the FOSS zealots but making it easy to sell apps gives the users more choice not less. And it gives the developers more choice not less. It can even help FOSS developers. I can release my app as FOSS but charge a small amount for the compiled version. If an end user really wants to see the source or modify it they can then download it from my website and do their own build. That way a FOSS developer can have an income stream/ BTW there is NOTHING in the GPL that makes selling FOSS illegal or even immoral. It is even encouraged by RMS. An App store would also help with preventing malware and other infections. If most end users only used the app store and didn't "side load" applications the OS would face fewer issues with trojans and other malware. Of course it would do nothing to prevent Worms or other exploits except hopefully prevent vectors through apps.
8. USB client as well as host. I would be very handy to use my netbook/smartbook as a mass storage device for my Laptop, Desktop, or Car stereo.
9. IR reciver and HDMI. If it can play HD video let me hook to my TV and use a remote with it.
10. Price point at around $299 or less

And here is one that is really a fantasy idea. I want a standard dock connector for Smartbooks and smartphones. I don't think USB will do for what I really want but it might if there was a standard interface.
I want to hook up my smartphone/book to my car and have it integrate with it. The connector would need to supply a GPS antenna feed or data, all engine and other data and a video connection from the screen to the smart device as well as a multitouch screen and buttons. I could use any navigation software I want and any entertainment software I want in my car. I would no longer be stuck with the GPS system maps they provide or entertainment choices they make.
I don't see that happening but it would be really nice.I

Frankly Apple could pretty much do it tomorrow with an iPhone with a keyboard, a bigger screen and multi-tasking. But would Apple want to lose Notebook sales? Apple is making money hand over fist as is so they lack a reason.
Other companies all have issues that would make it harder.
Intel could do it except that I don't think the Atom is the right way to go. Maybe if they bought nVidia.
HP doesn't do consumer software.
Google doesn't do hardware.
The company besides Apple that could pull it off is Nokia.
They build hardware but they don't have any PC sales they want to protect.
They can do software but can they make it pretty is the question.
The other option would be for Motorola and or HTC to partner with Google. The lack of one master for the software hardware stack makes it a bit iffy. One of the best ways to drive down hardware costs is to make the profit on the applications sold through the store. Google could share the income with the device vendors but I see that as potentially a bit messy.

Missing critical feature: price (2, Insightful)

dcmoebius (1527443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30368384)

Be it a netbook, smartbook, or smartphone, price is one of the most important features of the device.

Most successful netbooks now are in the $300-400 range, and the most prominent smartphones all come with subsidies to help defray some of the initial sticker-shock.

If you're selling users on the idea that this device will satisfy most of their computing needs, but isn't meant to replace a full machine, then you need to reflect that in the price.

If you read the article (I know, slashdot sin), the author wants to cram a SSD, wireless n, 3G/4G, GPS, compass, multitouch, a high capacity battery, and a discrete processor for graphics into this thing. I'm all for it, if you think you can keep it under $450 dollars and 3.5 lbs.
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