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On the Possible Handtop Paradigm Shift

simoniker posted more than 9 years ago | from the possible dept.

Handhelds 188

captainJam writes "Handtops.com has a piece about the effects of handtops (text version) such as the OQO, FlipStart and others on the computing experience. With a physical size that's slightly larger than a PDA, a handtop has the power of a standard ultra-portable laptop - 1GHz, 256-512MB RAM, USB, FireWire, etc. These factors, coupled with a dock (plug in a monitor, keyboard and mouse) allow one to imagine a world where maybe they won't need a desktop, or laptop, or mp3 player, video jukebox, digicam, etc. Maybe one day companies might even be willing to pay for part of your handtop, knowing that they would have to invest less in upgrading? It's not all rosy, the devices are still under $2000 and aren't due out until later this fall (OQO) or Q1-2 2005 (FlipStart), but this is an important shift worth letting the mind ponder." Of course, the OQO has been in development for a while, now.

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188 comments

We may indeed establish an entirely new paradigm! (3, Funny)

Scoria (264473) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946483)

Paradigm Shift

So, who hijacked the time machine and transported us all to 1998?

WHAT HAPPENED NEAR TUGUNSKA RIVER, SIBERIA??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946571)

MOD *INTERESTING*!! Russian scientists claim [news.com.au] to have discovered the wreck of an alien device at the site of an unexplained explosion [about.com] near Tugunska river, Siberia. On June 30, 1908, what is widely believed to be a meteorite exploded a few kilometres above the Tunguska river, in a blast [www.orc.ru] that was felt hundreds of kilometres away and devastated over 2000 square kilometres of Siberian forest.

Stupid form factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946491)

What's the point of these? They're still too big to carry in your pocket. If you're carrying a bag anyway, you're better off with an ultra-portable.

Re:Stupid form factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946599)

Yeah, I'm waiting for the kneetops, fingertops, or eyelashtops, myself.

lol (1)

Imidazole (775082) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946493)

If your Linux print server is also running an intrusion detection system, what do you have? Simple, you are running a Linux Intrusion Detection System on your Common Unix Print System, or.. LIDS on CUPS! http://www.serversunderthesun.com/tin/

So,,, (4, Insightful)

ArmenTanzarian (210418) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946500)

Handtops.com has a piece about the revolutionary effect of the new handtops? You don't say...

There's a lot of technology that goes nowhere, even with a vocal group of geeks behind it.

KARMA WHORES, POST THIS ON SLASHDOT!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946589)

I'm on lazy mood, Karmawhores, submit this news on Slashdot!!Russian scientists claim [news.com.au] to have discovered the wreck of an alien device at the site of an unexplained explosion [about.com] near Tugunska river, Siberia. On June 30, 1908, what is widely believed to be a meteorite exploded a few kilometres above the Tunguska river, in a blast [www.orc.ru] that was felt hundreds of kilometres away and devastated over 2000 square kilometres of Siberian forest.

Re:So,,, (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946844)

My 12" iBook is about as small as a computer can go and still be functional. I have a Clie with a color screen, and while balsy, it's really only good as a datebook and a way subject my victims to rolls of photographs of my infant daughter.

I've tried the Clie for bus schedules. (SEPTA lets you pull them off the website in PDF) I either have to zoom out to the point that the text is illegable, or zoom in to the point that you are constantly scrolling to figure out which column is my stop. I actually find it faster to just keep the iBook in my laptop in sleep mode, and call up the schedules on screen.

And of course, there is the matter of the keyboard...

It won't replace the desktop (2, Funny)

wheany (460585) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946501)

It won't replace the desktop at least as long as my fingers are not ultra portable as well.

LATEBREAKING NEWS!!! KARMAWHORES, POST THIS!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946619)

WHAT CAUSED A BLAST THAT WAS 2000 x Hiroshima nuclear bomb in 1908?? We have the answer now!Russian scientists claim [news.com.au] to have discovered the wreck of an alien device at the site of an unexplained explosion [about.com] near Tugunska river, Siberia. On June 30, 1908, what is widely believed to be a meteorite exploded a few kilometres above the Tunguska river, in a blast [www.orc.ru] that was felt hundreds of kilometres away and devastated over 2000 square kilometres of Siberian forest.

Re:It won't replace the desktop (1, Funny)

Matrix_X (145593) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946652)

How are your fingers not ultra portable?
I can take mine wherever I go, in fact, I have to take them wherever I go.

Re:It won't replace the desktop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946744)

*woosh*

Input (3, Interesting)

pedestrian crossing (802349) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946505)

The problem always comes back to the input device. Sure, you have your keyboard/mouse when you're docked, but when you're not, input just plain sucks...

Re:Input (2, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946576)

The solution is easy. If I am going to be away from my keyboard I carry a small philipino child around in my rucksack. When I need to something typed I just dictate to the kid and voila, tiny fingers do the typing.

Note, kids require air food and water (not included with rucksack or handtop)

Re:Input (4, Interesting)

CommanderData (782739) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946579)

Both the OQO and Flipstart have keyboards and a pointing device (trackstick and touchscreen on the OQO, touchpad and trackstick on the Flipstart). I know these aren't full size keyboards, but there are tons of people who type on even smaller, less functional ones. Look at the keyboards on Pocket PCs, Palms, and the Blackberry.

Re:Input (3, Interesting)

halowolf (692775) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946771)

What I think might help, but probably wouldn't take off is the fact that the keyboards on these types of devices are focused on replicating many keys on a standard keyboard when in practicality less keys than that are needed to perform the same job.

Phones have the entire alphabet and extra characters mapped to 10 buttons and I personally hate putting in SMS messages with them. But there is no arguing that once you are proficient at it you can put them in quite fast. Though nowhere near as proficiently as if that person had the same capability with a full sized keyboard.

What I think might help is if there was a standardized mini keyboard with multifunction keys that can represent a number of characters, similar to what a standard keyboard does but with a alot of thought put into efficient and fast typing with fewer keys. That way there are fewer keys required and they could be bigger for those big fingered folk. And since it would be a standardized layout there would be more chance of the design, catching on. Though the current situation of the patent world would proabably put the kibosh on that wishful thinking.

However I have no illusion on a fantasy like this happening anytime soon, or if its even practical.

Re:Input (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947170)

and they will fail miserably because of one thing...

Vendor lock in mentaility. Until these "new" systems are based on a 100% open system they will fail. eBooks fail because everyone and theri brother hasto have their own format. So when Danny and his old RocketEbook part ways and he buy's a new-fangled ebook he now has to RE-BUY every one of his books. I'm not about to do that with my data and software. If I rely on a expense tracking system that holds it's data in a special XYZ file and then switch to a different brand of palmtop that now runs a completely different OS, I have to re-buy all my software just to access my data!

Bull, make these things run a standard OS... windows if it has to be using a "popular" OS.

This is one reason I settled on a Sharp zaurus, my data is 100% open and I can access it on my pda, my PC and elsewhere if I need to. and in 40 years that data is still readable by me.

These things will be a failure until we start getting cooperation and open standard implimented.

The concept is great, if I could snag my palmtop on my way out of the house, it has my music, the morning tribune, my schedule, mapping data, email etc.. that will allow me to listen to some music while I read the morning paper and alert or even innterupt me about important appointments that morning it would be great. The technology to do this wonderful information convergence is here today, but companies absolutely REFUSE to use open standards to make this happen.

the hardware means nothing, It's in the stupid tricks companies try with these portables that lock a device to a specific vendor that kills them.

and I do not see that changing within the next 10 years.

Re:Input (2, Insightful)

Zzootnik (179922) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946647)

Actually, its not just that...there's one other part that needs improvement...the display. They could put a 9 ghz Opteron and Geforce 99999 in it, but watching on the dinky little screen would be a pain.
I've read ebooks on a pda before and yes- it does work, but I'd really like to see some big innovation in display- like a small holograpic generator...I seem to recall seeing something about a micro projector that might work well even... combine that with that laser-traced displayed keyboard that you can display on any surface and use it, and there might be something pretty keen...Of course you'd have somewhere around 5 minutes of battery life... One problem at a time I guess.

Re:Input (1)

ducman (107063) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947252)

I've been asking why something like this didn't exist for years. The reason that it still doesn't (really) exist is clear from these comments--nobody seems to "get it."

I'm a consultant, and travel 100% of the time. I carry a laptop with me, but I virtually never actually use it on the plane. Instead, I go into a client office each day, and hook my laptop up to their monitor and network, and plug in the mouse I carry with me. I sit at that desk and work until late in the evening, then put the laptop in my bag and carry it back to the hotel.

I would LOVE something the size of a paperback book that included a mid-range CPU, 512Mb of RAM, a 2.5" hard disk, and standard VGA, USB, 100 base T and PS/2 connectors. Then, most of the time, all I'd have to carry would be that little "brick." I'd have my own monitor, keyboard, and mouse at home, and make use of the monitor, keyboard and mouse on my desk at the client site.

Of course, if I really needed to be able to use the thing on a flight, it seems like it would be easy for someone to design a laptop-type peripheral that you plugged the brick into.

Of course, if everyone would just switch to Macs, I wouldn't need the whole computer in the brick, I could just use my external 2.5" firewire disk. But Windows won't run programs off the external disk without installing them....

Psion's 1997 paradigm shift (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9947432)

The problem always comes back to the input device.

That's why I love my Psions. I have a Series 7, a netbook and a series 5mx, and I'll weep on the day they're all gone. Not only are they small, light (1kg) and incredibly durable (you could toss the netbook, frisbee-like, into a brick wall and use it afterwards), they've got great battery life, touchscreens and tremendous keyboards. Not quite full-sized, but large enough for me, a ham-handed ogre, to touch-type on.

I've been looking for suitable replacements for each for 4 years now, and none exist. Every potential replacement lacks some feature or another.

not really close to desktop computing power (4, Insightful)

ecklesweb (713901) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946509)

These handheld devices are getting more powerful and more useful, but with the specs listed (1GHz, 256-512 RAM), you're not really talking desktop or even normal laptop computing power. That's especially true given that these devices aren't coming out until the Fall or early 2005 (yeah, I'll believe it when I see it).

Post a story when they pack computing power equivalent to a six-month old desktop into a handlheld form factor.

Re:not really close to desktop computing power (2, Funny)

wed128 (722152) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946777)

true...but 1Ghz is enough for menial tasks like office and webbrowsing...

i do however think these things should run something like palmos, a tailored linux distro, or winCE to keep the memory/horsepower footprint down.

Re:not really close to desktop computing power (2, Insightful)

jcenters (570494) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946935)

true...but 1Ghz is enough for menial tasks like office and webbrowsing...

Huh? 500 mhz was more than enough for menial tasks like office and webbrowsing!

Geez, I have an 800 mhz iBook that I use for Quark, Photoshop, software compilations, etc. Not to mention word processing, webbrowsing, music, and email.

Talk about software bloat. What are you running, a beta copy of Longhorn?

Re:not really close to desktop computing power (0, Redundant)

wed128 (722152) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947192)

i'm running slackware on my 400mhz laptop, and i'm perfectly happy with it. But have you seen XP lately? BLOATBLOATBLOAT

Re:not really close to desktop computing power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9947094)

WTF? why is this modded as funny? I mean, aside from his sig...

Re:not really close to desktop computing power (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946930)

I think you underestimate the power a 1GHz system can have.

No, you won't be able to play DOOM 3 on it. But only hardcore gamers are playing that. Outside of specialized tasks, currently the rest of the world can do pretty well with 500MHz. My sister is using Windows XP, Open Office.org on a 300MHz PII laptop, and it runs pretty well.

The power of a six month old desktop shouldn't be put into a portable device unless desktops suddenly became 5x more efficient. The desktop replacement devices are IMO worthless, and puting such a wasteful device in a handheld is silly.

Re:not really close to desktop computing power (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947085)

My 800Mhz athlon/640MB PC-100 RAM, is slated for at least a couple more years of use. I dualboot linux and winxp, and run winxp under vmware under linux. Personally, I'd rather double my RAM than double my Mhz.

In terms of formfactor, as a student, I wish I'd bought a laptop. But really what I need is PIM, notetaking (with adv. math symbols), and maxima & octave & emacs. I can wait to get back to my dorm to do heavy keyboarding, but I want/need to replace my HP-48. So a handheld looks very interesting...

Re:not really close to desktop computing power (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9947199)

why? you dont need it.

when do you need to compile software extremely fast while you are walking?? I can play back any multimedia and do 99% of your tasks with a 600mhz processor and with acceptable preformance.

why do people think that faster = better? because it is not.

Re:not really close to desktop computing power (1)

fr0dicus (641320) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947414)

I'm not sure about anyone else but I can't think of anything that I'd want to do on a small machine like that that requires any more power than that. My only 'Wintel' PC is a 533Mhz C3 Mini-ITX Via box, and it runs Windows XP nicely with 512MB of Ram (minus a bit for shared graphics!).

Most Companies Will Not 'Go-Halfsies' (4, Interesting)

grunt107 (739510) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946515)

Maybe one day companies might even be willing to pay for part of your handtop, knowing that they would have to invest less in upgrading?

Most companies want their information/apps locked into their computers - some even to the point of assigning a company laptop to perform off-site work.

For small/medium companies with less sensitive data protection needs, it could help some of their bottom line. But employee expenses will be their major reduction focus.

Still UNDER $2000? (2, Funny)

Elecore (784561) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946519)

Shame... I mean, I can't wait until the prices rises. I'm not buying one until they are AT LEAST $5000.

I caught my child experimenting with UnixWare! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946521)

Today I walked in on my 12-year-old boy alone in his room experimenting with UnixWare. Frankly, I am very ashamed! What, I ask, would drive such a good boy to dabble with such filth? He's only 12, for Christsake!

No, it's not time.. (4, Interesting)

sporty (27564) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946522)

Each of my hands, (I have two), in a relatively relaxed open position, are somewhere between 4 and 5 inches wide, from thumb to pinky (narf). When my eyes are tired, focusing on distant objects becomes "hard".

Tiny screen plus uber small keybaord? No tnx. If i have the realestate, I rather have my 18" or however wide keyboard it is + a 19" monitor. For travelling, I rather have something big enough but not outweigh an every-day text book plus wide enough that I'm not squinting and can see my screen, w/o carrying around a full sized monitor.

Dude! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946924)

I found just what you are looking for! a laptop - just don't get the one called a P-P-P-Powerbook...

One Device for everything (1)

Noizemonger (665926) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946524)

I personal long for the time when i will have just ONE portable device for everything (phone, email, calendar, Word prcessing, Internet etc) and one central server at home. I think this would be possible already, but the main problem is the lack of good design and innovative IO-Solutions (wheres my foldable Keyboard?).

Re:One Device for everything (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946605)

Here [thinkoutside.com] . The Bluetooth version is very cool.

Heat (2, Interesting)

oasis3582 (698323) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946530)

I have a really tough time believing that these things remain at a bearable temperature. Laptops with these same processors can still get hot on the old lap. Does anyone have the Sony or know what sort of thermal protection these have? (if any) Might be a nice feature to have in a $2k gadget. Also, how quiet are these things?

OQO-due1Q2045 (1, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946531)

OQO has been in "next quarter" status for, what, 3 years now? They get /.'ed about every 6 months with their "any day now" press releases. Don't call me until is ships.

No, I take that back.

Don't call me until version 3 actually arrives. Anything with so many delays (usu the result of design or production difficulties) is going to be crap on its first two releases.

invest less in upgrading? (4, Informative)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946540)

You'll invest MORE in upgrading, since these little überdevices are completely closed, from a platform, and probably source/OS perspective. Need the new wireless standard? Sorry. Need a RAM upgrade to run Longhorn? Sorry. Need a dual-head video card for a special project? Sorry. Neat PDA though, can you watch Seinfeld on the way to work?
I predict that the more this appeals to someone in your office, the less work that person does to begin with.

WHAT HAPPENED NEAR TUGUNSKA RIVER, SIBERIA??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946542)

Russian scientists claim [news.com.au] to have discovered the wreck of an alien device at the site of an unexplained explosion [about.com] near Tugunska river, Siberia. On June 30, 1908, what is widely believed to be a meteorite exploded a few kilometres above the Tunguska river, in a blast [www.orc.ru] that was felt hundreds of kilometres away and devastated over 2000 square kilometres of Siberian forest.

Re:WHAT HAPPENED NEAR TUGUNSKA RIVER, SIBERIA??? (-1, Offtopic)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946631)



Jesus Christ! That means an alien space fleet must have crashed in my backyard!

KFG

Handjob? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946546)

Gee, I'd rather stay in the blowjob paradigm, thank you very much.

goggles to eliminate the lcd screen (2, Interesting)

klang (27062) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946551)

Is there any PDA, labtop or the like without any form of screen, only with a set of goggles or a head-up display?

I want the big screen, but I don't want to carry it around .. I would say that a set of high definition LCD goggles would do the trick .. and be less power consuming as they wouldn't have to be very big?

Re:goggles to eliminate the lcd screen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946586)

Yes, search google for "virtual boy".

Old idea, new (possibly better) implementation? (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946557)

This sounds [vaguely] similiar to what the PowerBook Duo was supposed to become. The Duo had several problems that prevented it from catching on; will these "handtops" go the same way?
-:sigma.SB

Skip the article (1)

mst76 (629405) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946565)

Save your time, the "article" reads like a blatant piece of astroturfing with an unhealthy dose of wishful thinking. Unless the price of these "handtops" drop under $1000 fast, they'll be an even bigger flop than the Tablet-PC.

Re:Skip the article (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946855)

a blatant piece of astroturfing with an unhealthy dose of wishful thinking

Are you sure you aren't reading my project deliverable?

Re:Skip the article (1)

wed128 (722152) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947256)

the tablet PC hasn't flopped...it is still used in industry and niche fields. This is exactly where a device like this is headed. It will drop off the public scope and exist only within it's niche of usefullness.

Why companies should pay for a 'handtop' (2, Interesting)

Supp0rtLinux (594509) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946578)

Here's my company's current standard for mobile users:

$1700.00 - IBM Thinkpad T41
$150.00 - Port replicator
$80.00 - Extra battery
$200.00 - Motorola T720/T730 Cell phone
$350.00 - Palm or Sony PDA
$800.00 - Software... PDA sync software add-ons, cell phone addy book sync software, etc.
-------
$3300.00 approx

Compared to the OQO alternative:
$2000.00 - OQO
$200.00 - Cell phone with bluetooth and GPRS for all-time internet access
--------
$2200.00 approx + added productivity capabilities.
So... in the near future it would seem we could save $1000.00 per user and get increased productivity. Not much justifying and convincing to do it would seem...

Re:Why companies should pay for a 'handtop' (4, Funny)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946624)

Realising the device you left on the train contained absolutely everything... priceless :)

Re:Why companies should pay for a 'handtop' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946648)

It gets even better when you consider "semi-mobile" users who not only have the Laptop and Palm PDA, but also have a full desktop unit in their office that gets used about twice a week. The OQO is expected to be used at your desk and on the go by office workers, so no desktop needed (just the docking stand and monitor, keyboard and mouse).

Add another $1000 to $1500 for that to your original $3300 estimate and you can really see a cost savings for the OQO in a business setting. Of course the OQO specs are woefully inadequate for anything other than Microsoft Office, e-mail and web browsing, so it may not appeal to your average /. reader.

Re:Why companies should pay for a 'handtop' (1)

sehryan (412731) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946957)

Um, if they are going to dock the OQO, why don't they just dock their laptop? All the power, files they worked on during travel all ready available, and no extra cost.

Re:Why companies should pay for a 'handtop' (3, Insightful)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946651)

So... in the near future it would seem we could save $1000.00 per user and get increased productivity. Not much justifying and convincing to do it would seem...

Yes, but today, the laptop actually works.

Re:Why companies should pay for a 'handtop' (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946655)

$200.00 - Cell phone with bluetooth and GPRS for all-time internet access

Or, depending on your needs, a PCMCIA card that accept the GPRS slice.

Re:Why companies should pay for a 'handtop' (1)

CommanderData (782739) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946688)

$200.00 - Cell phone with bluetooth and GPRS for all-time internet access
Or, depending on your needs, a PCMCIA card that accept the GPRS slice.


Except that the OQO and Flipstart are lacking PCMCIA slots. No CompactFlash slot either... Too bad they crippled them like that.

That's some crazy company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946865)

Any company that spends that much to keep you connected is ignoring its bottom line. You don't need both a company pda and a company laptop. Make the average employee lug the laptop around--it's cheaper anyway if you just add Wi-Fi. As for the handtop, have you seen how underpowered they already are? If you're doing light enough tasks to use a handtop, you didn't need such a high-end laptop. For most people your example system doesn't need a port replicator. The sync software is either included with the PDA and phone or won't be as expensive as you think. For example, CommonTime's Lotus Notes ActiveSync product is $100 a year and Outlook syncs with PocketPCs out of the box. As for the cell phone, what's that? A free phone with service contract? WE'LL TAKE IT.
And get the extended battery, who wants to lug around a second battery when they could use the larger battery and have it fit better?

XP Home (1)

oasis3582 (698323) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946623)

Here's a funny thing: You have to figure that the vast majority of people buying these are going to be the corporate types trying to replace their Blackberries with something even more functional. So why do most of these damn things have XP Home on them?!?!

Newton! (1)

imag0 (605684) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946640)

Shift your Paradigm's till your fucking blue in the face. I want newton '05.

Re:Newton! (1)

oasis3582 (698323) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946711)

No shit right? I cant believe that Apple is staying out of the PDA/ handtop business so long. Think how much people would pay for a PDA that looked like an iPod.

Re:Newton! (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947053)

A mix of politics and once-bitten, I think. The Newton was a beautiful piece of hardware that turned out to be a financial disaster -- and right when it was showing signs of not being a disaster was when Jobs came back to Apple, and IIRC the Newton was one of the first things to get "Steved." Which is really too bad, because if they'd stuck with it, it could have captured the mindshare (and market share) Palm did a couple of years later. Now, I suspect that anyone who suggests any kind of handheld computer at Apple is greeted with a mix of disdain and horror.

Re:Newton! (1)

oasis3582 (698323) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947117)

Very well said. However, I think that we are in an age where techies have a great deal of disposable income, and would like nothing better than to own an Apple iPDA or an iCellPhone. Sexiness in design is becoming almost as important as functionality, and few take note of that as much as Apple. Also, the more they branch out into other sectors, the more computers (read: OSX copies) they will sell. I'd be interested to see how many people bought their first Apple computer after they got their iPods.

not something I'm interested in (3, Interesting)

Pidder (736678) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946650)

These factors, coupled with a dock (plug in a monitor, keyboard and mouse) allow one to imagine a world where maybe they won't need a desktop, or laptop, or mp3 player, video jukebox, digicam, etc.

Multifunctional devices are all dandy but I don't see how they could compete with devices designed for one thing only. Sure, things develop and multifunctional devices get better people might say but so does the single purpose device. There are mp3 players you connect to your mobile phone but will they ever get as good or compete with say, the iPod?

Will the camera in most mobile phones ever get as good as a good digital camera? I doubt it.

It's just too expensive and difficult to bring the best of everything into a device of this kind. You compromise and hope that someone REALLY NEEDS all these things in small package enough to be willing to pay alot of money for it. I certainly won't.

Simple pocket space. (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946799)

I got a factory job where I need ear protection for safety and listen to music for sanity (listening to machines for 8 hours would drive me MAD MAD I TELL YOU!!!!)

With travel time that is just a little bit to much for my Nomad Zen. So I got two Mp3 player, an iGb-100 (small 1.5gb player from iRiver) in my pockter and the Zen on my belt. I got my wallet of course. Usually some small change and other stuff and my phone. Keys and the job alone adds one for the locker and one tag for signing in and out. A knife and pen. Maybe a roll of drop (candy).

In short I need a belt just to keep my damn pants from sliding down.

I could of course bring a book to read in the breaks or a GBA.

Can you imagine the bulge in my pockets? I don't care about my looks and work in place where people don't care either but in a suit this doesn't look good.

So yeah I see some sense in these multi-capabilty devices. They are not for me as the phone-mp3-game don't have the storage to play music for 8+ hours or the battery life.

No the camera in a phone or pda will never be as good as a dedicated camera. But if you need/want to make photo and send it with your camera then I wish you luck with your external camera, good luck in finding a way to connect the two, in getting the phone to regonize the camera, in making sure the phone messaging format can be used with your camera's storage format. Etc etc etc.

You are walking around with two devices, the guy with the cameraphone with 1. Add an mp3 player and you got 3, the guy with the supergadget still got 1. Add a game platform and you got 4 devices, the guy with supergadget still got one. Add a PDA function and you got 5 devices. The guy with the supergadget only 1.

Sure you will beat him in functionality but he doesn't look like a geek.

Re:Simple pocket space. (1)

Pidder (736678) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947173)

Sure you will beat him in functionality but he doesn't look like a geek.

I am a geek :-)

Re:not something I'm interested in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9947373)

This is not the same as putting an mp3 player or a camera on a phone. This is taking that multi-function general-purpose computer sitting on your desk and making it ultra-portable. Last I checked, PCs have been doing really well as multi-function devices. If you can shrink it down and manage to lose no more functionality than a >800x600 interface, I see no reason a handtop wouldn't be just as useful. A system with the same functionality as a PC but with more portability than a laptop seems like an instant win to me.

Useful? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946654)

``With a physical size that's slightly larger than a PDA, a handtop has the power of a standard ultra-portable laptop - 1GHz, 256-512MB RAM''

Reading that made me feel a bit icky. It has the size of a device one would like to use on the road, but specifications that likely make that unfeasable (battery life?). So it's not good for on the road, maybe it's good on the desktop? Well, I doubt whether such machines will use standard parts, so upgrades/customizations will be expensive if not impossible.

Handtops may still be useful for those who travel a lot, but not that long that they would need stellar battery life. However, PDAs have not been crazily successful, and one step up there is Apple's iBook, which is very hard to beat.

Now, of course, if someone made cheap, really low power computers with standard network, storage, and input interfaces, that would be something.

Re:Useful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9947488)

The site's down (big surprise), so I don't know. Do you know what kind of processor it is? If it's a 1GHz P4, you've got a point. If it's a 1GHz P4M, then that's not so bad. If it's something even more energy efficient such as a Transmeta or C3, then my concern about battery life shifts to the hard drive.

They're not out yet, (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946658)

but this press release states quite clearly that these things will replace home PCs...

Yeah, sure they will.

Portable hard disk (2, Interesting)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946661)

Would seem more useful to me, to have a portable hard disk. Cheaper, and about as easy to type on...

I have a 15" PowerBook. It's a good size. A little small, but definitely usable. I dock it to a keyboard, mouse and monitor when at work. This suits me perfectly.

Given that I walk wherever possible (any journey under a couple of miles, which includes my trip to work), with this laptop, and weight isn't a big issue, why would I want something smaller and less powerful?

Slow? (2, Insightful)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946681)

And it takes how long to boot XP? In case you meet a friend in the shopping center and quickly need to give him a phone nr... boot, Login, load Outlook, no I FUCKING KNOW I AM NOT ONLINE,...

There was this story not long ago on a Laptop that would have primitive PIM functions in BIOS. Sounds a lot cooler to me.

Re:Slow? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946713)

The Flipstart will have PIM functions and Outlook access through a small LCD on the cover, so no need to even open the device and boot up! I think it may need to be in standby mode for that to work, but it's a start.

Re:Slow? (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946823)

WinXP supports the fucking standby mode! It takes my three year old laptop(900mhz PIII) about 2 seconds to go from standby mode to desktop.

The Sony models are neat and avavilable (1)

Hast (24833) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946697)

I just got back from a summer in Japan and the Sony models (U-50 and U-70) were all over the place there. I never did see anyone actually using one though.

But as a PDA/Laptop thingy they pose a good compromise. For some reason they (Sony) failed to put in Bluetooth in them which seems like a failiure of biblical proportions. Not only can I then not use it with my phone I can also not use wireless mouse and keyboard with it. For me that made it easy to decide against getting one. (Not sure if I would have otherwise, but I did get a PDA there so it's not unthinkable.)

They are wonderful bits of technology though, I'd love to get my hands on one.

Is it really superior to a Palm? (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946745)

1Ghz is surely impressive (if not hot) but it's not a question of how big is it, it's about what you can do with it. Let's see how does it improve on a typical current PDA:

Q: Can I (easily) type on it? Using 6, 8, 10 fingers?
Q: Can I (comfortably) watch a 16:9 movie? With surround sound?
Q: Digicam you say? What, with optical zoom and flash?
Q: Surely I can take it with me into the wild and the batteries last forever?

Well - I gonna stick with a handheld instead of "handtop" I guess. No, really.

*under* $2000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946759)

> It's not all rosy, the devices are still under $2000

I would have thought it would be less rosy for them to be *over* $2000. I mean, my watch cost me $30 - that's less than $2000.

Oh, you meant '*just* under $2000)? I see...

Could be done today, just need a 2.5 in hard disk (1)

GuyFawkes (729054) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946773)


SO you have a machine where everything is there EXCEPT a hard disk, it just has a pcmcia type slot, along you come with your 2.5 inch hard disk, pop it in the slot, boot up and away you go....

Quite apart from the resiliance linux has towards changing hardware, which beats windows hands down everyone except the most crucial area of all, eg graphics cards, especially nvidia ati, linux will handle changes of motherboard / cpu / etc much better than windows, perhaps some of the EXCELLENT functionality of the knoppix hardware autodetection could be built in....

Anyway, all you carry around is your data, plug it into a desktop, laptop, pda, whatever.

Could make a lot of sense in a company big enough to make such a system worthwhile, only caveat is such a system would need a totally solid backup solution for when users lose or damage their laptop hard disks... such a system has many advantages and could be made pretty secure too, with the sole exception of an employee who either lost their disk and did not report it, or allowed it to be cloned.

Could be a lot of fun to set up too. Epecially is technology moves along and we get there new 2 Tb flash drives with more useful read/write life than present flash stuff.

Until we get better batteries... (5, Insightful)

Ragnarr (555058) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946803)

It's super that they want to stick faster processors with better screens into smaller devices, however I think we forget the main limiting factor. Batteries have not changed in 10 years, and I think until we can develop a device that runs reasonably well (> 2 hours) on current technology we're still at the same point we are now. Give me better batteries, not faster processors!

Rosy (2, Funny)

bestguruever (666273) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946880)

It's not all rosy, the devices are still under $2000

Yes, things will be much more rosy when they are over $2000.

I think this is totally the future (2, Interesting)

asoap (740625) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946888)

Not now, but eventually. Especially now that we have more and more wireless products. I think with wireless this will totally be the way to go.

Imagine carrying around this thing and it will have all your stuff on it. You get up and go to work, you toss this thing in your suit case. You get in the car and your computer's stereo starts reading your mp3s via wireless. Get to the office, toss the thing on the desk, and via wireless it's already talking to your monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers.

Get home, you toss this thing on it's recharge station, and you can start puterizing from home.

Going on a bike ride? Toss this thing in your backpack, and start listening to your mp3s via wireless headphones.

Or if you go on vacation, and you start snapping off photos with your digital camera, this computer could be automatically uploading the photos to the internet for your family to see. (hopefully you're not taking photos of yourself and some women of the night)

I think this will totally be the future, but not yet.

-asoap

cheap shitty gear (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946917)

truth is i actualy like to have shitty cheap gear that just doesnt do everything. for example if i go hiking or whatever and my cell falls out of my pocket on some rocks im not worried that im going to lose all of my music, designs, etc.
its just a cell so whatever its going to be fine, but if i had to tote along along a handheld does all unit id be a little nervouse to have fun with it in my backpack.

yeah, too cheap.. (1)

deego (587575) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946946)

> ... It's not all rosy, the devices are still under $2000

Yeah, I can hardly wait for the price to go up myself.. :)

*sigh* (1, Insightful)

Pez Maker (591590) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946980)

I'm so damned sick of all these stupid gadgets. I want a cell phone to be a cell phone. A computer to be a computer. wtf, quit limiting my product choices by throwing them all into one.

Asshats

Re:*sigh* (1)

Pez Maker (591590) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947341)

Perhaps I should have stated this differently. I'm unhappy with the trend of trying to make everything into on single gadget. I'm against mobos with everything built in, cell phones with cameras, pdas with cell phones. I don't believe my parent post is troll "worthy", but whatever. Apparently these days thinking different from the mob constitutes as being a troll.

Cost (3, Funny)

abulafia (7826) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947055)

t's not all rosy, the devices are still under $2000

You're right. These things won't take off until they cost about $5000.

Won't work: see Newton (3, Insightful)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947176)

Without RTFA (it's already /.ed), I'd have to say this sounds a lot like the Apple Newton. I.e. it won't work because it's too big to fit in a pocket, and to small to work comfortably on it. Until we get usable and affordable goggles, and/or plus some kind of input technology that's truly portable [1], these devices won't take off.

1: e.g. digital paper, so I can fold an A3-sized screen/tablet into an A6 package.

Yes, I definitely am looking forward to this... (3, Interesting)

Hanno (11981) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947197)

I own a JVC microlaptop (which is actually built by Asus and rebranded by JVC) and I'm totally thrilled by it.

Around 900 g, about the size of VHS tape, a keyboard that I can comfortably touchtype with (and I think my hands are pretty normal). This is a great device - it runs Linux, has a 20 GB harddisk and is fast enough to watch movies on its 16:9 display.

I did own a normal 3 kg laptop some years ago and I'm not looking back. I don't own a car and travel by bike and bus - everything more than 1 kg is an annoyance then.

Yes, I'd love to own an even smaller device. I once bought the Zaurus in the hopes of having a PDA-sized Linux computer, but without a harddisk and without the possibility of connecting an external keyboard, it wasn't worth using and collects dust as one of the most expensive toys I ever bought.

I'm looking forward to a PDA-sized x86 computer with a harddisk, a decent display and good battery time. I also need connectors for an external display, keyboard and (if possible) TV. Count me in as one of their first customers.

Portability kills Security (1)

RU_Areo (804621) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947365)

As a person working in IT Security, this kind of thing is an absolute nightmare for companies attempting to implement or stay true to any kind of security procedure / protocol. The fact of the matter is these things will not replace desktops, because if they did it would give everyone in the company (or at least the important people) to walk out of the doors with whatever vital data they decided to work on that day, with the possibilty of that device never making it back into work for whatever reason (robbery, fire, alien death ray). The immediate cost savings over a laptop / desktop (if in fact there is one) does not begin to warrant the move to these 'handtops' when the extreme risk that is to be incurred is taken into account.

This has been a long time coming (1)

nial-in-a-box (588883) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947430)

I remember quite a few years back reading (I believe) a John Dvorak column regarding palm-sized handheld computers replacing desktops. The concept was similar, calling for docks to extend functionality while at home, but enough power to do pretty much anything, anywhere. The idea piqued my interest at the time, and seemed feasible. I think that due to the conceptual shift that is also required so-called handtops have yet to become true desktop replacements and have also yet to achieve a truly ideal performance to size ratio. I think that anyone who says this is where things are going is right on. I see a future convergence of handheld style operating systems and desktop operating systems (mainly the integration of new input features into the desktop OS), but I can't imagine that we'd see widespread desktop replacement by handtops any time in the next five years.
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