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FlipStart to Replace Your Laptop?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the smaller-is-better dept.

249

WED Fan writes "Paul Allen has a new hardware venture, smaller than a laptop, larger than a blackberry. According to the Seattle P-I, the vision is to replace the laptop for most everyday use, such as office applications, email, and web surfing. 'Really, FlipStart gives you everything that your laptop does [...] We're not promoting the idea that you would do CAD design on it, but for Office applications and most of what people do with their laptops, it's great.' But at a $2000 price tag, this could be a little bit out of the range of many users. The product will launch on FlipStart.com in the not to distant future."

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The Sub-Notebook returns! (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264760)

So let me get this straight: They sell you a small brick for more than a notebook computer costs. You get a slow processor, small screen, small hard drive, worse battery life than the average PC or Mac laptop, a keyboard you can't type on, and you're supposed to believe that it's revolutionary? I'm not following.

Sony tried this years ago with their Vaio sub-notebook [wikipedia.org] line of computers. (Here's a picture. [wikipedia.org] ) Unlike this... thing... its keyboard was actually fairly decent, the screen was bright, and it was overall fairly useful. It's only problem was that it just wasn't large enough to be practical. You can't really type notes on a keyboard of that size. Nor are you really going to squint at the small screen while typing letters/memos/spreadsheets. That's why the entire market moved more toward the ultra-thin notebooks that were nearly as portable, but offered larger screens and keyboards.

The only advantage I can find with this thing is that it's a sub-notebook with Wifi. (Based on the comments about replacing the BlackBerry.) Possibly even GSM/EDGE support. I don't think that's going to make up for the lousy form factor, especially when you can get a $50 PCMCIA card from your cell provider to do the same thing.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (0, Flamebait)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264840)

It's from Microsoft and you're surprised?

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (3, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265612)

It's not from Microsoft; it just happens to run Windows.

Paul Allen hasn't been with MS for decades.

We Already Had This Conversation (4, Informative)

Alaren (682568) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264864)

Old is new [slashdot.org] .

The article is already slashdotted, so I can't address it specifically, but this sounds like another step on a familiar road. See my comments here [slashdot.org] , actually there are some great replies as well. Maybe this attempt will add something new, maybe it won't.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264898)

For that price, you could just get a PDA with keyboard and a laptop. I really don't see what this offers over a good PDA. It seems quite expensive for something that's basically a PDA. One point on the keyboard though. Most people I know, many people who use computers every day, even some developers, can't type properly, and use the hunt and peck method. I don't see this device slowing most people down.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265134)

Most people I know, many people who use computers every day, even some developers, can't type properly, and use the hunt and peck method. I don't see this device slowing most people down.

This appears to be a little different, though. If you look at the photo of it, it appears to have one of those calculator-key keyboards that's really difficult to use. Probably a chiclet keyboard with plastic nubs for keys. Quite the departure from the scissor switch keyboards found in many laptops.

Besides that, most people who type regularly can do so fairly quickly, even if they're not touch-typists. Undersized keyboards prevent fast typing because you can only use a single finger at a time. (Usually the thumb.) Thumbing your input is incredibly slow when compared to the speed that can be achieved with full-hand typing.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265162)

One point on the keyboard though. Most people I know, many people who use computers every day, even some developers, can't type properly, and use the hunt and peck method. I don't see this device slowing most people down.

The screen would, though. When I'm coding, I want all the screen resolution I can get, and as big a display as possible to read it on.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (0)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265304)

I really don't see what this offers over a good PDA.

A PDA is not a real computer. This device is a full PC in a very small form factor. I've been wishing for a REAL PC the size of a PDA for a long time, which no one has produced. I don't know if this is finally someone cluing in that there's a market for a PDA-PC with a full resolution (though small) screen, but I'm praying.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

pkulak (815640) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265680)

Really? I don't know anyone who hunts and pecks. Most people even use two thumbs when they text on their phone. H&P is sooo 1997. Interestingly, I think I'd rather type on my phone then that keyboard.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264912)

Are there any pics of this thing anywhere? It sounds like an OQO.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264960)

Click on the article link and scroll about halfway down. It's on the right side. It's the ugly black thing with a blue bottom.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265150)

Ah, I'd only looked at the (empty) product site. This actually looks really cumbersome, and nothing like an OQO. Speaking of the OQO, I just noticed they've got a shinier new model out now, but its still insanely overpriced. With 1GB of RAM, a warranty, and a dock its nearly $3k, which is absolutely terrible.

I loved my sub-notebook for some things (4, Informative)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264966)

Psion 7. Instant on. Zero boot/wakeup time. Pretty good battery life. Smaller/lighter/slower than a laptop. Pretty decent keyboard (better than a blackberry etc)

Sucky things: If it is too big to fit in your pocket you have to hand lug it and the size is not a huge benefit over a regular laptop. Screen is really too small, even for word processing etc.

Neither fish nor fowl (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265064)

So let me get this straight: They sell you a small brick for more than a notebook computer costs. You get a slow processor, small screen, small hard drive, worse battery life than the average PC or Mac laptop, a keyboard you can't type on, and you're supposed to believe that it's revolutionary? I'm not following.

I could live with the reduced performance for general purpose applications. Especially if you could pare down the OS a little so I didn't notice too much. But the real catch to me is the size. It's not so small that you could put it in a pocket, even in a coat or cargo pants, so it's not really any more convenient to transport than a laptop. Worse, really, since it would require a handbag to schlep it around. And women already have one handbag, and most men don't want one. So where does one put it?

I understand why they picked the size they did: the keyboard is around the lower limit of touch-typing form factor. But I'd prefer to carry either a laptop-size computer (and display) that only weighed 1.5 lbs or a pocket sized device with WiFi, depending on what I needed to do. They try for both, but it doesn't really sound like it would work.

Re:Neither fish nor fowl (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265282)

The difference is that there currently is no laptop-sized computer that weighs only 1.5 lbs. Most laptops weigh at least 5 lbs, with most I see weighing more than 7.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265232)

They sell you a small brick for more than a notebook computer costs. [etc, etc] I'm not following.

The point of this is SMALL.

Sony tried this years ago with their Vaio sub-notebook line of computers.

They are bigger, and the screen resolution sucked on them. The question is whether this new device has a "real" screen resolution. And you criticize the keyboard of this new device, missing the point of SMALL. Small is not compatible with "good keyboard".

I don't think that's going to make up for the lousy form factor,

If you think the form factor is "lousy", then you're not looking for SMALL. The product is not for you, which is OK, except that you somehow generalize that no one is looking for small.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265372)

The point of this is SMALL.

The point is not, "so SMALL that it's useless". We can make a computer that fits in an oversized watch, but you wouldn't want to use it, either.

If the slightly larger Sony products (which had better keyboards and longer relative battery life, mind you) were to SMALL to be useful, why would this POS be any more useful?

I'm sure that many-a-technophile will appreciate how SMALL this thing is sitting on a SMALL shelf in a SMALL corner of a SMALL closet, having gotten SMALL amounts of attention before its SMALL lack of usefulness because a SMALL bit apparent.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (2, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265378)

If you think the form factor is "lousy", then you're not looking for SMALL. The product is not for you, which is OK, except that you somehow generalize that no one is looking for small.

There are smaller devices out there for less money. WinCE/PocketPC PDAs, Zauruses (Zaurii?). Those are a lot more transportable than this 1.5" thick brick. You're right that small and good keyboard don't go together, but that's exactly what it looks like they tried to do.

So -- and this is a real question -- what sort of application would this device be suited for? When would this be an ideal device instead of a pocket-sized/palmtop computer or a small notebook?

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265546)

There are smaller devices out there for less money. WinCE/PocketPC PDAs, Zauruses (Zaurii?).

Those are PDAs, with all the limitations of PDAs. They can't run general Windows applications. That's part of the point of this.

So -- and this is a real question -- what sort of application would this device be suited for?When would this be an ideal device instead of a pocket-sized/palmtop computer or a small notebook?

Oh, how about a real web browser (e.g. Google Maps). How about running full Office? How about running Linux? Hell, how about running games? I'm making an assumption here that this thing has a full resolution screen. If it doesn't, it's another useless attempt. But if it had a full resolution screen (with a slick magnifier tool, when needed), it would be awesome.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (2, Insightful)

starwed (735423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265418)

All of your arguments apply when comparing laptops to desktops; but people use them anyway because of the enormous convenience of being able to carry around your computer.

The question is whether the convenience of this particular device is enough to get people to buy it; probably not right now. This is exactly what I want from a device, but I wouldn't pay 2k for it.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265646)

All of your arguments apply when comparing laptops to desktops

O RLY?

They sell you a small brick for more than a notebook computer costs.

Ok, I'll give you that one. Laptops/Notebooks are more expensive than desktops.

You get a slow processor

Laptop processors are quite competitive with their Desktop cousins. Especially when referring to the power-friendly Core Duo, which many folks find more desirable than the latest Pentium IV.

small screen

Laptop screens are very competitive with 15-17 inch desktop screens.

small hard drive

Laptop hard drives are extremely competitive with desktop drives, lagging by only about a generation in storage capacity.

worse battery life than the average PC or Mac laptop

If I pull the plug on a PC, the "battery" lasts about 3 seconds while the capacitors discharge. Laptops today get more than 4 hours of life. Laptops FTW!

a keyboard you can't type on

I can assure you, I type just as well on my laptop keyboard as I do on my desktop keyboard. Often better, as I'm able to posisiton it more comfortably. The only advantage to a desktop is the addition of a keypad.

So you'll excuse me, but I beg to differ with your statement. What's true of the FlipBook compared to the Laptop is far from true when comparing a laptop to a desktop.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

starwed (735423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265710)

Oops; forgot to be clear that I meant the state of laptops when the technology was new. ^_^ Obviously now they've caught up quite a bit, but at first the screens, hard drives, and processors were all inferior to desktops of the time, and yet people used them anyway.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265826)

forgot to be clear that I meant the state of laptops when the technology was new.

Fair enough. :)

However, I'd like to point out that the sub-notebook market is anything but new. In fact, it's been around for over a decade. The problem is not one of technology. It's one of practicality. These devices are not practical computers. Which makes paying exhorbant sums of money for them... well, impractical.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265526)

So let me get this straight: They sell you a small brick for more than a notebook computer costs. You get a slow processor, small screen, small hard drive, worse battery life than the average PC or Mac laptop, a keyboard you can't type on, and you're supposed to believe that it's revolutionary? I'm not following.

That's fine; you're not the target market for it.

I've been following the flipstart since the web site appeared in 2004/2005. Vaporware to the extreme. If it comes out, I'll pay whatever they're asking.

Why? Because it's small enough to fit in my coat pocket. A linux box in my coat pocket. When I travel (which I do frequently) it won't be an issue of hauling my laptop around with me. That's worth a lot to me.

Think GPS software, music, SSH for remote management, videos for flights, instant messaging, web browsing, emails, etc.

I currently have a Zaurus C760 which is only slightly smaller, and it would be great (I can type ~ 50wpm on its tiny keyboard), but it's just not quite powerful enough (and has no hard disk).

If the screen is too small, get glasses. If your fingers are too sloppy to type reasonably quickly (~50wpm is fine when you're in a bind; you're not writing 100 page documents on it), practice. I know people who can type 50wpm on a blackberry.

Folding keyboard (1)

erice (13380) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265664)

Sony tried this years ago with their Vaio sub-notebook line of computers.
[snip]
It's only problem was that it just wasn't large enough to be practical. You can't really type notes on a keyboard of that size.

And yet, a folding keyboard, when attached to a Palm III, is quite usable for taking notes, writing travelogues, etc. It mostly suffers from the limitations of the Palm: very limited and volatile mass storage, no networking.

But the folding idea allows for a reasonable sized keyboard to fit in a small space. Whey haven't subnotebook vendors picked up the idea? The device only needs to be ultra small when carried.

Doomed by the iPhone? (1, Interesting)

wsanders (114993) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265708)

Ok, this thing will replace my Blackberry and my Palm and maybe my phone, and it weighs ONE AND A HALF POUNDS?

I have a feeling the iPhone will be able to do all this gizmo does, at a fraction of the weight and cost, a bit slower perhaps, but at 10x the [babe version of yor choice]-magnet factor.

I'm not trying to plug iPhones, but what kind of cool stuff has Vulcan lately, versus Apple? (Besides spiffing up downtown Seattle.)

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265824)

It was called the Picturebook and was quite useful for me.
Very lightweight, battery life was comparable to laptops at the same time, a little over 2 hours IIRC.
There was no wireless then but I had a 3COM 10/100 PCMCIA with an XJACK so there was my ethernet without a dongle.
I used a USB to Serial for programming routers and used the onboard camera to take pictures of datacenters.

This was a notebook that was supposed to appeal to realtors because of the onboard digital camera.

What sucked was that it came with WinME. I didn't order the memory upgrade to run Win2000, I installed it anyway and went back to ME. Only time I'll say that ME was better. There was no Win98 drivers for the unit but there was an older model that ran Win98.
I did get RH7.2 to install on it so yes, it did run Linux. Mandrake failed to install.

Re:The Sub-Notebook returns! (1)

MythMoth (73648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265882)

The PictureBook series (I had one) was too big to put in a pocket, but far too small to be comfortable when typing. It also had a dreadful battery life. Worst of both worlds. This gizmo looks like it suffers from exactly the same problems, as you point out.

What I really want to buy is a clamshell pocket PC of some sort so that I can do serious computing in ad-hoc environments. Something like the old Psion series clamshells, but with more modern hardware. I like the Palm derived machines, but you can't really program with a stylus and the various optional keyboards are always a bit too jerry rigged.

If I can't put it in my pocket, there's no point in making it small. Sadly there doesn't seem to be a clamshell with a proper keyboard that fits the bill.

Sony U101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18264824)

I got one of these with just about the same specs 3 years ago. It was called a Sony u101. Flipstart seems a little "dated"

As long as it doesn't run windows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18264826)

Any old OS can run firefox and open office and putty and xmms.

$2000? (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264832)

This might catch on in 10 years. Once the price falls. Of course the whole idea might be obsolete by then, replaced by cell phones, or something.

Re:$2000? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265122)

I'm waiting for the day that my cell phone and TV remote are the same piece of equipment, a la V for Vendetta (the movie, not the comic)

Re:$2000? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265180)

If you have a phone with IR, it's possible already. If you have a PalmOS-based phone with IR (never seen one, no idea if they exist, but I would think they'd have to) you could use OmniRemote. So, you can probably make this happen right now. For that matter, my iPaq came with Windows Mobile learning remote software, and I know that there's Windows Mobile smartphones with IR.

Re:$2000? (1)

devilspgd (652955) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265654)

The entire Treo line has IR support... I own a Treo 680 and Treo 650 (GSM editions) that are both PalmOS as well as having IR support.

Re:$2000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18265268)

I'm waiting for the day that my cell phone and TV remote are the same piece of equipment


TV Remote, cell phone, garage door opener, car alarm, GPS, debit card, door swipe card for work, grocery store bonus card, satellite radio, mp3 player, and gameboy all in one little system. That's what I want.

'course, when I lose that item, I'm fucked.

Re:$2000? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265428)

'course, when I lose that item, I'm fucked.
Good point...um...ignore my previous idea!

The price is a dealbreaker (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264862)

$2000 is enough to buy a desktop replacement machine with a core duo, two gigs of ram, and a gigantic display. If you're not going to go balls-out, then you probably only need a tiny subset of your computer's power, and a super-cheap device like an OLPC machine would suit your needs. Very very few people need a tiny but complete PC, because almost all of the jobs that require that kind of power require a reasonably-sized display as well. The form factor is nice, but the price is at least twice what it should be for a device sold into this market - which itself is vanishingly small.

$100 Computer Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18264870)

$2000! Just get yourself a computer from the $100 Computer Project!

Re:$100 Computer Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18265092)

Why not just replace all your furniture with blocks of wood.

$2000? (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264872)

Alternately, for $2000 I could buy a shiny new MacBook Pro. Well, using a student discount anyhow. Add in Bootcamp +/- Parallels...why would the Flippamajigger ever replace my laptop, again? Yeah, it's smaller, but why would anyone willingly subject themselves to typing on a bloated blackberry keypad?

Vaporware since 2004 (5, Informative)

Crash McBang (551190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264900)

Google 'flipstart' - you'll find that this thing has been Vaporware since before 2004.

I'll believe it when woot has it on sale...

Re:Vaporware since 2004 (1)

eggsurplus (631231) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265242)

Exactly, I've been on the email list that is supposed to keep you updated on any news for over 2 years and haven't received anything to this point. Of course, I forgot which email addressed I used since it's been so long.

So... replace a $1000 laptop with a $2000 device? (4, Interesting)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264908)

And not only that, the $2000 device can't even do what the $1000 laptop could.... I just don't see this going very far. Maybe if it cost $600-800.

but does it run linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18264926)

I presume it's IBM-compatible...

I've been looking forward to this... (1)

Nanite (220404) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264942)

Since 2002. And what have they produced since then? Nada, but some demo product shots. OQO managed to get some hardware out there, but this project seems to be going nowhere.

Re:I've been looking forward to this... (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265452)

They probably realized the same thing that I and others have posted above. Its not viable at $2000 price, no one will buy it.

Fuck the NoteBook, Transform the DS. (3, Interesting)

Rachel Lucid (964267) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264972)

Literally almost everyone who's going to be in this market already has a DS, and it's about the right size... a small cartridge loaded with a PDA-style application or three could clean up nicely. It's not going to be a laptop, but it's a nice cheap in-between that with a few key features could clean up big time.

Re:Fuck the NoteBook, Transform the DS. (1)

JoelMartinez (916445) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265366)

Just think, clippy could bust out with, "It's a meeee Clipppyyy!"

Re:Fuck the NoteBook, Transform the DS. (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265400)

Literally almost everyone who's going to be in this market already has a DS
You think that the market for a high-priced, low-powered machine primarily for word processing and other office applications is the same as the market for the current generation of the game boy?

Too big for a pocket. (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264988)

Too small for writing/note-taking. Too expensive for a neat gizmo. I wonder, though, if it squirts...

Zaurus anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18264992)

As usual, the Japanese already have a tidy solution in this camp - the Sharp Zaurus C3200. Unlike North American Zaurii this is a combo swiveltop tablet/laptop that runs linux, has full color 640x480 screen that really is awesome to look at.
64mb ram, 6gb flash drive

http://www.dynamism.com/sl-c3000/main.shtml [dynamism.com]

I don't sell them, or even have one, but I sure want one :-)

Re:Zaurus anyone? (1)

benzapp (464105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265146)

Cool device, but kinda weird it doesn't have wifi built in. You'd actually have to waste a CF slot for a wifi card! I'm not even sure if they make them anymore as virtually every device with a CF slot has wifi already built in.

Re:Zaurus anyone? (1)

Numbah One (821914) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265314)

there's no wi-fi because this is a japanese device. in japan, most people would plug in a compact flash phone card. a device targeted to the U.S. market would probably include wi-fi. now,l if we could just convince sharp to market the device in the U.S. directly.

Tablet (1)

simpl3x (238301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18264998)

My Fujitsu slate was thinner, larger, more useful, and more powerful. Plug in a Happy Hacker when at home, and it was sufficiently powered. I also used Verizon CDMA...

This thing is a brick, which very often is harder to store/transport than a larger slate. Think notebooks. Once these things are as large as iPods/cell phones, they will become revolutionary, though I hazard to guess that the interaction models, and new ways of generating thinking artifacts will be the revolutionary part.

Why would anyone want this? (1)

Tokimasa (1011677) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265000)

As a disclaimer, I'm a college student in a software engineering program. I do more than just browse the web or use basic office functionality on my laptop.

Why would anyone want this?

At 6 inches wide, it's really tiny. I don't see room for a highly productive screen or keyboard on this thing. I've had a laptop for about 4 months now, and I'm still getting used to the laptop keyboard when I'm not at my desk (I don't lug a full keyboard around with me to classes, but I do have one plugged into my docking station).

A 30 gig HDD isn't that big. Especially when you start saving word processor documents, e-mails (potentially with attachments), start installing programs and applications. I wouldn't want anything less than 100 gigs in a machine, which is what I have now. Even then, I would want a larger external drive for archival.

The processor...Pentium M. Is there anyone who can get by without a Core 2 or something similar? The article mentions Windows Vista. I'm not running Vista, but from my experiences with it, I wouldn't want to run it without a Core 2 Duo and 2 gigs of RAM at the bare minimum. I wouldn't even want to run XP without at least a Core 2 and a gig or gig and a half of RAM.

3.5 hours of battery life? If you aren't getting 5 or 6, I can't see businesses buying these for anyone.

And finally...$2000? I paid that for my current laptop + docking station + wireless mouse. If you can get something better for the same price (or cheaper), why buy this?

Re:Why would anyone want this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18265510)

I do not agree with ost of what you had to say, at least from the perspective of an end user (not a developer, as you are).

>A 30 gig HDD isn't that big. Especially when you start saving word processor documents, e-mails (potentially with attachments), start installing programs and applications. I wouldn't want anything less than 100 gigs in a machine, which is what I have now. Even then, I would want a larger external drive for archival.

Well great. I have 500GB in my desktop, and it's nearly full at the moment. But for something that I'd be using for the sake of portability, and transferring anything archival or important to a primary computer, 30GB is well more than enough.

> I wouldn't want to run it without a Core 2 Duo and 2 gigs of RAM at the bare minimum. I wouldn't even want to run XP without at least a Core 2 and a gig or gig and a half of RAM.

Oh, how things have changed! At my last job, we upgraded to XP. I saw it run (once it had loaded) on 300MHz machines with 256MB ram. It does quite nicely on my old P4 box. And you forget! If you don't like the OS, someone out there will do what is necessary, and post it to the Internet, to put the OS you want on it. How well would a Pentium M run a shell-only setup? Or any of the available options for using much less than main stream vended OSs?

And consider the battery life as this stuff is increased to your specs. The thing is small, so it would be a bit difficult to get it to do everything you're asking. You're just wanting to drive up the price. sure, I may not be the most fond of the device as it is. but it may (at lower cost) have its uses. If you want all the bells and whistles of a full-fledged laptop, get one of those!

Re:Why would anyone want this? (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265726)

I totally agree that there isn't much point to this, but I have to take exception to one of your comments:

"Is there anyone who can get by without a Core 2 or something similar?"

The vast majority of computer users do not need that much power. I'm a professional software designer. The machine that stores my backups runs a Celeron 400. My WinXP machine has a Via C3 600MHz. My most powerful home machine is an Athlon XP at 1.4GHz. These work just fine for office-type tasks, hobby coding, web surfing, DVD/CD authoring, even image manipulation. If I was doing video transcoding, serious gaming, or numerical simulations as a hobby then I might need more power.

On the other hand, my work machines are a dual G5 and a high end P4 both loaded up with RAM...but they do a lot of compiling.

Re:Why would anyone want this? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265738)

About the only thing I could see that would make this a seller is if it was more indestructable than a Toughbook.

I see lots of comments on how underpowered it is, and how regular laptops have better specs than this for half the price, and high end laptops fly past it. But if it could stop a bullet and get thrashed about in a washing machine, one could see it as a good portable device for demanding territory.

That's where I see this device: a stripped down, but even more resiliant Toughbook.

However, at only 1.5lb, I don't think that's where this is targeted...

Hello and welcome to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18265006)

Wow, this is so old it's painful. This thing has been around since at least 2004.

Get an OQO instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18265018)

I've been following the Flipstart for over three years, seeing if they release.

You're much better off buying an OQO instead of holding your breath.

Re:Get an OQO instead (2, Funny)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265598)

instead of holding your breath.

You waited three years to tell... &*$%#@ [NO CARRIER]

alternative: N800 and $1600 worth of beer (1)

Werrismys (764601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265056)

N800 can use foldable bluetooth keyboards, or bluetooth virtual keyboards...

DOA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18265060)

This is silly. You can do similar stuff with any of the Open Source Cell phones being developed. Let's see, there's OpenMoko, SVHMPC, and Trolltech. Plus, last week at O'Reilly's Etel conference, two other Open Source designs were announced.

The price range is from about $250-$650, depending on what you want to do. Adding a bigger display and a keyboard still doesn't bring you any where near $2,000.

Paul Allen is going to have to heavily subsidize this effort if he's going to get any where near the Open Source efforts currently going on. But hey, he's well known for dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into lost causes (can anyone say "Interval Research", among others).

Even so, by the time this stuff comes out, there will be other implementations already available.

Honestly, this is DOA.

the screen is way too small (1)

llZENll (545605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265072)

"The FlipStart promises to do everything a full-sized laptop can do."

Except give you a screen you can actually see, and a keyboard you can actually use. Hm, there goes the output and input pieces, yep, its doomed for failure.

Re:the screen is way too small (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265236)

Except give you a screen you can actually see, and a keyboard you can actually use. Hm, there goes the output and input pieces, yep, its doomed for failure.

These days I use a fairly small laptop for almost everything. The portability is important to me and I'd use it more if it were more portable. Is the small screen size a deal killer? Not really, I usually have it plugged into an external monitor when I'm in the office or at home, using just the built in screen at the coffee shop and on the road. Is the small keyboard size a deal killer? Well, I usually plug in an external trackball at the office and home, so plugging in a keyboard too is not a huge deal, although it would depend on just how usable it is at the coffee shop. I actually think an ultra-portable with a dock for easy use of external monitors, keyboard, mouse, etc. might not be a bad market right now. The real deal killer is that it should be a lot less expensive than a full sized laptop, which this does not seem to be.

PC Mag review here (2, Insightful)

writertype (541679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265074)

Sorry for the brief comment... the review is here [pcmag.com] .

This has been tried before......... (1)

vicious0000 (720122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265102)

Anyone else remember http://www.oqo.com/ [oqo.com] ? Exact same business strategy from what I remember.

Apple will kill this device (4, Funny)

xyankee (693587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265114)

With the direction they're going with the iPhone, you know it's only a matter of time before Apple whips that technology into something with a 5"-7" display in a far more attractive package with superior software. I mean, look at that thing... not an ounce of industrial design, it doesn't seem like you'll be able to thumb-type on it like a Blackberry, and it's too big to fit in any coat pocket or to be carried on your belt.

And is it just me or is Paul Allen grinning like a paedophile holding something illicit in his hands? I can't believe their marketing team let that through (they probably don't have one, mind you).

Re:Apple will kill this device (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265218)

The idea of the size of the device is that you CAN thumb-type, although with the thickness of the device it's probably damned heavy, too. It's a Repetitive motion Stress Injury in a box! Not surprising that anyone from Microsoft knows jack shit about ergonomics though. Have you ever used their mice?

Re:Apple will kill this device (0, Flamebait)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265430)

With the direction they're going with the iPhone, you know it's only a matter of time before Apple whips that technology into something with a 5"-7" display in a far more attractive package with superior software.

What direction with the iPhone? This is a REAL PC, that can run any software you want. The iPhone is a locked-down, "keep your filthy hands out of our l33t device" phone that only runs software that Steve wants you to run (all the while lying about the reasons it's locked down). Not to mention that you "vill take Cingular, and you vill like it". And let's not even talk about the first time you drop and scratch that screen (I wonder if it's replaceable? HA, sorry, sometimes I crack myself up)

The iPhone has some slick features, but Apple's steel-toed boot policies make it hard justify spending the money for it.

Re:Apple will kill this device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18265790)

Seriously, dude, the iPhone hasn't even been released. Give Apple some time to get the first revision out the door before you demand they ship a free SDK to anyone who asks.

You should remember that nearly all smartphones are locked down to some degree, in the sense that it's not possible to replace the entire OS. Often a sandbox is provided in Java or similar but the simplified sandbox environment is restricted. That's still "locked-down".

People are pretending like an offhanded remark that stated there would be some restrictions on third-party software, but didn't say what those restrictions would be, means that there will be no third-party software. Reading comprehension skills are obviously uncommon among Apple rumormongers.

What about the SCREEN?? (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265138)

Yeah, it's pricey, but the big question that the article doesn't address is screen resolution (and why isn't that given so often when discussing new notebooks?) Yes, we've had sub-notebooks before that failed, but I think one of the big reasons they fail is that the screens are typically 640 pixels across. You can't do anything reasonable with 640 pixels!

If this thing has 1024 pixels horizontal, and the price comes down a bit, I'd be all over it.

shameless slashdot crap product promotion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18265164)

^^^
Look above

Yes ... (1)

mbaudis (585035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265222)

... but does it run Mac OS X?

Didn't they call this Oragami? (1)

tommyj1986 (1004101) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265224)

How is flipstart different from this. [microsoft.com]

And in other revolutionary news: (5, Funny)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265250)

The FlipStart team is also working on:

--a revolutionary car bigger than a SmartCar [smartcarofamerica.com] but smaller than a Mini Cooper

--a revolutionary porridge heater that will heat porridge warmer than "too cold," but colder than "too hot"

--a revolutionary Budweiser bigger than a 10-ounce [npr.org] but smaller than a 12-ounce.

Laboratory prototypes of the latter include a 10.5-ounce Bud, an 11-ounce Bud, and an 11.5-ounce Bud. "Really, they give you practically everything that 12-ounce Bud does," said a FlipStart spokesman, appropriately named Budd.

Toshiba Libretto (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265270)

Looks about the size and shape of a Toshiba Libretto, but a little bit more expensive. Toshiba built these in the early '90's and they were very small, lightweight, but functional laptops. They were also rather pricey. Toshiba discontinued them for a while, but then came out with new models a few years ago. I didn't see them at the Toshiba web site, so they may have been discontinued again.

replace my laptop? (1)

Reverend Darkness (826202) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265306)

I'd rather buy an iPhone [apple.com] . Oh, and since we're obviously advocating commercial articles, I'd like to mention that I'd be using my iPhone [apple.com] while driving my Honda Fit [honda.com] , listening to the Russ Martin Show [russmartin.com] .

Are you kidding me? (1)

theheff (894014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265316)

I hope Paul Allen doesn't have too much invested in this little device... it looks like something from 5 years ago. If it's going to cost 2 grand, why not just save some space and power and use flash-based storage? It's only 30GB anyways. It might help it look a little less like a brick, also.

Not revolutionary... (1)

tji (74570) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265318)

It looks like it might be an interesting device... Although, not much different than something like the OQO devices that are already available.

I just don't think a scaled down laptop is going to cut it. On the one hand, it's too small to be used efficiently as a laptop, on the other, it's too large to be a carry-everywhere device.

I think the better direction is a mid-sized tablet device. Not a clunky windows PC with tablet functions duct taped on, like MS has provided thus far. I'm thinking more of a scaled up iPhone-like device. Maybe 5in x 7in, or so, thin and durable.

Give a couple generations of low power CPU improvements, battery enhancements (or alternatives), and especially software development, and you may have a device that people would actually carry.

There was a Greg Egan book, maybe Teranesia, where the main character carried a small tablet device like this. He made a convincing description of the device in an environment of high CPU power, embedded GPS-like positioning, and ubiquitous high speed Internet access. That's all I want.. is that so hard?

What about UMPC? (1)

wizzard2k (979669) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265370)

Isnt this pretty similar to the Ultra Mobile PC [umpc.com] idea?

It looks slightly different with the flip design from most UMPCs I've seen, but its still the same concept right? Built in wifi, CF & PC Card expansion...
Did I miss something on the FlipStart that makes it revolutionary?

Ow...my neck! (1)

sugapablo (600023) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265402)

Seriously, I have a MacBook, which I love. It's great to be able to be mobile with my computing. It's small, light, powerful...

But I'm a web developer. I spend hours on it every day. The only way this can stay ergonomically practical is by using an adapter to use an external monitor and using a USB mouse. Otherwise, my neck and wrist will start screaming at me.

A device even smaller than my laptop would be good for using a few minutes at a time, to check email, or look up something on the web. Little more. It's impractical to think it can be a replacement for a desktop or even a laptop.

sorry.. but no... (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265432)

People get a laptop instead of a QQQ or Blackberry or smartphone usually because they need to do serious work, this usually requires prolonged reading of the screen. This means the screen size is an important factor...

"5.6" display"

Next please.

Good idea without Windows (4, Insightful)

hirschma (187820) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265438)

This thing costs $2k. Why?

Because it needs to be x86, with in turn means that it needs to have a bigger battery, fancier engineering, special cooling. A hard drive because it needs to swap due to Windows memory needs and usage patterns.

Kill off Windows, and then you have a bunch of better processors - PPC, ARM, whatever. Smaller battery. No special cooling. No need for a hard drive. No Windows license. Room for other features - cell phone/modem? Bluetooth hub functionality?

BTW, it has pretty much been done... [engadget.com] Too bad it isn't Linux.

Re:Good idea without Windows (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265686)

It's been done [wikipedia.org] - with a Linux OS. The bad news: 1) it was only released in Japan and the whole line has been discontinued.

allen's flipstart idiocy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18265440)

if p. allen really wanted to do something to improve the world he could focus on his ISP Charter and get us symmetric broadband at speeds and costs as good as Korea instead of pissing around with 2000$ baubles for billionaires

Recycled, wrong solution to same problem (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265448)

This invention is another solution to the same problem and another recycling of a solution that doesn't work very well. The problem is this: How do you make computing extremely portable? Currently the laptop is one solution. It is somewhat portable but not as small as some people would like. With electronics shrinking, one day we will have computers the size of a deck of cards. The issue that manufacturers are shrinking the form factor but not doing anything about the user interface. In this case there was no real development of UI but just a miniturization of the same UI as the laptop. From many earlier examples, this doesn't work well. People's hands are not shrinking and their vision isn't getting better. My opinion is that the best bet for the UI is some sort of holographic projection technology for the screen with the holographic interface like in the Matrix or Minority Report. That or direct mental interface. These are somewhat in the realm of science fiction right now.

So how many failed technologies can you see? (1)

Jaywalk (94910) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265454)

Here's my list:
  • Apple Newton. With a form factor too big to fit comfortably into a pocket, just one of the (many) reasons Newton never really caught on.
  • The cramped keyboard. Lots of failed products had these; pick one. Squeeze the keyboard too narrow and it makes for uncomfortable typing.
  • IBM Thinkpad 701. Getting past the cramped keyboard, IBM made a laptop with a butterfly keyboard [wikipedia.org] . But it turned out that customers were more concerned about the narrow little screen that went with their narrow little keyboard. Sort of like the narrow little screen on this thing.
The bottom line is that he's trying to market a device that crams into the space between the laptop and PDA. And the market for that is just too small to squeeze in Allen's "next small thing."

Already got it beat (1)

cybereal (621599) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265518)

I'll take this instead: http://www.my-symbian.com/s60v3/review_e90.php [my-symbian.com]

Maybe you can't handle its keyboard, but I can. I have much practice on small keyboards, which, I'm sure if you had you'd be fine too. Plus, this is based on an OS that's actually designed to deal with the deficiencies of small limited devices.

I have a similar phone, until the E90 comes out: http://www.my-symbian.com/s60v3/intro_e70.php [my-symbian.com]

It has a flip out keyboard with similar total dimensions to what the previously mentioned E90 will have. I easily take notes, manage my PIM, browse the web (and it's a very nice web browser, even handles javascript dropdown menus and other things you might not expect from a phone browser). I manage, read, and edit Word and Excel documents regularly. I use my work Exchange server email and also my gmail via pop, with the gmail J2ME app for extended access to searching and other gmail features.

I have an IRC client, a google chat client, a podcast aggregator, an ebook reader that supports plain text files (see: Project Gutenberg). Did I mention this thing supports WiFi, Edge, and 3G?

All of these features plus more (read: 800 pixels wide internal screen!) will be available on the E90. I will not be able to justify a laptop after this device. With a powerful desktop at home and a powerful desktop at the office, there is absolutely no reason for my to carry a device that can't fit in my pocket and won't run for more than 2-4 hours on a charge. I easily make use of my E70 for 10-12 hours of active use per charge, plus many more inactive hours.

Those who mentioned subnotebooks, you are probably right. This little thing does remind me of that. But, those who think sony did it first? Try again, subnotebooks have been done by Toshiba for at least 10 years. They STILL sell the libretto! Also Fujiitsu actually has some nice subnotebook offerings.

Honestly though, I'd take the E90 over any of these alternatives, simply because I'm going to have a phone in my pocket 24/7 anyway, it may as well give me nearly all of the features I get from a laptop without the disadvantages of poor battery life and huge space requirements, and of course, the weight of a laptop.

Oh and for the issue of storage, when is 2GB not enough for documents and the like? The practical uses of these tiny devices are easily covered in such an amount of space. 2GB Transflash/microSD are available for a relatively low price, so nothing stops you from buying a couple, one for work/documents, and another for your multimedia desires, or whatever.

Color me unimpressed. (1)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265528)

Wow. A Microsoft alum has reinvented the Newton 2000, 10 years later. How revolutionary.

~Philly

nokia n800 (3, Interesting)

joetheguy (1048262) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265538)

I have a nokia n800 and love it. It can easily fit in a jacket pocket or a bag without having to think about it. Its big screen, wifi, and bluetooth, make surfing the web a breeze. I use it a lot to read news and documentation in coffee shops or on trains. With a folding bluetooth keyboard, or the on screen one, I can easily write quick notes or docs. And its linux and comes with a full featured terminal I can use to SSH into work and get some things done. Plus its only $400

The genius of the n800 I think is that it is not a laptop and not a pda. It is its own class of device, with a UI designed specificly for its small high resolution screen, touch screen, and set of buttons.

I am still waiting for a computer that looks like a small book, but where the screen itself folds in half, to become a tablet with a reasonable screen size. Apple dreamed of such a device called the Knowledge Navigator years ago in the following video, and I hope display and voice recognition technology will make this something real within the next 5 years.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=3WdS4TscWH8 [youtube.com]

Right... (1)

Critical_ (25211) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265650)

For years I've been waiting for the FlipStart to debut but it hasn't yet. I'm a current owner of a JVC 7310, OQO, and Sony UX series. I would have not bought any of those had the FlipState been available. Last I recall checking the website in early/mid-2004. No dice yet. What does Mr. Allen thing will come of this now? Chalk this one up as more vaporware.

Market Research Anyone? (1)

dsdtzero (137612) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265660)

This is great if
A.) You do not need a laptop and have enough money to optimize for size or percieved coolness. 0.1% of population
B.) You have enough money to plop down $2K at a whim and you like to have a continuum of gadget sizes on your person (watch phone flipstart laptop). 0.5%
C.) Only have a bag big enough to hold this thing but not a laptop or really big pockets and you are happy with carrying a brick in them. 0.5%
D.) Are not smart enough to wait for something better. 10%

Number of people who would buy this thing
(P(A)P(C) + P(B))P(D) ~ Steve Jobs (to use it as a paper weight... you know for laughs)

Hear Yee! Hear Yee! (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265688)

The royal court of /. has proclaimed this device unsuitable for their needs! Reasons for are as follows.

My computer is faster! (crowd murmers)
My computer is cheaper (more murmering)
Does not keep the opposite sex away like being hunched over a keyboard. (crowd murmers)

Any notions that anyone needing something bigger and more useful than a crackberry, but easier to travel with than a laptop shall be sentenced to public humiliation in the town square!

Hear Yee. Hear Yee. That is all.

Divergence (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265716)

Whereas a few years ago the laptop did everything, now we're seeing divergence. The trend on the desktop is toward multiple displays (heads), and the trend for mobile is the PDA/phone. The laptop, therefore, will be rent in two -- the CPU will return to the desktop in a little black box under the desk, and the storage will transition to the PDA/phone (think iPhone). You'll dock your PDA/phone with all your data (encrypted, of course) into your multi-headed display.

It always amuses me how execs think men will suddenly start carrying around purses.

There is only one question worth asking. (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265782)

Will it run WOW?

Old New Before It's Even Released (1)

wolff000 (447340) | more than 7 years ago | (#18265868)

These mini PCs are not going to boot laptops in any time soon. I personally don't think they ever will. One smart phones get better why use one of these giant pieces of hardware?
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