Over the past couple of years there has been a lot of talk about UMPC or Ultra Mobile PC’s. There were lots of prototypes from companies like Intel, but everything was in the future. Then a company called ASUS, or ASUSTek, released their Eee PC in 2007. This was a very small notebook that make the bold step of having Linux as the operating system. At first no one was quite sure what to thinks about it, but over the last year, the Eee PC has taken off. Probably the biggest reason is the retail price is in the $400 range.
The other bold steps made by ASUS was that the Eee PC had no hard disk. You can get one in 4GB, 8GB and now 16GB flash memory. This means no moving parts in the notebook, which leads to more reliability. Lastly, the screen is 7 inches.
In terms of functionality you have all the basics. Wifi, internet browsing, web cam and audio. Accoding to their web site there are over 40 applications pre-installed.
Now why do I ask if ASUS is the next Apple? Over the years I have attended my share of tech. events and became aware of the number of Apple Mac Books vs. other laptops being used by the audience. Recently when I attended the Northern Voice event in Vancouver, another group of notebooks was popping up. This was the Eee PC. It was funny to watch as people pulled out their Eee PC, slowly small crowds began to form. The owners were checking their email, writing blog postings and recording video of speakers. The biggest draw, was the small footprint.
The popularity of these notebooks was further confirmed by third party accessory companies who are now coming out with products for the Eee PC. A-Data has released Eee PC branded flash memory and USB memory stick.
Due to the success of the Eee PC, there are competitors who have their notebooks being released over the next couple of months. Acer, HP and MSI as well as many other lesser known manufacturers are all fighting for their piece of the pie. ASUS is not laying down and letting these others take market share. They are releasing a 9 inch screen version, will now go up to 32 GB of RAM and…will come installed with Microsoft Windows XP.
The market for ultra portables will heat up further in June when Intel releases their Atom processor. This small footprint, high performance processor will be perfect for the ultra portables. ASUS has decided to push out their 9 inch screen in May rather than wait for the Atom processor. Others are a mixed bag. Whether or not this will be a mis-step for ASUS, only time will tell. Right now it is their market share to grow or not.
This post is a follow up to my Listening to your iPod in your car post.
Once you load up you iPod there really isn’t any reason to have your CD player. There really isn’t any reason to move your CD’s from stereo to stereo in your house. You can have your whole collection play where you are. You can spend as little as $10 for a cable, or as much a $1000 for a high end system complete with a built in iPod dock. Starting with the least expensive. The iPod has a 3.5mm headphone jack. You can get cables that has a 3.5mm jack at one end and splits into 2 RCA jacks at the other. This is the easiest way to connect your iPod to your home stereo.Â This will run you about $10-$15
Â One step up from this is the iPod Dock. The advantage of this is that while is connects with virtually the same cable, it also allows for a power cable to be attached so you will not run down the battery. It also make it very easy to simply drop the iPod into the dock and listen to the tunes! This will cost about $40
Â Â Both the solutions above will require you do connect to a speaker system. This could be a boom box or a full surround sound system.Â The next step up is one of devices that I use. It is the JBL Onstage II. The sound that comes out of this small unit is amazing. The unit also comes with a radio frequency remote. An RF remote allows you to be anywhere within about 20 ft. of the system and control the iPod. This also makes a great set for travelling. No more CD’s to carry along with you. At the same time, there is an iPod jack in the back that allows you to connect to your computer to sychronize with iTunes. This costs about $150
Â The JBL unit allows you to control the iPod, it is difficult to see the Playlist or the Artist name etc. Until DLO came out with Homedock Deluxe. This system will require a speaker system to hear the sound. But the best part is that it allows you to see the iPod screen on your TV! It also comes with a remote, but the difference is now, you can scroll through the menus, choose your playlists, or the artists, because you can see it all on your TV. This will run you about $150. This system will require a speaker system to hear the sound.Â
Â From there, it is a bit of a leap to the next systems. There are a lot of stereo manufacturers coming out with either iPod docks built in, or iPod cable connectors. One of the neatest devices I have seen is for the home automation specialist. It provides a dock in your wall that would connect to your home stereo system.Â Each dock is $200
About a month ago PCMag journalist John C. Dvorak said that Apple would replace their OS with Windows. It created quite a commotion in the blogsphere. When reporters asked Apple store employees if Macs would ever run Windows. The usual reply was when pigs can fly and when Hell freezes over.
Well as of a few days ago we have airborne swine and it’s pretty frosty in Hades. Apple released Boot Camp. This software allows Intel based Macs to run Windows XP. Lot’s of speculation about why Apple would do this. The fact that Apples stock went up almost 10% over the proceeding 2 days would indicate that this is a good thing for Apple.
Now John wasn’t completely right as they are not throwing away OS X. But the fact that you can now run Windows on Macs raises some interesting questions. For example, say someone really liked the Mac user interface, but just had to run some Windows application for work. Now they don’t have to use a PC any longer. There is also talk about the soon to be released Intel Conrow dual core chips that will allow true dual processing. Think of it like using the alt-tab to switch between OS X and Windows XP on a Mac. Each having their own dedicated processor. A company called Parallels allows this to happen right now. There is even word that Microsoft is going to revamp their virtual Windows software to take advantage of the new x86 based Intel processors.
It’s going to be a very interesting year for Apple.