Archive for the 'eee' Category

Comparing UMPC screen sizes

comparing common UMPC screen sizes
I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out just how big a difference it will make that the Mini note has a 8.9″ screen as opposed to the 7″ screen of the original Eee. I’ve found it hard to visualize just how big the difference will be. I opened Photoshop and drew up a little figure to visualize just how much extra screen estate we’ll be getting by opting for a different UMPC. I included the MSI Wind because they’re marketing is as having either a 8.9″ or a 10″ screen. Looking at the chart I could be totally tempted to go for a 10″ screen. It might just be the sweet spot for a tradeoff between screen size/keyboard size / bezel size.

Of course resolution factors in as well, but that’s a whole other post to be written right there.

mininoteuser.com

mininoteuser.com

I just stumbled upon this promising site in the comments on engadget. One thing that impressed me when I was an Eee owner was the vibrant community at eeeuser.com. Here’s to hoping that mininoteuser can become just as awesome. When I signed up a couple of hours ago there was only 4 (four) members of the forum. Here’s to hoping that grows a little.

Here’s the link to the site

budget UMPC roundup

awesome and smallIf you’re following the gadget-themed blogosphere it should be no surprise to you that 2008 will be the year of the budget UMPC. After Asus launched their original Eee late last year and sold out in 10 minutes consumers have shown that the combination of compact size and compact prize is a hit.

Naturally, everyone is looking to get in on the action and in the next couple of months we should be seeing not only Asus’ own updated Eee pc 900, but pretty much all the big actors are wanting a piece of the action. Dell and Acer have both announced that they’ll be releasing their own takes on the budget laptop concept this year.

Several lesser known (to me anyway) entities are also showing promising concepts. For instance the (perhaps mac-inspired) MSI Wind and the G10IL from ECS (which I always read as geil when I see it mentioned). There are a lot more UMPCportal has a nice list of the top ones (scroll down a bit – it’s on the right side).

The tendency is clear from the first iteration of the Eee. The screens are getting bigger and storage size is creeping upwards as well. Judging by my own experience with the Eee (that I blogged about here) this is a good thing. It’s a pain in the ass to fit your stuff into 4GB of storage and even though purists may see it as a fun exercise, I believe most people will se it as just a hassle that they’d rather be without.

HP released their take on the UMPC last week and it shows great promise (great review here). It’s beautiful, has a useable keyboard, has a bigger screen (8.9″), an awesome resolution, has bluetooth and ample storage built-in so you don’t have to resort to bizarre mods to get it doing what it should be doing out of the box.

Based on my reading on various forums it seems that there’s a front forming on whether or not this is an instance of “feature creeping” or if it’s bringing the product up to snuff. Everyone agrees on the crappiness of the Via C7 processor (hint: it’s about 10% slower than the underclocked Celeron in the Eee).

I like the way this is going. I think my personal sweet spot for buying another one of these after my Eee flop is something like the HP mini. Although I would like a 10″ screen and less Vista. That HP is so sweet it’s keeping me up at night though

Eee high capacity batteries

Even though I sold my Eee (and still love my Macbook to bits) I’m still following the development in the low end of the UMPC market rather closely. One of my gripes with the Eee I had was the measly battery life. It doesn’t mean a lot that your computer is small and portable if always have to be within 6 feet of an outlet.

JKKmobile is reporting about the development of higher capacity batteries from Asus themselves and also from 3rd party vendors. I especially love the thought of the 8-cell battery promising 10400 mAh of juice for your Eee. Compare that to the 5200 mAh of the original battery and you should go well over 6 hours of wireless productivity (as the so aptly call it in Cupertino)

X number of reasons why I sold my Eee…

I sold my Eee. The auction just ended with a swift “buy it now” and I must admit that it’ll be a hard one to part ways with my little munchkin. It was inevitable, however. Here’s why:

  1. ┬áThe keyboard’s too small
    I’m a relatively large guy (6’4″, 230 poundish) and my hands somewhat match my body. I could touch type on the Eee, but it never really became comfortable. I tried using it for a couple of days for notetaking and such at my lectures, but it was just too damn hard to get anything down. Overall this isn’t a major complaint, but after a month and a half as an Eee owner I can honestly say that my ideal Eee computer has a screen size of no smaller than 10 inches and a keyboard to match.
  2. Resolution, resolution, resolution.
    On paper it all sounded great. Firefox does zoom, IE 7 does zoom, Opera does fit to width. It was going to be a breeze. I’d just zoom out a bit and I’d have the same surfing experience as I do on my Macbook pretty much, right? Wrong. It’s awful. You get intimitely aquainted with the arrow keys on your Eee and you learn how to shrink menu-bars and such to an absolute minimum. But again it’s a fail. The ideal Eee has a resolution of 1024×600. The web’s outgrown the 800×600 days. 800×480 is annoying with dialog boxes as well that go below your taskbar.
  3. Battery life. Yes I know that Asus are coming out with a high capacity battery and I know that it will allegedly boost your battery life past the magic 5 hour mark. But with Asus’ (delAsus, get it?) gift for delaying everything way past what’s acceptable I’d probably be able to get my hands on one of those sometime in April and my need for battery time that’s decent is now. Probably yesterday. Under 3 hours is just not good enough for an UMPC no matter how small the charger is. And don’t get me started on standby battery drain. A modern laptop should last more than 12 hours on standby no matter the price point.
  4. Crappy linux. I spent a great deal of time lusting after the Asus before I finally got my hands on one. A lot of this waiting period was spent convincing myself that this would indeed be the year of linux on the desktop etc. Well it’s not. Linux is great. It seems solid and open and you can customize it anyway you want. I want it to work and I don’t want to have to read through four pages of posts on the eeeuser.com forum (great forum by the way) to add a stupid icon to my launcher. It should be able to do that out of the box. I don’t want to resort to command line hacking to update my browser or get a version of Skype where my webcam works. In my (limited) experience Linux performs abysmally bad in usability and functionality for the average user who’s somewhere between computer geek and your confused old grandmother. I want my computer to do what I tell it to do and run the programs I want to run. 2008 is not the year of anything but OS X on my desktop.
  5. The squeeky? It’s no secret that my last couple of laptops have been Macs. It’s no secret either that they have carried a heavy price premium over the Eee. The problem with owning a Mac is that it spoils you. I thought that the Eee wasn’t too bad looking and that the build quality was ok. Untill I’d carried it with me for three days in my messenger bag with textbooks and my lunch. It’s starting to squeak. It’s not super noticable, but it’s not good enough. For a computer that emphasizes its portability it’s a problem. I know we’re talking a lot about disposable computers etc., but it doesn’t matter much to me that the Eee is half or a third of the price of a Macbook when the user experience is directly proportional to the relative cost.

That being said I’m sad to part with thEee, my little friend. I loved the SSD, I readily accepted thy limited computing power. I liked the SD reader for portability of documents between devices. (Listen up Apple – SD cards aren’t so bad!). I think come version two or (dare I say it?) thrEee, I’ll consider jumping on the wagon again. Or better yet, if Apple realizes that the world does not need paper thin notebooks, but something SMALL and functional I’ll be getting the EeeMac.

streaming media on the Eee

I’ve managed to grow quite frustrated with the Eee. I do primarily use it for surfing and the odd youtube video, but always suspected that I’d like to watch some videos etc. too.

This turns out to be a little more difficult than anticipated. Either way, after a little messing around and lots of google-fu, I found enough instructions to get a semi-reliable server solution going, so I can stream video from a network share on my macbook to the Eee.

I’ll post a more in-depth tutorial later, couldn’t find one online to specifically cover my needs, but to get you started here’s a brief overview (I’m using the stock Xandros install in easy mode):

  1. Download Sharepoints for your mac here
  2. Setup network share on Mac using sharepoints. I chose my movies folder, but obviously any folder will do.
  3. Enable windows sharing in system preferences
  4. Restart a half a million times (it feels like it)
  5. On the Eee, open file manager and choose tools > mount network share
  6. Browse to the mac and voila.
  7. Select reconnect on startup

I’m having some stability issues with streaming movies. Lots of choppiness, I can’t figure out if this is because I’m streaming wirelessly on a 802.11G connection and the proverbial tubes are not fat enough or if I’ve misconfigured something somehow. Any feedback appreciated.

notetaking apps on the eee

With the start of the semester approaching I’m yet to find a note taking application on the Eee that I feel comfortable with using for my academic pursuits. In the next little while I’ll go into details with pros and cons of different applications. The ones I’ve had recommended to me this far are:

  • Tomboy
  • Basket Notepads
  • Tiddlywiki

I’m ready to take on anything else that might come up as good suggestions. Anything would be appreciated.


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