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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Does every CloudBook have a silver lining?

A few months back I was idly browsing the web looking for information on UMPC’s when I stumbled upon a cool looking little notebook made by Everex called the CloudBook. After a little research I found it was based on a Via reference design call the NanoBook it’s also been released under various other manufactures including Packard Bell and Sylvania. The price was a very reasonable $399.00 from Wal-Mart of all places. I was tempted to push the order now button then but for some unknown reason I didn’t. Completely unlike me I decided to shop around and look at other small ultra portables, like the ASUS EeePC, the EeePC is cool I like the fact that it is all solid state but you do give up a lot of space and I am not sure that would have worked for me. Everything else was just way out of budget for something that may end up just a cool plaything. Yesterday I checked Wal-Mart’s website again and found the CloudBook on sale for $299.00 this was too good of an offer to resist so it’s on its way to me. I read around a little and found that the CloudBook is pretty much doomed as a product not many people bought it and the operating system the put on there is apparently not very good (it’s a hacked up version of gOS). I would like to say this isn’t going to bother me so much as I plan on putting Windows on the little guy. There are a lot of reviews slamming this product and to be honest that one of the reasons I wanted it, I like to back the underdog, but I think that most of the reviews if have read miss the point. They complain about the speed and the sound and the display resolution and how hot it gets, but quite frankly I don’t think this unit was designed to be a speed demon it’s an ultra portable intended for on the fly, out and about computing, you know stilling in a coffee shop checking email type stuff, mobile blogging, and web browsing, I really don’t think it was meant to be used to render the next Pixar movie. As far as the sound and the display go I am buying an ultra portable not a stereo and the screen is only 7 inches, how high of a resolution do you want? I personally would still like to see the text I am reading without the aid of a microscope. The heat issue, yeah that could be a problem but I don’t understand why reviewers are slamming the product for this, it is good to know admittedly but I own a computer store, we see a lot of laptops and nearly all of them get HOT, some more than others but most of them get to the point where you sure as hell wouldn’t want it on your lap, I had just assumed that this was normal now with the faster energy hungry devices we have grown accustomed to.

All that said I don’t have the little bugger yet so I could be wrong about everything, stay tuned to find out, the good folks at Wal-Mart say I should have it early next week.

One last note, if you are into modding this thing looks perfect, have a look around on Google for what people are doing to them :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Iphone, friend of foe

Yes I did it, I couldn’t resist the temptation any longer, I broke down and got myself an Iphone. I really don't want this to be a long in-depth review about this cool looking gizmo, there are plenty of those out there and I am sure there will be lots more to with the release of the 3G version. I do however (as usual) want to through my two cents in.

Visually, I think the world is in agreement, the device is beautiful, it's sleek, shiny black and silver exterior screams "touch me" and you simply cannot resist. But looks are not everything they can indeed be deceiving. On a whole the Iphone is wonderful it’s probably the first gadget that I have picked up that actually does everything it says it does. Let’s start with the phone part, well it’s a phone it makes calls and surprisingly enough it receives call also, call quality if perfectly fine and if you find you have to dial a number that’s not in your contact list the onscreen keypad is very useable. The contact list I have to say is not great, it works and it’s useable but it’s not great even with the new search feature that the 2.0 firmware added I still prefer the contact list on my windows mobile phone. The web browsing is awesome it works better than any mobile device I have used so far even without Java and Flash (I am sure it’s just a matter of time before we get both on the Iphone). I do really like the instant message style text messaging (This has been added to Windows Mobile 6.1) and the email functions work just fine also. Oh and I almost forgot it’s an iPod too, that’s right it plays music and video, is it better at it than my Windows Mobile device? Well to be honest I have to say no. All in all it’s a cool gadget but I do think there is a lot of room for improvement. I have to admit that the only reason I am continuing to use the Iphone is because of the web browser, and yes it looks cool. If my HTC S620 surfed as well as the Iphone I have to say I would go back to it (I have Windows Mobile 6.1 running on the S620).

I want to briefly talk about some of the problems I have with the Iphone (maybe apple will read this) first of ITunes, I know this is a personal gripe I have but a gripe it is, I hate ITunes, it monkeys with my music, my album art doesn’t work and it feels rather cumbersome. Second is the lack of productivity software no word processor no spreadsheet program this also leads nicely into the lack of a spell checker (I had planned on writing this whole blog entry on the Iphone but it was just too frustrating). Third is the lack of support for media formats, NO DIVX, you have to let ITunes monkey with your files again before you can watch them (Divx is available for windows mobile devices) Last (this could be the most important though) is the lack of software, there are thousands if not millions of developers out there itching to write software for this device and you can’t use any of it (unless you jailbreak your phone) come on Apple this device is a remarkable piece of engineering and I don’t think we have scratched the surface of what it is capable off yet but let people help.

Is the Iphone the gadget of all gadgets? I think not, I think it’s a nice insight of things to come and I think its pointed the industry in the right direction but unless Apple become a little more open minded about third party software Microsoft will end up winning this battle. The future is definitely in mobile devices but they have to be more than a novelty or a fashion accessory, the Iphone is almost there but not quite unfortunately I feel it’s just paved the way for a better device. (maybe one that I can actually type a letter on)