You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘personal computers’ tag.

This is the feature walkthrough of Bumptop, a gorgeously intuitive 3D user interface that mimics the functionality of your desk in real life. 


BumpTop, which debuted at TED 2007, was finally launched earlier this week. There’s a free version available for download and a Pro version for $29. First of all, it looks great. I’m definitely going to to give BumpTop a try this weekend. 

PROS  

  • Multidimensionality means more desktop space for user content. (Like Spaces on Mac OSX Leopard.)
  • You can make “piles” or “shelves” of related files, flip through them like a book or put them on a grid. (I’m a big fan of making stacks in real life).
  • You can make enlarge more important files and shrink others. (Yes! Visual prioritization!)
  • You can toss files around the desktop. Because BumpTop is physics-enabled, larger files are have more “weight” and will plow through smaller files. (Entertaining, functional, and obeys the laws of physics!) 
  • Social media integration allows you to update Facebook, or Flickr by dropping photos onto their respective icons.

CONS

  • Since it’s not a real OS, the 3D environment is constrained to the desktop.  Applications will pop up as flat windows, which is kind of awkwardly inconsistent. Not a permanent fix.

Perhaps the full potential of BumpTop cannot be realized unless it’s paired with a touchscreen device. Windows 7 is said to support multi-touch gestures in BumpTop, which should be a lot more fun.

—-
Of course, the better solution is if  Microsoft or Apple revamped their entire OS’s to give true 3D computing environments. I love the idea of a pseudo-gestural interface that takes on the appearance of a real working environment. It’s about time we transitioned from dealing with files & folders to a more tangible and intuitive means of data manipulation.

apple3d
As mentioned previously, Apple has gotten the ball rolling and patented some ideas for multidimensional desktop environments for future Mac OS’s.

Advertisements


Sony VAIO P Series – 8″ LED backlit 1600 x 768 display, ~1.5 lbs. Up to 60GB hard drive or 128GB SSD. Up to 4 hours battery life, 8 hours with larger capacity battery. 2GB RAM. Windows Vista. Starting at $899. [Hands-on review of the VAIO P @ EnGadget

Whoa, a trackpoint? I never learned how to use one of those things properly. The VAIO P is interesting. Sans trackpad, the laptop has much less depth (reminds me of a clutch), while keeping a wider screen and keyboard. I have to wonder if the most convenient place for a trackpad is underneath the keyboard (it leaves a chunk of empty space). Why not make the screen even wider, and stick a multi-touch trackpad to the right of the keyboard? It could double as a numeric keypad and for right-handers, it’s on the same side as a mouse.

—-

Dell Adamo – The ultrathin luxury laptop brand was officially unveiled. Specs, pricing not available. Dell’s making a design statement with the Adamo, which (gasp) has a slim charger. So far, I like. [Hands-on gallery @ Engadget, more prototype photos @ AnandTech]

—-

HP Voodoo Envy 133 – The Dell Adamo really reminded me of HP’s Envy 133 laptop, which was unveiled in mid 2008. 3.4 lbs, 0.7″ thick.

—-

Dell Mini 10 – Built-in TV tuner, mobile broadband, & GPS!!! I should probably get a digital TV tuner myself…hm. 

Dell also announced a partnership deal with AT&T that will allow users to buy a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (MSRP $499) for $99 with a 2 year Internet service contract from AT&T. [via eWeek]

Dell’s industrial designers have been on point lately. The sleek new Studio XPS 16 is niiice.

“Here’s what’s amazing about the Mac as it turns 25, a number that in computer years is just about a googolplex: It can look forward. The Mac’s original competition—the green-phosphorus-screened stuff made by RadioShack, DEC, and then-big kahuna IBM—now inhabit landfills, both physically and psychically. Yet the Macintosh is not only thriving, it’s doing better than at any time in its history. . .[The] Mac market share has quietly crept into double digits. That’s up from barely 3 percent in 1997, just before the prodigal CEO returned to the fold after a 12-year exile. Any way you cut it, the Mac is on the rise while Windows is waning. . . Apple COO Tim Cook lists six factors: better computers, better software, seamless compatibility with Windows, marketing acumen, successful retail stores, and the belly flop of Microsoft Vista.” [via Wired]


25 Years of Mac: Click to explore a full sized timeline of Apple products
The color progression is awesome. I am glad beige is no longer the default color for PCs!

Netbooks are miniaturized, no frills, bare-bones versions of their larger laptop counterparts, boasting solid wireless connectivity and basic mobile computing at an extremely low cost. Prices range from $250-$800 (averaging ~$400), depending on the brand and set of specifications, e.g SSD vs. HDD, 3-cell vs. 6-cell battery, and so on. They come in screen sizes between 7″-10″ and weigh between 2-4 lbs, i.e. light as a MacBook Air at a fifth of the cost. Although not as aesthetically pleasing as an Air, netbooks are durable, reliable, and far from ugly. 

Personally, I think netbooks are awesome. I’m a minimalist packer that dislikes heavy loads, so lugging around my PowerBook G4 was out of the question. That gorgeous thing stays put on my desk at the apartment. As a student on-the-go, I needed a decently powerful, internet friendly, and portable computer to have with me on eight hour runs between campus and work. You know, to check email, RSS feeds, current events, and maybe play a little MS Pinball if a lecture gets a bit dry. No, I didn’t want an iPhone and I didn’t want to pay the high price of a UMPC (why, Sony, why ??). So I bought a netbook. . . which should bring me to reveal which one I own, but since I’ve been too lazy to take more pictures of it–the review will have to wait. 

—-
Netbook History 101:
Before 2007, affordable “portable” laptops were clunky 12-15″ abominations weighing at or above 6 lbs. True “ultraportable” laptops (aka UMPCs) were available, but commanded premium prices well above $2000. Cheap, lightweight notebooks simply did not exist. 

The non-profit OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) initiative led the way in building the first lightweight, rugged, low-cost, and kid-friendly laptop. Personal computers with Internet access are powerful educational tools, so OLPC sought to make and distribute $100 laptops to developing countries for classroom use. The XO laptop came out to  be ~$200 with their “Give a laptop, get a laptop” program. Intel quickly followed suit, developing the $200 Classmate PC, which is now in its second generation. They look like toys but pack all the same features of a laptop and, mind you, are built to withstand children (who can prove to be very destructive). These were coined as sub-par laptops, or “subnotebooks.” {Left: OLPC XO Laptop, Right: Intel Classmate PC}

Although subnotebooks were fully intended to be marketed in developing countries, they heralded the way for the netbooks in today’s retail markets. Asus followed in the footsteps of OLPC and Intel and developed the tiny Eee PC, an ultra mobile Internet device targeted at the general public. The primary market was sales in traditional retail channels, with later plans to ship the Eee PC to schoolchildren in third-world countries. {Below: Asus Eee PC 4G}

Smart move. Launched in late 2007, the Eee PC was a hit on the American retail market and quickly gained popularity worldwide. The Asus Eee PC changed everything: a 2 lb. laptop with a 7″ screen, standard ports, built-in WiFi & webcam, all at a starting price below $300. They were tight, compact, easy to use, and inexpensive; customer reviews on Amazon remain overwhelmingly positive. Asus had no idea the Eee PC’s portability would have such broad appeal for kids, first-time computer users, bloggers, students, and mobile workers alike.

The market was there. Consumers wanted cheap, lightweight laptops. Then all hell broke loose, as every electronics manufacturer on the planet jumped the bandwagon, rushing to put out their own “netbooks”. This was a confusing time, because the netbooks churned out were virtually indistinguishable, offering roughly same specifications in different shells for a variety of prices. You had the Acer Aspire One, the Lenovo IdeaPad S10, the Samsung NC10, the MSI Wind, the HP Mini-Note 2133, etc…and many models of the Asus Eee PC [see Lilliputing.com for more]. Dell was the last to join in with the Inspiron Mini 9 & the Mini 12. Models after models were introduced as manufacturers tried to edge out the competition by improving specs. 

At the end of 2008, the dust has cleared and the Asus Eee PC continues to dominate netbook sales. Netbooks are no longer thought of as “subnoteboks” but rather as versatile, understated, mini-laptops. Be sure to read the reviews to make sure you’re not getting a really shitty one.

Netbooks presently share these features: 10″ screen, Intel Atom 1.6Ghz processor, a webcam, and 1-2 Gb RAM. The real differences lie in what storage disk you choose, whether you go for 6-cell (longer battery life), personal aesthetics (color, size/arrangement of the multi-touchpad & keyboard), and cost. Competition keeps quality up and prices down, with the exception of high-end or designer notebooks.

—-
Where does the netbook/PC industry stand now? I’m interested to see how it all plays out during a recession. 

The PC industry ended the year on a decidedly gloomy note, with very few bright spots…It’s telling who didn’t jump on the [netbook] trend: brands that like to associate themselves with upmarket style and quality. Apple CEO Steve Jobs essentially dismissed the idea of an Apple Netbook in September, and Sony denied it has plans to market an inexpensive Netbook. A Sony executive even went so far as to declare Netbooks, a “race to the bottom,” in terms of price and quality, driving down the price of all laptops. [Year In Review via CNet]

He means that if mainstream PC buyers start to find their needs met by a lightweight, simply featured, inexpensive portable, it’s likely to impel all of the major players in the industry to pile on by lowering their prices. And that’s in an industry with already low margins for retailers and manufacturers. [Sony leery of the Eee PC? via CNet]

Nicolas Barendson, a senior executive at Sony U.K., says that laptops with 7-10″ screens don’t meet consumer needs and that the netbook market will “evolve” into a different form factor. “We think that the proposition in the market today is not the future of netbook … the form factor is not properly designed for the consumer’s needs … So there’s a lot of quantity sold, people are disappointed by them, and it’s not small enough to be pocketable and not big enough to be a PC.” The company, he says, will have a “different proposition” to the range of nearly-identical netbooks. [via BBG]

So, Apple & Sony will not be rolling out netbooks anytime soon. It’d be wonderful if they did, and those netbooks would be oh-so gorgeous. Unfortunately, those premium brands are more likely to churn out a “less expensive” ultraportable ($800-$1500) than a dirt cheap netbook. Can you imagine if Louis Vuitton suddenly start selling plain white tees? It would crush the brand image.

Hmm…what is the future of the netbook? What will be that perfect form factor? 

—-
On an unrelated note, this is Lenovo’s ThinkPad W700ds. This beast of a mobile workstation supports a 17″ and 10.6″ LCD dual display setup intended for for photographers, graphic artists and application developers. The 11 lb laptop is so wide it has room for separate numeric keypad.

Also, Dell has pitched smaller, greener consumer desktop PC with totally recyclable packaging.

Archives

Advertisements