Saturday, January 10, 2009

A week of awesome tech stuff

This week was CES.  For those that do not know, CES is a yearly technology trade show in Las Vegas.  It has become one of the major shows during the year where manufacturers roll out new products and ideas.  It is a show I have wanted to go to for a while, but I have never actually gone.  This year might have been a good one to have attended as it appears that attendance was a bit lower this year than in some years past.

This post is really just a chance for me to highlight some of the tech announcements to come out of CES this week that I have found most interesting.

EEE Keyboard

The EEE Keyboard is basically a computer inside of a full sized keyboard.  The keyboard also has a small 5” touchscreen that allows you to work with the basic functions of the computer.  The guts of the thing are pretty impressive.  According to the Boy Genius Report the specs are:

  • Self-contained PC / keyboard combo with integrated 5-inch touchscreen display
  • OS: Windows XP Home Edition
  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom microprocessor
  • 1GB of DDR2 DRAM
  • 16GB or 32GB SSD
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • Ultra Wideband HDMI
  • USB 2.0 x2, VGA, HDMI, headphone and mic ports
  • Weight: 2 lbs

Perhaps most interesting is that the keyboard will use wireless HDMI to connect directly to a TV.  As I understand it, you can get a connector to connect to your TV that will allow the keyboard to work over the wireless HDMI.  I have moved the majority of my files to the cloud or to large external disks so that they can be easily accessed from multiple computers.  This type of keyboard computer would be very cool as a way to access all of that stuff.  I am very, very anxious to see the pricing on this.  I think I will be getting one of these regardless.

Update:  OS News is reporting that the keyboard is expected to ship in the September time frame.

EEE Keyboard News  |  EEE Blog Updates

Touch Screen EEE PC’s

Going into CES week I would have said that the Tablet PC form factor was nearing death, and that the UMPC, Netbooks and MID format had won.  However, ASUS announced not one, but two convertible tablet style EEE PC’s.  Prior to purchasing my EEE 901 I was looking to see if a touch screen convertible would be released.  When the release didn’t look likely I went with the 901.  Needless, to say I was very excited to see these two notebooks pop up at the ASUS press event. 

ASUS has announced the t91 and the t101.  It looks like the main difference between the two is the display size and the keyboard.  The t91 has an 8.9 inch screen and a keyboard that is basically the same as the 901.  The t101 has a 10.1 inch screen and a new larger keyboard.  Both devices will have an ASUS created touch interface which looks pretty slick, and I believe they both run with hard drives as opposed to SSD’s.  I would much prefer an SSD though, so I will have to wait and see what the options are.  They both run Windows XP home.  The best thing about them is that I have heard the price on the t91 may start at $500.  That is certainly a better price than I had expected.  I should also mention that GPS and a TV tuner will be an option on these devices.  I use a Bluetooth GPS with my 901 now, but having these built in would be cool.

I am anxiously awaiting the release and some hands on reviews.  Sounds like I need to wait till March.  I think it is likely I will replace my 901 with one of these.

EEE PC News  |  EEE PC Blog Updates

Windows 7

The beta release of Microsoft’s new Operating System was made available this week.  We were able to get a copy via MSDN at work, which allowed me to avoid the chaos that ensued on Friday morning during the general release.

I installed Windows 7 on one of my main work computers and my initial impression is positive.  It should be known that I am a pretty big fan of Vista, and I try to run it on all of my computers (except my EEE 901).  There are a few UI changes that take some getting used to, but I can report that the OS does seem faster than Vista.

The UI changes are not major, but some of the minor changes will still take a while for people to get used to.  The new taskbar is quite nice, but the inability to just click once on an icon that has multiple windows open is a bit of a drag.  If I have 5 Outlook windows open for example I need to hover on the Outlook icon, and then select the open window I want with another click.  It works fine, but takes some getting used to.  I only played with it for about 1/2 a day, so I will need to write more later.  I am certainly excited to get past some of the Vista quirks and move on to the next thing.

Other Stuff

Some of the other big news at the show was the Palm Pre and the Sony P.  Both do look pretty cool, but I am not as interested in either of those gadgets.  I think the new Microsoft Sync stuff in Ford’s looks pretty neat.  I am considering a Ford for a new car, perhaps this will be a differentiator.  The new Dell Mini notebook was announced with a 10 inch screen, larger SSD’s and an application store.  Very interesting development considering…

I had hoped to hear RIM announce a full featured application store for the Blackberry Storm this week.  The Storm desperately needs a central place for developers to work and share their programs.  Hopefully this will be available soon.

A huge shout out to everyone who took the time to live blog, share video, and in general cover the CES event this year.  I am especially grateful to Chippy and JKK from the UMPC Portal podcast for spending so much time online with live video covering all of the news.  Their huge list of contacts that were able to call in live from the show was great.  I would have loved to have spent the entire week skipping work and just participating in the chat and link sharing going on there.  Also a thanks to Kevin Tofel and James Kendrick  from JKontheRun for there coverage of all of CES, especially mobile technology.  Finally, Engadget did an awesome job of live blogging many of the big press events (even the disappointing Dell Adam”no” press event).

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