This morning I was an interesting article on Brighthand that suggests that Asus will be including touchscreens in up coming Eee PC subnotebooks.
“According to an unconfirmed report, Asus will release an Eee PC with a touchscreen before the middle of this year.
Sources at touchscreen makers told DigiTimes that Asus is going to make a resistive touchscreen a part of its low-cost subnotebook in the near future.”
Subnotebooks, in particular, devices from Asus, have started to become a reoccurring theme here on Foleo Fanatics now that the future of Palm’s Foleo is in limbo.
Read the full Brighthand article…
On a recent trip to the local discount warehouse shopping club, my junior podcaster Meghan and I ran across a real Asus Eee PC 2GB sub-notebook in the electronics section. (I did have to fight the strong buy impulse. If there was a 4GB version in the store for less than $100 more, I probably would have purchased that unit on the spot. Don’t let anyone tell you price isn’t a factor. Availability, or unavailability in this case, was a bigger factor.)
This was the first time I’ve seen an Eee PC in the “wild” and was rather shocked by it. I was caught of guard by how small the device really was. I know that 7-inches isn’t much smaller than 10-inches, but the Eee PC looked small. As you can see from the photo, if I had both hands on the keyboard, things were going to get a bit cramped. The other thing that I noticed right off the bat was how cheaply made the keys felt. You have to keep in mind that there has to be some trade offs with a $299 sub-notebook. (I must admit that I don’t know if this was a real unit or just a display unit.) I was really hoping to see and play with the Linux OS that was installed on this device. Regrettably, the unit was not charged up or plugged into a power source.
One of the things that I really do like about these ultra portables sub-notebooks is that they are considerably smaller than regular notebook computers. In meetings, I don’t like to use my 15-inch Dell Latitude because I feel that it creates a barrier between myself and the other attendees. With sub-notebook machines, you can still get the utility of a notebook computer for taking notes and minutes in the meeting without creating an “us and them” atmosphere.
I’ve pretty much have come to the conclusion that IR and Bluetooth keyboards used in conjunction with my Palm Treo 755p just isn’t working for me any longer. Alignment and connection issues with the keyboards and Palm OS devices make the solution too time consuming to be useful in a meeting with my peers and customers. An elegant instant on and get down to work device fits my current work style much better.
Last summer I was really spoiled by what I saw in a pre-release version of the Palm Foleo mobile companion. These new crop of sub-notebook computers, of which the Asus Eee PC is one, have really come close to capturing what I though was so special about the Foleo (size, design, ease of use, options, and battery life). I will be interested in seeing a live 9-inch Eee PC when they arrive here in the United States later this year. I’m also interested in seeing how well the rumored HP Compaq 3122 to my memory of the Foleo and the Eee PC.
Earlier this week, Brighthand’s Ed Hardy published a story on Asus’ announcement of the new Eee PC 900.
There are a few things that I find appealing about this device. First is the 9-inch (OK, the 8.9-inch ) display. And like the ill-fated Palm Foleo, the Eee PC 900 will run that display at a 1024×600 screen resolution. The current model Eee PCs have a 7-inch display and run at a lower screen resolution.
Another nice improvement is in the memory category. According to the Brighthand article, the Eee PC 900 will be configurable with up to 1GB of memory and up to 12GB of storage space. The article makes no mention of what type of storage the 12GB will be, however my guess is it will be flash memory, rather than a micro hard drive which have larger storage capacities.
The bad news, according to the article, is that there was no mention as to when customers in the United States might be able to get their hands on the larger unit or how much it will cost for the privilege of owning one.
As I mentioned recently on FoleoFanatics and 1SRC, without a new Foleo on horizon, I may have to break down and get a solution from another vendor. The Eee PC is attractive because of the low cost of the existing solutions. However, the HP Compaq 2133 has the name recognition behind it that could take the unit mainstream. From a design standpoint, I like the look of the Compaq better than the Eee PC, but I’m willing to admit that photos on the Internet are no substitute for actually playing with the device to see how it feels.
I’ll have to keep an eye on the future developments in the sub-notebook segment an vote with my dollars later this year as to which device will get to play second fiddle to my Treo.
I just posted the latest 1SRC Editorial in which I continue the discussion of my quest for a replacement for the Palm Foleo. While we wait for the Foleo II to be developed, I’ve been thinking about the growing number of alternative devices that are on the market or near to release.
Here is the punch line for those who like to skip to the back of the book first.
“I think it is clear that if Palm had shipped the Foleo back in September I would have happily plugging away with it. I hope that Palm will go back and redesign the Foleo once Palm OS II/Nova ships early in 2009. That said, I still believe in the idea that the Foleo represents even if I can’t buy one.
Other vendors have capitalized on the splash that Palm made in May during the All Things D announcement. I’ve read and hear good things about the Asus Eee PC. The Everex CloudBook looks like it will be a full-featured machine. The Apple MacBook Air is full featured and has the sex appeal to sell the device on looks alone, but it is far too pricey for the average user to consider getting one as a second machine. Mac gear heads and professionals will no doubt be buying them. And that leaves the rumored HP Compaq 2133. If the photos that Engadget posted are in fact authentic, the 2133 will be a good-looking machine. We are a little light on the product specs at this point, but if the hardware is going to run Vista, it has to be more powerful than the other Linux/Windows options. (You aren’t running the Arrow interface on hardware done on the cheap.) Would the Compaq 2133 be a value at the Foleo’s retail price of $600? I’d like to see a new Foleo and the Compaq 2133 both shipping in the $400 price range. Now let’s see if Palm and HP can deliver.”
So there it is. If I end up getting one of these Foleo alternatives (No, I’m not letting go of the Foleo, damn it!), it will likely be the HP Compaq 2133. Depending on the final pricing, I might be able to get a few for the office and legitimize my use of something other than my company issued Dell Latitude D630.
In the discussion thread for a recent 1SRC Editorial, My Mobile Companion, a few readers asked why I still pine for a Palm Foleo and not just get an Asus Eee PC?
The long and short of it is that I’m just not convinced about the software. Yes, I know that I can run Windows XP or Vista on it, but I’ll have to purchase a new license, and that will drive up the costs.
I like the idea of this form factor. But I’m just not sure about the software. My main use for a Treo and a keyboard, or the Foleo, was the ability to use DataViz Documents To Go for notes and document creation and editing. If I had Windows and Office (another license I’ll need to buy, further driving up the cost of a Eee PC) I could do all of the same tasks as a Treo and keyboard or the Foleo.
I guess it all really comes down to personal choice.