Posts Tagged ‘Mobile Computing

03
Oct
07

The Failure of Portable Computing

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on the site and I appreciate all the support I’ve received thus far. It’s been about a year since I started doing Random Digital Musings and it’s been pretty therapeutic for me to give birth to new ideas and opinions. I look forward to continuing the site — I think there are exciting times ahead as technology decides what becomes of the iPod now that the product line is a bit over-segmented, what becomes of Vista now that the market seems to have responded with a resounding, “we’re not impressed” and with the PS3 now that the Wii has demonstrated (despite it’s name) that mainstream gaming isn’t a dream, but a reality. These are a few of the topics that I look forward to covering — God willing — in the coming months…. -devron

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Back in May when Palm announced that it was releasing the Foleo, the technology world took notice. For one, Palm had been taking a pretty predictable and uninspired course over the past few years — considerably different from it’s inspired beginnings, bringing us the Palm Pilot and creating what is probably regarded the first widely accepted PDA platform. The company appeared to be content with simply pushing out new Treos — and even those were starting to see only incremental, uninspired updates. The Foleo was initially attacked a bit by the mainstream press (including by the Engadget editors) as a device that didn’t quite make sense. But to me it made perfect sense.

Laptops have really gotten away from their original intent — (or at least I believe so). Laptops were meant to be portable representations of desktop based PCs. While they’ve been successful in porting the same power as their desktop counterparts, often this comes at a cost. Only the most expensive laptops are small enough and can be considered truly portable to the point where their presence in your office briefcase is unnoticeable. You would think that over time, laptops would have decreased in size dramatically — and they have. But perhaps not at the rate that I believe they should have. Laptops at this point should be no heavier than 3 pounds — 5 pounds max.

It’s easy to blame almost anything that’s wrong with tech on Microsoft, but in this case, I think it’s rather appropriate. Hardware manufacturers are trying to build notebook/laptop computers to keep pace with the growing demand for high visual requirements. We’ve seen with Vista that the visual enhancements brought forth by “a desktop background that has a moving image” and features like “Flip 3D” and Aero Glass come with moderate visual impact and very little gain in functionality to the user.

I think Microsoft could have impacted this course that laptops have taken by implementing a more streamlined version of Windows under the “Vista Business Edition” moniker. There’s no reason why a business version of Vista should run slower than Windows XP. I think they should have created a separate development team, focused on minimizing the OS to a “business basic” form factor with only the most relevant features. (Sure, I know that’s easier said than done. But if this had been the focus of the dev team — an OS that requires minimal RAM, runs efficiently, and is more stable because it’s designed to prioritize stability over features — we might not be talking about Vista as such a failure right now in the court of public opinion.)

I think that laptops should be broken out into two totally different categories — each with a distinct core purpose. Continue reading ‘The Failure of Portable Computing’

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