New Technology Blog

Technology (particularly computers) have been a big part of my life for many years.  I first became interested in computers at age 10 when my father purchased a Radio Shack TRS-80.  I eventually went into Computer Engineering as my career and have been something of a gadget collector all of my adult life.

For the most part, I have generally avoided writing posts that were too focused on technology for this blog.  I have a pretty good idea who my main readers are (most are friends or family) and I have a hunch that the interest level wouldn’t be overly high on most technology-related topics.  At the same time, it certainly is an interest and I often come across bits of technology news or various tech-related tips or experiences that I’d like to relate.  For this reason, I have maintained a second blog for quite a while for more technical posts.

When I first started that blog, it was very narrowly focused on Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs).  I bought one of the earliest models released in that category and thought I’d have a lot to say as a bit of a pioneer in that area.  Eventually, I kind of started to run dry on things to post on that topic and expanded the subject to include all kinds of mobile technology.  Even that was a pretty limiting topic, though, and I eventually kind of abandoned that site as well.

I have now converted the blog into the generalized Bigbeaks Technology Blog.  My plan is to make it more of a traditional weblog with shorter, more frequent posts, frequently highlighting interesting news items or articles that I encounter.  I will also periodically post my personal discoveries or tips regarding technology and I’m sure I will also sometimes write reviews or longer essays as subjects come along that strike my interest.

Occasionally, I’m sure that there will be topics that are technology related (or at least tangentially so), but which still seem to be general interest enough for this blog as well.  In those cases, I probably will post on whichever blog seems to be the best fit and then put up a post on the other one linking back.  I suppose there may be rare occasions where I could choose to just cross-post to both as well.

New UMPC Blog

I have purchased a new Ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) and as an early adopter, I expect to have a lot to say about it. Because of this, I have created the new Bigbeaks Ultra-Mobile PC Blog.

This original blog will continue to be my place to post whatever comes to mind about any other topic, but I encourage those of you with interest in UMPCs to check out that new site. I have copied the two previously posted articles about UMPCs there, plus there is a new article with my first impressions of my TabletKiosk eo v7110 UMPC.

Palm’s Future Mobile Managers and the UMPC

Palm’s Future Mobile Managers and the UMPC
By Jeffrey Graebner

Since the recent announcement of Microsoft’s new standards and software for what they call an Ultra-mobile PC (UMPC), which I discussed in an earlier post, there has been a fair amount of speculation in the online Palm OS user community about what this means for the future of the Mobile Manager line. I touched on this topic a bit in my previous essay, but I thought the subject deserved a more lengthy discussion.

A recent editorial by Ed Hardy at 1src.com focused quite a bit on steps that Palm could take to make the Mobile Manager line more of a direct alternative to a UMPC. I think he is largely coming at this from the wrong angle. Instead of focusing on how to compete with the UMPC as a PDA, I think that Palm needs to understand that Microsoft’s announcement essentially validates the whole concept that Palm introduced with the Mobile Managers. Instead of trying to present the LifeDrive and its successors as alternatives to the UMPC, Palm should work to help the public understand that they are versions of the same idea. If Palm intends to continue with the Mobile Manager line, within a year or so I would expect them to be able to do essentially anything that a UMPC can do.

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Thoughts on Ultra Mobile PCs

Thoughts on Ultra Mobile PCs
by Jeffrey Graebner

This week, Microsoft and Intel formally announced their new design for what they call Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPC). This was the project that Microsoft had semi-mysteriously hyped under the code name “Origami” via a teaser site. These devices, which will ship later this spring, are essentially oversized PDAs running the full version of Windows XP (and eventually Windows Vista) instead of a mobile OS like Windows Mobile or Palm OS.

Like existing PDAs, these devices will use a touch screen with either no keyboard or a thumb keyboard. They will use memory cards as their primary removable storage and miniature hard drives (like the ones found in digital music players) for internal storage. Data transfer and software installation will likely be accomplished primarily via synchronization with a primary PC or over the Internet instead of through optical discs. The first devices are expected to include both wi-fi and Bluetooth for communications. The biggest advantages over existing PDAs are expected to be a larger, higher-resolution screen and, of course, the ability to run regular PC applications.

While this is unquestionably an interesting new product category, the obvious question that is widely being asked is whether or not there is actually going to be much of a market for these devices.. As I look at the description of these units, I realize that I’m likely right in the core target audience for these devices. My instinct is that I probably will own one of these within the next year or so, although there are enough unanswered questions leaving me with doubts that the first-generation models will meet my needs.

As is frequently the case with new product lines from Microsoft, the UMPC concept isn’t entirely original, although their backing and promotion should stimulate substantial growth in this type of product. A couple other companies have already put out tiny miniature-laptops that run the full version of Windows, although not with too much success. Microsoft’s own design is really a progression from the previous Tablet-PC version of the OS. In addition, my own experience with PDAs over the last few years tells me that this is basically the direction that non-cellular handhelds have already been heading.

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