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April 15, 2006

In laptops, small is beautiful

Posted 3092 days ago on April 15, 2006

Writing about the "Origami" ultra-mobile PC in Personal Computer World, Clive Akass acknowledges immaturity of the early devices, but remarks that "...when I first looked at an Origami at Cebit, I got the same shiver down my spine that I felt when I first loaded Mosaic".

I've not yet played with a UMPC, but I'm keen on both convergence and small form factors. Back in 2003 I replaced my old 14" screen laptop with an Acer Tablet PC which has a 10.4" screen. Although it is now two and a half years old, it still draws admiring comments because of its size, rather than for its Tablet capabilities. I will never go back to a larger device, but would happily go even smaller.

What's curious is that most laptops sold today still have 14" or 15" screens. The main reason I suspect is price. Looking at Dabs.com as a random example of a laptop vendor, I can get a 15" Toshiba Satellite Pro L20 for under £400.00. There are very few on offer with small displays. The only one with a 10.x" screen is the Fujitsu Siemens P7120 PM at nearly £1500. Yes, the spec is a bit better than the cheap Toshiba, but even so there is apparently a huge premium to pay if you want a more portable laptop.

Can a UMPC really replace a laptop? Done right, I don't see why not. My existing Tablet comes with external floppy and DVD attachments, but I always leave them behind and don't miss them. I do need a keyboard, but some sort of fold-out affair will be fine. Even a 7" screen will be OK for typing on-the-go.

Battery life is an issue, but let's note that power sockets are sprouting everywhere these days - my train to London has one at every seat. And you can always carry a spare battery.

In a few years time I suspect that today's big laptops will seem as quaint and impractical as those brick-like early mobile phones.

Small is beautiful.

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Re: In laptops, small is beautiful

Posted 3089 days ago by mac jordan • • wwwReply

I'm so sad that Apple have decided not to do a 12" MacBook - Iast December I sold my 15" powerbook and got a 12" one, which I *love*. It's just the right size for what I want, and easy to cart about when I need to.

now what I want is an Apple Tablet!

Re: In laptops, small is beautiful

Posted 2881 days ago by Mike Scragg • • • Reply

What do I want ? Something to replace my Psion 5mx (still working every day). It must have a keyboard, word processing, spreadsheet, database, touch screen (so I can draw on it), facility to load other programs e.g. foreign language dictionary, ability to write your own programs - the Psion has all of this. A 7" screen will be fine, wi-fi would be nice. If Psion could produce the 5mx mumbly-odd years ago, why hasn't somone got round to producing an uprgraded version ?


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