Category Archives: asus

IFA 2014 report: Wearables, Windows 8 and Phone, Android TV, Amazon FireTV, lots of phones, Spotify Connect

I am just back from IFA 2014 in Berlin, perhaps the nearest European equivalent to CES in Las Vegas though smaller, less frenetic, and benefiting from the pleasant environment of Berlin in early autumn in place of Vegas glitz.


On the eve of a major Apple event, IFA 2014 was a chance for the non-Apple tech world to impress. That said, neither Google nor Microsoft bothers to exhibit at IFA; they rely on partners to show off the products which use their stuff. The biggest exhibitor from what I could tell was Samsung, or possibly Sony which also had a huge presence.

Google subsidiary Nest did not have a stand either, though co-founder and VP of engineering Matt Rogers did give a keynote, in place of CEO Tony Fadell who is recovering from an accident. It was an odd keynote, with little new content other than the announcement of Nest device availability in Belgium, France, Ireland and the Netherlands (they are already in the US, Canada and the UK).

The Nest keynote was memorable though for this remark:

We know neighbours have to earn your trust. We should too. Buying a Nest device is a lot like trusting us with a set of keys.

A smart thermostat or smoke alarm is like a set of keys? Not really. I may be reading too much into this, but what if Nest were to move into home security? How about a security system that recognized you? Might Nest/Google one day literally have the power to unlock your door?

My main interests at IFA are computing, mobile and audio; but I also slipped into the Siemens-Electrogeräte press conference, showing off smart ovens and coffee machines. It was worth it to hear General Manager Roland Hagenbucher explain that “Home is where your app is”, describing new app control and monitoring for Siemens smart kitchens. The question: if we need an app to turn on the oven, what are the implications for mobile operating systems?

The answer is that if the apps you need are not available for a particular mobile device, it is a significant barrier to adoption. This is the difficulty for Windows Phone, for which Microsoft held a press event in Berlin last week, launching three new phones, the mid-range Lumia 830 and budget 730 (Dual Sim) and 735. Microsoft also presented an OS update code-named “Denim”, also known as Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1. Key features include a new, faster camera app; voice activation for Cortana (just say “Hey Cortana”); and the ability to organise app tiles into folders. Oh, and not forgetting the Microsoft Screen Sharing for Lumia Phones HD-10 – the little device with the long name.


The devices look decent and there are some good things in Windows Phone; the OS itself is smooth, the Cortana digital assistance has exceeded my expectations, the prices are reasonable, and there are thoughtful touches like the detachable NFC connection coaster on the HD-10. All it lacks is momentum, and achieving that under the shadows of Android and Apple is a huge challenge.

That said, I spoke to Dan Dery, VP and CMO at Alcatel OneTouch, who told me of the company’s plans for Windows Phone OS tablets. Which is all very well, but raises questions about the flood of new Windows 8 tablets, in sizes as small as the 7” Encore Mini from Toshiba, on show at IFA.

Intel showed off its new Pentium M CPU, based on the Broadwell architecture, optimized for low power (4.5w), small size (14nm processor) and cool (no fan). In a keynote Intel also talked up the drive for wireless computing, one facet of which is the Rezence Alliance for Wireless Power. Rezence has some powerful names on its members list, including Asus, Broadcom, Canon, Dell, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Samsung and Sony. Then again, many of those companies are also members of the rival Wireless Power Consortium which backs the Qi standard, used by Nokia/Microsoft. However, in the wireless power wars I would not bet against Intel (let’s see which way Apple jumps with the iWatch).

There were countless new Android phone launches at IFA. The challenge here is differentiation; every company says its devices are innovative, but few really are. What you get for your money is constantly improving though; I cannot remember handling any smartphones that seemed really poor, which was not the case a couple of years back.

Amazon launched its FireTV video streamer in Europe; I had a brief hands-on and wrote a piece for Guardian Technology. I liked it; it is well-designed for a specific purpose, searching for and streaming a video from Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service. It does also run apps and games (there is an optional games controller) but what will sell it, for those that give it a chance, is voice search through the Bluetooth-connected remote. I veer towards sceptical when it comes to voice search, but this is a perfect use case: pick up the remote and speak into it, rather than wrestling with a living room keyboard or pecking out letters with an on-screen keyboard. With Amazon it is all about the subscription though; the aim of FireTV is to get you hooked on Prime (fast delivery as well as instant video). It is less attractive if you prefer an alternative service, though it is a good specification for the price.

Wearables were everywhere at IFA and it seemed every press conference included a watch or fitness tracker announcement (or both) – many Android, but Alcatel OneTouch made the point that its watch was lower power and faster because it does not use Android.





Alcatel OneTouch:




and so on. There does seem to be a lot of “because we can” in these devices, though some use cases do make sense, such as rejecting a call by tapping your wrist, or getting notifications. Is that worth a device which needs charging once a week (my watch has a 10 year battery life)? How much do we really want to track our fitness, and what do we do when health insurance companies get hold of this data and only want to insure the best risks?

Philips showed off its Android TV:


While bundling Android into a TV set may seem to make sense, the problem is that you will probably want to keep the TV long after the Android part has gone out of date. Another problem – well, spot the background message at the top of this screen:


Yes, it says AntiVirus Security – FREE. Just what you always wanted in your TV.

I also took a good look/listen at the audio on display. I will post separately on Gadget Writing; but the most significant thing I spotted (ha!) is the advent of Spotify Connect (this is from Yamaha).


The idea is that with a Spotify subscription along with Spotify Connect devices (each device must be Spotify Connect certified) you can choose what to play and where from your Spotify app, and enjoy smart features like your playlist continuing unbroken when you move from kitchen to living room to car. No chance versus Apple/Beats you might think; but look how far Spotify has come, thriving as Apple clung too long to its file download model (see here for why files are over).

CES 2014 report: robots, smart home, wearables, bendy TV, tablets, health gadgets, tubes and horns

CES in Las Vegas is an amazing event, partly through sheer scale. It is the largest trade show in Vegas, America’s trade show city. Apparently it was also the largest CES ever: two million square feet of exhibition space, 3,200 exhibitors, 150,000 industry attendees, of whom 35,000 were from outside the USA.


It follows that CES is beyond the ability of any one person to see in its entirety. Further, it is far from an even representation of the consumer tech industry. Notable absentees include Apple, Google and Microsoft – though Microsoft for one booked a rather large space in the Venetian hotel which was used for private meetings.  The primary purpose of CES, as another journalist explained to me, is for Asian companies to do deals with US and international buyers. The success of WowWee’s stand for app-controllable MiP robots, for example, probably determines how many of the things you will see in the shops in the 2014/15 winter season.


The kingmakers at CES are the people going round with badges marked Buyer. The press events are a side-show.

CES is also among the world’s biggest trade shows for consumer audio and high-end audio, which is a bonus for me as I have an interest in such things.

Now some observations. First, a reminder that CEA (the organisation behind CES) kicked off the event with a somewhat downbeat presentation showing that global consumer tech spending is essentially flat. Smartphones and tablets are growing, but prices are falling, and most other categories are contracting. Converged devices are reducing overall spend. One you had a camera, a phone and a music player; now the phone does all three.

Second, if there is one dominant presence at CES, it is Samsung. Press counted themselves lucky even to get into the press conference. A showy presentation convinced us that we really want not only UHD (4K UHD is 3840 x 2160 resolution) video, but also a curved screen, for a more immersive experience; or even the best of both worlds, an 85” bendable UHD TV which transforms from flat to curved.


We already knew that 4K video will go mainstream, but there is more uncertainty about the future connected home. Samsung had a lot to say about this too, unveiling its Smart Home service. A Smart Home Protocol (SHP) will connect devices and home appliances, and an app will let you manage them. Home View will let you view your home remotely. Third parties will be invited to participate. More on the Smart Home is here.


The technology is there; but there are several stumbling blocks. One is political. Will Apple want to participate in Samsung’s Smart Home? will Google? will Microsoft? What about competitors making home appliances? The answer is that nobody will want to cede control of the Smart Home specifications to Samsung, so it can only succeed through sheer muscle, or by making some alliances.

The other question is around value for money. If you are buying a fridge freezer, how high on your list of requirements is SHP compatibility? How much extra will you spend? If the answer is that old-fashioned attributes like capacity, reliability and running cost are all more important, then the Smart Home cannot happen until there are agreed standards and a low cost of implementation. It will come, but not necessarily from Samsung.

Samsung did not say that much about its mobile devices. No Galaxy S5 yet; maybe at Mobile World Congress next month. It did announce the Galaxy Note Pro and Galaxy Tab Pro series in three sizes; the “Pro” designation intrigues me as it suggests the intention that these be business devices, part of the “death of the PC” theme which was also present at CES.

Samsung did not need to say much about mobile because it knows it is winning. Huawei proudly announced that it it is 3rd in smartphones after Samsung and Apple, with a … 4.8% market share, which says all you need to know.

That said, Huawei made a rather good presentation, showing off its forthcoming AscendMate2 4G smartphone, with 6.1” display, long battery life (more than double that of iPhone 5S is claimed, with more than 2 days in normal use), 5MP front camera for selfies, 13MP rear camera, full specs here. No price yet, but expect it to be competitive.


Sony also had a good CES, with indications that PlayStation 4 is besting Xbox One in the early days of the next-gen console wars, and a stylish stand reminding us that Sony knows how to design good-looking kit. Sony’s theme was 4K becoming more affordable, with its FDR-AX100 camcorder offering 4K support in a device no larger than most camcorders; unfortunately the sample video we saw did not look particularly good.


Sony also showed the Xperia Z1 compact smartphone, which went down well, and teased us with an introduction for Sony SmartWear wearable entertainment and “life log” capture. We saw the unremarkable “core” gadget which will capture the data but await more details.


Another Sony theme was high resolution audio, on which I am writing a detailed piece (not just about Sony) to follow.

As for Microsoft Windows, it was mostly lost behind a sea of Android and other devices, though I will note that Lenovo impressed with its new range of Windows 8 tablets and hybrids – like the 8” Thinkpad with Windows 8.1 Pro and full HD 1920×1200 display – more details here.


There is an optional USB 3.0 dock for the Thinkpad 8 but I commented to the Lenovo folk that the device really needs a keyboard cover. I mentioned this again at the Kensington stand during the Mobile Focus Digital Experience event, and they told me they would go over and have a look then and there; so if a nice Kensington keyboard cover appears for the Thinkpad 8 you have me to thank.

Whereas Lenovo strikes me as a company which is striving to get the best from Windows 8, I was less impressed by the Asus press event, mainly because I doubt the Windows/Android dual boot concept will take off. Asus showed the TD300 Transformer Book Duet which runs both. I understand why OEMs are trying to bolt together the main business operating system with the most popular tablet OS, but I dislike dual boot systems, and if the Windows 8 dual personality with Metro and desktop is difficult, then a Windows/Android hybrid is more so. I’d guess there is more future in Android emulation on Windows. Run Android apps in a window? Asus did also announce its own 8” Windows 8.1 tablet, but did not think it worth attention in its CES press conference.

Wearables was a theme at CES, especially in the health area, and there was a substantial iHealth section to browse around.


I am not sure where this is going, but it seems to me inevitable that self-monitoring of how well or badly our bodies are functioning will become commonplace. The result will be fodder for hypochondriacs, but I think there will be real benefits too, in terms of motivation for exercise and healthy diets, and better warning and reaction for critical problems like heart attacks. The worry is that all that data will somehow find its way to Google or health insurance companies, raising premiums for those who need it most. As to which of the many companies jostling for position in this space will survive, that is another matter.

What else? It is a matter of where to stop. I was impressed by NVidia’s demo rig showing three 4K displays driven by a GTX-equipped PC; my snap absolutely does not capture the impact of the driving game being shown.


I was also impressed by NVidia’s ability to befuddle the press at its launch of the Tegra K1 chipset, confusing 192 CUDA cores with CPU cores. Having said that, the CUDA support does mean you can use those cores for general-purpose programming and I see huge potential in this for more powerful image processing on the device, for example. Tegra 4 on the Surface 2 is an excellent experience, and I hope Microsoft follows up with a K1 model in due course even though that looks doubtful.

There were of course many intriguing devices on show at CES, on some of which I will report over at the Gadget Writing blog, and much wild and wonderful high-end audio.

On audio I will note this. Bang & Olufsen showed a stylish home system, largely wireless, but the sound was disappointing (it also struck me as significant that Android or iOS is required to use it). The audiophiles over in the Venetian tower may have loopy ideas, but they had the best sounds.

CES can do retro as well as next gen; the last pinball machine manufacturer displayed at Digital Experience, while vinyl, tubes and horns were on display over in the tower.


NVIDIA’s GPU in the cloud: will you still want an Xbox or PlayStation?

NVIDIA’s GPU Technology conference is an unusual event, in part a get-together for academic researchers using HPC, in part a marketing pitch for the company. The focus of the event is on GPU computing, in other words using the GPU for purposes other than driving a display, such as processing simulations to model climate change or fluid dynamics, or to process huge amounts of data in order to calculate where best to drill for oil. However NVIDIA also uses the event to announce its latest GPU innovations, and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang used this morning’s keynote to introduce its GPU in the cloud initiative.

This takes two forms, though both are based on a feature of the new “Kepler” wave of NVIDIA GPUs which allows them to render graphics to a stream rather than to a display. It is the world’s first virtualized GPU, he claimed.


The first target is enterprise VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure). The idea is that in the era of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) there is high demand for the ability to run Windows applications on devices of every kind, perhaps especially Apple iPads. This works fine via virtualisation for everyday applications, but what about GPU-intensive applications such as Autocad or Adobe Photoshop? Using a Kepler GPU you can run up to 100 virtual desktop instances with GPU acceleration. NVIDIA calls this the VGX Platform.


What actually gets sent to the client is mostly H.264 video, which means most current devices have good support, though of course you still need a remote desktop client.

The second target is game streaming. The key problem here – provided you have enough bandwidth – is minimising the lag between when a player moves or clicks Fire, and when the video responds. NVIDIA has developed software called the Geforce GRID which it will supply along with specially adapted Kepler GPUs to cloud companies such as Gaikai. Using the Geforce GRID, lag is reduced, according to NVIDIA, to something close to what you would get from a game console.


We saw a demo of a new Mech shooter game in which one player is using an Asus Transformer Prime, an Android tablet, and the other an LG television which has a streaming client built in. The game is rendered in the cloud but streamed to the clients with low latency.


“This is your game console,” said NVIDIA CEO Jen-Sun Huang, holding the Ethernet cable that connected the TV to the internet.


The concept is attractive for all sorts of reasons. Users can play games without having to download and install, or connect instantly to a game being played by a friend. Game companies are protected from piracy, because the game code runs in the cloud, not on the device.

NVIDIA does not plan to run its own cloud services, but is working with partners, as the following slide illustrates. On the VDI side, Citrix, Microsoft, VMWare and Xen were mentioned as partners.


If cloud GPU systems take off, will it cannibalise the market for powerful GPUs in client devices, whether PCs, game consoles or tablets? I put this to Huang in the press Q&A after the keynote, and he denied it, saying that people like designers hate to share their PCs. It was an odd and unsatisfactory answer. After all, if Huang is saying that your games console is now an Ethernet cable, he is also saying that there is no need any longer for game consoles which contain powerful NVIDIA GPUs. The same might apply to professional workstations, with the logic that cloud computing always presents: that shared resources have better utilisation and therefore lower cost.

Asus Transformer Prime update: Google video rental or unlocked bootloader, you choose

Asus has responded to demands for an unlocked bootloader for its its latest Transformer Prime tablet.

It turns out that DRM is the culprit – at least, that is what Asus says on its Facebook page:

Regarding the bootloader, the reason we chose to lock it is due to content providers’ requirement for DRM client devices to be as secure as possible. ASUS supports Google DRM in order to provide users with a high quality video rental experience. Also, based on our experience, users who choose to root their devices risk breaking the system completely. However, we know there is demand in the modding community to have an unlocked bootloader. Therefore, ASUS is developing an unlock tool for that community. Please do note that if you choose to unlock your device, the ASUS warranty will be void, and Google video rental will also be unavailable because the device will be no longer protected by security mechanism.

My guess is that most modders will cheerfully unlock their bootloaders and ditch the DRM. That said, I am not clear why this should void the warranty unless it is software related.

Users petition Asus over locked bootloader in Asus Transformer Prime

The new Asus Transformer Prime TF201 Android tablet is winning praise for its performance and flexibility. It is driven by NVIDIA’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor and can be equipped with a keyboard and dock that extends battery life and makes the device more like a laptop.

All good; but techie users are upset that the bootloader is encrypted, which means the kernel cannot be modified other than through official Asus updates.

A petition on the subject has achieved over 2000 signatures. Detailed discussion of the implications are here.


Why do vendors lock the bootloader? One reason is for support, since it increases the user’s ability to mess up their machines. On the other hand, most users who hack to this extent understand what they are doing. This comment from the petition stood out for me:

We understand that custom firmware cannot be supported by ASUS, but we consider that it is our right to customise our devices in any way we wish: once bought, the Prime is our property alone to modify if we choose.

This is something we have taken for granted in the PC era, but the tablet era is looking different, with locked-down devices that give vendors more control. The success of the Apple iPad suggests that most users do not mind if the result is a good experience. It is a profound change though, and one that makes users vulnerable to vendors who are slow or reluctant to provide updates.

Adobe announces Flash Builder for PHP, PhoneGap integration in Dreamweaver

Adobe has stepped up its support for mobile and Flash development with a couple of announcements today.
The first is that Dreamweaver 5.5, part of the new Creative Suite 5.5, has integrated support for PhoneGap. PhoneGap lets you build apps for Apple iOS and Google Android using HTML and JavaScript, taking advantage of the WebKit runtime that is present in these devices. The apps are packaged as native apps and also have access to some device-specific features. This does not mean Adobe is abandoning Flash, but is part of a both/and strategy, which makes sense to me.
Adobe has also announced Flash Builder 4.5 for PHP, in partnership with Zend. A great feature is that you can debug seamlessly from PHP code on the server to Flex code running in a Flash client, provided you are using Zend server.
Flex 4.5 compiles to AIR apps on Android, Blackberry and iOS, as well as desktop Mac, Windows and Linux.
The new Flash Builder products will ship within 30 days. The premium edition is part of the Creative Suite bundle or available separately, while Flash Builder for PHP is a separate purchase at $399 or €319 for Standard, and $799 or €629 for Premium.
More news on this and screenshots soon.

Half-baked Android tablets will help Apple, give hope to Microsoft

The downside of open is fragmentation. CES earlier this month was overflowing with Android tablets and smartphones, but since anyone can use Android, device manufacturers may disappoint users, for example by shipping tablets that do not use a version of Android designed for tablets, or shipping devices that do not have access to the official Android Market.

The Inquirer reported yesterday that the Asus tablets announced at CES will not in fact ship with Android 3.0 Honeycomb. The reason stated is that:

because the company did not know the detailed technical specifications requirements of the Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, it could not confirm that Honeycomb will be the tablets’ OS.

Although it is stated that the tablets will ship with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, I get the impression that Asus might upgrade them to Honeycomb eventually; and since they are now apparently not due until the third quarter there is time for plans to change.

Not all Android devices have Google’s official compatibility blessing.  The frequently asked questions make a good read:

Anyone is welcome to use the Android source code, but if the device isn’t compatible, it’s not considered part of the Android ecosystem.

Only devices that have passed Google’s compatibility tests get access to the Android Market. This leads to a surprising situation for users: you might buy an Android tablet or smartphone and find that it has no access to the Android Market.

Vendors can get round this to some extent by creating their own Android app stores, though this kind of fragmentation is likely to have a bad outcome, with a limited selection of apps and insufficient market share to attract developer attention.

This means that a handy question to ask a salesman is: does this gadget have the Android Market? If the answer is anything less than a demo of the official Google Android Market client, that is reason for caution.

The context is that all these devices have to compete with Apple; and the App Store is a significant part of the appeal of iOS devices. Therefore an Android device without access to the Android Market is disadvantaged, though it is not something you are likely to find mentioned on the box.

There is an obvious danger for Android, that customers confronted with a vast range of Android offerings will find it hard to distinguish between what is excellent, what is reasonable, and horrible implementations like the Next Tablet.

Even the element of uncertainty is enough to help Apple, which is likely to announce a second generation iPad soon. It may even give hope to Microsoft, depending on when “Windows 8” tablets come to market and how good they prove to be.

The challenge for Google is how to keep Android open, while also preventing its brand from being damaged by too many sub-standard devices.

Hardware vendors chase Apple’s iPad at CES with Android, not Windows

There is a chorus of disapproval on the web today as Asus announced a full-fat Windows tablet  (Eee Slate EP121)  at CES in Las Vegas, along with three other devices running Google Android – the Eee Pad MeMo, the Eee Pad Transformer, and the Eee Pad Slider.

The most detailed “review” I’ve seen for the EP121 is on the Windows Experience Blog. Core i5, 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD, capacitive screen with touch and stylus input.

Nice in its way; but no kind of game-changer since this is an echo of early Windows slates which never achieved more than niche success. Four big disadvantages:

  • Short battery life
  • High price
  • The stylus
  • and another thing: in the rush to embrace touch computing, vendors appear to have forgotten one of the best features of those early tablets: you could rest your hand on the screen while writing with the pen. If you have a combined touch/stylus device that will not work.

Microsoft fans will be hoping CEO Steve Ballmer does not make too much of the EP121 and devices like this in tonight’s keynote. If he does, it will seem the company has learned little from failures of the past.

Asus deserves respect for introducing the netbook to the world in 2007, with the original Eee PC. It ran Linux, had an SSD in place of a hard drive, battery life was good, and above all it was light and cheap. Back then the story was how Microsoft missed the mark with its 2006 Origami project – small portable PCs running Windows – only to be shown how to do it by OEMs with simple netbooks at the right price.

Asus itself is not betting on Windows for tablet success; after all, three of the four products unveiled yesterday run Android. Despite what was apparently a poor CES press conference these may work out OK, though the prices look on the high side.

There will be many more tablets announced at CES, most of them running Android. Android “Honeycomb”, which is also Android 3.0 if Asus CEO Johnny Shih had his terminology right, is the first version created with tablet support in mind.

But why the tablet rush? The answer is obvious: it is because Apple has re-invented the category with the iPad. Since the iPad has succeeded where the Tablet PC failed, as a mass-market device, intuitively you would expect vendors to study what is right about it and to copy that, rather than repeating past mistakes. I think that includes long battery life and a touch-centric user interface; keyboard or stylus is OK as an optional extra but no more than that.

Equalling Apple’s design excellence and closed-but-seamless ecosystem is not possible for most manufacturers, but thanks to Android they can come up with devices that are better in other aspects: cheaper, more powerful, or with added features such as USB ports and Adobe Flash support.

It is reasonable to expect that at least a few of the CES tablets will succeed as not-quite iPads that hit the mark, just as Smartphones like the HTC Desire and Motorola Droid series have done with respect to the iPhone.

Microsoft? Ballmer’s main advantage is that expectations are low. Even if he exceeds those expectations, the abundance of Android tablets at CES shows how badly the company misjudged and mishandled the mobile market.

The implication for developers is that if you want app ubiquity, you have to develop for Android and iOS.

Microsoft could help itself and its developers by delivering a cross-platform runtime for the .NET Framework that would run on Android. I doubt Silverlight for Android would be technically difficult for Microsoft; but sadly after PDC it looks unlikely.

Splashtop: the pragmatic alternative to ChromeOS

Today I received news of the a new Eee PC range from Asus which will be based on the Intel Atom N450. Two things caught my eye. One was the promise of “up to 14 hours of battery life”. The other was the inclusion of dual-boot. The new range offers both Windows 7 and what Asus calls Express Gate, a lightweight Linux which boots, it is claimed, in 8 seconds.

Express Gate is a version of Splashtop, and is a web-oriented OS that offers a web browser based on Firefox, a music player, and instant messaging. There is also support for:

View and edit Microsoft Office compatible documents as well as the latest Adobe PDF formats

though whether that means OpenOffice or something else I’m not yet sure. The Adobe Flash runtime and Java are included, and you can develop custom applications. Citrix Receiver and VMware View offer the potential of using Splashtop as a remote desktop client.

The idea is that you do most of your work in Windows, but use Splashtop when you need access right now to some document or web site. I can see the value of this. Have you ever got half way to a meeting, and wanted to look at your email to review the agenda or location? I have. That said, a Smartphone with email and web access meets much of this need; but I can still imagine times when a larger screen along with access to your laptop’s hard drive could come in handy.

The concept behind Splashtop has some parallels with Google’s ChromeOS, which also aims to “get you onto the web in a few seconds”. The Asus package includes up to 500GB of free web storage, and of course you could use Google’s email and applications from Splashtop. Another similarity is that Splashtop claims to be:

a locked-down environment that is both tamper proof and malware/virus resistant.

That said, ChromeOS is revolution, Splashtop is evolution. The Google OS will be a pure web client, according to current information, and will not run Windows or even Linux desktop applications. Knowing Google, it will likely be well executed and easy to use, and more polished than versions of Splashtop hurriedly customised by OEM vendors.

Splashtop on the other hand arrives almost by stealth. Users are getting a Windows netbook or laptop, and can ignore Splashtop if they wish. Still, that fast boot will make it attractive for those occasions when Splashtop has all you need; and frankly, it sounds as if successfully captures 80% of what many users do most of the time. Splashtop could foster a web-oriented approach for its users, supplemented with a few local applications and local storage; and some may find that it is the need for Windows that becomes a rarity.

It is telling that after years of hearing Microsoft promise faster boot times for Windows – and in fairness, Windows 7 is somewhat quicker than Vista – vendors are turning to Linux to provide something close to instant-on.