February 21, 2011
Before netbooks came on the scene, it was very rare to see an ultraportable laptop make its way to the States from Japan, and those that did could easily cost more than $1,500. There are still a good number of these Japanese-exclusive designs that can be perused and purchased at Dynamism, but the disparity isn’t nearly what it once was. The U.S. even gets to partake in such unusual designs as Sony’s Vaio P, an sleek but pricey reinvention of the traackpadless, low-profile clamshell Sony pursued with the originally Transmeta-based PictureBook.
However, much of the Vaio P’s form factor appeal has been captured by NEC’s LifeTouch Note, which uses a Tegra 2 and Android on a 7” display (slightly smaller than the Vaio P’s). For now, it’s being made available only across the Pacific in NEC’s home market. However, there are a few reasons I’d like to see it come stateside sporting Android or perhaps webOS under the HP brand.
- It’s even smaller and weighs less than the average netbook
- Unlike tablets, it could have a usable touch-typable keyboard
- It boasts nine hours of battery life, which represents great longevity for something so thin.
- Its low profile is less obtrusive when taking notes in meetings, and is a dream on an airline tray in a cramped coach seat
- The form factor is differentiated from those of Windows netbooks.
- It’s affordable as a second PC, residing in the high-end netbook/midrange tablet price range at $500
- At least for HP, it would be a nice update to the market that was once served by the Jornada line of Windows CE clamshells..
I particularly like the BlackBerry-style finger trackpad below the keyboard, but it might not be necessary depending on the operating system. Also, there doesn’t appear to be any buttons that flank it, although that could be added.
Alas, the LifeTouch Note has a resistive touchscreen; I’d see stylus input – and perhaps even touch itself– as less important for this form factor. Still, with the right apps, it could be a dream machine for light productivity on the go, filling a niche between tablet and notebook.
Tags: Android, HP, Jornada, Jupiter, LifeTouch Note, NEC, ultraportables, Vaio P, webOS, Windows CE
February 15, 2011
Will the third time be a charm for the portrait slider form factor that was the vehicle for webOS’s debut? The competition has gotten a lot tougher and the app gap remains webOS’s biggest challenge. Still, I think there’s cause for optimism.
As HP was not shy about pointing out at its Think Beyond event last week, the trend in the market has been toward jumbo screen sizes; CES was rife with announcements of 4.3” and 4.5” handsets. The original Pre and Pre 2, however, simply had too limiting a canvas. The bump to 3.6” puts HP in iPhone range. While I’ve said on a few occasions that I think 4” is perhaps the ideal balance between reachability and real estate, 3.5” is pretty usable and HP has put the extra width to good use by adding a larger keyboard..
But even screen size wasn’t as horrible an impediment with the first Pre as the experience-crushing lag. HP has addressed that in two ways, by bumping up the maximum processor clock speed to a roaring 1.4 GHz and by many optimizations in webOS 2, which I awarded the Switchie for most improved smartphone OS. I’m hoping those two improvements combine to make the fluidity of using a webOS handset consistent with the fluidity of the user interface’s design.while providing competitive battery life.
Tags: HP, Pre 3, screen sizes, smartphones, webOS
April 28, 2010
So, it looks as though Lenovo wasn’t the global PC maker that would up with Palm. Instead it was Palm’s Silicon Valley neighbor HP, which has been dipping its toe in WinMo waters for the past few years. WebOS will help diversify mobile offerings from the computing giant, which faced the prospects of facing tough software differentiation under Windows Phone 7 — a dilemma from its PC business that it likely had no desire to repeat in the handset space
Palm gains access to HP’s vast R&D resources, global distribution and corporate clout while HP gains instant entry into the carrier portfolios of three of the four major U.S. carriers as well as an increasing number abroad. In the post-iPhone world, it’s clear that major PC companies need to have a serious play in the handset market. WebOS is an elegant, powerful operating system, but its performance continues to need help and Palm did not have the bandwidth to focus on suddenly hot tweener devices years after the fall of the Foleo and months after the rise of the iPad. WebOS may appear in HP smartbooks such as the Compaq Air’Life and perhaps even down the road as an embedded pre-boot environment. This seems to be a good fit from a technology and product offerings perspective.
There’s more to come on this story, to be sure.
Tags: AirLife, Android, HP, iPhone, Palm, smartbooks, smartphones, Windows Phone 7
March 8, 2009
I first wrote about photo key chains back in June 2005 and, since then, Tao and other companies have moved to bigger and in some cases OLED screens that have helped with their poor image quality but mostly they have just come down in price. So, what’s a nice brand like HP doing in a cheesy product like this? Trying to differentiate, of course. Or I suppose after coming down to (but doing a very nice job with) the 3.5” screen size there wasn’t much smaller to go.
First, the keychain has a fold-out USB connector so no more worry about losing the cable. In addition to showing your tiny slice of that which you hold digitally dear, it can display the time and date and read microSD and M2 memory cards, which is its best feature. The most questionable feature is that it can be used to charge certain models of cell phones, but only when it is hooked up to a PC. Still the UI on this thing is one of the best I’ve seen to damn it with faint praise. It should be available later this year at about $25.
Tags: HP, photo keychain
October 29, 2008
While I like the product category, I’ve written before about my disdain for the term “netbook.” Fortunately, Dell and HP have used the sexier term “mini” to describe their offerings in the space. And after seeing HP’s Mini 1000, the consumerizd version of its early entrant, the 2133, the company seems to have a winner on its hands.
In addition to disliking the term “netbook”, I’m also not a fan of positioning them for content consumption as opposed to content creation. That dichotomy has long existed for most users of existing PCs. A better approach is to make the case that this is the device to use when your smartphone isn’t going to cut it. And if Intel and friends are trying to reserve that messaging for MIDs, an alternative is to position the MID more for communication while the netbook is more for productivity. I don’t want to say this is starting to become a superficial academic segmentation, but even the angels are complaining about how crowded the head of this pin is getting.
And especially for HP, if netbooks are little more than a pretty screen, why focus so much on the keyboard? The Mini 1000 continues with the best-in-class custom keyboard that the 2133 offered. In contrast, the Sylvania netbook meso g that I’ve recently used has no right Shift key.
Despite maintaining that Linux has is place in portable computing and admiring how HP appears to have done the best job to date of building a superior Linux experience with MIE atop Ubunutu, I continue to be skeptical of the appeal of Linux on these products with only a $20 premium for Windows XP. Windows may be “a devil” compared to the streamlined MIE, but it is the devil that most people know, and has probably even endeared itself more to consumers with all the negativity surrounding Vista.
What’s missing from the Mini 1000? First, I hope the six-cell battery doesn’t protrude as much as the 2133′s did. Second, the true potential of netbooks won’t be realized until we have better wireless broadband options, but the removal of the ExpressCard slot is no deal breaker as Apple has long showed with the MacBook. The flanked trackpad buttons aren’t ideal, but they are a far better compromise than moving keys around the way Dell did on the Inspiron mini 9. Dell shouldn’t have to do that on its 12″ “netbook”, which may just wind up with the highest volumes in the category yet even if it cannibalizes other 12″ laptops.
Tags: Dell, HP, inspiron mini, mini, netbooks
September 26, 2008
Nestled among the cheap GPS devices and novelty small-screened digital photo frames Nextar was showing at Showstoppers this week was a portable digital picture frame that resembled the pictured My Life Digital Photo Album sold by Brookstone for about $100. (Brookstone previously sold a 20 GB hard drive-based version that cost $300.) While the Nextar device will also feature a 3.5″ screen, it will cost only about $50.
It looks as though QVC has been making a small push with this (sub-)category. It features three battery-powered digital picture viewers with 3.5″ frames, including the recently released classy HP model that seems more intended for desktop use but has a rechargeable battery and carrying case.
I’ve always thought this product had some potential for the less technical crowd hat had cell phones with small screens or couldn’t figure out how to get photos onto their cell phones. I’m sure Kodak must be considering getting back in after struggling with a well-executed but relatively pricey model a few years back. It was smaller and thinner than any of these models, but had only a 2.5″ screen, which is very common on digital cameras these days.
Tags: digital photo albums, HP, Kodak, Nextar, QVC
June 19, 2008
Amidst a lineup of new notebooks and desktops under the HP, Compaq and Voodoo brands, HP finally trotted out its MediaSmart Connect Windows Media Extender, that also can utilize its own MediaSmart software solution. I understand HP’s rationale in offering both the simpler MediaSmart and the more full-featured Windows Media Center UI, but having two UIs still seems like a less than ideal compromise.
The MediaSmart Connect is certainly the most stylish of the Vista-compatible MCEs available (and I’ll include the XBox 360 in that set) although the Samsung approach — in which the Media Center Extender is mounted onto the back of the TV — may be the most transparent external device approach yet.
I also like HP’s option of the personal media drive/USB options. However, I’d like the Personal Media Drive option a lot more if it had the ability to sync with a network store such as HP’s own MediaSmart Windows Home Server or NAS product the way Apple TV can sync with multiple PCs running iTunes. I favored this approach before Apple announced Apple TV. Apple may include only a 40 GB drive with the base Apple TV, but it’s still doing so at a price that’s less than that of the MediaSmart Connect.
Tags: Apple TV, digital media adapters, HP, MediaSmart Connect
April 9, 2008
HP’s much-heralded Mini-note has finally arrived and to favorable reviews. CRN calls it “a real winner” and says that “the quality and finish is outstanding.” James Kendrick now questions whether his Fujitsu Tablet PC is worth its 3x price premium over the Mini-Note. While I’m no Tablet PC fan, I like the Fujitsu P-series and form factor, and the company will certainly feel more heat in its niche as other notebook heavyweights move in.
This segment will represent a test for Dell, which seems prepared to enter this space before the end of the year. Dell has done well in the education market (for which the Mini-Note was especially designed) with its aggressive pricing while trying to improve its design perceptions particularly as it has moved more aggressively into the hands-on world of retail. It will be challenging for Dell to lowball HP while live up to the 2133′s design expectation.
Tags: Dell, HP, Mini-Note, ultraportables
February 25, 2008
in December, I wrote that HP was the most likely of all major PC vendors to respond to the ASUS Eee PC ultraportable notebook given its history with mobile devices such as the old 95LX and Jornada series. The detailed screen shots and specifications of the HP/Compaq 2133 have made it the device that is receiving the most Web traffic at UMPC Portal.
On paper, the 2133 looks just about perfect, addressing the screen resolution and keyboard imitations of the Eee. The trackpad buttons may be unusually placed, but they can’t be much worse than the Eee’s stealth two-button trackpad. And, look, it can balance on its corner defying the laws of physics — that’s gotta count for something. Of course, key details such as price, processor speed, memory/hard drive configuration and battery life have yet to be divulged, Rumor has it that HP will price the 2133 at a point where it is practically an impule buy, but here’s my E-Z guide to determining its potential based on price for a usable configuration:
|$499||Grand slam, transformative|
Tags: compaq, HP, umpc