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Handhelds Hardware

Fully-functional Miniature Notebook Planned 225

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the better-faster-smaller dept.
florin writes "Check out this upcoming extremely cool micro-sized notebook from Microsoft-cofounder Paul Allen's company Vulcan (who were previously mentioned on Slashdot some time ago). Despite being small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, this is a fully blown x86-compatible computer capable of running Windows XP - or, presumably, a Unix of one's choice. Featuring an 800x480 pixel display, 256 MB of memory, sound, USB2, WLAN and optional Bluetooth, GPRS/CDMA or Firewire, this is far more than just another PDA, yet still small enough to carry with you at all times." Looks really cool, but I wouldn't plan on using full typing speed on it's tiny keys.
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Fully-functional Miniature Notebook Planned

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  • by tcd004 (134130) * on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:16AM (#5814708) Homepage
    This think looks cool, but it doesn't hold a candle to the palm pilot built by jesus. [lostbrain.com]

    tcd004
  • To type fast (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MickLinux (579158) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:18AM (#5814715) Journal
    To type fast, use hall-effect touchpads on either side of the computer, and simply redesign the keyboard for one of three modes: one-pad (left-or-right), stylus, or two-pad.

    People who want to learn to type on it quickly will find it takes less than a month to be proficient. And if the human-factors engineering is good, then they may find that they can type faster on it than with a normal keyboard.

    • Re:To type fast (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Snowspinner (627098)
      I am not going to engage in a piece of technology that has a month-long period without proficiency. This may be because I'm enough of a gadget geek that I'm used to one or two day proficiency, but if it would take me a month to become proficient, I'd stop trying around a week.
      • Re:To type fast (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I am not going to engage in a piece of technology that has a month-long period without proficiency. This may be because I'm enough of a gadget geek that I'm used to one or two day proficiency, but if it would take me a month to become proficient, I'd stop trying around a week.

        Hang on a tic... just how long did it take you to become "proficient" with the good old QWERTY? How long to become expert? Did you memorize all of the Palm character sigils instantly? Now, I don't know what sort of purpose you'd
        • Palm took me less than 3 days to get down, when I started using Graffiti on a regular basis. QWERTY is a different story, as its the standard for keyboards (unless you count DVORAK, which I really don't). Trying to learn a new method of typing/character input that isn't a standard across the board isn't worth it IMO.

          I'd rather just get something slightly bigger (like a Transmeta-powered laptop) that does use a standard keyboard layout.
      • The only thing that matters is where the control key is.
    • by OwnerOfWhinyCat (654476) * on Saturday April 26, 2003 @12:12PM (#5814950)
      I can state for a fact it is possible to learn to touch-type on these little keyboards, but this is greatly affected by keyboard travel and the keyshapes giving good positioning feedback.

      On a regular keyboard I can break 80 words per minute pretty easily (up until about 2 a.m.), and on the Psion I was able to average about 25 w.p.m. with some considerable practice. The Psion however was designed with good keytravel, and the chopped pyramid keystyle gave comfortable tactile feedback as to how my hands were positioned.

      The essential ingredient to getting the speed up was increase one's (right to left) hand tilt to about 45 degrees and learn to stike the keys a little more with the outside edges of your fingers. The extra tilt works like the arms of an old manual typwriter letting typing elements that are normally to fat for the space they have to share swing into each other's flight paths to share (in the typewriter case a single spot) a smaller space.

      I would strongly caution anyone who needs typing speed against purchasing this online. Go to whatever computer store might stock such a thing and make sure that the tactile and positioning feedbacks are going to be sufficient for your needs. This will probably be at least a $1000 toy, so no-one is going to begrudge you a few 30 minute sessions standing in their store playing with it.
    • Re:To type fast (Score:2, Informative)

      by dopyko (594372)

      Check Dasher. [cam.ac.uk] According to users, it takes just half an hour or so to learn to write quite fast.

      (mentioned here [slashdot.org] before)

    • To type fast on one of these things, plug in a full-sized or semi-compact USB or Bluetooth keyboard, as well as plugging in a monitor if you want. For most applications, if you're not sitting at a desk, you don't need to type all that fast, though there are occasional exceptions like taking notes in a meeting or working on an airplane.

      If you want some kind of fancy chordboard or touchpad thing, fine; one that I like is the Half Keyboard [halfkeyboard.com] which uses the QWERT half of a keyboard and a shift key, and has one

  • If it can do graphics halfway descent it might make a cool gameboy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:20AM (#5814720)
    Looks really cool, but I wouldn't plan on using full typing speed on it's tiny keys.



    Just think of how much faster you would type if you didn't insert unnecessary apostrophes into words!

    • "Looks really cool, but I wouldn't plan on using full typing speed on it's tiny keys."

      Just think of how much faster you would type if you didn't insert unnecessary apostrophes into words!

      IIRC, you use the apostrophe with it to indicate possession, but not for the contracted "it is".

      If not, I've been doing it wrong for years...which is entirely possible. ;-)

      • You've been doing it wrong for years.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        If not, I've been doing it wrong for years...which is entirely possible. ;-)

        You have been. "It's" vs. "its" is a common confusion, since it is the opposite of the usual use of an apostrophe.

        it's = it is
        "its" is used for possession
        • it's = it is

          True, but as a Lisenced Speling and Grammer Expert, allow me to further note that:

          It's also = "It has", as in

          It's been three minutes since trying to figure out thes'e damn apostrophe's has caused me to loose my temper!

        • I was finally able to master that grammar trick by remembering that: The possesive does not posses an apostrophe.

          That seems wrong but isn't.

          Also: The contraction is the longer of the two choices.

          Again that seems wrong but isn't.

      • Exactly the opposite. With most words, you can use 's to indicate possesive or contract with is. You don't use 's to indicate possesive with it, you use its.

        Here, I'll let Bob explain further

        http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif [angryflower.com]

      • According to the standard rule you would put the apostrophe after the s like its', but with "its" you don't actually use an apostrophe at all. The contraction for "it is" uses one though--it's.

        • You never add an apostrophe AFTER the s, as you just suggested.

          Let's go over the rules for commas.

          1) Contractions: When two words are run together with letters ommitted -

          This question's difficult = This question is difficult.
          I can't understand = I can not understand.

          - In formal writing, contractions should be avoided.

          2) To indicate posession:
          John's book. The teacher's pen.

          - If the noun is plural AND ends in an S already, we put an apostrophe AFTER the final S
          "The students' books"
          "The teachers' loung
          • Let's go over the rules for commas.

            Sigh. ITYM "apostrophes".

            Okay, here's my question. How many times did you go over your post to make sure it was perfect? No misspellings, no out of place periods, commas, etc.

            Then you hit "reply".

            Then: "D'oh!"

            Another poor sucker burned by his own spelling/grammar flame!

            This is of course a universal law, but if it has a name, I'm not aware of it. Maybe "Teh Backdraft Efect"?

    • by jpkunst (612360) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @12:42PM (#5815061) Homepage

      Just think of how much faster you would type if you didn't insert unnecessary apostrophes into words!

      Q. What is the purpose of the apostrophe?
      A. The apostrophe is used mainly in hand-lettered signs to alert the reader that an 'S' is coming up at the end of a word.

      (Dave Barry, "Claw your way to the top")

  • by Snowspinner (627098) <philsand@uLAPLACEfl.edu minus math_god> on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:20AM (#5814721) Homepage
    The tiny keys issue really gets at the problem I have with PDAs in general. Interfaces at that size are a real bother. My handwriting is far too bad to use the handwriting recognition, and any other input method is just painful. I can get a fold-out keyboard attachment, but at that point the device becomes sufficiently big that I can't carry it around in the pocket of anything short of my trenchcoat.

    PDAs are a wonderful idea, and once someone solves the interfacing problem I'm sure they'll be as common as full-size or notebook computers. But in their current form, I just can't use them, and I doubt that I'm the only one with this problem.
    • This is why the only mobile device I would use is a cell phone or laptop. I had a PDA and it was always a pain to use, so I didn't use it.
    • I, my wife and my dog can use Graffitti proficiently.

      Perhaps not good enough to write a novel, but good enough to jolt a note or write a phone number (which is what a PDA is suppossed to help you with in the first place).
      • My only problem with Graffiti is that it doesn't learn from the user. I think we are a few years off from including a learned method of input in a PDA, but I do find many instances where I try to write an "x" and it comes out as an "h" or a "p" on my Handspring Visor. This is after using my Visor daily for the last 2 or so years (probably need to get an upgraded model, since 2 years is nearly abacus-equivalency in the PDA world).
    • PDAs are a wonderful idea, and once someone solves the interfacing problem I'm sure they'll be as common as full-size or notebook computers.

      And Psion [psion.com] has been around for how many years now??? Selling all their hanhdelds with build-in keyboards... Still not as common as notebooks.
  • Will it come with finger extensions a la Freddie Krueger? That would be neat and would keep away those annoying WiFi cops. Well at least until the SWAT team shows up.
  • HID (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rwa2 (4391) * on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:24AM (#5814743) Homepage Journal
    The small keyboard shouldn't be a problem:
    Just stick on a USB twiddler. Chording keyboards can be much faster than full keyboards. And perhaps someday you'll never need to use a normal keyboard again - just use your personally-customized portable keyboard and point at the computer you want to type to.
    • Re:HID (Score:4, Interesting)

      by secolactico (519805) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @12:09PM (#5814942) Journal
      I always wanted to try a chording keyboard. Connecting one to this device, however, would negate it's portability. If the chording keyboard were part of this device, it would be ideal. It might scare away potential users, however.
      • by Parsec (1702)

        I've been wondering why we haven't seen chording keyboards on PDAs yet. Wouldn't it seem ideal for a hand-sized device to be able to enter data with the same hand you're holding it with? Of course you'd need some way to keep a thin PDA steady in your hand, but that is probably doable with a little velcro strapping.

    • If it's a small, minimally functional personal computer you want, but you can't deal with typing on a keyboard that small, the AlphaSmart Dana [alphasmart.com] might be a workable alternative. I'm thinking about getting one instead of a conventional laptop.
  • And I thought the keyboards on a standard laptop were hard enough to use. That is just PDA sized, and as such, means thumb usage for the keyboard.

    No, as far as I'm concerned laptops can't get much/any smaller now as it is, otherwise they stop being feasable for actual usage other than as a PDA.
    • That depends on what you use your laptop for.

      If you want to go sit at a Starbuck's and type your resume on it, yeah, this one might be slightly cumbersome. But as far as I'm concerned, I've got plenty of reasons to want the power of a laptop in the size of my palm. Most important things being: using it as a docking station for my mp3 player, quick fast access to email (and emails *are* short little messages in my books), IM, and SSH/connectivity... anything that'll give me a way to monitor remote server

  • by bleh-of-the-huns (17740) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:26AM (#5814751)
    The Lifebook series by Fujitsu, and much better specs. http://webshop.fujitsupc.com/fpc/Ecommerce/buildse riesbean.do?series=P1
    • yeah, my friend has one of those. Runs Linux on it and everything. The thing in this article doesn't even hold a candle to it. Even the mini Sony VAIO is better than this. Sure they're both a little bigger, but they are small enough.
      • yeah, my friend has one of those. Runs Linux on it and everything.

        Is the Linux power management able to guarantee extended battery life?

        I'm still looking for something which can run Linux, has mass storage, can run Emacs confortably, and can run without reload for 5 hours or more.
        • by Trejus (87937) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @12:17PM (#5814968) Homepage

          I just got one a few weeks ago, and the answer is, I'm not really sure. I think the answer is probably, but it will take some time and tweaking on the user's part.

          The problem is that the newest model, the P2120 (I can't speak for the P1000 series), only has support for ACPI, which means that all your powermanagement is controlled solely by your OS.

          Unfortnately, ACPI is not quite there yet on linux and the controls it does have are somewhat hard to configure. I don't think there are any gui's that make it easy. It is also in experimental status. The 2.4.x series has it, but it's not that good. I hear 2.5.x is better, but I haven't had time to try it yet.

          As for the other things, Mandrake 9.1 workes reasonably well right out of the box. It comes with a 40 gig harddrive, and the keyboard feels prety natural after a few hours of use. X requires some tweaking because it has a funny resolution, 1280 x 768. And USB devices crash the kernel, but I think that's because USB shares an interrupt with the buggy ACPI.

          • by csnydermvpsoft (596111) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @12:26PM (#5814998) Homepage
            I've had a P2046 for almost a year, and have been running Gentoo Linux on it the whole time. Here's my observations:

            - I've been running the 2.5 series kernels (currently staying with .60) because of increased speed. I've tried experimenting with ACPI, but it never suspends right, so I've stuck with APM.
            - USB works a lot better in 2.5 than 2.4
            - The integrated WLAN also is a lot better in 2.5, though it still has some problems (every once in a while the driver hangs, and I have to rmmod and modprobe it again)
            - Lately, it's been hanging a lot when coming out of suspend

            Other than these issues, it's a great machine. It's certainly not a speed-demon, but is great for what I got it for (taking notes, web browsing, etc.). Battery life is great - 10 hours with the screen brightness up all the way with the extended and bay battery, and over 15 hours if it's closed and I'm using it for MP3's.

            If you're looking for more info, check out the P-series forums [leog.net].
          • Have a look at this link [greenfly.org] for help with the P series. Powermanagement is done by longrun. You only need ACPI for suspend which doesn`t work for me yet (I have a Loox T93C the Japanese version of the Lifebook P2120). Longrun handles the processor states. ACPI works for detecting lid close, power button and battery status.
  • Too small (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CausticWindow (632215) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:26AM (#5814752)

    My hands are too big to operate one of those.

    The perfect size for laptops is something like the Dell x200. Very lightweight, but with a keyboard where you actually can hit individual keys.

    I think the smaller is better craze is only good to a certain point, this is in my opinion, beyond.

    • I'm all for smaller the better, but not in that form. I'd rather have it small enough that it can safely be embedded in a nice leather portfolio, for instance.
  • Linux??? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by georgep77 (97111)
    Looks good... which distro installs on it? I mean with something that cool you wouldn't want to run "your Mother's OS" (tm) on it would you? It's too bad they aren't selling these *WITHOUT* a display, You could actually bring your own personal BEOWOLF cluster of these on trips etc.

    Just a thought...

    Cheers,
    _GP_
  • With the screen having such an odd resolution, will Quake III still work?
    • I've tried Q3 on my laptops (a ThinkPad 570 and a sorta-new Dell C640), and the LCD screen makes any FPS almost completely unplayable IMO. Its just not as fluid as the CRT on my computer desk. 2D games that don't require 30-60 frames-per-second work fine, but anything that needs to redraw the screen that fast just doesn't play well.

      Of course, YMMV. I'm sure there are plenty of people who don't mind FPS-type games on their laptops. I just couldn't play without having to resort to a docking station with exte
  • One of my CS instructers came back from Japan last semester with something similar to this [reviewsonline.com], (scroll down to the bottom, yes it's an old picture, only thing I could find that looked similar), but smaller and faster and without the camera. (It was a Sony though.) It also had a keyboard that you could actually type on, at least a little better than the Vulcan one. Of course, the battery was the same size and weighed more than the rest of the computer.
  • Dunno... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kotj.mf (645325) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:30AM (#5814775)
    I didn't notice an MSRP anywhere on the site; I've gotta wonder if something like a Zaurus C700 wouldn't be more cost-effective.

    I mean, if it's a complete pain in the ass to type on the teeny tiny keyboard on either model, what's the point of a 20 gig HD?

    Plus, the Vulcan is fugly.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Too small to be used on a regular basis and a bit too large to be treated as a PDA. I'm sure after the initial cool factor wears off, and eye strain sets in, you are going to have a user wondering what to do with that thing.
  • by sparkhead (589134) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:36AM (#5814806)
    From the page: "The Mini-PC is a concept from MicroSoft co-founder Paul Allen's Vulcan, Inc...."

    No, it isn't. IBM and other manufacturers have had palmtop computers for a long time.
  • Compelling but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jasonditz (597385) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:38AM (#5814816) Homepage
    I don't see any mention of price.

    One would expect that the cost would be more than a normal laptop of comparable specs. While its got some compelling features this thing in the end looks like it can't decide if it wants to be a PDA or a laptop. At 800x480 resolution its probably not going to cut it as a replacement for a proper laptop, but at the same time, I wonder how usable an XP system would be as a PDA.

    Its neat as a "gee whiz" thing, but what sort of people need a PDA with more power than the present ones enough to shell out laptop prices and likewise what sort of people need a laptop that small but are willing to give up screen resolution?
  • by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot@nosPaM.stango.org> on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:38AM (#5814820) Homepage Journal
    Could it be any lighter on details?

    Great job with the photos. Dide we really need FIVE photos showing the size comparison to a mobile phone? Or THREE showing how a ThinkPad dwarfs it? Would it have killled them to show the back of this thing, so I could see the ports and answer this question: Are the actual ports built into the device, or does it have some stupid, proprietary mega-port and a funky, easily-losable-and-expensive-to-replace port replicator cable that breaks the mega-port out into FireWire, USB, etc?

    Or does connecting anything to it in the field require lugging around some docking station that negates the whole point of having a dinky computer in the first place?

    ~Philly
    • The only thing worse than that is this [openbrick.org]. Click on the "how big is OpenBrick" links and you get enormous JPEGs of the OpenBrick next to phones and stuff. The JPEGs are so big that I lost patience waiting for them to download over dialup. Maybe the dimensions are at the bottom of the picture, but I'll never know. I had to go to some other site [linuxdevices.com] to get dimensions on the OpenBrick. Sheesh! 100k to convey the information "7.1 x 4.6 x 1.6 in". That's got to be some kind of record for a crap-to-signal ratio (

  • PDAs vs Laptops... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SStrungis (629260) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:40AM (#5814826) Homepage
    I have used PC laptops, Powerbooks, Newtons, and Palms over the years. I have switched from Newton to Palm and back to Newton again. Yeah, it's big, but it does lots more for me from a practical end. Easy email, notes, books, scheduling, and MP3's on my Newt! Also easy connectivity via an older 3Com Ethernet PCMCIA card. Sure, it weighs a pound and is not pocketable...That's the sucky side. I use an older Toshiba laptop for SuSE, and Win98 to keep up with the "rest of the world" and my iBook for everyday work. I have to agree with the above posters. A keyboard, whether chorded or not, has to have something that approaches full sized keys. I have an external KB for my Newton and it is as small as it can be and still be comfortable. Before getting my iBook I regularly used a 2400c and that was a small KB as well. Heck, lots of times when I see a 2400c on the swap lists, or auction block or whatever, one of the chief complaints for selling is that the KB is too little for folks with big mitts. Its all about size versus useability versus the right tool for the right job. My Newt is all big and clunky, but for me it blows a Palm away. Others might be different. Just my $.02 Scott
  • Ugh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MagPulse (316) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:41AM (#5814835)
    Not only is the keyboard small, but it's made of those rubber buttons that are on cell phones. Can you imagine typing for any period of time on those? Plus it has a trackball in the upper right?! How about a pointer stick in the middle?

    Give me a traditional PDA with a full-sized collapsable keyboard [amazon.com] any day. With the screen doubling as the mouse input device, it's still very compact. If you need to do serious work, a 2.7 pound ultralight laptop [cnet.com] shouldn't be too much to carry around.
  • As an Operations guy, man, I have wanted something like this for years. Full featured enough to handle remotely connecting in for sudden downtime events, yet not nearly as large as a laptop. With 1xRTT, it means you can take it into a restaurant and, if you pager goes off, be able to check system status without having to clear off the entire top of the table.

    Not to mention that it makes checking Moviefone.com a lot slicker than the current PDA browsers are.

    It's not going to be for everyone, but for thos
  • Vulcan? (Score:2, Funny)

    by tedrlord (95173)
    I don't believe this. No Vulcan would build such an illogical keyboard. ... I'm so sorry.
  • I'd hit it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by druzicka (314802) * on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:47AM (#5814856) Homepage
    Just to balance out the mostly negative posts so far... I think that there is real value in having a full desktop OS in my pocket (WinXP or Linux) for 1) maximizing downtime and 2) permitting me to leave my apartment when I'm on call.

    I tried Palm OS - great PIM, great battery life, small form factor, large software library... But extremely limited in processing power and networking options.

    Pocket PC - Poor battery life, poor software library, but excellent wifi and cellular data connectivity options.

    Linux on iPaq (Familiar, Opie, GPE) - Cool to have a shell prompt, but EXTREMELY limited in storage space. Otherwise, Opie and GPE are maturing nicely, and I can get a good deal of work done when I have the right programs installed

    Unfortunately, the best solution I've found so far is an iPaq running Pocket PC with wifi connectivity, running JSLandscape at 640 x 480, running terminal services to my WinXP desktop. Yeah it's slow and sucks battery life like a pig, but at least I can run real applications...

    This Vulcan Handheld PC would let me run my VPN and full mail program (Lotus Notes - sux but that's what my company uses) along with the entire library of X86 windows/linux software.

  • I gotta get me one of these!

    Beowulf cluster of these? Anyone? Anyone? :)

    But seriously, linux or bsd on one of these babies would make walking around your co-lo room doing trivial maintenence on boxes would be awesome..

    Harddrive big enough to do network installs off on client sites etc..

    Rock on!!

  • by kni52 (598886)
    How fast an x86 processor will this take? There seemed to be no mention of processor beyond soimply "x86 compatible".
  • 5.8? (15 cm) LCD with 800x480 resolution
    Dear Lord! How can you even read on that screen, let alone type?

    I think somewhere a line has to be drawn. That line is crossed when you have to use a magnifying glass to read your laptop's screen and a microscope to find your cell phone when you misplace it.

    • if you think thats small, try reading at 1024x768 on a 6.2" screen. Thats what sony's vaio u1 has, and i dont find it to hard at all, but i do frequently end up zooming the screen to 640x480.
  • Imagine.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by wfberg (24378) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @12:01PM (#5814913)
    A beowulf cluster of these beasties, kitted out with 802.11g wireless networking and mounted on RC model vehicles, roaming around autonimously, trying to find unsecured wifi hotspots so you can use their bandwidth for p2p!
  • IBM already did it (Score:5, Informative)

    by soupforare (542403) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @12:01PM (#5814915)
    Bow down to your one and true Master, fellow nerds
    The PC110 [basterfield.com] was, and until this M$ thingee comes out, is the smallest laptop ever made.
    Now, they go for insane amounts of money on ebay. As a 486, she goes for more cash than the pentium Librettos do
    I'm a huge palmtop fan (HPLX/Amity/Libretto/etc), and if this new thing is priced right, I'd be interested... but it'll probably suck :/

    Yet more proof that anything anyone has ever done, IBM did first
  • The OQO PC was much more promising and elegant than this:

    OQO Press release [oqo.com]

    But as you will read that hasn't been updated in over a year.

    I'd agree with the posts about the Newton (excluding fanatics) that the Newton still holds it's own, even now because it can use 802.11 PC cards and play MP3's plus control iTunes

    To all that want a Pocket Computer - I would strongly suggest a top of the line Clie or The Sharp Zaurus

  • some alternatives (Score:4, Informative)

    by rewdy (162027) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @12:20PM (#5814973)
    with devices becoming smaller and smaller like this i give it a decade before these pda/laptop hybrids are so small you have to surgically attach your retina to the screen to see them. that's why i don't like devices like these, they're just too small.

    the ibm pc110 [dynamism.com] started it all back in the mid-90's. i have one actually. it's tiny, a pain in the ass to type on until you're used to it and terribly underpowered. i can imagine one of these things being more powerful, but even smaller? speaking from esperience, it'd make it useless to most every user (though i do admit, the server room maintenance idea was good). that's why i've been keeping my eye on similarly powerful machines of a usable size.

    the sony vaio u-101 [sony.co.jp] is the brand new update to the vaio u series. most notably to the speed and memory enhancements it adds a lay-flat design and a display that rotated to landscape with the push of a button which is nice for reading e-books or any long document.

    and my favorite the jvc interlink mp-xp7230 [jvc-victor.co.jp]. also the latest in it's series. it's much larger than the vulcan and u-101 placing it at the smallest end of the sub-notebook category rather than a real mini-pc. i've used one of these and typing isn't even an issue. the pointing decive is a tried and true, blue, rubber nipple in the center of the keyboard with laptop-style mouse buttons along with a touch pad below the keyboard. no proprietary mega ports here. everything is seperate so there's no need for an expensive port replicator or converter dongle which we will all eventually loose.

    both of these devices have been mentioned before and linux runs perfectly on both aside from some yet to be reproduced proprietary features you'll never miss anyway. and for those of you worried about jvc's first forray into this area, i can tell you it ran rock solid both on and off ac power for three months wile the friend i borrowed it from was away at basic training.

    if the ink weren't still wet on my mortgage papers, i'd sure as hell have a jvc interlink mp-xp7230, fully expanded with an external cd-rw/dvd-rom.

  • Sorry, but its justa glorified tablet pc to me why? moving parts i dont care if its small if I cant throw it in my coat and go biking down the street.

    Id rather go with zaurus and 512-1gig of flash.

    Heres a post of mine detailing prices for some real Solid state storage: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=61888&cid=5803 961 [slashdot.org].
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @12:23PM (#5814981)
    My Zaurus 5500 does all these things, with the exeption of WinXP, although it DOES run bochs.. For $178 + $16 for screen protectors + $51 for a 10/100 card, and flashing with OpenZaurus 3.2, I get:

    206 MHz CPU, 64MB of RAM, 16 MB flash
    (you can even create swap to increase RAM)
    Linux
    320x240 full color GUI
    SSH client and server
    VNC client and server
    SMB client and server
    Apache
    MySQL
    Perl
    serial terminal
    Word/Excel compatibility
    Full functionality web browser
    IMAP/SSL email
    wireless, bluetooth or ethernet
    up to 1+ GB of directly accessible storage
    keyboard
    handwriting recognition
    Oggs/MP3s/_MPEGS_

    and it's about 1.5x the size (mostly increased length) of a Palm.
    Why do I need WinXP, or x86 compatibility? Am I going to develop for Win32 on this thing?

    It's all about what you need, and what tool will get you there.

    • I have a Fujitsu P1110, and there are some things where it can't be touched by PDAs:
      1 Watch movies from HD
      2 Listen to music (a lot of it)
      3 Store pictures from digicam
      4 Navigation with all the maps you want
      5 More or less normal keyboard
      6 1024x600 display
      I noticed that it is 4x size of a PDA, but I need the functionality PDA can't provide
      • 1 Watch movies from HD 2 Listen to music (a lot of it) 3 Store pictures from digicam 4 Navigation with all the maps you want

        You seem to be under the mistaken assumption that the Zaurus is very limited in terms of storage. But it has two slots (SD and CF), so you can put in several gigabytes of solid state or HD storage into it.

        5 More or less normal keyboard

        Get a PocketTop IR keyboard: it folds down to the size of the Zaurus but is suitable for touch typing.

        6 1024x600 display

        Yes, that the Zaurus d

    • The C700 is available form Dynamism (otherwise still only in Japan). Runs Linux 2.4.18 with some embedded patches, and uses an ARM XScale processor, but comes with Hancom office clone apps. Just slightly larger than the 5500.

      The screen is tremendous. Touch sensitive, VGA (640x480, 16 bit depth) and brighter than most laptops. And it pivots 180 degrees from landscape/laptop to portrait/PDA mode.

      And it has a qwerty touch keyboard that seems to be like the vulcan - I can touch type with two or three fing
    • What can I say. I've got a Zaurus, I also have a Psion S5 and the Psion software is at least 3 years ahead of the Zaurus. Unfortunately, the screen died on the Psion after 5 years of constant use, prompting a replacement.

      That's OK though, cos the main competition (Palm and WinCE) are just as shit as well.

      It's really difficult to go from a high quality palmtop like the Psion to something that's been cobbled together like the Zaurus. I mean, for christ's sake, the spreadsheet can't even draw charts or graph
  • by -tji (139690) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @12:55PM (#5815109) Journal
    - Decent price. It's not a full laptop, it's basically a mobility tool. Don't expect consumers to pay laptop prices.

    - Battery Life. Many similar devices are handicapped by their short power duration. Especially for a mobile/wireless device, the ability to run for a reasonable amount of time is key.

    - Broad WiFi access. This is outside of their control, but from the design, it appears they are counting on it. If WiFi rolls out as broadly as many think it will, this type of device will do a lot of business.
  • Doesn't it seem there's another handheld [oqo.com], x86 compatible [tiquit.com] bit of vapor about every year or so?
  • I am speechless. Wow. A smallish PC with a smallish screen, hard to type keyboard and a bunch of gewgaws.
  • Sony has a line of tiny laptops that are so small, you can hold them in one hand. Check it out. [dynamism.com]
  • Size and Voice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Enkerli (554033)
    The issue of size seems to be a difficult one, especially with any device requiring visual I/O. How about voice? A cell-phone size would do. Speech recognition and synthesis are coming along and there's a lot you can do with your voice. Dictate something, have it read back, edit it, send it. Look for info using standardized commands. Play audio games... ;-)
  • I used to have Toshiba Libretto with 800x400 screen. 400 pixel isn't enough to dispaly some Windows XP dialog boxes. "Autohide" for taskbar helps in some situations. I upgraded to Fujitsu P1110, and I am mostly happy with it. Touchscreen really helps.
  • I would have loved something like this when I was traveling frequently on business. It's not great for regular use, but it sure beats lugging around a laptop. As for the tiny keys, it has USB so you should be able to just pop in a USB keyboard.
  • or check out... (Score:3, Informative)

    by g4dget (579145) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @04:30PM (#5816161)
    Or check out Dynamism [dynamism.com], or Oqo [oqo.com], or Tiqit [tiqit.com], or Antelope [antelopetech.com], or the Sharp MM10 [sharpsystems.com], or the Sharp C700 [the-gadgeteer.com]. There are plenty of tiny computers out there, many of which even run Windows XP.

    It's all a trade-off between power, size, and cost. And it doesn't look like Vulcan has any better technology than anybody else.

  • by Dr. Mu (603661) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @04:42PM (#5816215)
    Sure it looks neat -- like a mini laptop with teeny tiny keys. It's so cute! But even ignoring the tiny keys for a moment, just how do you use this thing? Do you balance it in one hand while typing with the other? I don't think so! That's about as awkward an arrangement as I can imagine. But what's the point of having one if you have to set it on a desk to use it? And when you're typing, your hands will be right it front of the screen, blocking it from view. This isn't radical, it isn't innovative, and I submit that it's not even useful.
  • by RevAaron (125240) <revaaron@h o t m a il.com> on Saturday April 26, 2003 @04:52PM (#5816253) Homepage
    You *can* touch-type on a keyboard this small. Up until just recently, I was using a Jornada 720 for a lot of things, and it is about the size of this MiniPC. I could touch-type quite easily- and after a couple hours of getting used to it, was typing about as fast as I do on my iBook or on a desktop. I could type fast enough to use it as a definate iBook replacement- I used it for writing papers in LaTeX, coded, web browsing, SSH/telnet, email, even running apps remotely with XFree86. (And yes, all under WinCE)

    However, I do notice one huge difference between this miniPC and the Jornada720 (or a Psion)- the keyboard of the latter was meant for touch typing, while the miniPC's keyboard doesn't look like it was. Look at a photo of it [vulcan.com], and it looks to have little rubber chicklet keys rather than a regular low-travel spring keyboard mechanism. A keyboard built like a real one, just 25% smaller than full size, is why people can type so fast on a Psion or a Jornada 720.

    The only reason I don't use it still is the screen isn't reflective like you find on most color PDAs now, making it useless during the summer, when I do these computing tasks outside on the porch or in the woods up against a tree.

    Why can't one company make a device that does what so many of these different new small computers are aiming for? All of them seem to have some imperfection-

    1. The Sharp Zaurus C700: The keyboard mechanism and size is way too small for doing any real typing on. It is a thumboard, although one slightly bigger than on the SL-5500. I guess a PXA255 XScale CPU instead of the PXA250 would be nice too.

    2. The OQO may never come out, but would be damn close to the perfect thing if a good, yet small (75% of 'full size', size of most Psion and Jornada 720 keyboard) attachable keyboard is available.

    3. This miniPC has the bad kind of keyboard and cannot be configured into a tablet mode like the C700. There doesn't appear to be a touch screen, so it does seem that the Vulcan folks really weren't thinking, and didn't consider a tablet mode. Any computer aiming to take the place of both a notebook and a PDA really should accomodate the wide variety of situations that are hindered by a keyboard that isn't needed hanging around by allowing the user to hide it and operate the computer with a touchscreen.

    4. Almost all TabletPCs are too damn big.
  • IBM Research's Metapad [ibm.com] is similar in form factor. I really like this size for the power and the screen resolution (800x480) is just right to be useful and scalable.
  • At least this one's less vaporous than the Oqo [oqo.com], which, whenever it may be released, will be no more powerful than any of the remote controls on my coffee table.

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