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Cheap Linux Tablets, And (Maybe) An Apple Tablet 351

penguinrenegade writes "Element Computer has come out with the first sub-$1000 Tablet, and it doesn't come with Windows. It's not running a stripped OS like Windows CE, but a full-fledged copy of Lycoris Desktop/LX. This company seems to really have it in for Microsoft, with a 'No Windows' policy. Good to see someone finally standing up against paying the Microsoft tax. Maybe now we'll start seeing Linux only OEMs and resellers." Also on the tablet computer front, SeanAhern points out Cringely's latest Robert X. Cringely column, in which Cringley makes the case that Apple is readying a tablet computer for market, and "suggests that 'until next year, the parts won't have been there to make tablet PCs successful. What's missing has been the killer app, and what kept a killer app from appearing was a lack of hardware support, which I believe will be over soon,'" writing "He's got some interesting ideas about where Jobs might go with his Digital Hub idea." (This is an Antaur-based machine, not the Toshiba tablet mentioned in October.)
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Cheap Linux Tablets, And (Maybe) An Apple Tablet

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  • worrys about tablets (Score:5, Informative)

    by CaptBubba ( 696284 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:32PM (#7605116)
    I can't get to the site, but he's my ramble: I think the tablets are an interesting take on the notebook/laptop (whichever you call it). As a student, I feel that if they ever came down in price they could be very useful for taking notes on. A laptop works decently for some classes where the majority of the notes are non-symbolic, but trying to take notes in a math or physics class is simply impossible, with the subscipts and sketches.

    But, how do you protect that screen? Something big like that just seems to be a huge scratch and scuff collector. Is this the case or am I just missing something obvious again?

  • by OctaneZ ( 73357 ) <ben-slashdot2@um ... org minus distro> on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:35PM (#7605138) Journal
    Front Page []
    It's not much, but at least provides a "look" at one of their products.
  • text of article (Score:2, Informative)

    by jabella ( 91754 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:38PM (#7605164) Journal
    NOVEMBER 27, 2003

    Digital Hubris:

    Apple's Tablet Computer Might Finally Be That Link Between Your PC and TV
    By Robert X. Cringely

    High-tech is relentlessly optimistic and for good reason: the good times -- ALL the good times -- are caused by product transitions. New stuff costs more, has higher profit margins, and occasionally leads to changes in market leadership. A year or two later, these products will have been commoditized, the profit sucked out of them by intense competition, and it will be time to move on to the next big thing. Four years ago, the cheapest 802.11b access point you could buy cost $299. This week, I saw one advertised that with rebates brought the final cost down to zero, nothing, nada, zilch. Time to move on. So high-tech is always looking forward, never back, and taking a gamble on something new isn't perceived so much as a gamble but as a way of life.

    The techniques for getting us to buy new stuff vary. In the best of cases, these new sales are driven by new functionality -- a color printer instead of black-and-white, a notebook computer instead of a desktop, a DVD instead of a VCR. At other times, the upgrade is driven by bloat as new MIPS-burning applications and operating systems make our old stuff too painfully slow. This doesn't happen by accident, folks. And into this performance abyss we throw not just new products but new TYPES of products, because industrial dynasties come from defining new market niches. Hewlett-Packard, for all its glorious history, is more than anything else a laser printer company. Cisco Systems, for all its desire to be something more, is a router company. These are niches they defined and that have led to decades of success.

    And that brings us to the tablet computer, a tightly-defined product still in search of success.

    Tablet computers have been around in various forms for years. Back in the early 1990s, we called it Pen Computing, and VCs lost a lot of money trying to get us to exchange our keyboard for a touchscreen and a stylus. The product success that emerged from that experiment was something both more and less than what was expected -- the Palm Pilot and later Windows CE. We didn't replace our desktops and notebooks with pen computers, but we added a new type of little computer to our lives. It was that perfect technical play -- the chance to replace a seven dollar, little black book with a $399 PDA.

    A couple years ago, pen computers re-emerged as tablets with a larger form factor, supposedly expanded functionality and definitely expanded pricing. Microsoft made a special version of Windows just for tablet PCs, and most of the big hardware OEMs churned out tablet designs. But we haven't been buying them. In a U.S. market that supports sales of 50+ million PCs and notebooks per year, total tablet PC sales from all manufacturers this year will be less than 100,000 units. The screens are bigger and brighter, the applications smarter and the handwriting recognition better, but tablet computers are still looking for their killer app.

    Apple Computer has been decidedly absent from the tablet game. In part, this has to do with the failure of the Newton, which will always be associated in the mind of Steve Jobs with his former friend and nemesis John Sculley. "Real computers have keyboards," Steve has said a zillion times, and he'll mean it right up to the moment he changes his mind.

    That moment appears to be coming soon.

    Quanta, the Taiwanese company that makes many Apple notebooks, has been apparently switching its production to the new tablets, or at least that has been reported in the Taipei press since early this year. If this is the case that Apple is introducing such a machine as early as January, how is it likely to be different from the Windows-based tablet machines that have so far failed to excite buyers? And why, in the face of such lackluster sales, has Microsoft done another rev of its tablet operating system? What is it about this product niche that makes it so attracti
  • Re:Apple != Tablet (Score:5, Informative)

    by evn ( 686927 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:38PM (#7605165)

    Except that is a parody site and not actually steve jobs' web-log.

    There are no plans to make a tablet. It turns out people want keyboards. When Apple first started out, "People couldn't type. We realized: Death would eventually take care of this." "We look at the tablet and we think it's going to fail." Tablets appeal to rich guys with plenty of other PCs and devices already. "And people accuse us of niche markets." I get a lot of pressure to do a PDA. What people really seem to want to do with these is get the data out. We believe cell phones are going to carry this information. We didn't think we'd do well in the cell phone business. What we've done instead is we've written what we think is some of the best software in the world to start syncing information between devices. We believe that mode is what cell phones need to get to. We chose to do the iPod instead of a PDA.

    This is from the horse's mouth, a transcript [] of an interview between Steve Jobs and Walt Mossberg at "all things digital". (sorry I couldn't find the article on a "good" source (ie: google news) so go easy on it.

  • by iantri ( 687643 ) <iantri@ g m x .net> on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:43PM (#7605208) Homepage
    In case anyone is wondering, here is the article. []

    Yes, it's unbelievably muddled -- Cringely suggests that Microsoft could simply pick up the Windows GUI system and magically turn it into an X window manager.

  • report (Score:4, Informative)

    by mrklin ( 608689 ) <> on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:49PM (#7605240)
    "A small PC maker and a Linux distributor have teamed up to offer a tablet-style PC for $999, hundreds of dollars less than similar devices running Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition software.

    The Helium 2100, from Staten Island, N.Y.-based manufacturer Element Computer, is a convertible PC with a sliding screen that can be positioned for use as a traditional notebook PC or folded down for use as a touch-screen tablet device. "

    Source: efd_top

  • specs from web site (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:02PM (#7605325)
    Helium 2100

    Preconfigured Linux Tablet with Lycoris Desktop/LX

    Key features

    14.1-inch XGA (1024 x 768) Touch Panel active matrix display
    Perfect 2-in-1 convertible design, Notebook and Tablet PC
    Processor: 1 GHz VIA? Antaur
    Stylus included
    256MB Installed Memory: up to 1 GB of DDR266 200-pin DRAM via two sockets
    30GB Installed Hard Drive: up to 80 GB
    Keyboard: 85-key keyboard with Extended Function Keys
    O/S: Powered by Desktop/LX Tablet Edition
    Battery: up to 3 hours battery life
    Wireless: internal 802.11b (11 MBps) (OPTIONAL)
    2x USB 1.1/2.0;
    1x type II PCMCIA/CardBus slot;
    1x IrDA 1.1 FiR;
    1x stereo headphone jack;
    1x RJ11 for K56flex V90 modem;
    1x RJ45 for 10/100 LAN;
    1x external CRT port;
    4-in-1 Flash Card Reader SD/MMC/MS/SM
  • by Osty ( 16825 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:08PM (#7605362)

    But, how do you protect that screen? Something big like that just seems to be a huge scratch and scuff collector. Is this the case or am I just missing something obvious again?

    The best tablets have a rotating screen. At first glance, they look just like a slim laptop, complete with keyboard. Unlock the screen, rotate it 180deg, and shut the clamshell, and now you have a tablet. There's nothing you can do about protecting the screen while you're using it, but when transporting and storing it you'd have it in the laptop configuration (screen facing the keyboard while closed).

    Not all tablets are built this way, but the good ones (read: expensive ones) are.

  • by Down8 ( 223459 ) <> on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:08PM (#7605369) Homepage
    They have a downloadable version. Source is available upon request, for a nominal shipping fee. Yes, this decision pissed off a lot of the Lycoris community. It is not dissimilar ot SuSE and Mandrake's policies of putting up their previous release for download, while limiting their current release to a "Live" status.

  • by jelwell ( 2152 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:10PM (#7605378)
    He's also the guy that lied [] about having a PHD.

    One more thing, his "Killer App" of a digital hub is simply based on Steve Job's quote [] made just last month. But, personally, I don't think Cringely is on the right path. Jobs has said before that the TV and computer shouldn't merge, and Job's idea of Digital Hub has been iTunes, iDVD etc, not directly interacting with your home appliances.

    Joseph Elwell.

  • by miyako ( 632510 ) < minus language> on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:19PM (#7605421) Homepage Journal
    between this [] and my iBook, even classes with alot of symoblic math, or diagrams is a breeze. I just use ink and the handwriting recognition engine converts my own handwriting to easy-to-read-the-next-day type, and I just switch to draw mode for equations, diagrams, etc. After each class I export notes to pdf and upload them to my webserver when I get home where I have a nice php site I wrote up where I can then search all the notes by subject, date, keyword, chapter and unit. It's not as compact of a solution as a tablet pc, but quite a bit cheaper, this also works out nice for me because I can get work done in photoshop during the couple hour break I have in the middle of the day.
  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:23PM (#7605448) Journal
    Granted, yes, it was a single mistake...

    BUT A *REALLY* FUCKING STUPID ONE! The kind that tend to destroy your reputation instantly.

    Does anyone not agree?

    Sort of like using vulgar language in a written article or post? I mean, come now. Colorful words as these merely server to remind one of the schoolyard!

    I can almost hear the balls bouncing on the asphault...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:42PM (#7605577)
    actually, its the number of connections the webserver can make to the mysql db. it may be on the same machine, or a different one.

    my guess is they have keep-alive on, and possibly some high timeout settings thats causing the webserver to hang on to the db connection even after the http transaction has taken place.

    another possibility is bad scripting code that is killing the child process and holding the db connection. soon all the connections get filled up and poof... that error.

    there is actually a script you can run on mysql boxes that look for inordinately long connections and kill them. very, very useful- as a stop-gap measure. one should really find out though what's causing the connections to pile up though..
    Unix System Architect, RHCE
    employed, but looking for a challenging full-time position.
  • by homer_ca ( 144738 ) on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:43PM (#7605584)
    should be a very expensive electronic legal pad/sketchbook based on a modded version of WinCE & sub-par processors. Every time I see the specs for a tablet PC, my heart sinks, for if it only had a decent processor and decent memory

    I wouldn't exactly say that. Windows XP Tablet PC Edition IS full fledged Windows XP. Sure, the PIII-M in most tablets are a step behind the Pentium-M, but otherwise the hardware specs are comparable to an ultraportable (3lb range) laptop, which barely a year ago still used PIII-M's.
  • Re:Mac Tablet PC? (Score:3, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday December 01, 2003 @11:34PM (#7605935) Homepage Journal
    Viewsonic AIRpanel for home []

    Ten inch for $750, fifteen inch $960. of course it's for use with windows XP (think remote desktop connection), but the thing is here today, and was brought to you by a large company even. The very item you want. Too bad it's windows-centric, but one wonders if you could somehow haxor a VNC client onto it.

  • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) * on Monday December 01, 2003 @11:34PM (#7605939)
    I'm not sure anyone NEEDS a tablet any more than anyone NEEDS a laptop, or PDA, or whatever. However, as the owner of a TabletPC, here are some of the reasons I like my tablet:

    • Taking notes. I am a student, and I find the tablet PC excellent for taking notes. I have the advantage of digital note taking (easy to manipulate, easy to store, easy to organize) with the advantages of paper notes (drawing diagrams, complex mathematical symbols easy to write). Moreover, MS's new OneNote application automatically records the lecture to .wma, which I can replay on my mp3 player while I run (I suppose one could do the same thing with any other audio recorder, but OneNote is also the best note taking application, so it's nice that the recording feature is built in).
    • Drawing. There are obvious drawbacks to drawing on the computer as opposed to pencil & paper, but there are a hell of a lot of advantages too. Undo buttons and layers are the most obvious. Unlike tablets that have to be connected to your computer, tablet PCs are mobile, allowing one to draw anywhere. What I'm really looking forward to are tablet PCs with transflective screens, so they'll be usable outside.
    • Removes need for a PDA. My tablet is only 3 lbs, so while it is clearly bulkier and heavier than a Palm, it is easy enough to bring with me whenever I expect to need my schedule (I'm looking for a nice leather portfolio for it at the moment, that would make things even better). Unlike a PDA (or at least, unlike my old Palm III), it doesn't have to convert everything to text. So if you want to jot down a quick note, rather than painstakingly entering one letter at a time and correcting mistakes, you just use regular handwriting. So long as you can read your own handwriting, there's no need to ever convert it to text (though the recognition for cursive is pretty damn good, so long as you're writing dictionary words).
    • Reading. I know someone above pooh-poohed the notion of using it as an e-book reader, but there's no doubt it's useful for that function. The fact that the display can be rotated is a tremendous benefit. It's just so much easier to read on a tall, narrow display than a wide, short display (this is why newspapers have columns). I'm not just talking about e-books either. Even reading websites offline is easier (surfing can be laborious, given slowness of text entry with the pen).
    A tablet is probably a poor primary computer (one can use docking stations I suppose, but mine is only a 1 Ghz Centrino, not exactly blazing). I think that for students and artists, it's probably a better secondary computer than a laptop. For business folk who do lots of typing on the road, probably not so much (on the other hand, business folk who mainly review documents, check email, and take notes at conferences might be well served by a tablet).
  • by FueledByRamen ( 581784 ) * <> on Tuesday December 02, 2003 @01:36AM (#7606682)
    SGI's FSN - 3d Filesystem Navigator []. For IRIX 4.0.1 - 5.3 only. Have fun!

    An open-source clone, fsv, is also available on SourceForge [].
  • by Thornkin ( 93548 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2003 @04:45AM (#7607309) Homepage
    Sometimes he's insightful but often he's grasping at straws with his ideas. This is one of the latter sort of times. According to this article [] which is admittedly a bit dated, tablet sales are above expectations and they expect to sell nearly 600,000 this year. This article [] while intimating poor sales says that Acer has sold 100,000 by itself this year. Cringley's number seems a bit off. That said, he's also off in his analysis. There's a market for tablet PCs. Every delivery person and every lawyer I've seen lately has one. They are great for taking notes. What they are not good for, is video. Even if you could solve the bandwidth issue, there's the horsepower issue. Displaying HD video is non-trivial. It requires a hefty processor (3.0 GHz would be nice) and a GPU to match. Most Tablet-style PCs will come with underpowered mobile PCs and a graphics card from someone like Trident. Sorry, it's just not going to work.

Civilization, as we know it, will end sometime this evening. See SYSNOTE tomorrow for more information.