The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4 Trumps the Microsoft Surface

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After sitting on the fence about purchasing a MacBook Air or an Ultrabook, I finally decided to pass on those items (no Retina display!) and equipped my current iPad 3 with a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Case. I had handed over my Macbook Air 2010 over to my son for school use (and Minecraft play), and was in need of some keyboarded mobile input device. This category used to be all about laptops and netbooks, but this past month Microsoft Surface was released and I did the due diligence of checking it out and rejecting it despite the fact I could have expensed it.

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Finding a Microsoft Surface to try out is a bit like trying to find authentic takeout Thai food or a Porsche dealership -it’s only available in a handful of places in the US. In the Cleveland area, it means going to the Microsoft kiosk at the Beechwood Mall next to the kiosks selling iPhone covers and fluffy slippers. I thought it was a bust because someone had messed up the Surfaces which were all rebooting. More recently, I got to try the Surface at the local Best Buy. Microsoft in their marketing wisdom decided to widen the release of the Surface in the few weeks before Christmas.

Despite the bad marketing, I was impressed by the beauty and speed of the Surface. The keyboard cover was nice and far more responsive than expected. Unfortunately, without the tactile feedback of keypresses it was only a little bit better than a virtual keyboard. I grew weary of it in the first few lines of typing.

It gets worse. The Metro interface seems like a tacked on after thought. Launching Office apps caused the screen to jump back into the old Windows desktop screen which doesn’t work all that well with touch, but it keeps lurking in the background waiting to show its big fat corporate OS face whenever it gets the chance. Instead of the Start menu, you jump back into Metro, but how or when you did so was mysterious. I am sure that with use, I would be able to figure out how to turn off the Metro or stay out of the classic Windows desktop. As a casual shopper seeing Windows 8 for the first time, there is mystery involved, and that is not good.

I get why Microsoft put out the Surface RT. What Microsoft is battling is the constraints imposed by the demands of the consumer and corporate markets. It has designed Surface RT to the perceived needs of the consumer market. It is making the bet that Office is 90% of what people want on their computers. This is true of laptops and desktops, but not so much for tablets and smartphones.

For 90 percent of my work, content creation means translating ideas into text. Who really needs Word to record text? For example, I’m wrote this piece over a week at various intervals on my iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and MacBook Pro using Ia Writer, a text processing app that stores the file in the cloud. I never have to press SAVE because there is no such button. When I am ready to make a formatted document, I can do so in any number of apps like Word, Pages, or Google Docs. The fact is, I am using Word less and less because it is unavailable on iOS devices and smartphones, and I think Microsoft is uncomfortable with this trend.

Surface is basically recapitulating the most useful configuration for a tablet that you can also do work on -something that the iPad has had since launch which is variations on the keyboard case. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover greatly enhances the iPad as a productivity tool. It latches on like the original magnetic cover and when in laptop mode will prop the tablet with magnets in landscape orientation. The keyboard works perfectly and has many enhancements for iOS oriented shortcuts.

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When closed, it looks like a MacBook Air, being clad in aluminum all around, but of course it is thicker. It does offer laptop functionality with a 10 inch Retina display. The keyboard charges via a mini-USB port, and claims a 6 month battery life with two hours of use. It has been seamless and tenacious in gaining and holding a bluetooth link, something that is not always possible with other keyboards. I have been typing on it, and I like it. I can type at full speed. My only gripe is the half height number row which also has a truncated delete key. I still rip off the cover to use it as a tablet and find that the keyboard is on and prevents me from using the virtual keyboard -just remember to turn off the keyboard when not in use.

The Surface is a beautiful product but is an evolutionary dead end because its OS, Windows RT, has no past and an arguably a shaky future. Despite creating a product that integrates Office, and makes it basically the only compelling reason to buy a Surface, it does so by making you work in Office in a way that is no different from the 10 pound laptop that IT will give you for business trips. The moment Microsoft releases rumored Office for iOS with full implementation of touch interface, it will have killed any argument for Windows RT. We will see Office for iOS in the App Store one day, but we will have to see Surface die the same way as RIM’s Playbook -in about 8 months before we get to buy it for $129 for the Student and Home Edition.

Apple M-Series

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Apple needs to create a premium product line. BMW has their M series. McDonalds gives you the option to supersize their fries. You can now pay an extra 20 bucks to get seated in the exit aisle on your next flight. So why can’t we have serious upgrade options.

I know that when you buy a Mac, you can upgrade the processors and RAM, tweak the screen, and add software, but what I really want is the stuff out of Apple’s skunk works, some imbalance, a heaping load of cognitive dissonance. You see, the problem I’m having with Apple right now is that it is headed towards becoming General Computers.

Why can’t we have a Macbook Pro Premium with the DVD drive slipped out and the space filled with more battery, maxed out i7 processor, and 16 gigs of RAM with a retina display screen? In matte black. Why can’t we have a limited edition micro-Macbook Air suitable for pocketing with a 7 inch letterbox screen and small but full keyboard (like Psion’s), 24 hour battery life, and an SD card slot. Why can’t we have a limited edition iPod Touch with a 5 inch retina display and impossible thinness? How about an iPod nano phone with a separate, flawless bluetooth headset, that also functions as a wi-fi hotspot for all your iGadgets.

There is a market for these items, in much the same way that there is a market for Ferrari’s and personal submarines. When the overweight lady with crazy hair and too many shopping bag carry ons is poking around on an iPad -it’s not so fun.

Windows 7 on Macbook Air: Finally A Windows PC that I Like

From Evernote:

Windows 7 on Macbook Air: Finally A Windows PC that I Like

This grainy photo above shows my shiny new Macbook Air running (GASP) Windows 7. While this feature has been available via a utility called Boot Camp, I had always run Windows XP in virtualization, first in Parallels, and currently in the open-source (free) Virtualbox. That said, I wanted a faster option, particularly to see if this set up would run 3D CT analysis software well. My current home workstation, a Dell desktop replacement laptop, slows to a crawl when I run this software, but something told me it may run better with the flashdrive enabled Macbook Air.

Buying a shrinkwrap Windows 7 was not fun -an initial trip to Best (not) Buy revealed that they were happy to sell you an empty box, but after they took your money realized the whole store was empty of actual Windows 7 disks. I therefore went to Amazon and was happy to find Windows 7 Ultimate for 40 dollars off the Microsoft price. It arrived two days later and away I went…

To the Apple Store to buy a Superdrive. I tried various ways of creating a bootable USB flash disk, but after several hours, decided to take the plunge and purchase the MacBook Air Superdrive. The Boot Camp setup was a little annoying -you had to download Boot Camp drivers and burn a CD to load onto your Windows drive. You then had to partition the hard drive -I initially set aside 25 Gb but now find that I am running out of space as I load up with necesary software.

After a few days of fiddling, and running it in Windows, I have to say I am surprisingly pleased. Windows 7 is as beautiful as Windows XP is mofugly. It anticipates your needs and just works -for example, drivers for my network printer were automatically downloaded upon adding it to the printer list. This sort of ease of use used to be associated with Mac OS only, but Microsoft has finally bit the bullet and realized that the “for business” label was just an excuse for keeping things arcane and difficult. Getting XP to recognize a network printer is a Sisyphusian task. Windows 7 does it with elan.

Strangely enough, I am enjoying working on Windows 7. Sure -the fonts aren’t as good looking, but the OS is polished and refined. Frankly, I love it. The 3D CT software runs as well from my home as it does in the office on its server (a Dell Xeon PC which is monstrously huge). I am loading Office on it. During the late ’00′s, Microsoft seems to have gotten the message that their software was preferred by geeks, but generally despised by an increasing number of people. What always kept be away from Windows 7 was the terrible hardware available -I had miserable experience with Sony and Dell, and am dubious of any of the large PC makers. Boot Camp and Macbook Air changes all that.

Oh, the virus thing -Microsoft now offers a free download called Microsoft Security Essentials which does a decent job of policing the computer. Kudos to Microsoft and here’s to hoping much luck and fortune to that other iconic American company.

12 Gifts for the Surgeon to Get for Him/Herself.

  1. iPad. I can’t say enough about this device. It’s changed the way I approach technology. I use it every day to check email, to browse the web, and to write blog entries such as this. Using the Citrix app, I can access my practices EMR in large format glory. I can remotely attend meetings and watch the slides on the GoToMeeting app. I snuggle in the easy chair with my son and watch movies on rainy weekend days off via my Netflix app, and he uses it to play a bazillion games -none of which cost more then ten dollars., most for a buck which is a substantial savings over Nintendo DS games. I can keep up with my favorite tv show, The Walking Dead, downloaded weekly directly to the iPad. I can watch every Yankees game this season on my MLB app, live and in high definition. What really makes this device rock is Keynote –I use it to create a presentation of preop imaging studies, particularly the stunning 3D reconstruction of CTA imaging, and add intraop photography to it using the iPad Camera Connection Kit. The whole process takes a few minutes, but makes a patient family discussion incredibly effective. I feel that we are only scratching the surface of this category of device. I purchased a 64GB iPad with wifi only because of the next reason. (www.apple.com)
  2. Mobile Wifi. This comes in many different forms and is offered by most carriers. It can be purchased as USB stick for a computer –I don’t recommend this as it is the most limiting form of mobile Wifi. The mobile Wifi hotspot can be purchased as a small cigarette boxed sized item (in how many years will that description become obsolete?), and allows for up to 5 devices to be on the network. While this is nice, it requires a separate contract, and doesn’t make sense if you already have a data plan for a smartphone. Most Android phones allow Wifi tethering and this is the most compelling reason to get an Android phone despite its inferiority to the iPhone in most other ways. I have a Droid 2 on Verizon, and despite its failings as a smartphone, it is a wonderful Wifi hotspot, allowing me to use my Macbook Air, iPad, and iPod Touch 4g. I’ve even used Skype on my iPod Touch 4g to make international calls which were clear as a bell and cost only pennies per minute. How nice is it? Going to our rural clinics, the 2 hour drive is made productive and bearable with Wifi in the car (with my assistant driving, of course).
  3. MacBook Air 11 inch. While I do most of the my work on my 2 year old Macbook Pro 15 inch, I was frustrated by the limited battery life in that laptop. It is only good for about 3 hours, and I had to carry an extra battery. Several days ago, I hurt my back carrying the laptop bag on my shoulder, and I decided to take the plunge. While the Macbook Air 13 inch does have the longer battery life, it is very close to having a 15 inch laptop which I already have. I wanted something substantially smaller. The best analogy would be someone with a 5 Series BMW wanting a sporty 2 seater for occasional use –that person would not get another 3 Series sedan. The MacBook Air does not fail to satisfy. I have owned two prior netbooks in an attempt to go ultraportable and while the battery life was excellent (using lumpy extended batteries), they were slow and the keyboards were miserable, but what really drove me away from netbooks were their trackpads. I had an Acer Aspire One and more recently a Dell Mini 10V which I hackintoshed. Even with OS X running on the Dell netbook –and it ran very well, the trackpads on both machines left me feeling wretched after short usage. The MacBook Air does not have this problem with a full-sized keyboard and a giant trackpad that takes multitouch commands. I am writing this article on the Air, and I have a shit-eating grin on my face right now. Why the Air, and not the iPad. I do have a bluetooth keyboard for the iPad –I found an old Palm bluetooth keyboard that works very well and is even more portable than the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. While text entry is okay at the desk, and even better with the iPad keyboard dock, both bluetooth keyboard and even keyboard dock fail to connect with the iPad. While I haven’t tried since the iOS 4.2.1 update, I found this to be bothersome trying to type on the iPad, and feel better for coming back to a laptop. That said, the 11 inch air is weighs about the same as the iPad. Apple, despite its addition of a limited subset of iWork apps for iPad, does not see it as a content creation device, and I agree. Ergonomically, the laptop still has its use. Most notably, iWeb and other web management applications run exclusively on the laptop for now. Also, despite my dislike of Microsoft Office on Windows, I am very pleased with Office for the Mac, and Word for Mac 2011 is the first piece of Microsoft software to leave me happy in a long time. (www.apple.com)
  4. iPod Touch 4th Generation –This is basically the iPhone 4G without the phone part. Because the telephone elements are gone, what is left is an insanely slim and light iPod Touch with a back and front facing camera and FaceTime capabilities. While I haven’t explicitly tried it yet, Facetime has incredible potential as a telemedicine platform. In a hospital with fast Wifi, it’s a no-brainer. The iPod Touch is my mini-iPad. Even better, the GV Mobile + app lets me dial out via my Google Voice number which is forwarded to my cell phone. One thing about the Droid 2, the latest and greatest from Motorola –it freezes or slows down tremendously when you look up contacts. My iPod Touch acts as a dialer for my phone and through Google Voice, all my voicemails get transcribed as emails. The Line2 app is even greater –it turns my iPod Touch into a VoIP (voice over internet) phone. It’s an important function because in the bowels of most hospitals and in my basement, cell reception is nonexistent but wifi is present, and because my answering service calls to my Google Voice number, it forwards to my Line2 number and I can get important calls in dead cell zones as long as there is wifi. And being a iPod Touch, you get access to all the wonderful games and media apps. Did I mention Retina display and the A4 processor? The display on the iPod Touch 4th Generation is a modern marvel. 4 point font is perfectly discernible and there are not jaggies or fuzzies in the text. Movies pop on this screen, and it is my front pocket computer and my in the bed computer –my wife is less bothered by my reading from the iPod Touch than from my iPad. My only complaint about the iPod Touch 4th Generation is battery life. Multitasking, particularly having the Line 2 app on to take incoming phone calls, kills the battery in about 8-10 hours –but remember, it was not meant to be a cell phone. (www.apple.com)
  5. USB recharging batteries –These are largish lithium ion batteries equipped with USB ports specifically for the recharging of gadgets that recharge via USB cables. There are many varieties and flavors, but I recommend the largest you can get for the price –you will never regret it. I found an Energizer branded cell that will recharge my iPad and still have half the power left. It is great not having to plug in at the airport. I can recharge with both battery and gadget in the carryon. One company even had a battery that would recharge the Macbook via repurposed charger cables, but Apple got a cease and desist and these batteries are no longer available. The reason why they should be large large capacity is because the charging adapters for them tend to be bulky and I leave mine home.
  6. Laptop Bag –These vary from bulky bags that go to the maximum limits of carry-on-ability to to slender sleeves. I own a range of very functional bags that allow for just enough capacity while not being bulky. The best of them is the Brenthaven backpack (link) which allows for bulletproof protection while having more than enough compartments for a laptop, a second laptop, an iPad, a digital camera, an iPod, headphones, memory cards, a smartphone, a backup battery, the cables and chargers, pen and paper. The most stylish bag (my wife calls it the man purse) is a Kenneth Cole laptop bag in black leather. While the Brenthaven bag says, “GEEK,” the Kenneth Cole bag reeks of style (link).
  7. Watch –Watches are indispensible tools for a physician. First and foremost, the date and time are required elements of a doctor’s note. A watch with a second hand is indispensible for checking heart rate. And a surgeon has to look presentable in scrubs, and the watch is one of the few personalizing items that I think a surgeons should choose with some thought. The problem with premium watches and surgeons is that the surgeon has to take them off while scrubbing for an operation. There must be at any given time some combination of Rolexes, Tag Heuers, and Omegas in hospital laundries across the country. I have become a big fan of the great looking, highly functional, cheap watch. The two best are the Timex T45951 Expedition series alarm watch which is a big chronograph with a handsome leather band –other colors are available, but the cream faced one with tan leather band is only 50-65 dollars and cheaper on sale at Amazon. It has the Indiglo feature, and a nice beeping alarm that wakes me without waking my wife. It is comfortable enough to wear to bed. The other watch is the Casio MDV102-1AV Sea Analog Illuminator Dual LED Dive Watch. This is a beautiful watch that could be mistaken for a Rolex Submariner or the James Bond Omega. Even better, the LED on it is so bright, I use it as a flashlight. Cost? Currently $42 on Amazon.
  8. Pens –The surgeon can never have enough pens. The problem with expensive pens is exactly the same as expensive watches –they are waiting to be lost in the hospital tucked into a chart or left in the laundry. The best pens leave a permanent record in the chart and has blue or black ink. They have to be roller ball if carbon paper duplicates are still used in the hospital. My favorite? A box of UniBall Onyx pens in fine point. I used to prefer Micro, but found the Micro points to be less durable. The ink flows smoothly and authoritatively from these pens which I don’t mind losing. The other pens are personalized pens to give away. The federal rules do not allow for drug companies to give away pens, but there is no such impediment to physicians giving away pens. There are many companies on the internet that will personalize bulks of very nice and usable pens.
  9. Moleskine notebooks –These handsome faux leather (no moles in moleskine)notebooks are the original PDA’s. I keep one handy for a case-log and another as a personal journal and writer’s notebook. I like the 3.5×5.5 inch sized journal because it is large enough to write comfortably in but not so much that it won’t fit in my pockets. I preferred lined pages, but unlined is nice for those who like to sketch. (http://www.moleskines.com/)
  10. CME on disk –The problem with CME conferences is that it’s hard to get the CME’s on short notice and air travel makes it fairly miserable to hike across country to get the 30-50 annual CME hours required by most state boards. There are many CME products available, but my favorite are SESAP for general surgery (link) and the UCLA update on Vascular Surgery (link). Both are available as print material and handy MP3 and video MP4 files, allowing you to take them on your iPod or in your car. And that is where your CME time is well used. I frankly enjoy the 30 minutes listening in the car.
  11. Chestnuts –I grew up with chestnuts. They were a wintertime treat. Roasted, they were a savory and sweet snack that went well with the frigid wintertime air. In New York, that great melting pot, chestnuts would be served roasted on the streets from carts by older Italian gentleman, but now you hardly ever see them. It’s hard to find a good batch of chestnuts because they don’t travel well, being prone to fungus because of the high sugar content. I came across a batch of locally grown chestnuts and pounced on them because they were fresh. That said, you can get a jar of shelled and cooked (by steaming) chestnuts from France at Williams-Sonoma. It’s seasonal and once you open the jar, you have to refrigerate them, but they are delicious plain or in a stuffing –anywhere sweet potato would go in a dish, the chestnut does better. (link)
  12. Legals Seafood Fish Chowder –There is no better chowder than fish chowder and arguably, Legals of Boston has, if not the best, at least the most convenient. You can go on their website (link) and order a gallon or a quart, and you’ll get it shipped chilled and ready to heat up and eat. If you can’t consume it all at once, you can split freeze it, or split the package into smaller portions and freeze. A bowl of fish chowder on a winter day after playing out in the snow is something special. You can try making it yourself, but you won’t get the correct combination of fish and flavor that was featured in the Bush (pre) inaugural.

Why I’m not upgrading to iLife ’11

I am in general very happy with my Apple products, using it to be productive while enjoying my life through creating and presenting media rather than just being a consumer of it. Apple’s products easily lets you do many things that are difficult with the non-Apple alternatives. That said, I am underwhelmed by the latest update to iLife, in particular because the most useful program, iWeb, has not been updated.

I use iWeb to administer my professional blog: http://docparkblog.com

I had been hoping for new HTML 5 tools, and maybe even a way of creating HTML 5 applications for both Mac and iOS. Maybe that’s what they’re cooking and will present it at some later point. But for now, I’m very upset that iWeb was not included in this update.

While I like iWeb -it does not allow for updating the blog off my mobile devices. I have to sit down on my Macbook Pro, which is now mostly a desktop being tethered to hard drives and a second monitor, to do any work when in fact, I would love to be able to update it on the fly like I do this blog or my Medscape blog.

I guess they want me to buy a Macbook Air to do all of this, but would very much like an iOS option. Meh!

The netbook

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Acer One netbook

The netbook, the smart phone, and the future of personal computing

 

The netbook is a new category of laptop computer that is really a refreshing of an old category. Starting with the ASUS eeePC introduced in 2007, several major laptop manufacturers have joined the fray, and the category has exploded. The current set of netbooks are a re-entry into what is a very old category centered around mobility. What the current set includes is connectivity. 

The first ultraportable of note was the Radioshack TRS-80 Model 100.

Radio Shack TRS 80 Model 100

Radio Shack TRS 80 Model 100

It was portable and had a full keyboard. It featured a wordprocessor and Microsoft Basic. The Atari Portfolio and the HP95LX brought computing into the coat pocket, and the culmination of this was the Psion Series 5 which was tiny but touch typable. I used it to write my consult notes during residency and maintained a database of frequent fliers. The hospital had HP printers with infrared ports allowing me to print out my notes wirelessly. 

 

 

Atari Portfolio

Atari Portfolio

Psion went on to create the Psion netbook and holds copyright over the name. It is a shame that they gave up the personal computer business after developing the most stable portable operating system (EPOC) and software set ever created. For example, their spreadsheet program, part of an Office compatible suite, took up 22k of memory. My Psion could run over twenty programs concurrently without crashing. EPOC became Symbian which powers Nokia and Sony-Ericksson phones. Having given up the business, they are now chasing the netbook ghost by filing cease and desist letters to websites and businesses that use the word netbook.

HP 200LX

HP 200LX

 

 

I used to own a Psion netbook and it was fantastic to type on with incredible keyboard feel. It was fast, and had instant on -booting up was instantaneous like a cell phone, not like a computer with the minute of bootup time typical for a Windows computer. The EPOC office suite was integrated and allowed cutting and pasting of graphs into documents that would update with changes in the data -this was rock stable and again, took up only a few hundred kilobytes (not megabytes) of memory.

Psion Series 5

Psion Series 5

With AA batteries, the Series 5 would run up to 40 hours. The netbook had a PC card slot for a WiFi card giving it wireless internet back in 1999.

 

 

I believe Microsoft killed the portable computer industry for about ten years with their Windows CE operating system. Microsoft powered clamshell computers were popular for a while but were difficult to use and crashed frequently. I owned a fairly advanced PocketPC clamshell, the NEC 790, but was frustrated by its instability, it’s tendency to freeze and crash, and worst of all lose data, but the full keyboard and instant on capability were enough of a plus to keep me interested for a while. 

 

The salient features of portability, keyboard for human hands, instant on, long battery life, full resolution landscape screen, and wireless internet with full capability -Flash, Quicktime, WMV and other multimedia features, are the killer features of the modern netbook. None of the currently available netbooks (Acer, HP, Dell, MSI, ASUS, and now Sony) fit the bill.

NEC Mobilpro 790

NEC Mobilpro 790

 

Psion netbook - the original

Psion netbook - the original

 

 

 

All are based on the Intel Atom processor. This is a low voltage processor that integrates graphics which translates into slow -how slow? About a hair faster than Centrino Mobile (laptops circa 2005) when running Windows XP. It definitely won’t be lighting up the specs compared to dual core laptops, but it is “good enough,” especially compared to how we used to access the internet via dialup. 

Most of the netbooks come with Windows XP. The whole netbook category along with resistence to upgrading from the coporate side has kept Windows XP alive despite the presence of Vista. A few of the netbooks are presented with a scaled down version of Vista. Having stayed away from Vista like the plague, I can’t say first hand if it’s good or bad, but the word from people using the first generation HP netbooks which ran Vista on the slower VIA processor is that it is slow. This goes against the concept of a fast-boot, efficient, fast running machine. 

 

Apple Newton eMate 300

Apple Newton eMate 300

Linux was offered on the first generation of netbooks, but as they became popular, Microsoft made Windows XP licenses available for these netbooks, essentially killing off Linux on netbooks. This is unfortunate, because Linux starts up quicker and runs more efficiently on netbooks. OpenOffice, an office suite that is available for free, runs very well on Linux. The only downside is there is no iTunes for Linux, but the bulk of the needs are met through open source and usually free software. The great thing about Linux is that the computer are customizing the operating system for their product. The new HP Mini 1000 just presented at CES with a highly customized interface. We are all use to this with the Macintosh, but also with cell phones. In fact, this is a bit of a return to the days of yore, when computer makers created the box and the software. 

 

What does this mean? The netbook is in evolution. It is somewhere between a laptop and a smartphone. The laptop offers the larger screen, USB ports, and a keyboard. The smartphone offers instant on, extreme portability, omnipresent connectivity, long battery life, and great integration between software and hardware. The netbook is slowly moving toward this end, becoming less a commodity, and more a finely honed tool. 

 

HP MiniNote 2133

HP MiniNote 2133

Do I recommend a netbook? Depends. They are easier to carry than a laptop and offer the ability to work anywhere. My Acer One netbook cost less than $400, and has a battery life of over 6 hours, has a 160gB hard drive, and has Wifi. It runs Windows XP which has its faults, but it runs iTunes, turning my netbook into a large screen iPod where I can watch movies and TV shows. With Skype, I can have video chats with family and friends wherever WiFi is available. What is really neat is cloud computing being embraced by Google, Apple, and others. It moves the work onto the browser, and makes it platform agnostic. The problem is the current generation of netbooks are still just small, slightly slower Windows laptops. 

 

The future is the next generation of netbooks which will feature more solid state memory, customized Linux operating systems, and 3G or WiMax high speed internet that is integrated. The solid state memory or SSD (solid state disks) have no moving parts, are fast, and more energy efficient getting you closer to instant on. The customized operating system means that your hardware is more tightly integrated with the software, much like a cellphone. The 3G or WiMax type high speed internet means you can go anywhere untethered from a WiFi network. You can buy netbooks that feature 20Gb SSD’s (solid state disks) with Linux, but these basically disappeared after some muscling in by Microsoft. Windows 7 promises a smaller footprint to be able to run on netbook-like gear, but it completely misses the point. You don’t buy a car from BMW and run it on an engine from GM. You want the software to run seamlessly with the hardware, and this is much more difficult under Windows.

Apple is still digesting this arena. The Newton eMate 300 was an effort by Apple to create an instant on clamshell laptop, but was quickly killed by Steve Jobs upon his return along with the Newton OS and the great Newton 2100. MacBook Air has some netbook features, but fails in it basic concept as another, albeit beautiful, laptop. Ideally, iPhone/iPod Touch would be the platform for it’s netbook, but I don’t see it going that way because of Steve Job’s aversion to buttons. No, this category will be populated by manufacturers looking to capitalize on Apple’s deafness and blindness to this category. BTW, this blog entry was written entirely on my netbook running OpenOffice and uploaded via the Google Chrome browser.