Community and social computing
with Tags: toys X
Right after my last post, I noticed two different things which are pushing the envelope of network computing: Google Gears, and the Palm Foleo.
Techcrunch's story on Google Gears describes it as the step that allows online webware to also work offline through a plug-in for your browser. Whether this actually solves that particular problem for a range of practical apps still remains to be seen but it's a piece that has been missing for a while.
Crave has a story on the recently demoed Palm Foleo, a new device that is not a UMPC (by Microsoft's definition) that works almost entirely as a thin client ultraportable laptop, that does the bare essentials of a web browser based interface that connects through WiFi or Bluetooth (to use a cellphone as a modem). The instant-on feature rather than a boot-up process is sweet, something that UMPCs still miss out on.
I spent the whole weekend trying to get rid of some undetected virus on my machine, even to the point of upgrading to a newer version of Windows. Still no luck and our internal helpdesk hasn't gotten back to me yet. Quite frustrating after about 20 hours of this (over three days). Now, I'm just sitting and waiting for tech support to call back.
Anyway, in the meantime, I went out and picked up the new Logitech MX-5000 Laser bluetooth keyboard and mouse. This one has a much greater range, with a claim of 60 feet. I can't really test that out in our house but I'm glad that I don't have to trail an RF wireless box across my carpet so I could use my previous keyboard/mouse. It seems to work fine from at least 40 feet away so that's much better. The old one needed almost line-of-sight of maximum 4 feet.
Our home computer is hooked up to our big screen in the family room, so we can use it whenever as well as watch any online video or play music from it. This set up works to a point. The screen is a Sharp Aquos 45" LCD TV which advertises 1920x1080, but that is really only for the HD signal and not the PC signals. The PC input channel only goes up to 1280x1024. However, on top of that, since it's wide screen, the text will look squished. So pratically, the maximum resolution you can get is 1280x768. Unless you actually expect to read anything from our couch (9' away)...
To get actual practical use out of it, we have to drop the resolution down to 1024x768 (since there is no widescreen 1024x600 on this nVidia GeForce card. It's not too bad, especially when some of the games can automatically change the resolution to higher settings. The Aquos is a nice TV certainly and uses only a third of the power of a plasma screen which makes me happier. This one uses less power than our previous 27" Sony Wega CRT TV.
However, I have yet to see full 1080p on this, since we don't own a hidef DVD player yet. The closest we come is the Cable TV HD channels which are 1080i. The shows which are actually recorded in HD look absolutely stunning, especially the nature shows where they go to the trouble to get the color right. The ESPNHD channel is also pretty good, but Cox cablevision doesn't receive all the HD channels as satellite does. The digital non-HD channels really do look and sound better than the regular ones; something I had not been able to tell until we get this newer TV earlier this year. Sci-fi channel really needs to get their own HD channel if they haven't already. Battlestar Galactica on the UNIHD (Universal Studios) channel looks just amazing.
My only lingering complaints about this TV is that they still haven't gotten black down and it needs better viewing modes. The blacks still look a little grey even at the lowest settings. You don't even need special equipment to tell that. Also the viewing modes allow Smart stretch, and Zoom but what they need is a second Zoom to allow widescreen movies (from DVD) to truly take up the full height. It's annoying to have a widescreen TV and still see DVDs showing in letterbox format. On cable, the cable box is able to do the second zoom (although you loose a bit of the sides) to fill the screen from letterbox. Eventually, more videos will work straight for widescreen TVs and that issue will go away but those DVDs are few and far between.
I have to say Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on the 45" screen looks amazing.
Okay so it's not a Dire Straits song yet, but it's why I now need to send back the Moto Q I just picked up two days ago. The current Q only has IE for mobiles and doesn't support AJAX quite right (if at all). I tried downloading the Opera 9 browser and installing that on the Windows Mobile 5 OS on the Q, but it also doesn't seem to be working right. I'll try playing with it a little longer to see if I can get it to work.
So the Moto Q may have to go back while I wait for a version of the Moto Q q9 that runs on the CDMA network of Sprint's. Currently there's a GSM version called the q9h which will likely appear for GSM providers like AT&T/Cingular, etc. It also has a faster processor, a faster OS (Windows Mobile 6), a nicer 2Mpixel camera, and a micro-SD interface (rather than the harder-to-find-cards-for mini-SD interface). There are apparently some downsides like the loss of the scrollwheel, which I really like. There's a review on engadget and another on infoSync.
According to Motorola, the q9 is supposed to be released in this quarter (which ends in 3 weeks) but I have yet to see it for sale anywhere. Who knows when that CDMA version will appear, and I may be waiting for months. Who knows, perhaps Sprint will hold off for a WiMAX version of the q9, but that would mean a much longer wait for me. I'll keep my Moto Q for the next two weeks and see how it goes before my 30-day trial expires.
Okay, this is just too cool not to mention...
Crave has a story from Demo 07 on a new invention by a startup called Zink, with Polaroid's help, is making it much easier to print photos without a large inkjet, thermal, laser, or other ink-based printing mechanisms. Think of it as a new millennium version of the old Polaroid paper. The paper itself is a polymer that has multiple color layers that are heated by a print head to create the actual colors. Here are more details from Zink. This means that rather than a separate printer from your digital camera, you could actually integrate it right into the camera, as well as other devices such as laptops, UMPCs, iPods, etc. Purely brainstorming, you could even integrate it into home electronics equipment like your TV -- there has been at least one attempt at integrating an inkjet into a TV before -- even your fridge (for that list of stuff to get from the grocery store). The limiting factor is having enough space to store the size and quantity of photo paper in the device.
(courtesy: Zink, Crave blog)
Of course, this is a different business model than what HP and other companies have. Most printer companies focus on the financial side of selling ink cartridge's rather than the printer itself to make the most money. So printers have become relatively cheaper with technology and ink much more expensive. Here the model still exists but the paper itself may be the profit margin. Zink suggests 100 sheets for US$19.95. I can't tell who makes the paper but I can guess that Polaroid might just get a new lease on life here.
The question remains if you still have to wave it around in the air for 15 minutes before you can see something visible on the paper.