We met over lunch with the Tablet Kiosk folks yesterday and they’ve got some exciting news. Availability of their new Sahara line of slate PCs is just weeks away and all of the product specs and details are on their site. Gail Levy from Tablet Kiosk explained that there are three models in the new Sahara line: the i412T, i440T and i440D; each of which weighs a tad over three pounds. Based on what Gail told us, these three models should provide something for everyone if you’re looking for a new slate….
You know what I learned the most about at CES this week? It wasn’t about a new UMPC, a hot new handheld nor was it about some software. What I learned the most this week was that the UMPC concept has ultimately and forever changed my computer usability preferences. Due to a minor incident with my Samsung Q1 the day before the show, I had to leave the unit behind and take my ol’ Toshiba M205 Tablet PC with me. What an enlightening experience to use an active digitizer this week after eight months of touchscreen computing.
At the Bill Gates keynote, we got first word of the new Windows Home Server that HP will first offer; more OEMs will follow. I chatted with a Microsoftie on the floor about the WHS because as much as I like the product I had a concern. The product is great when you’re out and about with connectivity. What about when you’re not; say you’re using a UMPC on the road, don’t have 3G at the moment and are far from a hotspot?
My concern was from a companion PC standpoint and synchronizing files that you took "off-line" from the WHS. Maybe you pulled down a Word doc from the WHS on your UMPC at the local Starbucks. You make file changes later in the day and when you later connect, what happens? Does the WHS resolve the changes in the files?
It turns out that the Windows Home Server won’t natively keep those files in synch, based on our discussion. Then again, it’s really not an issue because I figured that Vista’s Sync Center features could handle this task: sure enough, I guessed right.
You’ll need to set up a partnership in Vista for the files and folders you want to keep in synch, but once you do that and gain connectivity to your WHS again, Vista will keep everything up to date. The added benefit of the WHS is that you can have your remote machines completely backed up, which I find to be a huge benefit while on the road: no need to connect external drives or burn optical media backups! Remote controlling those home PCs on your network is another boon for us mobile peeps while you’re connected.
Microsoft is still finalizing the Windows Home Server software (although the demos I saw looked pretty solid) and once they do that and provide it to HP, you’ll see these little self-sufficient boxes for sale. The expectation I heard was the second half of 2007, but we’re sure to hear details before then.
James is in the air returning home and I think 90% of the show is too. Hopefully, they’re not all on the same plane. Since I’ve got the day to myself, I meandered around a much quieter show floor and found the 1.5 pound Medion MD RIM 1000 UMPC in the wild. The device has a smaller footprint than most of the current UMPC models, partly because the screen is a slightly smaller 6.5-inches in lieu of the standard 7.
The screen slides smoothly, revealing something that I wouldn’t want in my UMPC. At least that’s what I thought. The keyboard is the most standard looking and feeling keyboard over anything I’ve seen yet, and we’ve seen ’em all here. The keys have a nice feel and travel; just like a standard keyboard, only much smaller of course. You’ll be using your thumbs, but I have to say after using the device for about 10 minutes: you can quickly get used to the approach and start tapping out text faster than you’d think.
Navigation was also painless with both the directional pad and the small mouse touchpad at the bottom right of the device. Once again, the Origami Experience running on the Via-based machine was zippy and enjoyable.
The Medion should hit market by end of month, coinciding nicely with the Vista launch; I couldn’t get many more details, but if Medion comes in at or under a grand in price, they’ll likely sell a bunch of these. More pics after the jump.
CES is winding down — I’m looking forward to getting some sleep (kicking it at Bloghaus tended to go a bit late . . . OK way late) and getting out of Vegas. There’s only so many days of smoky casinos, bad carpeting and long taxi lines one can take. Even though the convention was upstaged by the iPhone there was still a torrent of bite-sized news from the industry’s tech titans. I spent our last day at the show traversing the floor and checking out the goods — huge video displays, sleek phones, media-streaming hardware, and this guy’s most excellent drum machine watch. The trek helped us ponder the show’s top 5 trends:
Read More about Top 5 Trends at CES
It’s clear by the new Origami Experience that the Microsoft team does listen to user feedback. We were floored when we got the above picture from Sears Young on the team; we just saw the new interface and sure enough he was listening to MobileTechRoundup on it! These guys have put a ton of effort in the new UI for Vista and I can’t reiterate it enough: this might be the killer app on a UMPC running Vista. As much as I enjoyed the Bill Gates keynote and all of the great Vista features they demonstrated, I wish the Origami team got to demo this app at the keynote. It’s as innovative as any other keynote highlights!
Hey, maybe everyone else will too based on the conversation we had at the S-XGen booth. We flipped, folded and even fondled the unique Windows Mobile handheld phone and then inquired on the price. We flat out asked about the rumored $1,400 price tag and were immediately told by the Seamless Internet folks that unit will be less than that. We couldn’t pinpoint an exact price, but the numbers shared were in the upper $900 range.
Not sure if there’s a solid market for a Win Mo phone that doesn’t appear to have a mic and speaker. We might have missed those on the device, but even if we did, the booth folks indicated you need a Bluetooth headset for the phone functions. Still, the 20-GB drive and rubberized chiclet keyboard might be compelling enough for you to pick this device up; we heard that it will be available at Buy and Amazon. If we get more deets, we’ll put out a quick update.
Kevin and I had a fantastic day today between cruising the CES show floor, attending [email protected] and seeing some cool gadgets, appearing on KPRC 950 Houston talk radio with Michael Garfield, the HighTech Texan, attending the Tablet PC meetup where over 100 people converged to talk digitizers, and capping off the evening with a visit to the BlogHaus in the Bellagio where Kevin, Matt and I recorded the funniest MobileTechRoundup podcast ever. Here is a photo journal of this busy, busy day.
This is going to sound odd, but I have to repeat something James said earlier tonight: "The best software I’ve seen at CES is the new Origami Experience app". I completely agree after Dustin and Sears from the Microsoft Origami team gave us the low-down at the Tablet PC / UMPC meetup.
Sears has the official write-up complete with screenshots to give you the visuals, so check them out here.Once I get my Q1 fixed (long story), I’ll try to get a video demo up for you. While you’re downloading the pics and info, let me share my basic thoughts:
- I watched the application run on a Samsung Q1 upgraded to 1 GB of RAM and it was by far the speediest and most responsive app I’ve seen yet. Bear in mind this was running on Vista, which is required.
- Dustin nailed it when he said the team tried to keep the "level" of the app very horizontal. What I mean by that is: you don’t need to tap, tap, tap to drill down to the functions or info you want. For example, when looking at your digital music, every option you could want appears on the same screen, which reduces the navigation effort.
- The slideshow options are stellar. There are numerous transitions and all are visually appealing. I could easily see many of you turn your UMPC into a true part-time digital picture frame.
- Adding programs via customization options to the Program Launcher is a snap. It couldn’t possibly easier or more user friendly.
- Everything is geared for a quick finger tap; all of the buttons are well sized and easy to use.
- The shortcuts to the Windows Mobility Center applet, the Windows Switcher function and the Wireless network status are very handy.
There’s much more here, so until my Q1 is repaired and I can demo the Origami Experience for you, check out the great write up and pics provided by Sears. In the meantime, I’m going to struggle trying to find an area of opportunity for the new Origami Experience. So far, the Origami team has knocked my socks off with the demo I saw; I just might have to give up and say "we’ve got a winner here!" It’s obvious that the team has listened to user feedback and matured the new Origami Experience far beyond the original Touch Pack.
CBS CEO Leslie Moonves’ keynote at CES managed to squeeze in more Web 2.0 buzz words, and viral videos references than I’ve heard all week — the Numa Numa kid, diet coke and mentos, Second Life, YouTube, wikis, avatars, mashups. Well, CBS has been proactive recently in embracing new media, Internet communities, and mobile services, and it was pretty endearing listening to Moonves joke about the Chenbot video, a viral video of his wife’s favorite catch phrase crutch (Julie Chen outed as stiff and repetitive? truly shocking).
CBS also announced a contest with YouTube that will bring user-generated videos to the Super Bowl commercials show, and said it was beta-testing new video clip-sharing software from Sling Media. Read more in the full post over at NewTeeVee.