Tag Archive | "desktop"

Velocity Micro VMUltra Drive offers DVD/HDD/USB/SD all-in-one

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The Velocity Micro VMUltraDrive looks like the perfect desktop companion for your Ultrabook.

VMUltra

If you’re using an Ultrabook on the desk I advise taking a look at your setup. How many cables are you pugging in and out each day? Do you have two 1080p screens for the best productivity and have you got an external HDD linked-up for the new Windows 8 feature – File History? This combi HDD/DVD and USB3.0 hub could really help with that modular desktop setup.

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Toshiba Dynadock U3.0 Docking Station Review

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If you haven’t read our report on using an Ultrabook as a desktop, take a look now. Ultrabooks cover all the bases when it comes to daily computing and there’s some good options out there for making the desktop life even better. How about 4 screens for example? The Toshiba Dynadock U3.0 that we’ve been testing for the last few weeks gives you that and a whole lot more.

P1110030

 

The Toshiba Dynadock U3.0 is the latest in a range of Dynadock products Toshiba have sold for the last three or four years. They combine a number of USB-based adaptors in a standalone unit that enhances the desktop experience and reduces the need to plug and unplug cables which saves time and wear.

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How To Replace your Desktop with an Ultrabook

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Thinking of upgrading a desktop PC? Upgrading a Netbook. A 10″ Tablet? Now that Ivy Bridge 2nd-Generation Ultrabooks are here and we’re heading into a period of marketing and competition it’s the perfect time to consider converging to an Ultrabook.

P1040841

A few weeks ago I turned off my desktop PC. It’s the first time it’s been shut down and disconnected for the 3.5 years that I’ve had it. In it’s place is nothing, until I plug my Ultrabook in. The reason I’m doing this is simple; The Ultrabook is better than the desktop for all but a few use cases.

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Using the Galaxy Nexus as a Desktop Computer [video]

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As a long time UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) user, having a single device that could function as a mobile companion and a desktop computer has been a long time dream. For years I used Sony’s excellent UX180 UMPC to facilitate this sort of usage, but cramming a full desktop OS into a handheld package was not a solution that could work for the mainstream. Trying to scale from big to small proved to be difficult for battery life and control schemes. In the end the UMPC never reached out of the niche category. The dream, however, has lived on.

Could Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich be the OS that not only bridges the gap between smartphone and tablet, but also extends to the desktop?

It seems that scaling from small to large may be a better approach for the computer-as-a-desktop paradigm, as is evident from this video demonstrating such usage with a Galaxy Nexus hooked up to a large monitor, wireless keyboard and trackpad:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_–zcmqIyRI

If the demonstration above isn’t a compelling look at where the future of mobile computing could lead, I don’t know what is!

Seeing this really reawakens that dream of having a single device that can scale gracefully across multiple use-cases. Chippy calls this sort of multiple-scenario functionality ‘High Dynamic Range Computing‘ (HDRC); among other challenges, he warns that the industry may resist supporting HDRC because they want us to continue to purchase multiple devices instead of just one.

The author of the video makes a great point — this is already a pretty good experience, but it’s rarely even touted as a feature of the platform (maybe that’s some of the resistance coming into play).

We’ve seen similar multi-scenario computing with Android devices before. The Motorola Atrix has an optional ‘lapdock’ which gives the user a large screen and full keyboard, and even a full build of Linux Firefox to use. Alternatively, the Atrix could be hooked up to a dock with HDMI output for use with a full monitor. Though less broad in scope, Asus is leading the way with the ‘smartbooks’ form-factor by offering detachable keyboards to their line of Transformer tablets.

If Google started to push this sort of usage, they could give all Android users HDRC functionality which would provide a productive environment when the device is hooked up to the right peripherals. It seems like all of the core functionality is already built into Android. Google could get an important upper-hand on Apple with this strategy as Apple would likely shy away from this sort of power-user feature.

What’s your take on HDRC with Android devices? Is this something you’d like to see further developed, or would you rather keep your productivity and your smartphone consumption separate?

Intel: Desktops to Become Niche

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image

We’ve asked Intel about this before and they were rather coy about giving us an answer. If Ultrabooks take-over where tablets can’t reach and if Ultrabooks, or at least laptops running the Core CPU contain the power to do everything the average user wants, why would customers bother upgrading the old box in the corner?

“It’s possible” was the only answer we got at IDF last month but PCR-Online got a more detailed answer.

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What Mobile Operating Systems Can’t Do

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I’ve been trying to use mobile operating systems for productive and full-computing scenarios for years and although things are getting better by the day, there are still major issues to be solved. Even the latest tailored hardware and software solutions are littered with unexpected restrictions, bugs, showstoppers and even costs. As I continue to test devices like the Acer Iconia Tab A500 and iPad I am making a list of functions that I can perform on a desktop operating system but not on a consumer or mobile operating system that you might find in a tablet. You’ll find an early ‘issues’ list here. I’m largely talking about Android or IOS here.

The issues fall into 3 categories.

  • Issues that are a result of hardware. This varies between platforms and is also sometimes dependant on drivers and software. E.g. Bluetooth support. Many of these issues are dropping away as ARM platforms evolve, some of these issues are because of the design requirements (battery, size, heat)
  • Issues that are a result of operating restrictions. Operating systems will evolve but each evolution is taking 6 months to 1 year.
  • Issues that are there simply because the third party software may not have been written yet.

The latter category is one we can ignore. If tablets or other devices based on mobile operating systems are successful, the software will come. Lets look at the other two categories though.

Hardware Issues

  • Video editing software and hardware. While software may exist, the CPU, hardware encoders and possible GPU acceleration may not be in place. The only exception is the ipad2, iphone4 and Ios which use the capabilities of the A4 chip very well. It may be quite a while before generic cross-platform solutions appear.
  • USB host support. In some cases the platform only supports USB client. This affect many devices people commonly use like webcams, printers, video capture cards and many other device you’ll find in the high-street PC store.
  • Keyboards on tablets. Arguable that this isn’t neccesary if you’ve already chosen a tablet but we’ll leave it in the list for discussions sake.
  • High-capacity storage. 100+GB support is often required by those dealing with media.
  • Other interfaces such as serial (often used for control and data collection) pci-express. USB based solutions can solve this if the drivers are built into the operating system.
  • Extendable GPUs through docking stations or modules
  • General processing power (CPU)

Operating system issues

  • Extended languages and keyboard support
  • External screen capability. This includes extended desktop and multiple interface support. Also needed in the OS
  • Drag and drop (of selected text, audio, image, file, video.)
  • Bluetooth stack. Software is generally the issue here and it’s usually an operating system issue.
  • Full web experience including mouse-over support. Some third party software may fix this is mouse or other pointer support is provided by the OS.
  • Multi-user support with associated security mechanisms. Generally a core operating system issue.
  • Extending device support through installable, pluggable drivers.
  • Extended IP stack to support routing, multiple.interfaces and other IP features like file sharing protocols. This can be implemented in third party software.
  • Multiple sound module support for live audio performances with pre-fade. This is also a hardware issue.

3rd party software

For discussions sake, i’ve included a few software issues here.

  • Offline blogging tools. A third party software issue that will get solved in time. (I’m impressed with the progress of Blogsy on the iPad)
  • Office suites. Third party issue although core format support, encryption, media handling, drag and drop / copy paste, synchronization support can be due to operating system. Again, IOS is probably leading the way here.
  • Full feature browsers. (Mouse-over support in the OS could be needed here too)
  • Software development tools. 3rd party issue that also requires keyboard, mouse and often, external / extended screen support too.

 

Having listed a bunch of items above, we have to now ask ourselves whether they are important and if they are, are they likely to be fixed. Certainly the web browser issues are serious, the CPU power issues are too where the operating system runs on an ARM design and you have to think carefully about multi-user and expansion through third party devices on USB. That’s a big market! Issues like IP stack, multiple audio modules and extended screen are less important. Third party software issues will solve themselves as devices move into different markets and the customer-based there becomes big enough to support the creation and support of the software. As for the hardware issues, don’t expect 500GB storage soon but do look for alternative storage solutions via local or remote wireless connections.

What about that keyboard though? Is it still an issue? For many operations, it’s a barrier. Tablets are popular now but is there still a desire for a keyboard. I’m sitting in front of a tablet writing this post now only because it’s got a full keyboard attached.

My gaps

I want a mobile video editing system with blogging client and full browser capabilities. The video encoding hardware on the iPad has shown breakthrough capabilities in iMovie for the price and size . Keyboard input is important though so I would want a robust keyboard solution. Offline blogging tools are required. Full browser too. The ipad2 + keyboard is getting very close to a usable solution for me but it still has showstoppers. Cabled internet for high-speed video upload, full browser with flash, mouse-over, side-by-side windows for drag and drop, external screen, ability to edit non-iphone videos in iMovie. I’m still a huge proponent of the smartbook and hope that we see more work going into these because that’s where I see most of the gaps being filled for me. Windows 8 could be the stepping stone to an interesting smartbook / convertible / slider design. Like the TX100 perhaps!

Your Gaps

What are the ‘gaps’ that you see between a full computing solution and a consumer mobile OS solution.

Why Don’t We Have Auto-correct on Windows?

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photo (1)This has been bugging me for a long time: if any Android/WP7/iOS/etc. device out there is smart enough to change “im inch to “I’m inch or “theres inch to “there’s inch, why don’t we enjoy the same time- and keystroke-saving measures on Windows? Update: As pointed out in the comments, OSX has had unified spelling correction since Snow Leopard, and has just added iOS-like auto-corrections with Lion. Windows is sorely lacking these features! Does Linux has something similar?

It really amazes me that, in some cases, we’ve got better text input features on low-powered smartphones than we do on ridiculously high-powered Windows machines. The old guys have something to learn from the young’ins.

Sure, a select few Windows programs might give you that squiggly line underneath a word that you’ve spelled wrong, but it isn’t system-wide, doesn’t learn automatically, and is probably rarely updated to add new terms.

The few desktop programs that do make an effort to assist your typing often do an inferior job.

In iOS, if I misspell a word, the phone knows how look at my typing pattern and if its relatively certain that I meant “pants inch instead of “psnts inch (because A is near S and there’s a high likelihood that I hit the wrong key), then it will automatically make that fix for me. If it isn’t so certain, it’ll give me the squiggly line upon which I can tap to see a few suggestions about what I might have meant. It also highlights the word in question when I tap on it so that if the word is not any of the suggestions, a single press of the delete key will remove the word entirely so that I can try again, rather than having to spam the delete key until I get to the start of the word.

Smartphones also have access to the names of all of our contacts, so they can auto-correct and suggest those, instead of putting a squiggly line under our good friend’s name and trying to tell us that we spelled it wrong, as would happen in your average Windows word processor.

Let’s not forget that smartphones are also better learners. They know how to pick up words that you commonly use even if they aren’t already in their dictionary. Once added, the term is added to the system-wide dictionary. On a Windows program, you’d not only have to manually add a term, but it’s on a per-application basis (that is, if that program supports a custom dictionary).

I have to type the word “resolution inch all the time for my writing here on Carrypad and in other places, but it commonly comes out as “resoultion inch simply because of the way my fingers sometimes get ahead of themselves. It would be so easy for a computer to realize what I meant and make the fix for me, and yet here I am, having to make the correction manually every time on Windows.

You might say that we don’t need auto-correct when using full desktop keyboards, but I disagree. Though I’ve had a fair share of typing on hardware keyboards, I still occasionally hit a key next to the one that I intended. What’s more, in my daily perusal of the web, I see lots of people who would benefit from such typing assistance — I’m talking about those who don’t seem to know that punctuation exists. And I must ask: why manually insert punctuation and manually add terms to non-universal dictionaries if computers are easily smart enough to do it for us? That’s like manually keeping track of the time instead of using a clock.

Agree/disagree?

Why Don’t We Have Auto-correct on Windows?

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photo (1)This has been bugging me for a long time: if any Android/WP7/iOS/etc. device out there is smart enough to change “im” to “I’m” or “theres” to “there’s”, why don’t we enjoy the same time- and keystroke-saving measures on Windows? Update: As pointed out in the comments, OSX has had unified spelling correction since Snow Leopard, and has just added iOS-like auto-corrections with Lion. Windows is sorely lacking these features! Does Linux has something similar?

It really amazes me that, in some cases, we’ve got better text input features on low-powered smartphones than we do on ridiculously high-powered Windows machines. The old guys have something to learn from the young’ins.

Sure, a select few Windows programs might give you that squiggly line underneath a word that you’ve spelled wrong, but it isn’t system-wide, doesn’t learn automatically, and is probably rarely updated to add new terms.

The few desktop programs that do make an effort to assist your typing often do an inferior job.

In iOS, if I misspell a word, the phone knows how look at my typing pattern and if its relatively certain that I meant “pants” instead of “psnts” (because A is near S and there’s a high likelihood that I hit the wrong key), then it will automatically make that fix for me. If it isn’t so certain, it’ll give me the squiggly line upon which I can tap to see a few suggestions about what I might have meant. It also highlights the word in question when I tap on it so that if the word is not any of the suggestions, a single press of the delete key will remove the word entirely so that I can try again, rather than having to spam the delete key until I get to the start of the word.

Smartphones also have access to the names of all of our contacts, so they can auto-correct and suggest those, instead of putting a squiggly line under our good friend’s name and trying to tell us that we spelled it wrong, as would happen in your average Windows word processor.

Let’s not forget that smartphones are also better learners. They know how to pick up words that you commonly use even if they aren’t already in their dictionary. Once added, the term is added to the system-wide dictionary. On a Windows program, you’d not only have to manually add a term, but it’s on a per-application basis (that is, if that program supports a custom dictionary).

I have to type the word “resolution” all the time for my writing here on Carrypad and in other places, but it commonly comes out as “resoultion” simply because of the way my fingers sometimes get ahead of themselves. It would be so easy for a computer to realize what I meant and make the fix for me, and yet here I am, having to make the correction manually every time on Windows.

You might say that we don’t need auto-correct when using full desktop keyboards, but I disagree. Though I’ve had a fair share of typing on hardware keyboards, I still occasionally hit a key next to the one that I intended. What’s more, in my daily perusal of the web, I see lots of people who would benefit from such typing assistance — I’m talking about those who don’t seem to know that punctuation exists. And I must ask: why manually insert punctuation and manually add terms to non-universal dictionaries if computers are easily smart enough to do it for us? That’s like manually keeping track of the time instead of using a clock.

Agree/disagree?

The Secret Life of a Desktop UMPC.

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It’s been about 2-weeks since I last used my daily desktop PC and 2-weeks since I’ve heard that horrible background noise of fan and disk. For the last two weeks I’ve been using a silent, modular, ‘grab and go’ solution based on the Fujitsu U820 ultra mobile PC and it’s working out very well indeed. You won’t find many solutions like this out there because this is one of the secrets of the ultra mobile PC world that marketing teams and board members get scared about – a multi-scenario device!

U820dock2

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