Tag Archives | ASUS

A Computer in a Keyboard? Sounds Cool. And Retro

Asus produces such a surging sea of variations on its Eee PC netbook–including computers that aren’t netbooks–that it’s hard to keep track of them all. So I don’t blame myself for somehow missing one that was demoed back at CES in January: the Eee Keyboard, which packs a computer inside a slim-looking keyboard. (Specswise, it’s essentially a laptop without a screen.)

The Eee Keyboard has a touchscreen to the right of the keys and HDMI output, and DigiTimes is reporting that it’ll be out “as early as October” for $400-$500.¬†Here’s a video demo by UMPC Portal, shot at the CeBIT show in Germany:

I’m not so sure about that touch-screen, which looks a trifle weird, period, and possibly unusable for southpaws like me. But an Eee PC hooked up to a TV as a sort of giant remote control has potential. One of the reasons I still don’t have a TV in my living room is that I’ve never seen one I’d want to put in my entertainment center. But with this computer, there’s nothing to put anywhere but in your lap.

And hey, I’m not ashamed to admit that I find the Eee Keyboard intriguing in part because the very first computer I used was also a PC-in-a-keyboard. (No, that’s not a touchscreen to the right of the keys–it’s a big ol’ TRS-80 logo.)


(TRS-80 image borrowed from Radio Shack Catalogs.)


5Words for April 23rd, 2009

5wordsHey, BlackBerry fans, good news:

Spy shots: Skyfire’s BlackBerry browser.

YouTube gets a chat feature.

New Ubuntu available for download.

Microsoft: still under antitrust watch.

$9000 Leica camera: pretty, white.

MSI readying Android-based netbooks?

OQO’s future doesn’t look bright.

Trade your HD-DVDs for Blu-Ray.

Lost laptops cost $50,000. Supposedly.

Asus releases a 17.3″ notebook.

Amazon deletes bribe-revealing reviews.

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5Words for March 27th, 2009

5wordsTech stuff, exciting and new:

iPhone SlingPlayer: Cross your fingers!

iPhone Skype’s due soon, too.

How Google could go wrong.

Arrrgh: Tech-company layoffs galore.

Netflix adds new personalization features.

Apple sells contract-free iPhones.

Yes, stars use Twitter ghostwriters.

College computer labs are obsolete.

Eee PC gets optical disc.

Apple announces developer conference dates.

A no-tech hour? Naw.

Get more out of Craiglists.

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5Words for February 27th, 2009

5wordsMe, I’m mournin’ Computer Shopper:

Asus preps ultra-thin netebook.

Newsday’s site wants your money.

Apple kills Emoji (er, Emoji?).

Amazon Kindle 3 Rumors. Already?

JPG Magazine will return soon.

“Vista-Capable” lawyers fight on.

Google is Tweeting. Very successfully.

Hearst plans Kindle for magazines.

Japan stops BlackBerry Bold sales.

No surprise: identity theft up.

Pirate Bay wife gets flowers.

PC makers’ Windows 7 opinions.

Finally, Windows/Android phone virtualization!

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Watch Out, Windows: Here Comes Android?

Android BookBloomberg is reporting that Eee PC titan Asus is playing around with the idea of building a netbook that runs Android, Google’s Linux-based operating system. Android is debuting on phones–HTC just announced the Magic, the second Android handset–but Google says the OS could power computers, too.

Android is designed for devices without a lot of computing horsepower, and manufacturers don’t have to pay Google a license fee–two qualities that might conceivably make it a formidable competitor to Windows on netbooks. But it’s not immediately clear–at least to me–why Android would be a better match for netbooks than Ubuntu, the Linux that Asus and other netbook vendors already use. [CORRECTION: Janet Rae-Dupree reminds me that Asus uses Xandros, not Ubuntu.] Ubuntu already has a PC-style user interface, and it’s compatible with an array of applications; Android would need work on both fronts before it was ready to run on netbooks. And even then, it might end up looking…a lot like Ubuntu.

Ultimately, I don’t think it would make much sense for Asus or any other hardware manufacturer to pour resources into trying to make Android netbook-friendly. You’d want Google in on the project, and I don’t know just how intriguing the company finds the idea of putting its OS on fairly traditional computing devices. I do think, however, that it would make sense for Google to finish the work of making Android a truly compelling iPhone OS alternative before it takes on Windows. (On the T-Mobile G1, the first Android handset to ship, the OS is neat…but it feels like a rough draft. Maybe it should sport a Google-style “BETA” disclaimer every time you turn your phone on.)

One of the more interesting questions in the whole world of tech right now is the fate of Android. It’s bursting with promise, and it wouldn’t stun me to see it become the most widely-used smartphone OS at some point…at the very least, that scenario seems about as plausible as any other. And if Google wants netbook manufacturers to give Android a try, it can presumably make it happen.

It’s still tough to tell, however, just how committed to Android Google is, and how persistent it’ll be if the OS isn’t an immediate success with obvious benefits to the company. Anyone want to hazard any guesses about where Android will be, say, two years from now? Will it exist in any form in a decade?


5Words: A Really Short News Roundup

5wordsYou’re a really busy person. I’m a really busy person. Enter our new feature, 5words. It consists of quick news hits from around the Web–and just to keep things moving right along, every item will be five words long. (If that leaves you hungry for more, click the links to get more words on these stories elsewhere–hundreds of them, sometimes.) Here we go…

Google’s Latitude: Track your friends.

Facebook celebrates its fifth birthday.

Palm’s Pre arriving March 15th?

Asus keeps introducing Eee PCs.

15,000 Panasonic staffers are toast.

India’s $10 laptop: thumb drive?

Are six Windows 7s excessive?

Firefox update patches security holes.

Cloud computing for…slot machines?

Amazon starts selling downloadable games.

Rumors of iPhone background tasks.

A two-million-laptop supercomputer.

A new iPhone in June?

Toshiba introduces another “iPhone killer.”

NVidia’s Ion netbook platform impresses.

MySpace’s 90,000-sex-offender list.


Sacrilege! 16 Other Time-Honored Tech Industry Traditions We Should End Right Now


Forty-eight hours after the news broke, it’s still kind of stunning. One day, the Steve Jobs keynote at Macworld Expo is arguably the most famous ritual in all of technology. The next day, it’s gone–apparently just because Apple was ready to move on. For a number of reasons, I wish it wasn’t ending. But as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber notes, it’s hard not to stand in awe of Apple’s general willingness to break cleanly with the past rather than just keep doing things because it’s always done them that way.

Apple’s move has left me in the mood to question everything about the reality I thought I knew. So why don’t we reassess a bunch of other long-standing traditions in the world of tech–Apple and otherwise–whose expiration dates may have come and gone? Sixteen nominations after the jump; your contributions are welcome.

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Build (or at Least Envision) Your Dream PC

Asus and Intel have launched WePC.com, a Web site that’s a marketing vehicle, but an entertaining one: It lets you noodle out ideas for new PC designs, then publish them so that other folks can vote on them and discuss them. The designs will supposedly be taken into consideration to serve as the basis of new Asus systems, but even if your dream machine stands no chance of ever becoming reality, it’s fun to piece it together.

(Side note: The site provides a configuarator that lets you specify your computer’s specs, including the number of FireWire ports…and the minimum number of FireWire connectors it permits is one. Guess that whoever designed this configurator agrees with those who say that even the idea of a FireWire-free laptop is a travesty.)

(Further side note: The configurator doesn’t involve specifying the CPU inside your dream PC, but you get the chance to describe the machine using free-form text. I’m happy to see that some people are proposing PCs that run OS X and/or use AMD processors, even though the site is sponsored by Asus and Intel.)

I spent a few minutes at WePC roughing out a machine I’m calling the Foxbook, which continues the idea behind my series of articles about working in the browser by proposing a thin-and-light notebook that’s designed to run Firefox really well and which has enough connectivity options to ensure that you’ll be able to get online anywhere on the planet. It’s not a standard netbook, since it has a largish 14-inch screen. And I wouldn’t be stunned if it cost more than a grand, especially if it had a nice aluminum case. But I’d sure like to have the chance to buy one–and I’m reasonably confident that laptops that bear at least some resemblance to it will arrive in the not-too-distant future.

If you find WePC intriguing enough to design your ideal machine, why not leave a link in the comments on this article so we can check it out?

(Full disclosure: Federated Media, Technologizer’s advertising partner, helped Asus and Intel launch WePC.com…and in fact, there are ads for it in this site. There might even be one on this very page. But I’m not writing about it because of those ads, and I won’t make any money if you click on the ad or otherwise make your way over to WePC. I just think it’s clever enough to deserve a quick mention.)


IFA: One Laptop, No Child

Unlike most tradeshows in the U.S.–which are open only to grown-ups who are involved in the trade in question–the IFA show in Berlin is open to the general public, and some attendees bring their offspring. In fact, there’s an area called the Kids’ Playground, which is basically a couple of rooms equipped with electronic toys and kid-oriented gadgets.

When some of us American journalists dropped by, we saw four kids deeply engaged in using Asus’s eee PCs–and ignoring a One Laptop Per Child XO laptop that was sitting off to one side. That may or may not be a commentary on the relative appeal of the two low-cost notebooks, but it makes for an interesting photo:

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