Page Two

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2004-04-12 Print this article Print

In addition, the form factor is all wrong. The keyboards are too small for touch typing, and too large for BlackBerry-style touch typing. The devices lack DVD drives, so you cant watch movies on them (unless you illegally break CSS). The screens, as I mentioned before, are too small for many visually challenged users. But the worst sin of all, especially for an ultraportable device, is the anemic battery life. Paul Allens FlipStart is expected to last only two hours, while the OQO expects just double that. A device that you expect to take with you everywhere ought to last at least through a single day without dying. Finally, the whole concept of cramming everything into a single device is just wrong. Instead of comparing computers to cars—and a UPC to an SUV—its more appropriate to compare them to flatware. Computers have mutated from a single, expensive Swiss Army knife to smaller, less expensive forks, knives and spoons. I dont want one $1,200 device that does everything. Instead, give me a portable DVD/media player for music and movies, a smart phone with my calendar and address book, and an ultraslim tablet-sized notebook, like the Sharp MM20, with a big screen and full keyboard, but half as thick as a deck of cards. And give me a big, brawny desktop at home for games, data storage and the like.
Read PC Magazines review of the Sharp Actius MM20 here.
And finally, that brings me to cost. These all-in-one devices are full of limitations: no card slots, no DVD drives, no full-sized keyboards. Yet theyre just as expensive as a full-sized notebook. Here in the United States, we expect to get more for more. Only with phones—at least so far—does smaller translate into more expensive, and even thats changing. At $1,200 or so, UPCs are just too expensive and too limited in the long run. Id rather have me an array of compatible devices instead of a single UPC. These new computers may do just about everything, but they dont do anything very well. And that translates into failure in my book. Check out eWEEKs Desktop & Notebook Center at for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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