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 carsand a UPC to an SUVits 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 phonesat least so fardoes 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 http://desktop.eweek.com for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.