Beefy But Bulky

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-07-30 Print this article Print

  • Oqo, which announced its product at WinHEC in 2002, is seeking to maximize screen real estate at the expense of a keyboard, a la the "pure" Tablet PC. As a result, its device has the smallest dimensions of the lot, although Im skeptical of its claims that it will fit in a shirt pocket. The Oqo team, which has pushed its deadline back by a year and now expects to ship by the end of 2003, is taking advantage of its PowerBook G4 design experience to focus on performance; a 1 GHz processor in its machine will be provided by Transmeta. However, breaking with Apples design philosophy (at least since the days of the PowerBook Duo), Oqo has big plans for a modular system that will enable its device to fit inside a laptop or desktop housing. Oqo will offer FireWire and USB ports (its site says 1.1 but Id expect 2.0) as well as a proprietary docking connector.
  • Tiqit, Oqos equally palindromic competitor, has taken advantage of much thats been learned in the past few years of handheld design. With its vertical orientation and thumbboard, Its what a color RIM Blackberry might look like before meeting Richard Simmons.
One difference between the Tiqit and other models is that the others support integrated Wi-Fi, and the Oqo is slated to include Bluetooth as well. Tiqit executives said they had included Bluetooth in an earlier prototype but dropped it since there were so few devices that supported the technology. However, while the other devices were announced some time ago, neither has shipped. The Oqo site is targeting later this year while the Vulcan site is short on details. So, for now, the only game in town is the Tiqit.
With their internal hard disks and PC Card slots, none of these computers will approach the svelte profile of an iPaq, much less a slim Clie. As chunky as the Apple Newton, the Tiqit would fit only in a roomy jacket or overcoat pocket for now. However, these products overcome a host of problems relating to application availability, synchronization, and driver support. Add a simple docking connector and you can use them at your desktop as well. Despite the recent proliferation of pocket office suites in the past year, XP handheld vendors can provide not only perfect file compatibility, but preserve almost full functionality away from any desk. They are a lot more than pumped-up multimedia PIMs.
In a
recent column on Smart Displays, I noted how Microsoft has struggled with at least one Windows CE platform in the wake of competition from its mainstream operating systems. Indeed, given that there is no clear vision for where the handheld is heading, it seems to be morphing by default into a true "pocket PC." This begs the question, as the hardware gets more capable, why not just throw the real Windows on there and be done with it? Indeed, using one of these products provides a glimpse into the future of the rich functionality we can expect from future handheld devices. Ill share more of those impressions when I discuss my recent hands-on time with the Tiqit in the next column. Would you give up some of your handhelds portability for the full functionality of a PC? E-mail me. Wireless Supersite Editor Ross Rubin is a senior analyst at eMarketer. He has researched wireless communications since 1994 and has been covering technology since 1989. More from Ross Rubin:


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