Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How times change...

Ever look back at the things you used to want so bad at one time, then wonder what you were thinking? It amazes me how things can change like that. I guess it can be something I should realize since the tech world moves so quickly, but it is easy to forget about things as well. With as quick as the world moves on, things quickly end up forgotten in the end.

Looking at what I use now, versus what I used say 5 years ago, a lot has changed. I had a 15.4" wide screen laptop back then, as well as an old Thinkpad 14" 4:3 laptop, and now a lot of things came, got popular, and quickly got swept up in the currents. Who remembers netbooks? I know I had 2 of them, plus and old subnote I was given by a friend, which was pretty much similar in specifications to an netbook, but with a few changes like a DVD drive and a higher resolution screen but about the same processor and RAM options.

The Averatec I had isn't important though since subnotes existed for awhile, and if you think about it, they still live on as "Ultrabooks" if they meet the specifications set by Intel. This was a time before the iPad came out, and tablet still referred to a traditional swivel screen laptop with a pen input. They were a few that had true touch screens but a lot of them used an active digitizer, such as a Wacom pen. I am getting Ahead of myself again though.

Now, one of the rumors I remember hearing for the Eee PC was that it would be 200 dollars with 4GB of memory, with a 7 inch screen. This was when I was using my NEC MobilePro 780, so I assumed it would be similar to a handheld PC just with Linux of some sort. At that time, I didn't expect it to be a full computer, since they were supposed to be something to use for basic web browser and stuff like that. Kind of like what the Chromebook is today I guess.

Of course as rumors do, they weren't quite that cheap, and the memory was a bit smaller, and frankly they had been pretty low end, which I guess was to be expected really. They started off with a 7" 800x480 screen, 2GB soldered SSD, 512MB RAM, and a 900MHZ Celeron underclocked to 630MHZ. They also came with Linux, which made me think that was the time Linux would finally catch on and take over the market, but they didn't and they started releasing models with Windows XP.

One of the things I had actually expected the first Eee PC to be like was something I also wanted a lot at one time, and did eventually get. While it wasn't quite perfect, I did use it to write some of this article. My co-blogger Tsubasa is to thank for this device as well and when he seen that I am pretty sure he knows what I am talking about, but for the rest of you, that device is the NTT DoCoMo Sigmarrion III. While there is nothing wrong with this device, it was something I got a little too late to be quite as useful as it would be if I got it sooner.

Now, one of the main issues with this is age. It runs an old version of Windows CE which was not very common. Most devices at this time ran CE 4.2 .NET but this runs on CE 4.1 .NET, which normally shouldn't be an issue but you need to do some hexediting to get some software to run on the device. It is also a Japanese device, and unlike other stuff I got from him, such as the HTC TyTN II, it lacks a flashable ROM, so your only option is to run the CAB file that installs the English MUI, but it leaves some stuff, ironically like the core PIM applications, in Japanese.

The device has SD and CF slots, but no WiFi or BT, and I don't have cards for either, so it is an offline device for me. For doing something like writing, it is an amazing device since it is the same size as a modern 7" tablet, such as my Nexus 7, but has a keyboard. While the keyboard is small, it is easy to get used to it and type pretty quick, and well, with two fingers. The things that will give you trouble are the keys like the quotation marks, and other symbols since this is a Japanese device and uses a slightly differently layout. Of course, you can always go back and add those later.

Now, some other weirdly annoying things would be the fact that it comes with Wordpad, instead of Pocket Word that most devices would have came with, and no Pocket Excel at all. This can be fixed with the addition of some better software such as Softmaker office, but that is not a free program and takes up a lot of space. However, this isn't about one device specifically, so the reason why this device doesn't see more use is a simple fact of not having a good battery. It will only last maybe a half hour, or at least that is all it lasted when I got it a while ago. Being a rarer Japanese device, finding a battery is not very easy, and I am not willing to attempt recelling the battery. I could probably make an external 9V battery if I wanted but that is too much work for what I would use it for, and it would ruin the portability.

The Nexus 7 has replaced the role of the handheld PCs I used to love and want so bad at one time. It is the same way with stuff such as the UMPC devices I wanted so bad at one time as well. The Surface Pro has replaced them, even though it is not quite pocketable, it has more power and is more useful for what I want to do. I want to stop this here since it is getting pretty long, and I could go into a lot of detail about the things I wanted at one point and no longer think would be used more than to play with once awhile, and I am sure that would be more akin to a book than a blog post. If people want to see stuff, give me a device in the comments and I will do some research and post my feelings on it, and if it's something I ever wanted, something I want now, or something I still want, or maybe something I would never want.

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