Tag Archives: apps

Appsolutely fabulous

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A pick of some of the best smartphone apps

IF you have a cellphone contract and recently got an upgrade, you’re likely to be in possession of a smartphone. A smartphone is basically any cellphone that has a complete operating system and is able to connect to the Internet and other devices wirelessly. To put it simply, a smartphone can be thought of as a handheld computer.

A fully functioning operating system allows users to install and run more advanced applications. It also provides a platform for application developers to create apps. There are now thousands of smartphone applications available across cellphone networks and brands — some free and others available for purchase. The Apple iPhone App Store alone boasts over 200 000 download-able apps. Many of them are utter rubbish, but there are a few gems among the rough that may be worth downloading.

Apps have become the building blocks for making your smartphone unique and range from travelling guides to learning how to do yoga. Also remember that there are several applications that do the same thing (some better than others), but this also means that an appealing application that appears to be exclusive to the iPhone, for example, may be found for your particular smartphone brand under a different name. What follows is a few particularly interesting and potentially useful smartphone apps.

eSkyGuide app logoApplication: eSkyGuide
Platforms: Blackberry and iPhone
Cost: $5 (roughly R35) per year

This traveler’s app allows you to look up flight schedules, airport codes and other critical travel information straight from your smartphone. This particular version also lists phone numbers for airlines, hotels, international emergency numbers and car rental services.

GoodFood app logoApplication: GoodFood
Platforms: Blackberry, iPhone and others
Cost: Free!

The GoodFood app is a popular restaurant guide for smartphone users. Using your smartphone’s built-in GPS, GoodFood automatically locates your position and shows nearby restaurants. It also displays the ratings for each restaurant submitted by other users of the app. “Find one with a high score, enjoy your meal and post your own rating to share with fellow travelers. – goodrec.com

The Essential Garden GuideApplication: The Essential Garden Guide
Platforms: Multiple platforms (also available for iPad)
Cost: $0.99 (about R7)

The Essential Garden Guide app is a comprehensive guide that covers everything you might need to know to start your very own garden of abundant produce. The app has been created from a collection of 15 years worth of contributions from renowned agricultural. It includes basics such as soil preparation as well as extensive information on all types of fruits and vegetables.

Fuel Saver app logoApplication: Fuel Saver
Platforms: Available on multiple platforms
Cost: Generally free

There are several fuel saving applications available for different smartphones that all aim to help users prevent wasting petrol. This particular version uses your phone’s accelerometer to sense when drivers are speeding, accelerating or braking too hard and other bad driving behaviour that uses excessive petrol. The app emits a series of beeps when bad driving is detected and is aimed to teach users how to drive in the most fuel-efficient manner.

Anti-mosquito app logoApplication: Anti-mosquito
Platforms: Samsung Wave and others
Cost: R11 (for Samsung Wave)

This app supports the belief that certain sonic frequencies repel blood-hungry insects such as mosquitoes. Also known as “Sonic Insect Repeller”, this app turns your smartphone into an insect reflector that is claimed to be effective, chemical-free and safe to use around children and pets.

Flashlight app logoApplication: Flashlight
Platforms: Available on multiple platforms
Cost: R11 (for Samsung Wave)

A handy little app that could help you find your way in the dark or get you out of any Blairwitch Project situation. Flashlight apps work by allowing you to switch your camera’s flashlight on for as long as you need or emits a strong beam of light from your entire screen. Very useful for finding lost keys in the dark or signaling for an emergency.

Cloud Computing for Dummies

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CLOUD COMPUTING: And how it could help fight global warming

cloud computing for dummiesONE might think of the Internet as some intangible entity that exists somewhere in the clouds and is simply powered by the people that use it. In reality, the energy required to run the Internet and associated hardware and IT infrastructure is on par with the airline industry.

To put it simply, the Internet consists of huge data centres world-wide that host web pages and online content — some of which act as Internet service providers. The reason for the web’s extra large carbon footprint is that each data centre requires power as well as cooling systems in order to function. Furthermore, information technology is the fastest growing industry on Earth, and is becoming a real threat to sustainable development.

The concept of cloud computing, also known as distributed, Internet-based computing, is the idea of decentralising these data centres and sharing the available infrastructure on a global scale. The goal is to have applications and files stored on large, centralised supercomputers or networks. Rather than storing files and programmes on individual PCs, end users are able to store and access their files via the web.

According to http://www.howstuffworks.com, the concept is very simple: “On your desk, you would have a very low-cost computer with just a processor, a keyboard and a monitor. There would be no hard drive or CD/DVD drive. It would be hooked up to the Internet and would link to a central supercomputer, which would host all of your programs and files.”

Servicing the cloud with Google
In 2007, Google and Apple had a plan to take things forward. Apple was to develop inexpensive consumer computers that were small and portable. This was to leverage the computing power of the vast data centres Google has been building to hold the apps and the data for millions of users.

Unfortunately, development was halted due to different market demands, but Google has made progress since then with its growing library of Google apps. Apps like Google Documents, Spreadsheets and Gmail are all examples of cloud computing that people already make use of.

If we think about it, we do not use an installed programme to check our e-mail. Rather, you log into a web e-mai­l account, such as Gmail or Hotmail remotely. The software and sto­rage for your account doesn’t exist on your computer, but rather on the ser­vice’s computer cloud. We can think of the term cloud simply as a metaphor for the Internet, or a part of it.

So, we have cloud computing to thank for storing all our e-mails and spam and there is more than enough web-space to go around. Gmail accounts alone provide users with close to seven-and-a-half gigs of space. I don’t think I have ever exceeded over two percent of my e-mail quota.

Things get a little more exciting with Google Documents and Spreadsheets. Developed in part as a solution to e-mailing documents back and forth, Google Docs allows several people to edit or revise the same document in real-time. This simplifies the remote process by having a single updated document and speeds it up by having Google store the data.

There are, however, privacy implications, as any data stored by Google has the chance of being accessible to anyone on the Internet. As a small safety measure, one is able to access previous versions of a Google document and is notified when others are using it. As with everything concerning the web, one simply has to be wary when publishing anything online.

Cloudy Business
Cloud computing has huge implications for business in terms of cutting costs. Web-based companies invest millions into their IT departments — a large portion of which is spent on software licences for each computer that uses corporate software.

With cloud computing you would only have to load one application, which would allow employees to log into a web-based service, which hosts all the programs and files required. Remote machines owned by another company, such as Google, for example, would run everything from e-mail to word processing to complex data analysis programs.

“This technology allows for much more efficient computing by centralising storage, memory, processing and bandwidth. In September 2009, an Aberdeen Group study found that disciplined companies achieved on average an 18% reduction in their IT budget from cloud computing.” – www.howstuffworks.com

Of course, all these open-source applications are as good as they are by virtue of the fact that they are free; or at least still free. No doubt more complex apps would demand some sort of fee in order to be used so extensively. I don’t foresee many large web companies hosting the world’s data for nothing, and as much as it makes sense to decentralise the existing infrastructure, monopolies will emerge (or stay in power) that will profit hugely from cloud computing.

The cloud allows sharing of infrastructure and reduces the carbon footprint of IT. The prophecy speaks of creating something that is globally sustainable — providing greater capacity and higher performance at lower costs. This utopia would bring the world together by moving away from indivi­dual silos and data centres and “into the clouds”. Unfortunately, this is not nearly a reality for bandwidth-stricken countries such as South Africa, and will not be as cheap and fair as it should with the existence of Internet monopolies.

Archived under: Web 2.0

What’s in a blogroll?

blogrollWell I’ll tell you what’s in mine …

IT’S that time of year once again to do my bit to promote some of the other great blogs out there. These are essentially the ones in my blogroll, which you should be familiar with by now, but for any new-comers (welcome) these are what you may be missing out on:

Gottaquirk operates in the realm if eMarketing and is an online child of Quirk – Africa’s largest eMarketing agency. Published upon their great wooden desk design are posts relating to everything from online reputation management and SEM to web development.

• Justin Hartman is one of SA’s great and fearless online leaders. He is the MD and co-founder of Afrigator – Africa’s largest social media aggregator, which spawned several Gator offspring, such as Adgator and Gatorpeeps. Justin has a knack at explaining complex online strategies to entrepreneurial and eager young minds in easily-absorbable ways. He often shares his well-illustrated presentations on his blog.

I’m confident that 2oceansvibe needs no introduction. Winner of the 2009 SA Blog Awards, 20ceansvive has reached the top of the charts on SA’s blog aggregators, and deservedly so too. It’s updated several times a day with sexy photos, videos and really entertaining pieces. It’s creator is local celeb and all-round nice guy Seth Rotherham, who lives by his motto, “Work is a sideline, live the holiday”. You may want to increase your cap before visiting Seth’s site as you’re likely to spend a few hours perusing his content.

• SA Rocks. There’s no doubt about that. How great to create a blog about all the positively South African people, places and events that make South Africa rock. Nic Haralambos has done just that by punting positive action on his blog SA Rocks, which will always leave you feeling proud to be associated with SA.

• Shaun Oakes is quite a character. One can never be sure where he is or what he’s going to blog about next, but with his cheeky and sarcastic sense of humour, he can make anything sound entertaining. He is an inspiring novelist who has conjured up convincing characters such as The Girlfriend and Some Other Guy. A little grotesk at times, shaunoakes.com is not recommended for sensitive viewers or alien life-forms.

Cape Town is home to the most popular bloggers in SA and Cape Town happenings is often what’s hot in the blogosphere. Cape Town Alive brings you all the events going on in the mother city in a witty, entertaining way. It is also the domain of one of my favouritly-humoured blog writers Kyle Stroebel (a.k.a. stroob).

The Art of Manliness offers something completely different on the blogosphere a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man. It may sound a little silly at first, but the husband and wife team behind this tasteful creation have done a fantastic job. They delve deep into the history of manliness and research the lives of great men to offer articles on helping men be better husbands, better fathers, and better men.

The Art of non-conformity is my best find on the blogosphere to date. Its founder is Chris Guillebeau – role-model to the world. Chris has travelled the globe, done volunteer work, published books and is on a mission to help people live unconventional lives, make their own choices, and change the world. Chris’ selfless, bi-weekly blog chronicles his writing on how to change the world by achieving significant, personal goals in the field of work, life and travel all while helping others at the same time.

If you’re a whizz in the kitchen and are keen on learning some new recipes, you need look no further than Cookbook.co.za. It is by far the best cooking blog I’ve come across that is extensive, user-friendly and 100% free. It has recipes for baked goods, chicken treats, Chinese cuisine, yummy desserts, drinks hot & cold, fish, meat dishes, pasta, salads, sauces and soups.

Web AddiCT(s) offers a daily dose of tech – more specifically posts on web and cellphone applications. Quite technical by nature, don’t feel bad if a lot of the content offered here goes over your head – you’re bound to find something to pique your interest. The site recently underwent a re-design and is looking pretty sweet.

  • The above are some of the top blogs (and bloggers) in the South African blogosphere according to our great aggregators.

Samsung S3500: Budget Bundle

REVIEW: The Samsung S3500 Quad-band

Samsung S3500I’VE had the same brand of cellphone since I was 16, and that’s not because I’ve had the same phone since I was 16. On the contrary, I’ve been through about seven phones in the last eight years.

There was my first phone that drowned in a fishpond, another that committed suicide by jumping out of a six-storey window, a third phone that died in a freak electrical-induced accident, and a few others that were simply tossed aside because something sexier and more exciting had come to town.

But of all the phones I’ve had in my life, they’ve all had one thing in common — they all belonged to the same brand. My current phone is the same brand. I believe this is because of a fundamentally human thing — that we tend to resist change, especially in the technology department. There is something comforting about the familiar and we don’t want to have to faff about learning something new when we already have something old that works perfectly fine.

This brings me to the Samsung S3500, which was a pleasant introduction to Samsung mobile phones. This model seems to be marketed as a fairly up-to-date budget phone, because apparently we’re in some kind of merciless economic recession. It’s not a bad marketing strategy, although I would argue that what actually appeals to consumers the most is the idea of paying less for more.

And it’s not a bad bundle that you get for around R3 000 (prepaid).

It has one unique function called “fake call” which is a little strange. This function enables you to activate a bogus incoming call so you can free yourself from awkward conversations or dodgy situations by pretending to take a call.

It has EDGE connectivity capabilities, an embedded music player, FM radio, Bluetooth, a WAP browser and a camera, among other things. It also looks really slick and there is something very pleasing about a slider phone.

Let’s take a closer look (a full list of specs appear at the end of this post):

DISPLAY
The Samsung’s display, on the other hand, is great, with each of the main keys of the D-pad bringing up a different set of options. It is easy to navigate and all the functions are neatly displayed on the main menu. It has a nice selection of themes, the icons are large and the screen is bright. Top marks for presentation.

SOUND
One thing that cellphones today are really starting to perfect is the way they sound. Gone are the days of fake-sounding, mosquito-like noises emanating from phones as they ring. Most mobiles today sound so good that they make for great portable radios and MP3 players. The Samsung S3500 is both and they sound great.

KEYPAD
Until this year I had always been reluctant to get a phone on contract. The thought that yet another phone might drown or kill itself, leaving me with the responsibility of having to pay for it every month for two years, doesn’t really appeal to me.

However, one needs to consider that as long as you take good, vigilant care of your cellphone, having one on contract should be a lot cheaper in the long run. I am finally content with my current phone with the exception of its keypad, which is very similar to that of the Samsung S3500.

I find these newer, flat and hard keypads difficult to operate, especially when trying to type an SMS in a hurry. This does not bode well for someone who SMSes more than he/she phones.

My fondest memory of my very first phone was its spongy buttons, which almost massaged one’s fingers. With these flatter, more plastic-like keypads, such as that of the Samsung S3500, I find that I have to use my fingernail to type … if it hasn’t yet been chewed off from frustration.

GAMES
The Samsung S3500 has a large library of games, which tells me that this phone is really suited for the teenage market. The phone comes with seven free games with the option of downloading more. And these are not the standard, outdated games such as Snake, but classier, more challenging digitalised treats such as Harry Potter, Midnight Pool and Sudoku.

If mobile games are your thing, these should keep you entertained for hours.

INTERNET
As soon as I read “Quad-band” on the side of the Samsung S3500’s box I got rather excited as I expected to experience lightning-fast Internet speeds. However, if you have experienced ADSL Internet speeds, then connecting to the web using this phone (or most phones for that matter) is nothing special and can be painfully slow. To make matters worse, this particular model doesn’t have 3G capabilities, which can be a bummer.

CAMERA
Considering that most modern phones today have five-megapixel cameras, the Samsung S3500’s two- mega pixel camera is a bit of a disappointment. It’s fine for taking photos (and even video) to view on the phone itself, but if you are wanting to preserve your mobile memories by printing out your pictures from your phone, this one really isn’t quite up to the task.

OTHER FEATURES
With the exception of 3G and GPS, there seems to be very little that the Samsung S3500 is missing when compared to other cellphones of 2009. It has a standard phonebook and messaging interface, the usual call log, a separate folder for all your downloaded or produced content, an organiser with a clock, alarm, calendar, calculator and converter, a voice recorder, timer, stopwatch and numbered buttons from one to nine.

FAKE CALL
There is, however, one unique function called “fake call”, which is a little strange. Many of Samsung’s more recent handsets include this feature, which enables you to activate a bogus incoming call, so you can free yourself from awkward conversations or dodgy situations by pretending to take a call.

For added authenticity, you can record your own fake voice “call” that plays back when you answer. Potentially useful perhaps, but don’t be caught using it!

Apart from that, the Samsung S3500 is nothing too special but is a decent upgrade if you currently have on older Samsung model. I think I’ll stick to my particular cellphone brand for now and simply avoid getting too close to fishponds, hanging around high-rise windows, and make an extra effort to stay away from electrical experiments.

SAMSUNG S3500 SPECS:

  • GPS: No
  • Java: Yes, MIDP 2,0
  • Games: 7 + downloadable
  • Bluetooth 2,0 + EDR and USB
  • Messaging: SMS, MMS, e-mail
  • Size: 100 mm x 48 mm x 14 mm
  • 2-megapixel camera (1600×1200 pixels)
  • FM radio with RDS and recording feature
  • MicroSD card support with up to 8GB support
  • 30MB of internal memory • Phonebook: 1 000 contacts
  • EDGE: Class 10; 236,8 kbps • Browser: WAP 2,0/xHTML, HTML
  • 2,2-inch TFT; QVGA resolution (240 x 320), 16 million colours
  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE connectivity (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
  • Standard Li-Ion 800mAh battery with talk time of up to 7,5 hours
  • Embedded music player supports MP3/AAC/AAC +/MIDIplayback
  • Video: Record 15 f/s QVGA video in MPEG4 and H.263 formats (playback in 25 f/s QVGA)

Related Reviews:
Jet-setting with the Samsung Jet
Samsung Corby: Teen dream machine

Google sounds the bugle!

GOOGLE WAVE: The clash of the computer titans is on. Google has taken on Microsoft by announcing that it’s launching its own operating system — free of charge. The war between the two software giants is likely to change the world of the Internet forever

Alistair Fairweather

IF business is war then two of the world’s biggest companies have finally stopped skirmishing on their borders and brought out the heavy artillery. On July 7, Google fired the first shell by announcing that they will begin offering their own operating system in mid 2010.

Bling bling babyThe warhead — called Chrome OS  — is aimed straight at the heart of Microsoft who have built their entire business around operating systems since the 70s, first with MS DOS and then the globally-dominating Windows series.

But while Microsoft have always charged for their software, Google plan to give theirs away free of charge. What’s more, Google are starting from a completely fresh perspective — one with the potential to undermine Microsoft’s entire business model and loosen their foothold on the software market.

If the name “Chrome” sounds familiar, that’s because it’s also the name of Google’s web browser. And this isn’t just a case of lazy naming. By evolving Chrome into an operating system, Google are planning to turn the entire software world on its head and make browsing the centre of computing.

An Introduction to Google Wave
There is a full 1 hour 20min presentation on YouTube which Philc7753 has kindly and painstakingly edited down for our short attention spans  

Hang on, isn’t an operating system a lot more complicated that a browser? Doesn’t a browser need an operating system to, well, operate? That’s the whole genius of the plan. Google are betting that the centre of influence in computing is moving out of personal computers and into the massive computing power of the Internet, known as the “cloud”.

That means that in future, computers will be dumber and cheaper. They will rely on the enormous banks of computers that power the Internet to do much of their thinking for them.

This is already happening. One of the fastest growing sectors in computing is netbooks — smaller, cheaper, less powerful portable computers with speedy connections to the Internet that focus on tasks like e-mail and browsing the net.

The wave is coming...Currently, Microsoft is tussling with free operating systems such as Linux for ownership of this market, and Google wants its own share of the pie. So what? There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about a free operating system. They have been around for longer than Microsoft have been in existence, let alone Google. And some of them are backed by huge companies such as IBM and SAP.

Yet none of those other companies is as heavily invested in cloud computing as Google. And it’s cloud computing that poses the greatest risk to Microsoft’s dominance.

Microsoft’s bread and butter has always been its desktop applications —  programs such as Word, Outlook and PowerPoint. Operating systems are like plumbing — expensive but necessary — and Microsoft have lost money on them for years. This was justified because they knew that by owning the platform they would be able earn it all back on desktop applications.

Google Docs, on the other hand, is nearly as good as Microsoft’s Office but is free and requires no hard-drive space and much less power (and therefore can run on a cheaper computer). It’s a true “cloud” application  — its platform is the Internet.

So Google have, in effect, pulled Microsoft’s own trick on them but in reverse, and for free. And given how quickly Microsoft are losing market share in the browser market (it’s now just above 50%), they have real cause for concern. If Chrome OS takes off, Google will start to hurt more than Microsoft’s pride.

That’s still a big “if” though. For all their mistakes Microsoft are still the top dog of software. Despite the current media hyperbole about Chrome OS, Windows still commands 90% of the market share in operating systems. Even if Chrome lives up to the hype, it will still take years to get a foothold. Only one thing is certain about this battle — peace talks are unlikely to begin anytime soon.

We’re in for a long slog and I don’t think anyone can accurately predict a winner. What we can be sure of is that the conflict will change software (and the Internet) forever.

– Alistair Fairweather writes for The Witness
newspaper in Kwa-Zula Natal, South Africa

Jet-setting with the Samsung Jet

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SAMSUNG JET’S innovative smartphone-like features take handsets to the realms of being ‘smarter than a smartphone’

THE Samsung Jet has opened up a whole new world of mobile web browsing with its high performance Dolfin web browser and revolutionary 3D cubic interface, allowing super-fast surfing. The device also supports the option of multi-window browsing – allowing one to surf up to five pages simultaneously.

Samsung JetThe 3.1″ Samsung WVGA AMOLED display is four times sharper than a WQVGA screen, has a fast touch response, and is also very efficient in its power consumption – consuming 40% less energy than a mobile phone equipped with TFT-LCD display.

When it comes to music, Samsung Jet’s unique features give users the option to operate simultaneous playback audio and scroll through the phone’s music library.

For video, the DVD-like video playback recording (with D1 Video Playback and D1 30fps Video Recording) enables seamless playback without residuals and the ability to instantly download and play DivX and Xvid formats without converting and resizing- all in HD-like quality.

This full-touch mobile phone boasts revolutionary speed thanks to its 800MHz Accelerated Application Processor. This sophisticated high-performance processor is the Samsung Jet’s secret to speed and versatility, integrating multiple applications and functions, such as navigation and viewing.

Samsung Jet also has an A-GPS application, to provide navigation services in life-like 3D, to convey real places, information and directions in real-time. This incorporates 3D Map Navigation, GPS on Google maps and location-based services. And if all that isn’t enough, it also includes a Geotagging feature.

SAMSUNG JET SPECS:

  • HSDPA 3.6Mbps (900, 2100 MHz)
  • Revolutionary 3D Cubic Interface
  • Display: 3.1″ 16M WVGA AMOLED
  • Camera: 5.0 Megapixel AF camera+ Dual Power LED
  • Face Detection, Smile Shot, Panorama Shot, Blink Detection, Geo-tagging, Photo Editor
  • Video: D1 Video Playback/D1 30fps Video Recording, Video Editor
  • Supports: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV, DivX, XviD
  • Audio: Music Player with DNSe & SRS WOW Sound Effect
  • Find Music, 3.5 Ear Jack, FM Radio/Recording
  • Supports: MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, AMR, MIDI, SP-MIDI, i-melody, WAV, MMF, XMF, OMA DRM v2.1, WMDRM,
  • DivX VOD & Wi-Fi
  • Active Sync for Push Mail

Value Added:

  • In-house developed Dolfin Browser, WAP 2.0, One finger Zoom
  • Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, Share Pix & Mobile Widget
  • A-GPS, On Board Navigation(3D Map), TouchWiz 2.0
  • Motion UI, Media Gate 3D, Multi-tasking Manager
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth® v2.1, microUSB (USB v2.0 Hi-Speed), Wi-Fi
  • Memory: 2GB onboard memory & 8GB microSD card (included)
  • Battery: 1,100 mAh – Talk time : 2G/492 minutes, 3G/300 minutes
  • Standby: 2G/422 hours, 3G/406 hours
  • Size: 108.8 x 53.5 x 11.9 mm

Related Reviews:
Samsung S3500: Budget Bundle
Samsung Corby: Teen dream machine

– issued on belhaf of Samsung Mobile Phones
www.helloworldagency.com

Your digital life in your pocket

REVIEW: The OQO 02 ultra-portable PC

Windows Vista seems to be what all the ‘cool’ geeks are investing in nowadays; however, the hefty hardware requirements that the operating system demands is a bit of a problem for the less successful geeky entrepreneurs.

Yet their remains hope fellow geeks! The fully Windows Vista-compatible ultra-portable PC has been released as the ultimate solution for those who find that a smart phone simply isn’t enough while a lap-top over-caters for one’s needs.

“Fast,” “intuitive,” “helpful,” and “sexy” are not terms often associated with Windows devices, but technology reviewers argue that the ultra-portable PC mimics many of the functions of a full PC, via an advanced touch-screen interface, which they are describing as “potentially revolutionary”.

The OQO 02, as one of the newest ultra-portable PCs, belongs to a new generation of miniaturised Windows computers that can run the same software as Windows desktops and laptops but are designed to be used from the couch, conference room, or from an airplane seat.

OQO engineers are even prophesising that 2008 is the year when US computer buyers will turn to ‘ultramobile PCs’ as a practical alternative to beefier desktop and laptop computers.

It’s not size that counts, but how you use it
The new OQO 02 is a mere 14 centimeters wide, 8 centimeters high, and 3 centimeters thick, making it small enough to fit in your jacket pocket or purse.

It comes with a 1.5-gigahertz processor, an 800-by-480-pixel touch screen, a slide-out keyboard, and three kinds of wireless connectivity. It is able to run standard Windows programs from the Firefox browser to Adobe Photoshop.

With regards to connection speeds, it may not be as fast as a home DSL or cable Internet connection, but is much faster than previous generations of cellular data networks.

The OQO 02

Target market
Manufacturers of OQO devices have focused sales on the professional user rather than the bored teenager, and have already attracted business customers who need small PCs for field inspections and similar mobile activities.

As a mobile journalist, Bob Rosin – marketing vice president of OQO, put the practicality of the ultra-portable PC into context, saying:

“If you’re a mobile professional, you need to be connected to the Web and access applications as part of your daily life – so your computer needs to be small enough and light enough that you’re willing to take it with you when you leave your desk.”

Unique features / characteristics
But what makes the OQO 02 special when compared to older ultra-mobile PCs? Well for many the most appealing thought is having the power of a full Windows PC in the palm of their hand. That aside, some manufacturers are working on simplifying onscreen interfaces so that users can get more things done with fewer gestures and clicks.

Users also have the ability to zoom in on an area of detail and to scroll vertically or horizontally with the brush of a finger along the screen, eliminating the need for a mechanical thumbwheel found on many PDAs.

Similar devices have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and are operated solely via a touch screen. However, these have not been marketed as office appliances, but rather as entertainment devices enabling users to browse the Web and access videos, music, and photos.

Is it all too good to be true?
The OQO 02 is not without its flaws. Battery life is an issue, which totals a miniscule 4 hours worth, which reviewers argue is not long enough to keep a businessperson busy for the duration of a transcontinental flight. Another issue is the small screen and keyboard, which is a problem for people with poor eye-sight and large thumbs.

Currently ultra-portable PCs such as the OQO 02 are seeing poor sales (going from anywhere between R7000 to R14 000), but manufacturers feel that the product will take off once they become more general-purpose devices. Being able to browse the web while simultaneously controlling the TV and stereo system from the couch, for example, appears to be where the major marketing potential lies.

Links
Just for fun: A portable portal into another world?
Related Info: Your life at the touch of your finger
Read full review: Smaller Is Better, Say Makers of Ultraportable PCs