Archive for November, 2007

Gaved Scoop: Hands-on Linux £199 Asus Eee MiniBook

November 5, 2007

gaved-w-rm-asus.jpgHere’s Mark Gaved with his fresh-out-of-the-box RM Asus MiniBook (AKA the Asus ‘EEE’ PC 701). He bought one straight from RM in the UK as a pilot machine for some nifty handheld science project work he and colleagues are undertaking (described in a story over at KMi Planet).

Boot up from cold start to fully functioning GUI took about 20 seconds.

We spent roughly two minutes hammering a few applications very quickly, including Firefox, YouTube, Open Office (creating some Word-style tables and a few Excel sheets), etc etc.

No question about it: this is the real deal. Mine should arrive within about five days, hopefully, and I’ll file a more in-depth report.

Oh, and the total cost? £199 + VAT

In the photo we’ve plugged it into my giant ancient wall-mounted display and external speakers – no fuss, no prep, no cheating: does what it says on the tin. Locates the wireless network, surfs the web, runs the Open Office suite, just as promised – even better than I expected, to tell the truth. Yeah, the keyboard is small – duh, what did you expect? Stay tuned for detailed hammering.

UPDATE 1: check out this post from tnkgrl Mobil for some nice personal comments and unboxing photos – much more interesting to me than the BIG reviews that sound too much like a replay of the brochure specs.

UPDATE 2: even better than Gizmodo’s 9-reviews-of-Asus roundup, there are some much more interesting Asus PC 701 EEE serious hack/mod sites:

Great stuff! (Thanks to Mark Gaved for bringing the Asus to my attention in the first place, for obtaining one so quickly, and for pointing out many of the links above).

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OpenSocial + gOS = Game Over?

November 2, 2007

No, actually. The world is not so simple. But it’s a nice transitional moment. There’s so much hot commentary about OpenSocial that I’m only going to add a few snippets and links (go straight to TechMeme for the rest):

1. The two sites that I thought had the most interesting commentary: Mashable is full of dozens of late-breaking stories, including an interview with Hi5 re OpenSocial, and Compete.com does a nice statistical analysis supporting their hunches about OpenSocial

2. Even as a merely casual user of FaceBook and MySpace, I can’t see any moves like this getting me as a user to ‘switch allegiances’… but of course for developers it is nice to avoid having to deal with dozens of idiosyncratic widget APIs, and this is a great step. Moreover, sometime down the road one of those developers will do something compelling enough for users to think again about their allegiances.

3. Add into the equation the Google OS (gOS) I wrote about yesterday (immediately below). Now that combo is a very interesting story… let’s see how it plays out…

[UPDATE: for an in-depth technical analysis and critique, a breath of fresh air far from the standard pro-and-con musings, see this posting by Dare Obasanjo]

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Pathetic UK response to $200 Ubuntu box with ‘Google OS’!

November 1, 2007

My eye caught a New York Times article about the Everex gPC TC2502, a vanilla box that comes loaded with Ubuntu Linux and instant access to (quoting from a more informative CNet review):

popular and useful Web 2.0 services from Google and other vendors… Google Docs, Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube, for example, as well as Meebo, Facebook, and Wikipedia. Sprinkled into the lineup are some non-Web-based apps, like Skype and Gimp…

They’ve dubbed their Ubuntu + GUI the ‘gOS’ (Google Operating System)… the name is unofficial, in the sense that there is no ‘Google Operating System’ as such, but what the heck: it describes the de facto situation! It also comes with an energy-saving CPU, decent peripherals, etc – what’s not to like? OK, so it’s being sold by Wal-Mart… but whereas the CNet article enthuses and links to other low cost Linux boxes for the masses, in the UK the reports were somewhat different. On a tech.co.uk posting today I see firstly, a sub-headline

Ubuntu Linux installed, but could run Vista (badly)

Ha! Trust me, the possibility of running Vista was not what attracted me to these cheap machines! Just look at this enlargement of the summary gOS screen shot above (courtesy DeskTopLinux.com – thanks!). Cute, no?

Secondly, I see this outrageous commentary on the likelihood of such an environment appearing in the UK:

So are cheap Linux PCs likely to hit UK shops anytime soon? We checked in with PC World, which said that it had no immediate plans to introduce Linux systems into its shops.

“Our customers are very used to, and comfortable with, the range of Microsoft and Apple computers that we offer”, a spokesman for PC World told us. “We have no plans to sell Linux PCs at this stage but technology is a fast-moving business so you should never say never…”

That’s pathetic. I hope entrepreneurs around the UK spot this hot niche and move into it quickly. £100 webtop box – why not? It does everything most casual users need most of the time. (And I’m no Linux fanboy – in fact, I’m thoroguhly bored with operating systems and upgrades of all flavours… I couldn’t care less at this point.) Fortunately, RM in the UK is already agressive in this niche, and is sourcing the ASUS EEE PC, essentially a £169 Linux laptop for school children, but also usable as a cheap ‘access box to go’. I’ve got one on order, and will give you the lowdown as soon as it arrives.

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