December 2009

Intel announces next-gen Atom processors
Intel announced a next generation of Atom processors that succeed the current 230, 330, N270 and N280 processors (but not the Z-series Atoms, which are a different family). The new chips are the single core N450 geared towards netbook-style devices which we'll likely see in a lot of rugged/mobile systems, and the desktop-oriented single core D410 and dual core D510. All run at 1.66GHz. Whereas older N-series Atoms used a three-chip solution (Atom - ICH7M - GMCH), graphics and memory controller are now part of the new Atoms, resulting in a smaller two-chip solution (Atom - NM10). Graphics seem slightly improved, but there's still no HD hardware acceleration. The primary benefit may be reduced power consumption of the N410 package versus the N270/280 package (7 vs. 12 watts). The D410 and D510 packages seem to have faster graphics and there is no obvious reason why they could not be used in mobile systems as their system power consumption is still only 12 and 15 watts. [See list of all Intel Atom processors and Intel announcement of new Atoms] -- Posted Tuesday, December 22, 2009 by chb

Review: the US$149 ECTACO jetBook-Lite
With interest in eBooks picking up but eBook readers generally still expensive, the US$149.95 jetBook-Lite from ECTACO will likely attract a good deal of attention. It's a competent unit the size of a small paperback that uses standard AA batteries (or rechargeables). There's no wireless download, so you either copy books to the unit via USB cable (supplied) or put them on a SD card. The 5-inch reflective display is a bit small, but it is very crisp and sharp. [See review of the ECTACO jetBook-Lite] -- Posted Monday, December 21, 2009 by chb

Multi-Touch Virtual Keyboard for Windows 7
The ever-innovative folks at Comfort Software Group have added multi-touch support to Hot Virtual Keyboard, their on-screen typing solution for Windows. Replacing the original Windows On-Screen Keyboard, Hot Virtual Keyboard 5.0 offers numerous benefits over the built-in version to allow computer users type faster and with more comfort. The latest edition adds support for Windows 7 and its sensor input with up to 255 touch points. There's also word auto-complete, programmable keys, several dozens of different layouts, as well as complete customization. -- Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by chb

Synaptics shows next-gen concept phone
Synaptics, always at the forefront of checking out new interface solutions, has developed a next-gen concept phone that demonstrates all sorts of interesting new interface technologies. The Fuse mobile phone concept can, among other things, be squeezed, tilted, and poked from the backside to make things happen. [See the Synaptics Fuse next-gen concept phone] -- Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 by chb

Windows Mobile: RIP 2000-2009?
Windows Mobile: RIP 2000-2009, that's the title of a blog entry at The blog doesn't claim that Windows Mobile is dead, just that it might as well be dead. There's been a flood of other similar articles, all suggesting that Microsoft might as well shut down Windows Mobile and get out of the phone market. What all those pundits don't consider is that while Microsoft has indeed fumbled the mobile consumer market in a downright Palmian manner, Windows Mobile remains strong in the vertical market where it essentially has no competition. -- Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 by chb

Shenzhen Guangxuntong Communication Technology Co., Ltd.
And yet another cool little machine we'll never get. Offered by Shenzhen Guangxuntong Communication Technology Co., Ltd. of China, the eKing S515 is an Atom Z515 or Z520-powered micro-UMPC with a 5-inch 800x480/1024x600 display, 16GB of SSD, WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G modules, a camera and USB ports. The little thing weighs less than 12 ounces and apparently runs Windows 7. [See website] -- Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 by chb

Healthcare Technology Online: Don't lose faith in EHRs
A recent study led by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School suggested that EHR (Electronic Health Records) so far have not resulted in the savings and increased quality hoped for. Healthcare Technology Line, however, feels it's much to early to pass judgement on EHR and that its benefits will become more than evident over time. These systems are of important to the rugged industry which has been bringing a variety of MCA (Mobile Clinical Assistant) devices to market. [Read Heathcare Technology Online position on EHR] -- Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 by chb

Panasonic concludes purchase of Sanyo
Panasonic, which makes the Panasonic Toughbooks, says it has now secured majority ownership of Sanyo, and Sanyo will likely become a subsidiary of Panasonic. While the two companies have been rivals, they are also family as Sanyo was started by Panasonic Founder Konosuke Matsushita's brother-in-law Toshio with the help of Matsushita. The deal will give Panasonic access to Sanyo's battery and renewable energy products. -- Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 by chb

Nokia closing flagship US stores
Nokia says it's closing its New York and Chicago stores, leaving it with just ten stores worldwide (Apple has 279 and generates about US$6.6 billion with them). One problem is that while Nokia still has the largest global cellphone marketshare (37%), its US marketshare is negligeable and the company is badly lagging in the ever more important smartphone arena. -- Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 by chb

MSI touch-screen PCs used for White House exhibit
MSI announced that its Wind Top All-in-One desktop PCs are being used by the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Ill., for its new exhibit, The White House: A Look Inside. The exhibit is leveraging MSI’' All-in-One PCs with 18.5-inch widescreen displays to help provide guests with never-before-seen views inside America’s most famous landmark. The MSI AE1900 models use an Atom 230 or 330, are in the US$500 range, and provide touch screen browsing and computing with netbook performance in a sleek and elegant all-in-one. -- Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 by chb

Little Japanese Atom-powered Win 7 Tablet PC
Every time I go to Japan I see lots of interesting gear that never makes it stateside. Some of it is too small, specialized or expensive for the US market, but some products would be interesting to have on the US market. Take, for example, the Atom Z520-powered, Windows 7-based Onkyo NX707A4, a small (7.6 x 5.2 x 0.95 inches) and light (1.6 pounds) convertible Tablet PC with a 1024 x 600 7-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, dual cameras, a multi-card reader, etc. Cost? US$675. [See the Onkyo NX707A4] -- Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 by chb

Still not milling gossip about an Apple tablet
It's stunning how many websites are endlessly gossiping about a potential Apple tablet. Talk about polluting the web with meaningless non-information, and that includes some of the most respected news organizations. Shame on you. Apple will talk when they are ready, or not. -- Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 by chb

Seagate enters SSD market
Seagate has been part of the PC revolution from the start. Its hard disks were in the original IBM PC XT in the early 1980s, and unlike many other hard disk vendors that folded or were absorbed, Seagate is still around. However, Seagate was never part of the increasingly important solid state storage market. That has changed now as Seagate announced its entry into the SSD market with the Seagate Pulsar, a 2.5-inch form-factor SATA platform currently going up to 200GB. Seagate believes that its numerous relationships with OEMs will make up for its late entry into the market. [See Seagate Pulsar product page] -- Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 by chb

Good for Enterprise now on various Android devices
Good Technology announced that Good for Enterprise is now available for multiple Android devices, including DROID by Motorola, DROID ERIS by HTC, HTC Hero, HTC My Touch 3G, Samsung Moment and others. This latest release allows users to connect and collaborate on the Android devices while providing IT departments with the enterprise management and control they need, without compromising any security policies. -- Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 by chb

DLI announces rugged, super-compact point-of-sale tablet
DLI, a LaPorte, Indiana based manufacturer of rugged mobile tablets has announced the DLI 8800 Mobile POS tablet. The rugged Atom Z530-powered DLI 8800 has a 7-inch screen, weighs just 2.3 pounds, has an integrated mag stripe reader, and can be ordered with an integrated RFID reader and 2D barcode scanner. The DLI 8800 is available either with a touch screen or an active digitizer. [See description and specs of the DLI 8800 POS tablet] -- Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 by chb

Matte versus glossy displays
Most displays on consumer notebooks and an increasing number of displays on rugged computing equipment now have a glossy surface. Manufacturers love those displays because they "pop" in showrooms and work well for watching videos. However, they also result in annoying screen reflections that can make them hard to read, especially outdoors. A website has now launched a petition to offer matte screens. It's geared towards Macs, but the arguments, voting and discussion are quite interesting. [See MacMatte site on matte versus glossy displays] -- Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 by chb

PhatWare releases update to PenOffice
PhatWare has released an update to its PenOffice app, adding compatibility with Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. It also offers pen-based collaboration, improved security and reliability features, support for multi-core processing, and configuration and management features to improve mobile working. PenOffice supports numerous languages and is designed for use with Windows-based PCs. Beyond the Microsoft Office markup feature, PenOffice now adds support for 3.0 or later documents. [See the PhatWare PenOffice page] -- Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 by chb

How ruggedness reduces mobile computer TCO
Anyone seeking ammo and/or information to justify the higher initial cost of ruggedized computing equipment should download this 8-page white paper by Intermec. It provides an excellent summary of how various levels of ruggedness result in lower total cost of ownership compared to consumer-grade products. [Download How Ruggedness Reduces TCO for Mobile Computers] -- Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 by chb