MyTechBox [Manila Standard Interactive: November 29, 2004]
They’re here and the it’s the next wave in personal computing revolution and evolution.
No, I’m not talking about the ordinary personal digital assistants, better known as PDA, that use the Microsoft Windows Pocket PC format. What we have here are literally desktop-powered personal computers that could fit in your pocket. Sure, PDA nowadays acts like mini-PC as well; their computing power is even a hundred times more powerful that the computer that sent the first man on the moon. Still, there is a new breed of pocket PC out there that is just waiting for tech-hungry consumers to devour.
One such device is the OQO-01. This model is the first fully functional Windows XP computer that could actually fit in your pocket. Powered by a 1GHz Transmeta Crusoe processor, it is powerful enough to perform complex applications similar to that of a desktop PC or notebook.
The OQO-01 also boast a 20Gb hard disk drive, 256Mb RAM, color transflection display, integrated wireless (Wi-Fi), ports for FireWire and USB, and slide out querty keyboard. All this in a device that weighs only 14 ounces and is probably just a bit larger than a typical GameBoy Advance.
The other pocket PC gadget is the new Sony Vaio Type U. This upcoming Vaio has a 5-inch SVGA touch screen display and will be able to play music like a portable digital music player. Along with that, it will be bundled with headphones and a remote control, as well as software and photo and DVD-viewing applications. All these features will be powered by a 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M 733 processor, 512Mb of RAM, 20Gb of hard disk space on a 1.8 inch hard drive, integrated wireless capabilities and finally, for its operating system, Microsoft Windows XP Professional. The Vaio U will not be just a multimedia powerhouse but will also perform standard PC tasks as well, such as sending email and Internet surfing.
Its touch screen display can be used as a tablet, using the stylus for taking down handwritten notes. A fold-up keyboard is also available for word processing.
Both devices are the first generation of true pocket computers and are very expensive (estimated at US$2,000). However, these new breed of pocket PC initially lays down the foundation of what lies ahead in terms of computing portability in the coming years. It is quite exciting, really.
Say goodbye to VCR
It was one of the greatest battles in consumer acceptance, probably next only to the fierce competition that ensued between Pepsi and Coke for consumer taste that lasted almost a century.
The Betamax vs. VHS story is the stuff of legends. And now the legend will finally see the end of days. You can thank the DVD for that.
The Betamax was the first commercial VCR to hit our homes back in the 70’s, and the Filipino living room was never the same again.
In my case, I remember my Tita Baby, who was married to a Japanese at that time, brought home our first VCR in the late 70’s. We had to spend and additional P700 (expensive in 1978) to change the RF unit to make it work locally. Nonetheless, the extra cash meant nothing because we have a Betamax machine. It was the heart of our entertainment room and a conversation piece among visiting relatives as well. We recorded Chips and Charlie’s Angels from TV and watch them anytime we want. We rented so-called “Betamax-movies” like Porky’s and the Valley Girls (a teenage Nicolas Cage a punk?) from Betamax video shops that mushroomed like lechon manok. And when everyone was sound asleep, my cousins and I would sneak out and watch Ron Jeremy and Traci Lords do their stuff with only the TV screen and the annoying blinking 12:00 LED lights on. Yeah.
At the same time, another format, the VHS, had already taken the world. Still, Betamax was king of VCR, well, at least here in the Philippines. It would take another 10 to 15 years before Betamax raised the white flag and let the VHS take over the country.
Now, even the VHS has surrendered to market pressure. Last year, US electronic retail stores began pulling VHS machines out of their shelves. Last week, British electronic retail stores started doing the same; this signals the end of more than 30 years of romance between consumers and the once ubiquitous VCR.
There was another battle that went on when the VCR came into being. Several big Hollywood movie companies sued Sony in the early ‘70s on copyright infringements when their Betamax machine had the feature to copy movies and record TV shows. Sony even got the ire of many companies who had commercials on TV but were eventually skipped when viewers started viewing the recorded TV programs. Of course, we all know who won that particular battle. Now, with DVD all around, it’s the battle against piracy that everyone in the industry is more concerned about.
Here’s a funny anecdote: When my youngest kid saw my vinyl record collection, he innocently asked me: “Dad, how on earth would this thing fit inside the CD player?”
Now, I wonder, what would my grandchildren ask me when they see a videocassette?
A real cellphone virus
Last April, I wrote in this column about a virus that could infect mobile phones through the use of Bluetooth and even gave simple rules on how not to get it. Four months later, everyone was in a panic because a lady reporter broadcast the news on TV, and the Carib virus eventually became the hottest topic in town. So hot in fact that it gave additional revenues to cellphone repair shops claiming that they can get rid of the virus even if the phone was not infected at all. No, the Carib virus was not a hoax; only the people who made money out of it were the bigger problem. Oh well, that’s what people get for not reading Manila Standard.
Anyway, here’s a new cellphone virus that attacks Symbian-bases cellphones (read: cellphones used buy most of us). Called Skull, it’s a Trojan horse that infects cellphones, kills off systems applications, and replaces the icons with skulls, thus the name skulls.
It is said to have disguised itself as a theme manager mostly for Nokia phones, and it’s the latest threat to mobile devices after three other malicious programs were discovered this year, namely Mosquito, Cabir and Delf.
How not to get infected? Simple. Like the things you do for your PC or notebook against malicious programs, do the same with your cellphone. Never ever download any applications form unsecured sites, nor open or accept any executable programs that you don’t understand or those with dubious origins. Same goes with Bluetooth transfer. Stay alert. Stay clean. That’s all there is to it.
MyGadget of the Week: Sony Ericsson P910i
The P900i is the flagship of Sony Ericsson. Full of great features and functions, this is the ultimate must-have cellphone. HIGHS: Smooth audio and video playback; great sound; enhanced display; fast processor. LOWS: Crammed querty keyboard; no backlight as well; 0.30 megapixel camera-phone? Come on. MyVERDICT: One of the best and most expensive mobile phones around got a facelift. Many may not be amused by it; still, it’s the ultimate phone to have