When Intel first introduced their Atom line of processors, they told us it was aimed at smaller, so-called MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices). Soon after that, Asus released the first netbook, and a new category of computers was born. But they weren’t really MIDs. In fact, the term MID hasn’t really caught on, and there are very few devices that are generally considered to be MIDs. Nokia’s internet tablet series for and Sony’s Mylo come to mind. But both predate the Atom processor.
Atom’s major advantage over other small, power-sipping CPUs is that it uses the same x86 instruction set as desktop CPUs. This means that Atom-based devices, if powerful enough, can run Windows. Intel probably thought this would be essential for MID adoption. But then Apple released what would prove to be a game-changing device. More The end of the Atomic Age?
Remember my review of the world’s smallest ‘desktop’ PC, the Fit-PC2? I recommended it for use as a lightweight, energy efficient server, but apparently you can do much more exciting things with it. Matt Bunting, a University of Arizona electrical engineering senior, used it to power a very cool, spider-like robot. And it turns out Intel just bought two of them to show off the Atom’s potential. It uses other stock parts too, including a Logitech webcam. More Fit-PC2 used to power amazing robot spider
A little over a year ago, I got myself the cheapest media center PC ever, on the form of an old refurbished office machine. It was fast enough to handle most of what I wanted it to do, but it was lightly too big for my AV setup, and decidedly beige. Ugh. But my main issue with it was that it was also making long hours. The Pentium 4 series of processors is notorious for its high power consumption, and I was starting to feel guilty.
I’ve had a couple of Atom based PCs in my home (a netbook and that really small PC I wrote about earlier), but found them to be slow, especially when it came to graphics. Intel’s ancient 945 chipset was a real bottleneck, and the newer US15W had terrible driver issues in Linux. That’s why I wanted to try nVidia’s Ion chipset. I decided that an ASRock Ion 330 would be the perfect little HTPC for me. More ASRock’s ION nettop really rocks!
When I read Engadget’s “Ten Gadgets that Defined the Decade“, I was amazed by some of their choices. I could easily think of a few gadgets that changed the way we use technology, but weren’t listed. While I agreed with a couple of items on their list, like the iPhone, I couldn’t help writing my own top 10 of the most influential gadgets of the last ten years. Here are my candidates in random order. More My attempt at the top 10 gadgets of the decade
Before netbooks came along, ultra-portable laptops computers were the most expensive ones you could get. I don’t have any proof that the netbook hyped caused them to get cheaper, but they have. I bumped into Asus’ new UL30A model in a local store this weekend, and it was love at first sight. Here’s a machine that can do everything that bigger laptops can, but in a very sexy and slim package. I hate lugging around a big heavy laptop, so this one seemed pretty much ideal for me. More Asus UL30A: Everything a laptop needs, just smaller
Yesterday, one week to the day after the release of Windows 7, Ubuntu released version 9.10 of their Linux distribution. It’s got all sorts of new features that have been talked about extensively all over the web, but I just found out it also fixes a bug that’s been bothering me ever since I first got into Ubuntu. Under ‘Karmic Koala’, the video tearing on Intel graphics adapters is finally gone.
Intel’s integrated video adapters have long been recommended for Ubuntu users with modest graphical needs. If you’re not into games and don’t need the absolute best possible video playback, going with an onboard video adapter from Intel was a safe bet. I have two machines that use Intel’s GMA 950 chip, and I found them to work quite well, except for this one issue. More I could just hug Karmic Koala!
This blog has been doing quite well lately, and as a result of having visitor numbers I never imagined I would, people have been offering me stuff to review. I’ve declined most of these offers. I feel bad writing about things I wouldn’t normally get excited about. But when I saw this little machine pop up on Engadget, I couldn’t help myself. I just had to see if they’d send me a review unit. So I contacted Compulab, and sure enough they did. More Fit-PC2 first impressions
At Computex, nVidia is keen to show off it Ion and Tegra product lines. Ion is a new chipset that turns Intel’s Atom processor into a multimedia powerhouse by adding a proper GPU. The first products are available and have been met with critical acclaim. But I find Tegra a much more interesting product. Not in the sense that I’m going to run to stores when the first Tegra-packing devices hit retail, but in the sense that I’m curious to see where this is going. More Why am I still not excited about Tegra?
Earlier this week, Conceptronic, the people behind the highly acclaimed CFULLHDMA media streamer announced a new media box called YUIXX. Yikes? Not at all. It seems like this product might well bridge the gap between media streamers and full-fledged media center PCs. Judging from the specs, this thing will play back any type of file or stream you throw at it, either from the optional internal hard drive or through your network. In full HD. But what really sets it apart is that it can also record TV from one or two DVB-T tuners. More Conceptronic’s YUIXX: truly all-in-on?
Moblin 1.0 made the headlines because it promised to boot really quickly. But startup times alone will probably not be enough to lure Windows users into trying Intel’s purpose-built netbook operating system. That’s may well be why the brand new Moblin 2.0 beta looks really slick. It’s definitely still a little rough around the edges, but the user interface is impressive.