On the road, again

In their February issue, Computer Shopper did a “Shoot-Out” (my term from the old days at HAL-PC General Meetings) article between Palm’s OS5 and Windows Mobile 2003. In their “Ease of Use” category, the Palm OS was the winner. In the “Entering Data” category, Windows Mobile took the prize. For the “Core Applications” category, they determined it a draw. When it came to “Desktop Compatibility,” the Palm OS was the winner (there is no support for Macs with Windows PC but, the Palm OS works right out of the box). Naturally! The “E-Mail” category was a winner for the Palm OS. “Office Compatibility” (and I don’t mean Microsoft Office, I mean your office) also came to a draw. In the “Multi-media” area Windows Mobile was the winner. Palm does support some of the same Intel Xscale processors used in the Pocket PC, but few Palm OS PDAs take advantage of this capability. In the “Available Software” category, the Palm OS ran away with the prize. “There are several thousand third-party programs for Microsoft’s handheld OS, ….. Compared with the 20,000 plus written for the Palm OS”. I won’t tell you which one I think you should buy. Check them all out according to your needs. It’s interesting though that there was a tie between Windows Mobile and a draw at two each and the Palm OS won twice as many categories (four).

Here’s an inexpensive way to share the Web. Ashton Digital has the AirDash Wireless USB Stick WRUB-2011i. The AirDash is powered by your USB port and connects to any standard 802.11b or 802.11g adapter. By linking into Windows Internet Connection Service Application, it distributes an Internet connection by a standard Wi-Fi network. There is no support for strong Wi-Fi Protected Access and 802.1x encryption schemes. Throughput reached 5.3Mbps at close range and connected at a distance of 175 feet. AirDash sells for $39. Ashton Digital can be contacted at 510-580-9000 or www.ashtondigital.com.

Intel has a prototype mobile computer that has dropped the standard clamshell design. The “Florence Digital Home” has a 17 inch wide-angle screen, a carrying handle, a battery, a built-in digital camera, speakers, a microphone, a connection for remote control and telephone handsets for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone calls, an 802.11 wireless networking connection, a SmartCard reader and a fingerprint sensor. The prototype weighs in at 8 pounds. You probably won’t see any machines of this type until 2005; however, if there is enough interest by manufacturers it could get going in late 2004. Sounds good to me. A desktop replacement for me needs to be no more than 8 pounds, with everything I want in my desktop included. When I travel I can do without some of the goodies that I have connected to my desktop, but I like most of these things built-in to my notebook. I walk the floors of shows, etc. with my Palm and I leave the notebook in the hotel room. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Did you know that McDonalds has been testing Wi-Fi “hotspots” at some U.S. restaurants? The company hopes to have 6,000 restaurants equipped by the end of the year, according to The Associated Press. Access will be priced at $2.95 for two hours or $29.95 a month. Some of the restaurants may offer various promotion deals.

What is a “blade”? My first thoughts on the matter bring to mind a razor or a knife, but that’s not the answer. It’s a server. While this is not mobile technology yet, it is interesting. Tatung Science and Technology and 3Up Systems have the TUD-4010. With a 4U (7-inch) chassis that holds up to 10 dual processor blade servers running Intel 2.4 Gigahertz Xeon chips, the system can support up to 200 Xeon chips in the standard rack. This is possible because of integrated switch and management blades. Each server blade can run Linux or Windows. 3Up Systems has its first product, the CMS-4. This chassis has 12 dual-Xeon blades or 240 processors in a rack. Also integrated into the system are Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet switching and a single control panel for remote management. Pricing for the TUD-4010 starts at $9,980. The CMS-4U should be available later this year. Can you imagine an 8-pound or less notebook with this technology?

Here’s a bit of information for you as a parting note. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, during a six-month period in 2002, Florida reported 102,293 motor vehicle accidents, 140 of which were attributed to drivers on cell phones.

Chuck Horowitz is a HAL-PC member and can be reached at chuckh@hal-pc.org