Change Back: The Post-CES Guide to de-Appleification

The day Microsoft, Palm and Sony upstage Apple is a strange day indeed. With MacWorld offering little more than an expensive laptop upgrade, however, it was left to CES—a show often buried by Cupertino cool—to bring new toys to 2009’s table.

Apple will be back in force, with new ideas and shiny new things, but why wait? Aren’t you sick of spec bumps that never come? It’s time to change back—and for the first time in ages, you can do it in style.

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Palm Pre

It’s smaller than the iPhone, has a fantastic new interface, and it runs linux. There’ll be an AppStore anyone can get into, top-knotch integration with Facebook and Gmail, and a multitouch display. Even the menu bar caused CES attendees to gape like beached whales. With a hardware keyboard and cut and paste, the mobile novelist brigade will be happy, too.

And it’s by Palm! Palm!

Windows 7 beta

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After the public relations abattoir of Windows Vista, the sequel has a lot riding on it. First indications are that Microsoft might have nailed it: the beta edition is simpler, swifter and sleeker than its irritating predecessor. Available free to the public until August, the unfinished and unsupported software weds XP’s snappiness with Vista’s eye candy.

Just don’t expect it to work perfectly, O.K.? Caveat downloador.

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Sony Vaio P

In the Vaio P “lifestyle” computer, Sony’s created the high-end mini-notebook that Apple hasn’t. Early reviews paint it as a masterpiece, beautifully designed and small enough to slip into a jacket pocket.

It also has a decent keyboard, a high-definition display, and a fast-booting linux mode. Performance isn’t too hot, mind, and the $900 tag is only cheap by Sony standards. Nonetheless, it’s easily the coolest laptop on the block.

HP Mini 2140 netbook
Want a real netbook that costs half the price of Sony’s little wonder? HP’s Mini 2140 has a 10-inch 16:9 screen with 768 lines (most netbooks have only 600), 2GB of RAM. It runs Windows Vista, which you will promptly remove, and was cut to a surprisingly Mac-esque design. Best of all? It’s just $500.

Just try not to think about where the trackpad buttons are.

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Dell Adamo

What do we know about Dell’s new 13-inch laptop? Not much, except for the fact that it’s not out yet and doesn’t have a release date.

What we do know is that it’s a monolith made of pure Kubrickstone, surface-textured by a million years of thrashing by an army of robot monkeys armed with diamond-tipped cats o’ nine tails.

Is it any good? Haven’t a clue: they wouldn’t let us touch its mockup/prototype. But it’s got looks to match the unibody MacBooks: no mean feat for the company that had 250 different words for beige.

Want something right now? Voodoo’s Envy laptop is a similarly slab-like alternative to the MacBook Air. [Photo: Gizmodo]

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Lenovo IdeaCenter 600 all-in-one

With the iMac already looking underfeatured compared to rival machines from HP, Dell and Sony, Lenovo’s IdeaCenter 600 comes along to kick the whole lot back into 2008, where they belong.

Now, it has its flaws. The Wii-like remote wasn’t much fun. And the design? It looks great from the front, but weird from behind: Lenovo clearly imagines use as a television.

But look at the hardware behind that 21.5 display: 2GB of RAM, Blu-ray disk, a TV tuner, 6-in-one card reader, dolby digital audio and 6 USB ports.There’s even an optional 512MB DirectX 10 video card: it can game like no iMac in this universe.

To quote m’colleague Joel: “The junk down on the trunk is appealing.”

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Sony Walkman X-1000

It’s sleeker than the iPod Touch, and it’s got a brighter OLED touchscreen display and in-built noise cancellation. It’s beautiful and black, with a strange texture that looks like a fancy tombstone.

Thanks to Apple itself, defection is easy, too: pay the DRM kill fee in iTunes and your hitherto iPod-locked collection is free. The only question: it is worth paying extra, when the Walkman’s price tag will surely make the iPod Touch look like a stocking stuffer?


Netgear Internet TV Player

So it’s not as pretty as Apple TV. It looks like the routers that spawned it. It’s not very powerful, either, requiring saved media to be stored on an external USB drive. But Netgear’s Internet TV Player handles standard-def TV streaming in any format known to man and is absolutely tiny: little larger than a deck of cards. Dangle it off the back of your TV set for a solution to a problem you already have: watching internet junk like YouTube on a big TV. Too proletarian? Get Boxee then, media snob!

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Eee Keyboard

Weird as all hell and strange too, Asus’s Eee Keyboard contains a home theater PC and an LCD display. Unlike most demented modern attempts at that oldschool computer-in-the-keyboard combo, it even looks cool.

It’s as if Commodore Amiga 500’s spirit was reaching up from 1988, to clutch at the Mac’s throat one final time. [Photo: Matt Buchanan/Gizmodo]

About Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Try your luck at besc...@gmail.com

 

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22 Responses to Change Back: The Post-CES Guide to de-Appleification

  1. Charlie Stross says:

    Rob, I’ll happily tailor my own Ubuntu-based distro if I need to and I’ve got some time to kill. I’m just kind of amused by the “black is the new white” tone of the article …

  2. Downpressor says:

    full of nowant.

  3. krake says:

    You can take my MacBook Pro from my cold dead hands (or catch it off the back of the table when the next 17″ finally ships), but I am very happy that other companies are finally getting it.

    The iPhone, the iPod, the Macs of all flavors — they all need some decent competition. It’s good for everyone. and their mothers.

  4. usonia says:

    How is this year more interesting than any other year Apple hasn’t introduced something fancy? Seriously, they only introduced the ipod, iphone, imac, mac mac, etc. once. There have been intervening years, though I guess those didn;t have the giddy schoolgirl gossip of Sick Steve!
    Oh and paying to get rid of Apple’s DRM? Who the hell pays for that? It’s like paying for sex. You can , butcha don’t NEED to. Getting off your ass to rip a few songs from a CD-RW doesn’t even require getting off your ass. And while i need to do this once in a while to get something into Ableton, there’s a pretty fat chance I’m going to fire up itunes some day to find Apple telling me “We’re sorry. The Apple DRM servers are offline, and your music files are inaccessible.”. Pay for itunes plus retroactively, i think not. Though itunes has wone me back, to an extent, from Amazon. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.

  5. 0xdeadbeef says:

    Apple fanboys are the freepers of computerdom. Pay no attention to them.

  6. dssstrkl says:

    Palm Pre runs linux like the iPhone runs Darwin: as the kernel, so who cares? Its not like you can get to the Linux-y parts when you’re running AJAX applets.

    Windows 7 is far better than Vista in terms of efficiency and usability, but its still Windows. The registry and lack of mount points remain, so you’ll still get Windows rot.

    As for the rest, they just seem like this year’s ipod killers and Tivo killers that just seem to go nowhere. Lots of nice ID, but nothing special.

  7. mkultra says:

    Kind of funny that 1. you dismiss everything that happened at MWSF because Apple didn’t announce anything substantial. There were other vendors there too, you know. Actually, you don’t know, because you didn’t cover it. Nevermind.

    Funny bit #2 is the raging hard-on you all seem to be carrying towards “showing up Apple” or some such nonsense. It’s some kind of obsession. I mean, I know you need to create some sort of narrative that justifies coverage of all these deadly-dull me-too gadgets, but seriously.

    “Look at this awesome washer-dryer combo from LG. Those idiots at Apple have never even considered bringing a dynamic duo like this to market! I mean, check it out, there’s a touchscreen!!! There’s no DRM either: wash anything you like! Take that, Apple-tards!”

    I hear the Sony iPod clone is awesome, though. I mean, the rootkit comes pre-installed and everything…

  8. Llefenni says:

    Not wanting to get on any side of ANY battle here, but the Walkman looks really appealing (having only started primary school 20 years ago, the tombstone is not a look that fills me w/ retro horror), my S-Series Walkman is the finest music player I’ve owned, with kick-ass headphones in the box too, bonus.

  9. Lonin says:

    This is two Apple-related posts in a row where the fanboys are out in force. Chill out, get some perspective and enjoy the cool new gadgets.

  10. farmertomato says:

    Wow, what a sorry lot of crap. And you had to go to Las Vegas to see it? Too much punishment, too little reward. Ditching my Windows junk was a turning point for me, and I hope I never have to encounter it again.

  11. Halloween Jack says:

    Look.

    I know that, with a lot of companies really really hurting now, and people hanging onto their cash, that it’s hard to get people excited about gadgets, especially with this collection of incremental upgrades, late-to-the-party me-too toys and hands-off prototypes. I guess that the haters need their day, too.

    But do you really, really think that it’s cool to post something like this in the same week that Jobs is taking a half-year leave for health reasons? I mean, really, think about it. Hey, maybe Dan Lyons will leak the location of Steve’s future burial plot and you can take a Dance Dance Revolution pad out there to, you know, get a little practice in.

  12. TJ S says:

    It’s good that things are coming out to compete with Apple. That makes Apple create newer, better things to compete. And in turn, other companies make products to compete with the new products.

    Wow, somebody should base an economy or something off that idea…

    /sarcasm

  13. remmelt says:

    “lifestyle computer”

    Where do I even start with this one?

  14. Halloween Jack says:

    #13 Joel, It’s always been there.

    Seriously, I run a Windows/Linux machine in addition to my mini, and had a Palm PDA or smartphone for a decade before making the switch. And I can easily see that Apple could duplicate the long slide into stagnation and mediocrity that they suffered through after Sculley kicked Jobs out in the mid-eighties. It’s just, well, the timing of it.

    • Joel Johnson says:

      @Jack Fair enough, but I can tell you that the genesis of this piece was Rob and I sitting in our hotel room at CES after MacWorld going, “Hey, this might be the first year in a while that CES is more interesting than MacWorld!”

  15. blip says:

    Oh dear.

  16. gber says:

    If there was a theme to CES, it was “style”. The devices I’ve seen in general ooze attitude and fashion. Look at the Pre, Ideacenter, and Vaio P – companies have woken up to the idea that aesthetics matter to the consumer. Nodd to the pervasive influence of Apple on consumer electronics.

  17. theLadyfingers says:

    Yikes. I haven’t seen the pseudo-granite finish that Walkman is sporting in nearly twenty years. Who came up with that idea?

  18. Charlie Stross says:

    The one item on that laundry list that I’ll probably buy is the HP 2140.

    Because it’s a netbook spec machine, which means it’ll probably run OS/X …

  19. Rob Beschizza says:

    We’re whores when we praise Apple, and whores when we don’t. Ah, fans!

  20. Rob Beschizza says:

    Charlie, I’m sure the 2140 will run OSX easily, with one of the netbook-friendly guides already cooked up. The only issues will be with peripherals like wireless cards and the like: when someone takes a crack at the 2140 we’ll post a like of how it went.

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