Om Malik's review of HP's MiniNote begins with the now-compulsory attempt to decipher the twisty maze of marketing bullshit that surrounds miniature computers: UMPC? MID? HPC? Netbook? Lah-di-dah. Anyway, he thinks it sucks:
It has become obvious that they really need to go back to the drawing board and rethink how people are going to use these devices, if they want to participate in the next big shift of computing.
So far, all they have done is cram traditional notebooks into smaller, maybe-lighter-to-carry bodies. They’re neither good for computing nor for communication. To me, the dozens of models being touted seem like a genetic-experiment gone wrong, a fact that was brought home when I tested one of the most talked-about devices...
It's fair warning for those who've yet to use an Eee or one of its clones, and are expecting more than such things can deliver–the major point of annoyance for Malik is that 2.7lbs is a little too heavy for an ultraportable, when the additional weight of an extended battery is taken into account. It also get very hot, he says.
It's his first experience of the form factor, so the review's probably not much help to those who already like these things and are wanting, say, to get help deciding between this and the 9" Eee or Dell's forthcoming entry. Malik's unfamiliarity with the shelf still works to his advantage, however, and he produces a list of everything that small computers need, that they don't have:
1. Instant On
2. Doesn’t generate too much heat.
3. Minimum 5 years hours of battery life.
4. Must feature at least four communications options: WiFi, Ethernet, Bluetooth & Wireless Wide Area Network connection to, say, an EVDO or HSPA Network.
5. Less than three pounds (Batteries included).
6. Screen size of 3.5 to 8 inches (wide-screen proportioned)
7. The primary function of the computer should be cloud-based activities that can include everything from listening to live music, reading blogs and watching videos. Writing research reports or cranking out spreadsheets isn’t the primary purpose of these machines.
8. It should cost no more than $300. This isn’t a computer; it’s a communications device. It should really be an on-the-go device. It is a device for the moments when your cellphone isn’t enough, and laptop is too much. An iPhone should qualify.
9. Its innards, ports should be geared for Internet-based activities – from making calls on Skype to consuming RSS feeds – though it should be able to handle external peripherals.
10. In the future it should move away from the keyboard and have a touchscreen interface that allows one to sift through large amounts of data (or web pages) quickly, as cramped keyboards and touchpads can be hard to use.
Number 10 is a religious issue, but I'm on board for the rest. Number 8 is a bit fanciful.
What Makes A Cloud Computer? [Gigaom]