New Tablets, Slates, and Pads: oh, my. 2010 will be an interesting, touch-fueled year.

imageToday’s been a busy day, what with work and getting pinged with the press on the new tablet products coming from Silicon Valley, as noted here with an inside look at the HP Slate (the model that made its debut at CES). None other than HP’s CTO Phil McKinney shows off the the Slate in a "History of Innovation" in his latest blog post on HP’s The Next Bench blog.

Oh, yes, and there is the new Apple iPad, too. More info on the new Apple iPad via Bing here. There are some choice updates from people and press in attendance at the event today in San Francisco in my twitter feed.

imageA comment on design, timely especially since I was referencing the incomparable Bill Buxton today in a presentation.

There’s an interesting similarity to the bezel design on these two devices, both somewhat different from the approach seen on other touch tablets (‘though reminiscent of of the iPhone). As I noted on Twitter, the ASUS Eee PC T91MT makes more sense (or costs fewer cents?) given that you have the choice of using the keyboard or not. Having the option is nice, as I found when I made the case for a Revitalized Notebook (aka getting more from computers currently gathering dust). This was when I updated my Toshiba M200 with Windows 7.

imageAlthough I like the tablet functions, it’s certainly nice to have the keyboard input option. With the new touch enabled PCs like the ASUS above (and even my home desktop, the HP Touchsmart 2), the ability to move between typing and touch become second nature after a while.  And if you have a portable form factor like the ASUS or even the HP (with optional dock, I’m guessing, as we saw originally on the 2004 release of the HP Compaq TC1100) the slate design works well overall for consuming media.

Interesting to note: Amazon’s taken no time to respond on its web site with this promo for the Kindle on the home page, touting the free wireless and no need for a wireless contract…

But should you get a tablet, or slat, or pad? That depends. More on that later…

Tags: gadgets, Amazon, CES 2010, CES, Kindle, Microsoft, tablet, Tablet PC, Windows 7.

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Our new Microsoft Signature PC arrives, and I like what wasn’t included in the shipment

IMG_3871As noted on Twitter, even Microsoft employees use the MicrosoftStore, especially when there’s a sale on some of the latest PCs around. Needing to replace an older model (tried and true) Sony Vaio that is headed to the repair shop, I ordered a new PC from the Microsoft Store last week, a new HP Pavilion DM3-1044nr Entertainment Notebook PC.

Models available from several different computer vendors are available at the Store, each featured as a “Microsoft Signature PC, designed to help you get your new computer up and running more quickly and easily than ever before.”

What the heck is that?

Well, Tom’s Hardware said that the Microsoft Signature PCs “could be a step towards stomping out crapware – which we’re all in favour of.”

“Would you believe that it’s Microsoft’s own “Signature PCs” that are the ones most clean from the crapware? According to TechFlash, a certain line of PCs sold at the just-launched Microsoft Store in Scottsdale, AZ do away with the annoying pre-installed software and instead come with full versions of Windows Live services, Silverlight, Zune software and some of Adobe’s popular online software. While some of that software could be debated as unwanted crapware, it’s still a world of difference from the typical computer that one would buy from a large retailer.”

Here are a few pictures of the OOBE (Out Of Box Experience) with the just-received new PC… you’ll note the shiny stocker that enveloped the HP, and perhaps be as shocked as I was when I turned on the PC and happily found (gasp) no desktop full of pre-installed software.

       IMG_3870 IMG_3879

For me, this was a bonus: I use Windows Live apps, Silverlight and the Zune service, so all of these were welcomed. All in all, I was up and running much faster than ever before, not having to de-install a bunch of unwanted software, add-ins, tool bars or applets. In some instances, the applications are nice value ads, sometimes not. YMMV.

So far I’ve found the new HP to be snappy, responsive and rick-solid rock-solid, similar to that I’d read in several reviews in the likes of PC Magazine and here on Wired. I haven’t put the reported long life battery to the test yet, but all indicators will be that it may survive some of my older mobile phones and powerful enough to run most demands that our household will likely throw at it.

(updated thanks to Michael Sainz today, 012310 😉

Tags: Microsoft Store, Signature PC, twitter, Microsoft, Windows 7.

Clubhouse Tags: Clubhouse, how-to, Security, download.


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Tablets & Slate PCs in Steve Ballmer’s CES keynote? The debut of Apple’s new iTablet? Dunno, but the Kindle DX does wireless worldwide on Jan 19th

amazon_kindleCES is off to a great start with plenty of new product news… and we haven’t even had the keynote kickoff!

As I noted last month (all of a week or so ago) I decided to get on the ebook reader bandwagon and finally ordered a new Amazon Kindle. I was torn on the size: the 6" appeared best for my needs at home, but the overwhelming majority of feedback I received was in favour of the 9.7" Amazon Kindle DX, and I agreed.

But I found that the wait was 3-5 weeks! from

Now I know why, thanks to chatter at CES on Twitter from engadget last night (, the WSJ Blog and now this latest mail from Amazon: the new Amazon Kindle DX includes global wireless support, shipping January 19th for $489. I love it when a company takes the initiative and beats my email query to the punch, asking about my back order…

From: Customer Service 
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2010 12:11 AM
Subject: Update on your Kindle DX order

Dear Kindle Customer,

Today we introduced Kindle DX with Global Wireless – the next generation of our 9.7” wireless reading device.

Because you already ordered the original Kindle DX and are awaiting its arrival, we are pleased to inform you that we are upgrading your order to receive a Kindle DX with Global Wireless at no additional cost. You will receive the new Kindle DX as soon as it becomes available later this month.

We kept everything readers love about the original Kindle DX, then added global 3G wireless coverage and improved battery life.

Kindle DX with Global Wireless now enables you to wirelessly download content in over 100 countries and territories. With an extended battery life, you can now read for up to 1 week on a single charge with wireless on, a significant improvement from the previous battery life of 4 days.

Read more about Kindle DX with Global Wireless at

With your Kindle DX order already placed, you will be among the first to receive Kindle DX with Global Wireless, and you do not need to do anything.

You can cancel your order or check on order status by visiting your order summary here: <link>

If you purchased a 2-Year Extended Warranty for Kindle DX, your warranty will automatically apply to your new Kindle DX with Global Wireless device. If you have not purchased and are interested in a 2-Year Extended Warranty for Kindle DX, visit the product page at

We hope you enjoy Kindle DX with Global Wireless. Kindle Customer Service

So, why get one now rather than wait for a new Apple tablet or a Windows based slate PC? (Or as Brandon coined, a "slablet". "Tablate" sounds horrible 😉 Perhaps "Slate PC." Whatever it is, imagine netbook performance w/ touch: that would be sweet.) As I said last month to stephbu, No, I have a tablet PC (actually, two) and wanted a Kindle for the Amazon book offerings and simple business model for buying content, and I expect there’ll be subscription fees tied to an Apple tablet offering.

As noted by njeaton and others on Twitter, the venerable New York Times reported here that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will reveal "slate-like" PC tomorrow during Steve Ballmer’s CES keynote (, and there’s already a (Kindle) app for that. (Regardless of tomorrow’s CES keynote, I’ll keep my Amazon Kindle (love it) & adopt the “Kindle for PC” app.)

You can follow Microsoft’s going’s on at CES via beginning Jan 6 @ 6:30PM PST with the live keynote – it will be streamed live from the convention.

And, no, to answer several mails from friends and associates this week: I’m not at CES this year (that’s two year’s running I’ve missed it in person, and my wife just asked, "when were you last there?"  Hey, Al Roker’s there covering the gadgets along with the weather, so you’re good.) So I offer my post "Surviving CES in Las Vegas: A few helpful hints", with a few tips for those heading off to Vegas this week for the event, recycling the bits in the blog post. I figure that with the number of great folks following the play-by-play on the ground in Las Vegas on Twitter (what’s the best hashtag to use? I’m following #CES generally) and in the news, I think that I’ll get my fill of new gadgets and devices. Plus, the various email alias subscriptions and RSS feeds will likely blow out my Outlook mailbox quota.


Tags: Microsoft, Xbox 360, CES 2010, CES, travel tips.

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Dell’s new Inspiron Zino HD: ZDNet says it’s “Dell’s answer to Apple’s Mac mini.”

dell_zino Of interest is the new Dell Inspiron Zino HD which ZDNet calls "Dell’s answer to Apple’s Mac mini."

"The Zino HD is an interesting machine because Dell has managed to cram a lot of power into the Mac mini-esque 7.8 inch by 7.8 inch footprint of the system. Buyers can choose from a selection of single and dual core AMD energy-efficient CPUs, as opposed to the Intel dual-core parts used in the Mac mini by Apple."

I’m impressed that Dell has put so much into a space 8" square (thanks to an external power supply). With an HDMI output and Blu-ray drive, coupled with up to 8GB memory (looks like 3GB is standard) this would make a nice Windows 7 home media centre.

For getting video into the box, looks like you’ll need a USB TV tuner, or access your Media Center via the network.


Tags:  what I read, twitter, Microsoft, Windows 7, Dell.

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More help and tips in finding that perfect laptop computer, this time from Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post

image Over swim lessons today, I read Rob Pegoraro‘s article “Tips to boot up your laptop hunt” (which was picked up in today’s local paper) for users looking for new laptops (as I Tweeted today)…

“… many users — college students among them — still need laptops that survive away from desks and power outlets. Neither heavy “desktop replacements” nor ultralight netbooks with tiny screens and cramped keyboards work in that scenario.

“This piece is for those shoppers. What should they consider when looking for a new laptop?”

A good article. (Update: Per Rob Pegararo’s tweet, I’m including a link to his original article in the Washington Post (other coast)at, and his accompanying blog post at

In addition, I offer some additional information, recommendations and colour commentary in my recent post “It’s nearly back to school time: here’s info on buying a new PC

But I don’t agree with Rob’s assessment WRT upgrades…

“Both releases look promising, but history suggests that Apple’s upgrade will be easier than Microsoft’s.”

Hmmm… I just completed the upgrades of a couple of machines this weekend to Windows 7 RTM and it went flawless. Many new PCs you might purchase today may also come with a free upgrade to Windows 7 once it ships (aka: general availability or “GA”) on on October 22.

(Added 081609) Also, after reading Rob’s blog post, I disagree with his assessment on the crop of PCs out there..

Once again, the Dell was boring, clean and affordable; the H-P looked stylish but suffered from a high price and a lame set of add-on software; the Toshiba was not so stylish and had an even worse software bundle.

imageWow. I agree that the really low-end machines may not win any style contests, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by many of the new, fairly sleek machines. In the mini notebook category, the HP 2140 mini notebook, and the new crop of laptops from Toshiba (like the PC Mag’s Editors’ Choice Toshiba mini NB200 companion PC) take the cake, as do the newer models from Acer, MSI and Dell. Plus the sleek new Toshiba Portege R600 is quite nice in the more expensive ultralight notebooks, Not to mention new PCs from Sony, Lenovo, HP and particularly the new Dell Adamo.

I agree with the comment that Rob should revisit this post later in the year after a few models ship with Windows 7… say, around late October. 😉

For more on upgrades to Windows 7 once it arrives publicly, I also offer Ed Bott’s update to the Windows 7 upgrade chart.  A good read.

Want to find out more about what laptop is right for you? Check out the Microsoft Windows Laptop Hunters site where you’ll find more information on choosing a new laptop computer via the “PC Chooser” wizard, as well as links to our Windows Laptop Scout site.

Tags: articles, blogs, Windows 7.

Clubhouse Tags: Clubhouse, how-to, Windows 7, download, backup, Challenge-Windows 7

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