Intel, MS eye Japanese housewives in mobile PC push
Intel, Microsoft and Japanese online payments company Bit Wallet have teamed up to develop a mobile PC platform designed to bring computing to those traditionally considered to be unfamiliar with shopping online, browsing the web or sitting at a desktop PC. Like housewives, apparently.
PBJ's Slate DT FeliCa
According to Intel, devices based on the so-called 'Edy Personal Computer' platform will have a touch-sensitive or stylus operated display that's at least 9in in size. 1GB of memory is considered the bare minium - well, it does run Windows Vista - and it should have several USB 2.0 ports, a built-in webcam and a microphone. The unit should weigh no more than 1.5kg.
In any such device, connectivity will be a key feature, and Intel's outline for the platform calls for both Ethernet and Wi-Fi. It also mandates a solid-state disk drive - probably to guard against data loss should the device fall off the kitchen table.
It also incorporates Bit Wallet's Edy e-payment system, a kind of Japanese version of PayPal which operates using the FeliCa contact-less smartcard system.
There's no mouse or keyboard, to make it more friendly for folk unused to such input devices, and Intel, Microsoft and Edy said they want to see apps with simple, button-based interfaces to come to the platform the better to appeal to people with little or no PC experience.
Intel also wants devices to incorporate an up-front reset button to sallow users to restart their machines should they become lost within an alien world of web-pages and open applications.
It looks likely the first device will be manufactured by local hardware company PBJ, which has already used Intel CPUs in its existing mobile devices, such as the SmartCaddie EX UMPC.
Slate DT FeliCa: how those housewives love a good I/O array
PBJ's offering will use Intel's 1.83GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, which seems a strange choice as Intel recently launched its Ultra Mobile Platform as the foundation for mobile internet access devices.
PBJ's 30 x 22 x 2.6cm, Slate DT FeliCa has a 12.1in display, 1GB of DDR 2 SDRAM and an 80GB hard drive - so much for the SSD requirement. And it weighs 1.6kg - slightly more than Intel would prefer. Still, it's got Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi on board, along with a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire connector, an eSATA port and a PC Card slot.
How well the anticipated non-techie user is going to cope with that little lot remains to be seen. But we'd bet they won't use them, in which case why put them in?
The first devices based on the Intel/Microsoft/Bit Wallet platform are due to appear later this year.
Almost got it perfect...
If the measurements in the article are accurate, they almost got this thing perfect. As a daily tablet PC user (NEC Versa LitePad from 2003) I believe that their tablet would be a bit more useful with the following tweaks:
Increase the top/bottom frame width by 10mm. You need about 2.5cm width all the way around to comfortably write to the edge of the screen page.
Reduce the thickness by 5mm. To be useful as a table-top "paper pad" replacement, the tablet needs to be very close to the same thickness as a legal pad in a portfolio - or about 2cm thick. Over that your hand starts hanging off the edge and writing becomes difficult.
Decrease the mass to 1kg. More than this makes the device too heavy to hold in one hand and read like a book.
These don't seem like much, but, believe me, these are the killers when using a tablet in day-to-day work.
I personally would be lined up to purchase several of these if the minor changes were incorporated. I still use the NEC (recently upgraded with an SSD) simply because NEC got everything right on this one - except for the weight, and they came damn close with that. With the addition of the SSD the unit is damn near perfect as a paper pad replacement and "surfboard" for Internet, although the battery life is poor (well, it IS over 4 years old!) . It appears the the PBJ "Ms Edy" is FINALLY getting back to the correct form. I truly hope this one makes it big in Japan so I can get some over here!
Hardware reset button?
Dunno about that as a normal practice, but a hardware button that logged them out of all of their sites + closed all programs down might be quite useful.
Along with a single service that vendors could sign up to that would make all of a user's current/past transactions available on one page. Or something. Unlikely, perhaps.