.: Mobile Computing
The other day I took a look at the much hyped Asus Eee 4G, recently released in Australia through Myer. I was interested in how well it compared to my Sharp Muramasa CV50F mini-notebook PC (more information). I bought the Muramasa second hand in Japan and it's now out of production. However, it's proved to be a fantastic tool for use on the train, when travelling or even just lying in bed. Would the Eee work just as well?
The Muramasa is longer than the Eee, but thinner and lighter. Like the Eee, the LCD screen has a bezel, but the Muramasa's exquisite screen displays 1280x768 pixels compared with 800x480 on the Eee. That's high definition in 7.2"! At least you don't need a proprietary cable to connect an external monitor to the Eee. The Eee's bezel holds the unit's stereo speakers which are surely better than the Muramasa's mono sound.
Processor wise I'm not certain which wins, but I suspect the Eee's 900MHz Celeron is better than the Muramasa's 1GHz Transmeta Efficeon chip. These are not heavy duty games machines though. The Eee comes with more RAM (512MB cf 256MB) by default. It also uses solid state storage while the Muramasa has a 20GB hard disk. This is probably one reason why the Eee should boot up a lot faster. The Muramasa includes a feature which allows you to hook it up to another computer as a hard disk when powered down.
Battery life should be comparable (3.5 hours), though it was possible to install an additional battery for the Muramasa.
The Zaurus is back! I received my Ambicom compact flash WiFi card today and it works a treat. Hopefully it lasts longer than the Netgear MA701 cards which had a nasty habit of cracking. I've gone through 3 so far. It's fortunate that they have a 3 year warranty, but I don't think that the Netgear make CF WiFi cards anymore.
The reason I really need the Zaurus online again is that my Sharp Muramasa ultraportable notebook is suffering random lockups right now. I've run virus and spyware scans without findding any major issues. Maybe it's a drive or dodgy ram. The problem is that the recovery screens and manuals are all in Japanese! I might also need an external CD drive as well.
I'll wait until I'm feeliqng well before I try anything. For now it's back to my quirky Zaurus.
February marked the twentieth anniversary of the mobile phone network in Australia. In 1987 Telecom Australia (now Telstra) switched on its analogue phone network in Sydney. From the huge voice only "bricks" of that era we now have 3G phones on which we can surf the web, video call and even watch television. Another step closer to a connected world.
- History of mobile phones in Australia
- Making History: Developing the Portable Cellular System (Motorola - check out the video of the brick in action!)
My brother Jon asked me where he could purchase a cheap handheld computer with basic wordprocessor software and a keyboard for a low price. Basically a PDA with a keyboard that could be used on a train. Oh, and he wants it cheap.
I had a similar requirement, but my solution was to purchase a Sharp Zaurus C3100 and a Sharp Muramasa mini-notebook from Japan. Both were at least A$800 and mini-notebooks in Australia are quite expensive. The two Sharps are pretty powerful, with the Muramasa a full Windows PC, though of fairly low-spec. The Zaurus is nominally a PDA, but it runs Linux, has a hard disk and VGA screen and is really a full computer. What my brother wants is more basic.
I know that such computers did exist. On my desk is an old Cassiopeia A11, a Windows CE 1.0 handheld. It's obsolete, has 4MB of shared memory, a 4-grey 480x240 pixel touch screen (now flaky), is difficult to synchronise (serial port) and chews through batteries. But it comes with a very basic version of Word (think Wordpad) and you can type full documents on its uncomfortable QWERTY keyboard. Plenty of other handhelds have been made, from HP's running MS-DOS and later versions of Windows CE and Psion Symbian machines.
.: Motorola V3x
I finally purchased a new phone last week - a Motorola RAZR V3x . Telstra's decision to cut its $30 prepaid recharge expiry from 6 months to 2 months was the trigger for the change, but I also wanted to explore the expanded features available with a modern phone and 3G service. I considered Vodafone, 3 and Telstra, eventually choosing the latter as I could get the phone and basic service for $20 per month.
I quite like the combination of features on the V3x - 2 megapixel camera, QVGA screen, MP3 player, Bluetooth, external memory and more. Theoretically I can now dispense with carrying a separate phone, digital camera, MP3 player and PDA in my bag, although the V3x does nothing (except phoning) quite as well as the specialised tools. My Zaurus PDA's and notebook computer are still required for typing and working during my long daily commute. Pity that Telstra's data rates are so expensive, otherwise I could use the phone as a modem - the USB cable (standard mini-B) and software are included in the package.