Wednesday, January 31, 2007

R400 VLOG tomorrow

Guess what! Tomorrow I am spending time with a friend…and his shiny new Toshiba R400. And I will VLOG about it! Anything you want to know?

I can't say more in case some crazed blogger or journalist beats me there...shhh, don't tell anyone.

Todo UMPC en Espanol

I am a great fan of Frank Garcia, aka Ctitanic, one of the most prolific bloggers in the UMPC space. Now what many of you may not know is that he is also a native Spanish speaker. So with this in mind, and a handful of friends they have done the most amazing job of UMPC en Espanol by releasing "The first Magazine about UMPC that I know of in the whole World has been released today in Spain!" (Ctitanic).

Frank J Garcia (Ctitanic)

Here is a snipping from his email:

A group of UMPC enthusiasts have worked for 20 days to put together this first number in PDF format that can be downloaded
here.What's included in this first number? First of all a detailed explanation of what's a UMPC, what software can be used on it, what are the different brands and models currently in the market and what version of Vista can be installed on them. In a few words all the information need to understand this new world opened to us by Microsoft back in May 2006!This magazine is sponsored by todoUMPC , written in Spanish and it's free!

read more
Muy bien echo muchachos!

I'm off to China, Beijing

I’m off to CHINA on Wednesday! Now I have known about this for over a week and due to my many NDA's was not able to tell you guys! I have been invited as a special guest to attend some Windows Vista Labs in Beijing China. OH MY GOD! Not only have I never been to China, The Great Wall, or eaten Real Peking Duck, but this will also be my first “real” Microsoft Event, i.e. anything other than one TechEd I went to, once (you get my point).

As one of only 25 MVPs & community leaders selected globally for this event I am honored and will do my best to represent you guys there, i.e. beat them to a pulp regarding Tablet PC and Ultra-Mobile PC related questions. The hosts, Microsoft Beijing, have invited members of the Official Vista Team from Redmond for us to rub shoulders with and for this I am very excited. PLEASE submit any burning questions you might have as this is not about me but about you. I can only imagine that I was selected because undoubteably I’ll VLOG about the event, and, I’ll actually get your questions answered; so do not hestitate.

Regrettably not all my 5 day stay is about Microsoft Windows Vista. I have decided to take my Samsung Q1B and take him to the Great Wall of China! I promise lots of photos and even a video of me and whatever Tablet I have with me at the time, at the top of the Great Wall. Thanks for all your support guys, you Rock!

If you’re feeling a little green do not read further. If however you know I’m in it for you, and not me, then read on…my intinerery for my 1.5 days off is as follows:

Tour ItineraryDay 1 Sat 10-Feb-07 Destination: BeijingService Provided: our guide will contact you the time of departure the night before. The Great Wall -Badaling Section, Ming Tombs, The Sacred Road, Roasted Duck at Qianmen Quanjude. Chinese Lunch, Chinese Dinner--The Great Wall -Badaling Section: The Badaling Great Wall was built in the County of Yanqing, Beijing. This section of Great Wall is the best preserved and earliest to be open for sightseeing. The Great Wall is undoubtedly among the most imposing and amazing architectures in this planet. --Ming Tombs: The Underground Palace of Dingling was unearthed during the period 1956 to 1958. The whole palace was made of stone. It consists of five high palaces - the front, the middle, the back, the left and the right palaces. It is the tomb for the mausoleum of Emperor Zhu Yijun, the thirteenth emperor, and his two empresses.there are about 100 steps you need to go downstairs .--The Sacred Road: The road is guarded on both sides with stone statues by which the ancient emperors went to hold a memorial ceremony for the ancestors.--Roasted Duck at Qianmen Quanjude : In the evening, enjoy the Peking Roasted Duck which is renowned as the most delicious food of Beijing. Qianmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant(Old Duck) As the nickname implies, this is one of the oldest restaurants in the capital, dating back to 1864, and they serve great Peking duck.

Day 2 Sun 11-Feb-07 Destination: BeijingService Provided: half day tour to visit The Tian'anmen Square, The Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City. Chinese Lunch--The Tian'anmen Square: The center of Beijing.It is the largest square that lies in the center of a city in the world, the symbol of Beijing and China, ranked No. 1 in the 16 new scenic highlights of Beijing. --The Temple of Heaven: It is a few kilometers south of the Forbidden City The Temple of Heaven is the most imposing and biggest ancient architecture where sacrifices were devoted to the Heaven in the world. Its typical Chinese architecture style is of significant value and far reaching influence upon the architecture style in eastern and southeastern Asian country. Note: The renovation project of the Temple of Heaven started May 21, 2005 has already been finished but some follow-up work is still underway, which may cause inconvenience for visitors.--The Forbidden City: The center of Beijing, to the north of the Tiananmen Square.It is the largest and best preserved royal palace in the world and home to a huge number of valuable antiques. The Forbidden City is the essence and a must for sightseeing in Beijing. Note: The Fobidden City is now undergoing large-scale renovations which are expected to be completed till 2020. The Forbidden City will remain open to visitors during the renovations, but there may be some temporary inconvenience, for which we apologize. The Forbidden City will adopt an electronic ticket-checking system from May onwards to control its crowd flow. The new system will keep a real-time record of visitors inside the museum, and automatically inform the ticket office to halt ticket sales once the number exceeds the museum's maximum reception capacity.

Windows Vista launch rocked!

SO yesterday I attended the Vista launch and boy was it fun. There was all the regular fanfare but lots more than I expected. There was music, videos, music, videos, and more music and videos…if that seems rhetorical that’s because it is. The entire event was hijacked by the need to kill iPod the fact that most people now think of their PC as the hub of the multimedia experience. Not only were the words “streaming” and “downloading” made synonymous with today’s computing age but new words like “interactive” and “LIVE” had now become even more prevalent with the introduction of Vista…so we are made to believe!

I had fun. Surrounded by journalists I was able to get a feel for just how boring life is without a Tablet PC…poor bastards. Not only were they dropping pens and scribbling noisily on paper, but at the same time they were expecting to go home and read their shorthand sometime in the future. All I did was pull out my Samsung Q1 and record the experience on OneNote using my inbuilt mic array and OneNotes ability to record audio clippings…I didn’t even need a pen. I must admit that when one of the PowerPoint slides clicked over and displayed a Samsung Q1 Ultra-Mobile PC in the heart of its message I couldn't help but feel at home.

Overall there were three major announcements as follows (four really):

  1. New online music service from Sanity – The first integrated online music subscription service in Australia was announced by Sanity and Microsoft Australia. The new Sanity service will give Australian Windows Vista customers access to more than 1 million tracks to download and will offer both subscription and purchase options when it goes live in April 2007. It makes digital music both easy and legal for mainstream consumers.
  2. BigPond Movies – Microsoft Australia and Telstra BigPond today announced the integration of BigPond Movies content into Windows Vista Media Center. BigPond Movies is the first movie and video download service to be integrated with Windows Vista in Australia and is now available. For the first time consumers can download on their PC in the study then watch on their TV using Xbox 360 as a network extender.
  3. Kodak Online Print Wizard - Microsoft Australia and Kodak announced the integration of the Print@Kodak online printing wizard into the new Windows Vista Photo Gallery so people can send their photos to be printed directly from their Windows Vista computers and have them mailed back or pick them up from their nearest Kodak shop.
  4. New Solitaire!

I think one the most awkward highlights of the event was when a Microsoft Staff member turned to the big screen, where he had successfully depicted the roadmap for the new online music service from Sanity, and with one push of a button opened some curtains and presented us with the biggest eyeful of LIVE ROCK MUSIC breathing down our necks…here’s what I saw three seats away:

As I left I was fare welled by several tray-yielding wait staff with the friendliest looking chicken skews and quiche Loraine. I grabbed and scoffed, signed for my press bag and headed back on the fairy to Manly beach! Life is good…

Monday, January 29, 2007

Happy Vista Day everyone

So tomorrow I’m off to the Official launch of Vista and it is going to be a blast. It is promised to be an awesome event with lots of entertainment and giveaways, not to mention it's billed as "Biggest Microsoft launch in 10 years!"

In preparation for this epic monster I have prepared one…no better make that two Samsung Q1s running Vista Ultimate. The first is my trusty Q1 mentioned here, and the second is my shiny new Q1B sent to me thanks to VIA!!! (Cheers Bjorn)

Happy Vista Day everyone…I’m so excited I can’t sleep…and I probably won’t.

This is not trick photography!!! LOL

Friday, January 26, 2007

5 Different UMPC (video)

Five different Ultra-Mobile PC, in one home, meant another Hugo Ortega video was inevitable. While I tried to get this done several times I found the task a little overwhelming, i.e. so many subjects, so many possibilities. The end result is 35 minute showcase of the five devices and my thoughts.

Hope you enjoy. As usual leave lots of comments, and/or suggest what you’d like to see next.


Show notes:

  • Intro
  • Pen Input
  • Alternate Input Methods (methods other than the Pen)
  • Product Verdict

Devices (ranked from lowest cost to most expensive):

Happy Australia Day...everyone!

My friend Dr. Neil has been working very diligently on a new project called Look Up and Smile. Today, being Australia Day, Microsoft will be taking scheduled Satellite imagery over the city and placing it online using the Virtual Earth technology.

On behalf of the UberTablet Blog and the tablet PC Community Downunder I wish you all a Happy Australia Day. If you want to participate in your own little way why not download an Aussie MeeGo to use today - even if you're overseas? I'm off with my wife and kids to see some fireworks and have dinner amongst the millions!


Multitasking your UMPC Accessories

After two of my readers, Igor and Charlie Thomas, requested I look at several UMPC related accessories and their ability to multitask with other devices I thought I would post some photos. In summary Igor wanted to know if the ASUS R2H would fit in the Organsier Pack made by Samsung; while Charlie wanted to know if the Samsung Q1 would fit in the EO I7210 Bump Case.

Let’s take a look:

Sorry Igor, the ASUS does not all!

But the TabletKiosk EOV7110 does!

Here is the EO V7110 cloesd in the Samsung Q1 Organiseer Pack. By the way, the V7110 is top-heavy and has a tendency to fall out of the pack if you open it quickly!!! at your own risk.

Hey Charlie, the Samsung Q1 fits nicely. For your reference buy the EO V7110 Bump Case as it will fit even better with more exposed buttons. (Make sure you blog about it and credit me!

It's a nice fit actually!

Here is the back of the Bump Case with the Q1 in it.

Here is the EO Portfolio Carrying Case and the Q1 fits in it nicely too!

Here is the Q1 closed up inside the EO Portfolio Carry Case.

I was pretty excited to learn that the Samsung Q1 Keyboard (which includes a mouse pointer and left and right click) works on all UMPC. Note however you may need to use a USB extension cable to get to your USB ports depending on which device you use

Tell TabletKiosk "Hugo from Australia" sent you and they'll look after you!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dr. Neil gives Q1 the VISTA treatment

First a ping, then a ring, then a tap on the back door, and who should pop over but the ever famous Dr. Neil Roodyn. No, we weren't podcasting (ala Dr. Neil’s Notes), nor were we ripping a video, this time he was on a mission...the Vista Mission. Tired of playing spectator to the many he too decided to delicately place Vista on his Samsung Q1 Ultra-Mobile PC.

Well done Neil, I think it will please everyone to know just how "simple" you found the task...maybe it helps being an Author, MVP, Regional Director, and International Guru...don't be fooled by his simplicity readers...he's half man/half Service Packs!

My ACER Ferrari 1000 Tablet

So prior to Christmas it seemed like I’d done something right, to someone, somewhere. Not only did I receive a baby daughter in November but shortly after, and not as planned, came Mr. FedEX with a rather large box from ACER/Microsoft and AMD. What was it you ask? Only an Acer Ferrari 1000 Notebook with Windows Vista Ultimate pre-installed and Office 2007 Ultimate too.

I know there was a big uproar about the entire giveaway, and a great deal of fanfare due to the “morality” of the entire event, and in case you didn’t follow it read Mitch Denny, Craig Pringle or Frank Arrigo. All I can say however is that being on the receiving end was rather nice – if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a Tablet Guy and the Ferrari is a “just” a notebook.

Not to sound ungrateful but I must admit, to the horror of many geeks around the globe, that the box sat untouched for much of the festive season. When I finally got around to opening the box I was disappointed I hadn’t cracked her open earlier; I fell in love with Windows Vista and was overwhelmed with all the new Office features.

So there I was with an AMD Dual Core beast with all the bells-and-whistles staring back at me, and yet there was no pen. First thing I did was connect to the internet, obviously, and looked for the latest Windows Updates, of which there were none. Then I quickly modified my Sidebar via the Gadget Gallery, and then I stared…I stared at the closed lid of my little box. What was staring back at me you might ask; only the most beautifully molded piece of Carbon Fibre (replica I think) staring right back at me, and at the heart of the stare was the shiny-Red Ferrari emblem, embossed as only the precious horse should be.

I believe there are only three types of men in the world: those that like Porsches, those that like Ferraris, and everyone else. I for one have always been a Porsche man, and if you ever sat in a Porsche Cayenne you’d know what I mean; and yet when this little Black Stallion pranced on his little yellow shield of honor all I could think was thank you Microsoft, thank you.

Many journalists battled with the morality of handing bloggers a FREE top of the range notebook. They saw it as a bribe and even worse as a form of blackmail. I think Mitch Denny put it best when he said we were already converted, we’ve only been blogging about the merits of Microsoft forever…come on! You only have to read my blog for 6 seconds to know that I am an unpaid evangelist, part of the VEP (Volunteer Evangelistic Program…LOL), who is a passionate advocate for all things MS, although my primary expertise is Tablet PC.

The dilemma lies herein; do we keep the notebook, give it back to Microsoft or give it away. When I received an email today from Frank Arrigo I couldn’t help but feel a little nudged! Perhaps they did have expectations of the giveaway…of course…and perhaps, rightly so, Frank was wondering why I hadn’t blogged about the event given that my blog has quite a “nice” global following. So tonight I’ve blogged about it, and even posted a simple video. You may remember Wacom gave me a Vista enabled Tablet board recently which cleverly turns any notebook, or desktop, into a Tablet PC. So what else was there left for me to do but Ink Enable my Ferrari; and that’s exactly what I did. The following is a little video showing exactly that. I am happy to blog about any of the Ferrari features you like, and even comment on Vista. This is your space so let me know how I can benefit you from this giveaway.

And for those of you interested my plan is NOT to keep it…that leaves two choices, I believe. ;-)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I found a Tablet I forgot I owned

The funniest thing happened to me today. I decided, together with a little shove from my wife, to clean the garage. What I didn’t realize however is just how massive this job was going to be. The first thing you need to know about my garage is that my car has never been in it, and we’ve been here for 2 years now. The second thing you need to know is that it is a double-brick, double car space, extra long garage; so my car not fitting-in is not due to lack of space.

Thinking back, what has occurred is probably the same dilemma that faces many married couples. The man of the house, usually a role taken by the husband, but not always (LOL), has his toys in the garage, while the woman of the house, usually the wife (LOL), takes all the available cupboard space in the house for her stuff! In this case I have a garage full of cables, old PCs, monitors, more cables, boxes, and, did I mention cables???

What was interesting about this miserable tale is this. While performing man’s most mundane task (the garage cleanup) I discovered the funniest thing ever. This will sound extremely bizarre to most of you but for the “clever” ones that have visited my blog on more than one occasion, what I am about to say will not entirely surprise. “What I found was a Tablet I forgot I had!”

At last count there are over 12 Tablet PCs in the house (including Ultra-Mobile PC) and this one would tip the scale to make it 13! As Dr. Neil would tell me, “not a bad problem to have!” The Tablet I found was the Xplore Rugged Slate named the IX104. If you haven’t heard me mention this one before just read here, or watch here (recorded: Sunday, February 12, 2006).

Have a great weekend everyone! Another video 4U tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another family portrait

I never collected coins or stamps, nor bottle tops or fridge magnets. My hobbies seem to be a little more eccentric in that I've taken to collecting UMPC! Finally I hit the jackpot in that I have gathered all the UMPC under one roof. Once again however it's not about me, it's about you! So I'll free up a moment in the next few days and VLOG my thoughts...stay tuned. Until then salivate over this picture; I'm off to bed with one of them.

I remember posting an image of the family in R&R and also thinking how funny it was that lots of you ran with the photo on your own blogs, so I thought to myself, “why not tease you do it again? “

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My Samsung Q1 Story (Video)

Recently, before Christmas to be exact, I sold my Fujitsu T4210. “What” I hear you yell! My logic was this: If I move my gadgets I will all remain ahead of the pack and knowledgeable enough to warrant anyone reading this blog. What ended up happening was the deepest exploration of my personal views on mobility and what UMPC really means to me.

Because I moved my T4210 on pretty quickly I was faced with the dilemma of which machine to choose next. I am bit lucky though in that I had “almost” anything at my finger tip. So what did I reach for and why??? That is the million dollar question.

The following is a succinct three-part video documenting my thoughts and feelings towards Ultra-Mobile PC today and why I was able to replace my desktop, and therefore increase my productivity! So grab some popcorn and sit back and watch another episode of the UberTablet blog; or is that vlog?

Once again keep the feedback and questions coming. I value your thoughts and opinions and always look forward to playing a role, or you playing a role in my Ultra-Mobile Story! This is Hugo Ortega asking you to have fun with me!

Part One
View it on MyYouTube

Part Two
View it on MyYouTube

Part Three
View it on MyYouTube

Monday, January 15, 2007

Las Vegas CES 2007 is over

I’m kind of glad CES is over because of two reasons.

1. I couldn’t attend (jealousy is a curse), and
2. Because of the information overload.

I conducted my first wrap up here and this is my final. The show was awesome. There were obvious developments in the UMPC space that warmed the heart. The two blogs I followed on this front were JKOntheRun, an GottaBeMobile. Lets point at a couple of their posts I liked recently:

I really enjoyed coverage of the Switchback UMPC by Warner Crocker:

We were all anxious to find and talk to the folks at Black Diamond about their ruggedized Ultra-Mobile PC, the Switchback. The wait was worth it. Dennis and I were able to get our hands on these units (a very clever display where they had some of the suspended from chains dangling in the air), and also film a video interview which we’ll be posting up shortly. I have never had the opportunity to hold a ruggedized anything in my hand until this CES, and let me tell you, in my opinion the Switchback is an amazing device to hold.

Read more

The Medion UMPC has a home, or does it???

Warner covered it here, and Kevin Christopher Tofel did an exceptional job here. But is it a device worth buying? You tell me…I’m interested.

The screen slides smoothly, revealing something that I wouldn't want in my UMPC. At least that's what I thought. The keyboard is the most standard looking and feeling keyboard over anything I've seen yet, and we've seen 'em all here. The keys have a nice feel and travel; just like a standard keyboard, only much smaller of course. You'll be using your thumbs, but I have to say after using the device for about 10 minutes: you can quickly get used to the approach and start tapping out text faster than you'd think.

Source: Kevin C. Tofel

The Toshiba R400 appeared to be the stickiest blog catcher though.

Warner started it, Dennis kept it going, Rob dove into the action, and then Warner brought it up as a best-of-show experience! At the JK Camp James saw it on Day 2 and focused on the Docking Station, and so too did Kevin.

I think Warner got it right in that CES was all about Media, i.e. videos and streaming, and stuff. Even Bill Gates Keynonote was run through a Tag Cloud Generator designed by Seattle PI (way cool Frank for posting this) and the strong buzz words from his speech were all about video, music, ipTV, photos…MEDIA, MEDIA, MEDA. Looks like Toshiba is on the case in the Tabletsphere.

The Toshiba Wireless Port Replicator was the most impressive piece of new hardware I saw the entire conference. I hope others follow Toshiba’s lead here and soon. Being able to set your Tablet PC on your desk and have it connect to a 2nd monitor, or any USB device wirelessly could be a real boon. And if there is any doubt that media is what everybody is thinking about, the fact that the wireless dock is optimized for streaming media and the reps actually recommend moving large files through a USB connection should tell you something.

Source: Warner Crocker

I also liked Bjorn Strombergs presence at CES. Bjorn works for VIA Technology and has done a passionate job of talking up the C7M mobile processor from VIA. Here he is in this video of the OQO 02 - another much loved CES 2007 device.

Then there was the S-Xgen. Not only did this appear to be disliked by several but it was also a little misunderstood, or at least misrepresented by its own staff. (now I'm not sure if it runs Windows Mobile 5.0 or Pocket PC). If you watch this InkShow you’ll see that Rob managed to stump the Sales Rep on several occasions…come on Seamless what are you doing??? I want to know where the place is for this device. It’s a Windows Mobile 5.0 phone/PC that needs a dial pad (separate) and headset (separate again) to make phone calls. It main features touted by the manufacturer are battery life and full size keyboard. What do you guys think?

Rob Bushway saw it here, and put it on video here, and Kevin Tofel almost walked straight past it here.

One product that was really exciting was the new screen technology from Sony; these will no doubt play a role in notebooks and Tablets in the near future. I came across this via these clowns in the UK. (Who are these guys?) Anyway have a look at just how thin the screen is!!! While another favourite of mine, and by no means were these guys clowns, was the CNETTV Team. I couldn’t help but watch each video a couple of times over.

SO that's it for my AdHoc roundup with a little taste of what I followed/liked/disliked. While I having got heavily involved I still wanted to give you a flavour of what CES meant to me in a token sort of I have to go a do some "real work!"

Free Downloads Daily - UMPC app today

Apparently there is a site called Giveaway of the day, and apparently it’s frequented by many. I'm not sure how much joy Aussies or Kiwis will get out of this site given that by the time we wake there will only be a few hours left to download the "giveaway", but I still thought it was worth passng on. I don’t normally bother with this shit stuff but I can see some use in RSS-ing the link. Today the Free Giveaway is an application called True Launch Bar:

True Launch Bar is an ultimate experience of a manageable file system. It gets the best of MS Windows OS and streamlines it for greater comfort of use. Its unique system of switching toolbars and expandable menus gives instant access to files, applications, and settings from the taskbar. In addition, overlay images and skins give system polish and slick looks.

True Launch Bar is a superior replacement for the standard Quick Launch bar. All functions presented in Quick Launch are also in True Launch Bar. However, the True Launch Bar is fully compatible with Quick Launch because it uses the same folder for shortcuts.

But there is one huge difference. True Launch Bar allows you to combine your shortcuts into groups. This feature looks like popup menus. This vastly improves the management of your shortcuts and save working space on your desktop.

By using True Launch Bar, you speed up the launching of your applications like never before.

Source: Giveaway of the Day

I for one have downloaded it as it appears to be very UMPC friendly! Thanks James Kendrick for the heads up. Itg was interesting to note that GottaBeMobile even ran with the story.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Hugo Ortega reviews Panasonic Toughbook Tablet PC

*Update 16.01.2007.* The Soft Keyboard can in fact be enlarged; Silly Me didn't even try I guess! LOL. Another update which becomes relevant to the Tablet PC Space is that within the Panasonic menu the screen can be setup to rotate upon physical rotation of the screen; therefore the rotation button becomes an additional rotation hotkey, while the screen itself will initiate the rotation on its own. That’s nice for Pen users.

Normally I report on the latest and greatest from the Tablet PC space, however today I want to share with you a rather different experience, a Tough Experience I had. On many occasions there is the smell of brand new enamel paint dripping off of alloy encrusted PCB; usually these same smoldering units carry the sex appeal that Generation X or Y are looking for, and the price tag to match. The last 10 days however I have been graced by something very different.

10 Days ago Panasonic delivered me the CF-18 Tablet PC as part of their Toughbook range. If you’ve never owned or played with a Toughbook it may interest to you that it’s actually a rather nice machine in both look and feel. At first glance there are all the features you would expect from a manufacturer targeting Military and Utilities as its main audience; there are exposed screw heads, rubber mounts, latches, panels and more brushed alloy than a Hummer (well almost).

My first stumbling block was reached very quickly. Being Australia’s Tablet Guy I wasn’t so much interested in its ruggedisation as I was its Tablet PC features. As I placed my hand on the top of the screen and went to snap the screen into Tablet mode – still not sure if it was left or right I should be pushing – I found that the screen would not budge. It turns out this was to be my first rugged experience. You see, to turn the screen one needs to physically hit a release latch to unlock the swivel mechanism for it to go into Tablet mode. Although at first glance I didn’t think much of this feature it does make a lot of sense; given that I am very prone to picking up my convertibles from their screen having the screen locked gave this unit a lot more rigidity and firmness than other convertibles.

So now it was time to play with the pen. To my horror the device Panasonic had shipped me sported a resistive touchcreen, and not an active digitizer as I had assumed. In total ignorant bliss I hadn’t even realized that Panasonic have two flavours of these beasts. The CF-18, the device I held, is Panasonic’s 10.4” which actually ships with an optional Digitizer Screen and Active Pen.
Upon exploration of the All Programs menu I stumbled across an application named the Panasonic Inking Utility. Not only was I able to write using a dummy pen directly on the screen, but what I found most amusing, but not very functional, was that the mouse pad found on the base of the keyboard actually had a pen mode too! By taking the stylus I could literally write straight onto the mouse pad as I would on the screen. The inking utility even allowed for this behavior specifically via a toggle button that told the Toughbook whether I was writing on the screen or on the mouse pad. Again, I couldn’t see the real purpose (anone???) but I did find it intriguing to say the least.

Now that I could rotate the screen, and take some notes, it was time to lock the device in tablet mode so I could become more mobile. Being a rugged machine the CF-18 had an awesome flip-latch to mechanically lock the screen down. With a closing movement akin to that of a mechanics toolbox the latch lifts up, over, and locks heavily down on its base to give the Tablet mode of the this notebook a more permanent place. Now I wouldn’t like to see this incorporated into something like the new Toshiba R400 but it was by far the best locking mechanism I had been exposed to. Given the alarming trend notebooks shipping notebooks without any lock mechanism at all (like the Kohjinsha SA1 UMPC and my free ACER Ferrari 1000 - yes I got one too) I found this rudimentary technology a welcome return.

Now it was time to explore I/O ports and Expansion slots. Starting from the front initial investigation would reveal and array of non-programmable hotkeys. Working from left to right there was the screen brightness up/down button, then the soft keyboard launcher, then a user log off button, and a screen rotate button that supported 360 degree rotate, and finally the Control Alt Delete button which allowed a user to log in or call up of the Task Manager too. The buttons were very responsive and had rather nice recessed feel so that a user frequenting the CF-18 might even learn to navigate these with the use of touch only. One major let down, exacerbated by the lack of Windows XP Tablet Edition, was the soft keyboard. Not only was this keyboard not resizable but it had less function than that of a very basic PDA (and about the same size I might add).

Deciding to work my way around the device clockwise I remained in Tablet mode and found myself with the first indication of how manufacturers obtain an IP (Ingress Protection) Rating. What is an IP Rating you might ask?

An IP Rating is often used when specifying the environmental protection afforded by enclosures around electronic equipment. These ratings refer to specific tests and each test is awarded a specific rating via an IP Number. The IP number is made up of two components as follows: for e.g. In IP44 the first number refers to the protection against solid objects and the second against liquids. The higher the number the better the protection.
Source: Antares
It turns out that the Panasonic CF-18 Toughbook has an IP Rating of IP54, which is considered very high. The CF-18 has successfully obtained it via an array of very tightly sealed flaps, or hard-plastic doors if you like, that conceal ports and slots. My first glance at the right hand side would reveal an AC port, 2 USB ports, an Ethernet and a Modem port, and no less than two PCMCIA slots. So when you consider what’s behind these hard-plastic doors you begin to realize just how well they do their job.

In case you are interested the number that follows the IP Rating is broken into two components. In this case, IP54, looks something like this:
  • (5) Protected against dust, limited ingress (no harmful deposit)
  • (4) Protection against water sprayed from all directions - limited ingress permitted

Let’s keep working our way clockwise shall we?

Looking at the back of the device we find, once again hidden behind the IP Rated doors, access to an SD Card Slot, a VGA Out Port, and a seldom found Serial Port. Given the target audience of these device is Telecommunications Companies and the Military the serial port was an obvious inclusion for work with Cisco gear, and more.

Finally one more clockwise movement and we find the battery chamber and the hard drive chamber. For those of you unfamiliar with Ruggedisation it’s important to note that most of the Intellectual Property that surrounds this technology can be found in the later, i.e. the Hard Drive chamber. Because the spinning platters of a standard 2.5” hard drive do not like sudden jolts or movements then the Hard Drive chamber of a rugged notebook is where you will find most reggedization occurs. Panasonic terms this the “Shock mounted removable hard drive in stainless steel casing.”

For your convenience I have shot a small video of the enclosure to give you a closer look. Silly me forgot I was holding a CF-18 so when I mention CF-19 just replace it - in your clever little heads - with CF-18. LOL.

Photos and Vidoes C/O my 5yr old son
Watch it on MyYouTube

The CF-18 has one more definable feature in that it is 100% fanless. With dust protection such an integral part of the IP Rating process the fact that this notebook can operate without a fan makes its ruggedisation even more successful. Panasonic has gone to great lengths to protect its Intellectual Property surrounding this feature, and no matter how hard I tried, the representative from their office was as tight lipped as the hard-plastic doors protecting the USB ports on the device. Even more remarkable is that the successor to the CF-18, the CF-19, deliverable in February 2007, will in fact sport an Intel Dual Core Processor while still remaining fanless. Well done Panasonic.

Overall I was pleased with the device and its intended use. Ruggedisation is something that will become more popular in the mainstream as devices like Ultra-Mobile PC and Tablet PC become more mobile, i.e. full day usage. Because end-users will look at taking UMPC on extreme sports outings, and even as a travel mate, ruggedisation is going to become a key factor. Given that TabletKiosk launched its first entry into the Tough Tablet market via the ToughTab 7” UMPC this week at CES 2007 it’s not hard to see that I am right. Many corporate and enterprise folks favour ruggedisation as a form of future proofing their dollars and one can only expect that mum-and-dad consumers will do the same in the not too distant future.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this deep dive into Panasonic’s Toughbook CF-18. If there’s any questions you have or anything in particular you want to see this year on the UberTablet Blog just let me know…it’s your resource!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Raon Digital Vega gets GPS Navi Pack

Photo shading C/O Word 2007 (HOT!!!)
See Word 2007 Demo here

An Aussie recently asked me if I had tried the Vega Navigation System, to which I promptly reply “what are you talking about mate!” He pointed me to this site and got me thinking a lot about the potential of such a beast.

I then contacted Raon Digital (who are an awesome bunch) and asked for one…and look what FedEX brought me shortly after; shortly after paying a shocking amount of duties and taxes that is.

SO what’s in the box?
  1. Suction mount for the window
  2. Bracket to hold the little 4.3” Vega
  3. Extension cable for Audio and AC (cool)
  4. The Vega “Navi” USB GPS module! Nice
So let me head off and find my way around town…the Vega way!!! Keep you all posted in the next few days. For those of you not sure of what a Vega is make sure you look at the Vega 512 specifications (Australian Site).

Kohjinsha SA1 UMPC. First impressions

My English speaking mate, Chippy, who resides in Germany, has got a first look at the 7" Convertible notebook named Kohjinsha! What I found fun to watch about this video was the shear excitement coming from Chippy as he glanced into the box and spotted the new device staring back at him.

Grab some popcorn and watch less than 10 minutes of one grown man acting like one very excited little child...

For me the device lacks much appeal given that Origami and therefore touch/pen features are a very obvious omissions! It looks slick and seems to run well but I would not know where to put it amongst all my toys equipment. I think the P1610 would be a better buy but I guess you should read Chippy's review to find out more if you are interested in such a beast.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Vistagami get UMPC Touch Pack upgrade via Origmai Touch Pack

*Update 13th of January 6am* TO see the new Origami Touch Pack in action just play this video below. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with th UI improvements, and even more excited about your nextGEN UMPC.

Video: UMPC - Samsung Q1P demoed at CES

My Original Verdict of the Touch Pack for UMPC

I recently shot a video welcoming newcomers to UMPC Software – an out of the box experience. In this video I covered several topics of interest to the Tabletscape including the Microsoft Touch Pack for UMPC. For those of you that remain unaware of an Ultra-Mobile PC it may interest you to know that the Touch Pack was Microsoft's clever attempt to drive consumers towards finger-driven computing. Via the Touch Pack a UMPC user was able to navigate through a traditional Windows Explorer environment while using only their finger. You can download the tutorial here, or view more edtails of how the UMPC Touch Pack works here.

As it turns out I wasn't the only one supplying this feedback as Microsoft has heeded our concerns and is working on a new Touch Pack…for Vista. If you don’t want to look at the video my point was this, the Touch pack had no depth and lacked any real function.

It seems that one of the prerequisites of this new Touch Pack will be that you are running Windows Vista on your Ultra-Mobile PC of choice. This is probably a good thing and will force manufacturers such as ASUS, Samsung and more to develop better Vistagami (as they were quickly dubbed).

How sweet is the Media Player integration

Although I wasn’t at CES 2007, but I feel as though I was, two of my friends have covered this development very well. Warner Crocker of GottaBeMobile tells it like this, while 24hrs earlier Kevin C. Tofel (what’s the C. for mate?) tells it like this. Kevin was so ecstatic that he did a follow up post here. And No matter who you choose to follow on this scoop the results are the same, i.e. the application is declared a winner. For more information why not go to the heart of the problem solution and visit the boys in Redmond, Sears and Dustin. I for one welcome the new Pack, and its controversial inclusion of Origami in its name…come on guys, lets settle on one Moniker!!!

CasterBlaster Software gets UMPC enabled

Win XP GUI (Graphical User Interface)

Win 2K GUI (Graphical User Interface)

I’ve been carrying on a several threads with the developer of one of my favorite pieces of software, CastBlaster. His name is Mike Versteeg and he is a very clever man – and now even more so since he’s moved into the world of Ultra-Mobile PC. After several Q & A sessions Mike has recently settled on the EO i7210 as the UMPC of choice. His first attempt at a UMPC initiated CastBlaster Podcast can be found here, and is exceptionally good quality. It was recorded unaided (other than the EO itself) and even Mike was pleasantly surprised. I particularly like Mike’s concept for this site, test 123. Here is his explanation:

Show description: Mike Versteeg is software engineer and developer of programs like CastBlaster and WinPodder. Most of the development time goes into testing. Testing123 is a brief glance into these many hours of testing.. Expect to see and hear totally uninteresting audio and video material made during the creation of project like CastBlaster Pro and CastBlaster Video.

Dr. Neil and I have been using Castblaster for our joint Podcasts hosted by Dr. Neil’s Notes. We found it to be versatile and flexible enough to rip even the most “casual” podcast online! One thing that bugged us was CastBlaster’s poor ability to sit on a UMPC; we mentioned it on Show #21 and got Mike’s attention very quickly. Mike was always intended to make this happen but perhaps our global call-out helped.

So if you want to see the beast in action why don’t you hop on over to Forums and Download the latest Beta release. IF you’re not sure what CastBlaster isor what it might do for you then just watch this video. If you want to know what the product sounds like when used at its best then listen to the Adam Curry’s the Daily Source Code or read his blog (if you dare).

My CES roundup

Sitting back at basecamp (Sydney) I couldn’t help but think that CES in Las Vegas was a success, at least for Tablet enthusiasts that is. What I mean by this is that there were no major revelations, or developments in the UMPC platform, and that to me is a positive experience. Let me explain why!

I feel that we are almost always putting a R.I.P inscription on all newly released products immediately out f the box. As soon as a blogger posts the “first look” at anything, like this, or this, someone leaves a comment like “when is the NextGen coming”…give me a break. Surely we all like the latest and greatest toys, but shouldn’t we spend a minute and get to know what is available before we right it off in the hope of achieving Nerdvana (read this blog).

So with all that in mind, I declare less UMPC a good thing; why, because now we can get to the know the existing form factor just a little longer, and put away the 7” coffin we ordered! Having said all this, there were several new releases like the TabletKiosk “Tough Tab” and the “Sahara Slate i440.” I also liked James Kendrick with this cheesy look at the HP TX 1000! (I thought I had the market on cheesy photos James!) You can also see it on CNETTV.

CES seemed to flow quite nicely and kicked off with a Bisll Gates keynote, which from what I could tell, left many wanting more, not less Bill! It seemed to showcase UMPC, but not highlight them in any big way. He did however seem to pick up a UMPC in one of he’s demonstrations while using it to control the ambience via projected-wall-art in a make believe kids room! I liked the keynote personally and sat in my living room at 2pm, with my wife and son, while I chatted to a who’s-who of the Tablet space online (shout out to Chippy, JTokash, MPropst and JKK), while they sat at home at around 5am! Ouch! This was a Ultra-Geek affair that had been setup via this CES Party. It was lots of fun.

As the show progressed it looked as though the biggest story unfolding was the OQO 02. I liked this video from Engadget that seemed to be first in, but I also like this video from CNETTV. The sweetest thing about the OQO was the Dock!!! Look here. Speaking of docks it was the Toshiba that stole the show with a wireless, yes, wireless, USB 2.0 solution on the new convertible R400. Take a look at it here, and here. It beckons me to ask the “true” connection speed between the dock and the Toshi, as I still can’t get 480Mbps out of my cabled USB 2.0 stuff…LOL.

The last reference I’ll leave you with is this webcam, and it’s not porn! It was setup by the first family of Tablet PC, The Heinys, and aimed at the crowd gathered in the good name of Tablet PC at Cheesburger Las Vegas. Because I wasn’t there, and hopefully I was missed, I will give you an excerpt from an emotive Warner Crocker:

This entire evening would be possible without the work of the First Lady of The First Family of Tablet PCs, Lora Heiny, so everyone owes her a big thank you. And speaking of the First Family, it was great to meet Robert and Joan Heiny, the folks responsbile for all those Heinys, and although Loren wasn’t there, he and his brother Layne, who was in attendance, hooked up a webcam and streamed the event live. (You can check it out here.)

I have enjoyed following the event and receiving emails from attendees there. Thank you everyone involved and everyone posting from the CES show, including my little infamous Long Zheng! I hope I have contributed to those of you that weren’t there by sharing my experience as I saw it unfold. There are obviously many omissions but it is bed time and I will talk with you soon! I’ve missed you guys but I promise to provide with the best year ever of Tablet PC related commentary from Australia!!! Talk to you later…Hugo Ortega.

PS. If you want to hear something really fun out of CES then listen to James Kendrick (Houston), Matt Miller (Seattle) and Kevin C. Tofel (Philadelphia) in the latest edition of their Mobile Tech Roundup: CLICK HERE and listen directly.MoTR 85 is 21:18 minutes long and is a 7.3 MB file in MP3 format. to download the file.