8.3. What the Devices of the Future Will Be Like

These are a series of blog posts and other writings about the general form and architecture of computer-powered devices.

Wednesday, May 24, 2000 : PCs vs. appliances

I attended another conference yesterday. (I'll write it up in a few days.) I was taking notes with my Palm PDA and external keyboard accessory as usual when I noticed a person in the row in front of me similarly typing, but with one of those neat, tiny, 2 lb. Sony Vaios with a 1024x480 pixel screen and built-in video camera (the C1XS model, I guess). So cool! Boy, I'd like one of those.

I started thinking: You know, maybe this PDA and appliance business is silly. Here she has something just a little bigger and heavier, but it's a real PC. You can take notes on it just like I do. You can run lots of programs. Why pay for all these pieces of hardware for each application, each with its own microprocessor and memory, when all you need to do is add software to the laptop?

Then I got brought back to reality. Still in the morning session, her machine went off. She took out another battery and swapped it. She rebooted and waited for ScanDisk (I guess it didn't shut down cleanly).

I had changed the two AAA batteries in my Palm before I started taking notes at a conference last week. I took notes all morning yesterday. It still has over 90% power left.

Then I thought about all those applications. We're used to PC applications costing $99–$895 each. Lotus 1-2-3 was $495. Photoshop ...

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