Ultra Portable

Starting at CES a bunch of buzz is swirling around the DualCor PC concept. It combines Windows and Windows Mobile into a form factor more closely aligned with a portable video player than a computer. The two operating systems supposedly save on battery life because you switch between them depending on what you’re doing, using Windows Mobile for anything that doesn’t require the full version of Windows. The form factor is small enough the company hopes this will be the computer business folks can’t be without the same way people have been known to covet Franklin planners in the paper world. Gear Live has a great video of a DualCor in action.
As I’m currently exploring the concept of highly portable computing via the Lifebook P1510D, I’m here to let the folks at DualCor know they are already late to the party. Fujitsu beat them to market with a computer that is already highly portable and will do everything they promise using Windows XP. You don’t need two operating systems to get the job done. In fact having to switch between two operating systems (fast or not) seems like a big deterrent for all but the most serious geeks because extra steps are a hassle. Fujitsu has the upper hand in integrating a keyboard. The battery life on the Fujitsu is good enough for the usage pattern predicted by DualCor.
The expected price for the DualCor is right in line with the Lifebook at $1500, which makes both a little expensive for home users but perfectly justifiable for business use. I haven’t carried a PDA in ages and probably never will considering my Windows Mobile phone stores contacts, calendar data and all the stuff I really care about in a usable phone factor. In fairness to DualCor, they claim to have phone support built-in to their unit as well, but the idea of holding a brick to my face gives me flashbacks to early 80’s Motorola products. I haven’t survived the New York trip yet to know if I can really abandon a full sized laptop, but there are a number of things the Lifebook is already more suited for.
eBooks are something I’m reading again on the Lifebook. By flipping the screen to portrait mode, it’s the perfect form factor for reading, with a size comparable to a trade paperback or hardback. Another added benefit of using the Lifebook P1500D is using the stylus to practice writing Chinese characters. Starting back in December, I finally enlisted the services of a tutor to learn to speak Mandarin and read and write simplified Chinese. I’m so out of the habit of writing on paper and typing everything that writing anything feels completely foreign to my hand. Using the stylus that comes with the Lifebook makes it somewhat easier to practice writing without worry about whether I have a sheet of paper.
In the learning space, Microsoft’s free Education Pack for Tablet PC includes a flash card app, which is perfect for the challenge of learning Chinese characters (or anything else). It also includes a free Hexic game, an equation writer and the scheduling tool that should ship with Outlook Express. The other must have add-on is the Experience Pack, which includes a snipping tool and a great Ink Art app.