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Serenity, Can't stop the - Mostly, it is...

Jun. 18th, 2008

11:12 am - Serenity, Can't stop the

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Just a quick post for those who might be free. Joss Whedon's birthday is coming up, and Can't Stop The Serenity is doing screenings to raise funds in support of Equality Now to mark the occasion. Lots of cities are involved, most on the 21st of June, check the site for specifics.

One might ask "Hasn't he got more important things going on to write about?" Well, certainly stuff has happened, but this is what I managed to get down. Seeing as I'm already here though, I can maybe add a few more things.

I have a laptop again for the first time in maybe four years.

This time I was going for optimal travel size over speed and ease of use, but I still wanted to have something that could act as a reasonably full featured computer (in contrast to my Palm LifeDrive, which is a great PDA and e-book reader, but falls down on the web browsing (not just the browser, but also WiFi battery life) and writing fronts (no keyboard)). What I wanted, in other words, was a UMPC (ultra mobile computer). After having had the Jornada and the iBook hinges give me greater problems than anything else, I was biased against clamshell designs, which, in the UMPC space still left me with stick/tablet (e.g.: Wibrain, the Raon Digital Everun, the Samsung Q1), sliders (OQO, Sony UX series, Nokia N810), tilt and slide (HTC Shift), or separable. On the margin were convertible laptop/tablets, which still had a hinge, but in tablet mode would be under less stress. I wanted something that I could see myself carrying in a handbag, so that ruled out anything with a screen larger than about 5". The Sony UX was hands down the most powerful, but being a Sony, the price would be hard to justify. Plus, with any of the thumbboard models, I'd have the prospect of having to bring an external keyboard if I wanted to do any serious writing. The OQO 2 was the lightest (450 g - which, while still close to double the Palm, is still a good deal lighter than even the ultralight laptops), most compact, came in at the upper range of speed, had a best in class thumbboard, and though its native resolution was low (800 x 600), it could interpolate 1200 x 700 readably, and its graphics card was capable of driving a 1920 x 1200 external monitor (not that I have one). It was also just as expensive as the UX, though I really wavered on it - I came close to buying one of the Model 1's since they were by now in the sub $800 range. The Wibrain and the Raon Digital Everun were the first ones within my price range, being ~$1000 with options and accessories. I really liked the Raon's thumb mouse (essentially a sensor similar to an optical mouse's) and almost fantastic 12 hour battery life, but the specs were just not quite there with 512 MB RAM and a 600 MHz Geode processor (partly accounting for the battery life I guess.). I probably would have gotten the Wibrain were it not for the problems people were having with Sleep/Hibernate/Wake, camera drivers and so on. Otherwise it had a credible processor, an actual touchpad, 1024 x 600 4.6" screen (about as high resolution as one can find on a UMPC with a ~5" screen) built in camera, reasonable battery life, usable split thumbboard, the works. But I'd put up with the frustration of having a device that worked except when you needed it to before, and had no intention of doing so again if I could help it.

Finally ended up going for a Fujitsu U810.
171 x 154 x 32 mm, 700 g (6.73" x 6" x 1.26", 1.56 lb)
800 MHz Intel A110 (Stealey)
5.6" screen at 1024 x 600

I can type on it pretty well, the screen is readable, it is small and light enough for it to be portable, has a long enough battery life that, for the most part, I shouldn't need to carry the AC adaptor, and though it doesn't have a backlit keyboard, it does have twin lights to illuminate it (referred to as "headlights").

Am I entirely happy with it? Well, no. The model is close to the end of its life - due to be replaced around September, so it is at the slower end of things - particularly running Vista Business. It would be nice if it could zoom out so that I wouldn't need to change the screen orientation for dialogue boxes that otherwise extend off the bottom of the display. The size of a hard case for the U810 is a good deal larger than one for the Wibrain would have been. Also, though it has a built in webcamera, it doesn't have the processing power to do a video Skype call without losing most of the audio. I expect that this will cease to be a problem when the replacement comes along with its Intel Atom (Diamondville) 1.6 GHz processor, given how close this one comes at half the clock speed. But you get what you're going to use when you're going to use it, and this time, it's now.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with it, and I expect to get a good bit of use out of it.

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