At the Intel Developer Forum last week, a lot of the buzz on the demo floor was around new Atom hardware. There were the requisite netbooks and EeeClones floating around, but it seemed like peculiar little quasi-computers, or palmtop Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) stole the show. Sure, it's impressive to see a full, net-connected Vista or Ubuntu desktop running on something the size of a Sega Game Gear, but who exactly is supposed to buy these?
I played with as many of them as I could, and they are impressive, as least as feats of engineering. But as usable consumer devices? Not so much. None of the manufacturers have figured out exactly how we are supposed to interact with these machines, implementing half-baked touch controls, keyboards that suit neither your thumbs nor multiple fingers, and hardware that is too small to use for a long period of time but too bulky to fit in your pocket. Oh yeah, and projected prices range from US$500 to well in excess of US$1000. That said, I've got a different needs than a lot of users, and I'm exceptionally curmudgeonly for my age, so I'll pass it it you.