Cogito, ergo sum... (I think, therefore I am)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Me and my EEE

My fascination with small gadgets that pack a punch began with the Nokia 6600. That was the time I realized that it was technologically possible to package immense functionality into a tiny package. From the Nokia 6600, I switched to the iMate PDA2k, in search of a solution that would fulfill my needs. However, even the Windows Mobile path fell short of what I was looking for, and I gradually realized that I needed a complete computer, not a stripped down OS, but in a much smaller form factor. I realized this need of mine long before I had heard of Microsoft’s Origami project. When Origami was announced, I looked on with interest. I drooled on the TabletKiosk Eos’ and a hands on with the Samsung Q1 left me hankering for some UMPC action. The only thing stopping me was the price, which was more than US$ 1000 for any such device.

The second generation of UMPCss’ held much more allure for me, because I prefer a real keyboard to inking (never having had too much experience on it). The real gem to come out of the UMPC bandwagon was the Fujitsu U810 (U1010) and I made up my mind to buy it, and so began saving up.

During a vacation to Malaysia in November 2007, I came upon a shop in Kuala Lumpur (MTCS in The Pavilion, Bukit Bintang) where the sales rep showed me the U810. It was the first time I had handled the machine, and I was impressed. I spent almost half an hour fondling it. The rep told me that it was for US$ 1200, and that he had another small machine from Asus that was cheaper. I thought it was the R2H, but when he showed it to me, I immediately realized it was the EEE.

Until that time, I had not much been interested in the EEE. My logic was thus: ultraportables cost more than US$ 1000 for a reason. The reason is that smaller parts cost more, and to have a good ultraportable, you need to spend more money. How can something cost US$ 400 and still be considered worthwhile. Surely there was some fatal flaw or some hidden disadvantage which I would discover later on. However, the salesman was convincing enough that I was left thinking. He told me to think over whether I wanted to buy the U810 or the EEE and come back tomorrow.

That night, after my wife went to sleep early, I went out with my 15 inch Fujitsu Siemens V3405 laptop to search for an open wifi connection to do some research on the EEE. I read the initial reviews, and surmised that it wasn’t such a bad deal for US$ 400. After a couple of hours of googling, I had made up my mind. The EEE would be mine.

Next day I arrived at the store, but there was no EEE to be found! They had all been sold out yesterday, and the next shipment was expected in a couple of weeks. I raised a hue and cry, and finally they managed to get one from their warehouse.

Little did I know, this would be the start of a love affair,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Why is the Asus EEE PC so special?

The EEE, when it was announced, offered a killer combination of portability and functionality in a tiny package. True, there were more powerful ultraportables before it. I agree there were smaller ultraportables than the EEE. But where the EEE had an (immense) edge was price. No one had imagined that it was possible to produce a functional ultraportable at this price. Initially announced to be US$ 200, it ended up costing US$ 400. And even at that price, it offered more bang for the buck than any other machine.

Pretty soon after its introduction, masses of people bought it. An active community took form. People were amazed at what this little wonder could do. Some bold folks went as far as modding their EEEs, adding internal Bluetooth, flash storage, GPS, keyboard lights, draft-N wireless and what not. I doubt there was any other ultraportable in history which received as much attention as the EEE. The main reason was portability at such a low price.

Seeing the success Asus had with the EEE, other companies started jumping on the bandwagon. First and foremost among the big names was HP, with their Mininote. I have yet to see one in person, but from the reviews I gather it is a looker. Dell is rumored to have something in the works also. Acer is also jumping into this space.

EEE Lover!

I must be one of the few people who have bought Asus EEE PCs'. I currently possess the following:
Asus EEE PC 701 4G White (with nlited Windows XP SP2)
Asus EEE PC 900 20G White (with original Xandros OS)
Asus EEE PC 900 20G Black (with nlited Windows XP SP2)

In the next few posts I will write about many aspects of why it ended up this way.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My hatred for the iPod just ended!

As anyone who knows me is aware, I have always hated iPods. I saw the first generation iPod on a trip to Dubai, and was intrigued by it. However, later I found out that Apple was getting away charging humongous amounts of money for essentially an MP3 player with less features than the competition. From that time on, I looked upon the iPod with disdain. However, I was intrigued during the 2007 keynote, when Steve J. announced the iPhone. It looked pretty intriguing, however the marketing spin on the web browsing made me dislike it. I never believed that Apple would be able to fit an amazing and usable browser into a music device, something which I have not seen done even on PocketPCs and smartphones.

All that changed when I bought the iPod Touch (as an anniversary gift for my wife). I have to mince my words. The device is futuristic. I have been handling the device for more than 2 days, yet every time I hold it, it seems as though I am a part of a science fiction movie. This iPod is nothing short of sci-fi stuff. And the web browsing is every bit as amazing as advertised, and is so good that I could never have imagined that it is possible to have such a good internet experience on such a small and sexy device. I will post up detailed notes on the browsing, but let me end this post by saying that this is the first iPod I have fell in love with.

Monday, December 03, 2007

New toy: Asus EEE 701

I have just returned from a belated honeymoon trip from Malaysia. The trip itself was really amazing, and really special for me, but the real reason for blogging after this long is what I got from the trip. A new toy. The Asus EEE PC 701 4G. Big name for a small powerhouse!

Those who know me know that I am a complete gadget freak, and a really big believer in portable devices, specially the UMPC platform. I had planned to get a UMPC device in Jan 2008. I was really hooked on the Fujitsu U810 aka Darth Vader. During my trip, I stopped at a shop called MTCS in Pavilion in Kuala Lumpur. I asked the salesman whether he had any UMPC, and he told me that he had a Fujitsu UMPC. Turned out it was a Fujitsu U1010 (aka Storm Trooper). I immediately took it and sat down in a chair and started playing with it. The unit they had was for 1200USD, which is a little steep, considering that the U810 with a better battery is avilable for 900USD. I matter of factly asked the sales guy whether he has any other devices, and he said he has a new Asus device. I asked him whether it was the R2H, but he said no it was the EEE. I was excited, already knowing that it was supposed to be a really exciting device, but wasn't of too much interest to me since I was interested in a tablet device, and the EEE didn't have a touchscreen. However I decided to take a look. It seemed a pretty interesting device for 400USD, so much so that I thought of buying i. My wife said that I should buy it but I said I would never buy sucha device without reading extensively about it. So we left the store, and that night I read quite a few EEE reviews. All of them mentioned that this was a paradigm changing device, and I wanted in!

The next day, I arrived at the same shop and asked for a unit to buy, but some other sales guy told me that it was all sold out! I asked them if their was any other place where I could get any more, but the guy said that this was the only shop in KL which was selling the EEE, and they would get more stock in Jan. I was really disappointed, but kept bugging them to look again. Meanwhile, the guy who had showed me around the previous day arrived, and I bugged him continuously to do something, even sell me the display unit they had if they could. The guy went into the storeroom, and came out with an unpacked unit! He said that this was supposed to be sold, but the person who had asked for it didn;t show up. And that is the story of how I became a proud owner of the Asus EEE!

The model I have is a 4G, with 4GB SSD HDD and a webcam. In the coming entries, I will discuss how I found this device. My impressions until now can be summed up in one word: AMAZING! This is an almost perfect device for me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Samsung SPH-P9200

I just got back from GITEX 2007 held in Dubai, and saw some awesome gear. One of the best things I saw was the Samsung SPH-P9200 mobile PC. Here's a video of it in action. I will soon upload some pics there too.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Samsung "origami" PC

I was at GITEX the last couple of days, and one of the most amazing things I saw was this PC by Samsung, which they claim is available in Korea, but no word on when it will be released for the rest of the world. It also features cellular connectivity. I forgot to take a picture of the card next to it which listed the specs, but my sister did. I will upload that photo later. Meanwhile, take a look at this folding PC, which is what Origami should really have been. See the video here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Back on track!

Been absent for quite some time, as my buddy Farrukh pointed out to me on my scrapbook. The reason was that my laptop got fried! I had a Sony Vaio S270B issued from the office, and that was a killer machine! However, just 4 months after I got it, the hard disk crashed. I sent it back to Dubai and the hard disk was changed. Another 4 months later, the processor burned. The guy at the service center told me that this is a very common problem in Vaios in Karachi, because they have teeny weeny vents which get clogged in the dusty atmosphere of Karachi. If you don't use a blower to clear out the air vents, they end up getting clogged with dirt, and eventually bake your processor, which is what happened to me! I guess I have to be careful with my future machines from now on.

The newly issued laptop I have is amazing specs wise, however it is a little plain to look at, compared to my spanky Sony Vaio. Here's a little comparison of both machines:

Sony Vaio S270B vs. HP Compaq nc6120
1.6 GHz Pentium M vs. 1.9 GHz Pentium M
256 MB RAM vs. 512 MB RAM (that's enough for me as I NEVER play games on my PCs')
40 GB HDD vs. 80 GB HDD (lots of storage! I like!)
DVD ROM / CD-RW combo vs. DVD+-RW (Yeah! Finally I can make backups of my data!)
16:10 aspect ratio vs. 4:3 aspect ratio (Too bad, widescreen has sort of grown on me and I like it now)
3 pounds vs. 6 pounds (Whoa! This new machine weighs twice as much as my old one!)

Let's hope this one lasts me at least a year!

Although, I don't plan on using this machine as much as I used the last one. You'll see why on my next post.

Saturday, December 03, 2005



Best place in the plane to sit...

Worst place in the world to visit...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Hello from Singapore!

I've been meaning to update my blog, but I'm not much of a writer, hence the delays. Don't be surprised at the title. I am currently in Singapore, having just finished my company's three day training.
Now that I've mentioned the company, I'd like to say that I think this company is really great. And this job is certainly different, and another one of those things which I feel I can excel in. My previous job was that of a software programmer, and I was really good about it, and that is no exaggeration! However, while doing my Masters' in SZABIST, a teacher of mine (Mr. Ayaz Uqaili of Career Online on GEO TV fame) used to say that I have such a good understanding of networks that I should be in a networking job. I told him that I may be good at netwroking, but I am EXCELLENT in programming! But, I have come to the realisation that there is not much of a future in programming. As a result I have switched into technical marketing, and by a stroke of very good luck.
Currently I am the country manager for a multinational company which provides high tech solutions to the hospitality industry. OK, I didn't make that up, but I did embellish it a bit to make it sound more important ;) I'm an account manager, responsible for our company's business in Pakistan, and have currently been assigned Abu Dhabi, Iran, Afghanistan and Qatar. This is in contrast to my last job, where all day all I did was sit in the same desk day after day. Now, I spend a week or two in Karachi, and then leave to Dubai to my regional office. From there I move over to Abu Dhabi to do my sales thing. I frequently return to Dubai as everyone I know is over there. Since I have been assigned these other countries, hence I have to travel to them also, and believe me it isn't as great or as much fun as it looks. But hey I'm not complaining!
I had always dreamed of such a job. I really do like this company very much, and if things turn out good, I may never think of leaving this company. The reason is that this is a very big company, with tens of millions of dollars turnover, and the biggest hotel chains in the industry as clients, and despite this, the company's structure is very flat. I get direct instructions from the CEO, and I get to move in the top management. We also get a lot of freedom to work, which is new for me as I come from a background of software development, where we have very tought deadlines. And the best thing about the job is the training. Right now we have just concluded a 3-day training, where account managers from all over the world came. There were around 50 account managers, from countries like Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Australia, etc. and it was a very nice experience.
Anyway, now that the training is over, and we have a couple of days in Singapore, we'll make the best of them and do some sight seeing. I've already seen some places like Little India, China Town, Orchard Road, Night Safari. Tomorrow we plan to go to Sentosa for the whole day. Pictures coming up soon!