Thursday, November 01, 2007

Week Roundup: Airship Progress and the Rumored Apple PDA

I'm doing a weekend roundup early this week because this weekend is my wedding anniversary, and I intend to spend my time with my wife and not on the computer. ^_^ So, here are the things on my mind before the start of the weekend:

Airship Progress
The airship concept has hit a major snag that is beyond my control: There is apparently a national Helium shortage, making personal retail helium canisters scarce. Not to be daunted, I tried using my paper mache shell as a hot-air airship, and it didn't have enough lift for the shell, let alone the chafing fuel.

The engine will be worked on this next week. I am going to use tin snips to cut the propeller and the turbine buckets from a soda can. They will be sharp, but also lightweight. As long as no one tries to grab it, we should be fine. ^_^ I hope to have a working steam turbine motor by the end of the week.

Rumored Apple PDA
Apple Insider has published a story of a larger screen version of the iPhone and iPod Touch that Apple is currently working on and will release some time early 2008. Referred to as a resurrected "Newton", the new PDA it touted to have the same multi-touch interface and design as the current iPod Touch and iPhone, and use the same version of OS X.

Now, I have wanted an Apple PDA for generations as something that would sync easily with my Mac and even perhaps take the place of my Powerbook. If this PDA is going to do that, there are a few things that it needs to have going for it:

1. A full version of iCal: I don't want to have something watered down, as exists with the iPhone and iPod Touch. It has to have all the same features as iCal does now. Also, I need an iCal that can connect in some way to Exchange (for work). Of course, if I can bypass that through an iCal Server, then I can live without that feature. ^_^

2. A full (if spartan) version of Mail: I don't care if the mail templates are not included, but I do want a version of Mail that will work with Exchange (or at least IMAP).

3: 802.1x WiFi Support: Right now the University has 802.1x security set up for it's UConnect WiFi network. Using this network would be paramount for any device I get as a PDA. If Apple expects this device to get off the ground, this feature needs to be available. Why? Because most businesses (that are security minded, and tech savvy) have 802.1x for their open networks. To get into the Corporate Market, this tool would be necessary.

4: Specific Apps: I don't think third party apps will an issue once Apple gets the SDK out for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but it all comes down to what is available. I want a Terminal (It's UNIX, after all!), and I want chat tools like an iChat to work with Jabber connections. Also, I want to see some video conferencing built in: Put a iSight camera facing the user! It's that simple. Everything else would be there. I would also like VoIP available for the device. After all, this will be the mobile office I carry with me on trips. I want to be able to talk to my family. There are some others, but I think I will leave that for an app wish list. ^_^

5: Battery Life: It needs to have a killer battery life, and be easily replaceable (to be green). 10 hours would be phenomenal, but I would be happy with 5 to 8 hours of continual use. You also need to be able to use it while it is charging. That way you can plug it into the wall and still go.

6: Storage Space: Storage is a big issue. If this is going to be a PDA, it's going to work as a del facto replacement for a PC at some point. That means lots of writing to the drive, storage, etc. So if Flash memory isn't going to cut it, and Apple plans to make it bigger than the iPod Touch anyway, they should use the same drives they have in their iPod Classic. If it's a little thicker for it, that's fine. I wouldn't mind 160 GB of storage space on my PDA. ^_^

7: Easy Video Share: I would love to view content from my Mac at home and share content from this new PDA. Enable iTunes Sharing, and it will be brilliant!

8: Bluetooth Human Input Devices: If you don't have a physical way to hook these up, enable Bluetooth input devices. It would be sweet to be able to use a bluetooth keyboard with the device to make computing that much easier. It would also make it possible to have Pages, Keynote, and Numbers installed on the machine. That would be huge! ^_^

9: Price: Price is going to be a big issue. If it's cheaper to get a Mac Mini, I'll get a Mac Mini. Just because it's Apple doesn't mean people will pay what you tell them to pay. *cough* Newton! *cough* Apple, I hope you are listening, because while some people will pay through the nose, others would rather just hack your existing (and less expensive) multi-touch devices than pay more than $500.00 for a device that does basically the same thing. Look at your competition, look at what you are offering, and make the price reasonable. $500.00 is great if it has the same storage capacity as the iPod Classic, and can easily replace the most basic functions of a MacBook.

For the couple of you who have followed my blog since last December, you may recall that many of these requests are the same as my post back then. Differences? I know it will sync with the Mac (but could do with a sync option for Linux, hint hint!), and I know it will "Just work", since it works for the iPod Touch and iPhone. Connectivity is all down to how they enable the WiFi/Bluetooth, not whether or not it will be included. But other concerns have not yet been addressed, and some new ones have come up since the platform has been "test driven" with the iPhone and iPod Touch.

So, basically, I am looking for a watered-down version of a notebook that can handle my office needs without worrying about the personal/creative needs. If I want to use the rest of iLife, I can use a regular computer for that. But iWork would be ideal for a device like this.

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