Intel is ready to crack internet TV

The Verge has a great piece on the potential for Intel to succeed in their latest digital home initiative…

The fact that Intel doesn’t by and large work in media could be a handicap, but if you stop to reconsider, it potentially gives Intel a huge advantage. Think about it: how was Google ever going to make a deal with Viacom when Viacom was suing Google? How were companies like Google or Yahoo built on selling advertising ever going to meaningfully share data and revenue with other companies built on advertising like TV networks? How were Sony or Samsung ever going to create a smart TV platform large enough to compete with cable when their businesses depended on selling giant multithousand-dollar screens that were only updated every few years? How would Apple, or Microsoft, or Amazon, or Netflix create new deals for live TV with networks when they already had huge businesses in selling digital video in completely different formats? Intel has no conflicts of interest with television; it has no strategy taxes. All it has are years of R&D into hardware for the connected home, a solid history of developing hardware standards and prototypes, and many, many chips built for graphics-intensive, generally stationary devices that badly need somewhere to go.

This has long been an area of interest for me and I hope they succeed here because the industry needs a good kick in the ass.

Do MIDs make sense?

Joanna Stern from Laptop Magazine makes many good points on why MIDs make no sense.

Still not sure what MIDs are? MIDs are meant to be different from smart phones in that they intended to have specific connected purposes. Intel told us that some MIDs will focus on navigation, others on multimedia (watching movies and listening to music), and a large selection on productivity (checking e-mail and reviewing PowerPoint slides, for example). But the driving force behind them all is Internet connectivity.

Do consumers really want to carry around different devices for different tasks? Unless you’re big on parachute pants, it’s not the most convenient solution. And can’t you do all those things with a $199 smart phone? Applications like Google Maps and TeleNav turn your phone into a GPS navigator, and people are ditching their point-and-shoot cameras for phones like the Samsung Memoir, which sports an 8-megapixel camera. Devices that can do it all make a lot more sense than ones that do a specific task really well. Isn’t this why iPhones and Blackberrys get more popular every day? [Laptop]

MIDs as they currently stand, are ‘tweener devices and that’s a hard sell. If someone could make a smaller MID-like device with the power to get through a day of use I’d be sold. Current devices seem to offer around 3 hours of battery life for $1000 which just does not cut it and none really fit in your pocket. I want a computer in my pocket but MIDs are the only thing trying to push these limits.

And by computer I don’t mean something that offers background processing through “push notificiations” or pseudo-multitasking because email can arrive when I’m listening to music. I mean the real thing. I want killer browsing, intelligent memory and task management, unified communications with presence and access to applications. I’d also like the power to both create and consume media on the go as well while we’re at it. Is that too much to ask for?

I’m not sure I’ll be a one-piece mobile device user anytime soon, but if a single device offered what I’m suggesting it would make quite the consideration …

Are netbooks bad for the industry?

intel atom logo

Thanks to NetbookNews I watched this interesting interview between Xavier from and Rahul Sood, the founder of VoodooPC and currently the CTO of Voodoo at HP…

Rahul has written a great post which led to the interview on his blog and I definitely recommend you read that as well for a very insider perspective on netbooks and Intel’s Atom.

While listening to the interview and reading Rahul’s post I’ve considered my own experiences with the Samsung NC10
and I would have to agree with the general assessment here. Netbooks are killer machines, but they are also limited in what they can really do well. As long as you understand how they really work, you’ve got a very capable system in your hands.

As Rahul points out, the confusion with Netbooks started with how they came to be. Initially designed for the lower end and emerging markets, they quickly found greater success as supplementary systems in more developed markets due to lower costs and pretty solid specs. What’s happening now is a fairly vast commoditization of systems. Looking at the spectrum of netbook news as I’ve been since becoming interested in the category, the specs across the board are essentially the same. The main differences tend to be based on size and how much standard RAM, HD and whether you get a 3 or 6-cell a battery. Just about every brand is using the same 1.6Ghz Intel Atom chip running Windows XP. Aside from a few players the category is pretty vanilla.

The more I’ve used and enjoyed my netbook, the more annoyed I also get with things like flash video stuttering or that I can move faster in google reader than Firefox seems to want to go. I know I bought a “cheap” system but because I’m running standard operating systems and applications it’s easy to forget … The danger here is that the we see a crossover in the types of products in which Atom gets used and as we go bigger, the worse the result.

I’m far from sold on new operating systems or start up modes for netbooks as interesting as Jolicloud does look. Instead I’m sold on the longer battery life, ultra light and mobile systems we currently call netbooks. I hope we see innovative ways to bring the power but keep the size – just like the good old days of Moore’s Law! Now that I’ve experienced the potential power of ultra mobile computing I just want more … absolutely not less. I don’t think netbooks are bad for the industry. Sure these are interesting financial times, but look at how many people are talking about and more importantly buying these PCs. So Rahul, if you are thinking of a Voodoo machine in the 10″ range with at least 6 hours of battery life (though perhaps not a netbook), I’m definitely interested.

Mid Moves

Mid Moves logo

Mid Moves is a new site focused on highlighting the power and capabilities of Mobile Internet Devices and the full internet experiences they offer. There are four writers and each will be taking at least two of the latest MID’s with them for a real tour over the next 8 days. It’s a mega-mobile extravaganza!

There’s some great unboxing content as well as very real world experience being shared to understand how these pocketable devices perform. If you are interested in the category, it’s a must read.

Single or Multiple Device?

I’m clearly in the two piece camp at this stage of my mobile life.  Andy talks about the Camps of One or Many today  and links to another post written by Alan Reiter on the same topic.  Today I use the N95 with the N800.  I recognize the benefits of each as well as the overlaps but choose to use one of the other to maximize my enjoyment or enhance the experience across the two.  I’ve tried all in one with the iPhone and lasted a few months … A few years ago, I was a heavy Treo user and pushed that to the limits as well.

While I really see the enhanced benefits of browsing, reading and viewing photos and video on a larger screen, I also use my devices so heavily that having a second thing ready to back me up when the battery in one fades is quite helpful.  As we see the release of MIDs with embedded WWAN like the WiMax units shown at CES or the alluded to but not yet seen WiMax N810 from Nokia things will get even more interesting.

My normal day works something like this:

  • Wake up with the N95 alarm, and then check email and Jaiku on the phone right out of bed.
  • On the one hourtrain into NYC, I fire of the N95’s music player and listen to music or podcasts (which I update over the air through the day)
  • The N800 usually then slides out of my pocket and I tether to the N95 to start diving into my feed reading.  I usually also fire up IM, Email and Mauku, a Jaiku client.
  • Depending on which device happens to be capturing my attention at the time, I check in with Jaiku, Gmail, Twitter and Google Reader.
  • During the day I swap the N800 for a work issued blackberry as the second device in my pocket but really only use it for email as it actually sucks (yes sucks) at most other things.
  • My return trip is pretty similar to the morning though I’ve watching a fair bit of video over the past few months instead of feed reading on the N800.  I do multi-task with the N95 and find myself staying connected with Jaiku and email.

I also sporadically snap photos, shoot video (which upload or stream as they are captured).  3G service (ATT) kicks in after about 20 minutes in my ride towards NYC and substantially enhances the overall online experience…

I could probably do all of this on the N95, though it is actually more convenient to have two, in the same way it’s more ideal to work on two monitors.

When I had the N810, I was actually writing posts on the go, not just consuming them and that’s purely a factor of having a built in keyboard and the availability of applications like Maemo WordPy which is offline blog editor for the tablet.

Maybe it’s that I miss my Nokia N810 (still waiting to get a release version swapped with the proto I tested) or maybe it’s the sheer lack of excitement from this year’s CES, but now I really want to get a MID.  The Intel booth showed off all kinds of cool devices and for me this really is a category of interest.  I know MIDs are not likely to become mainstream in the next year (or two) but for the power user, they really fill a beautiful spot in my mobile life.

Typically  a MID is pocketable vs. a UMPC which is something you need a bag to carry.  This distinction is something that makes the experience for a mobile power user like myself.  I can’t see going to a single device anytime soon.  I think the SDK and pending apps for the iPhone are a very interesting thing to watch here, but more interesting to me would actually be a slightly larger connected tablet from Apple