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Asus Says Netbook Is Dead, Hello Wearable Computers 264

pinkgadget27 pointed us at a story where the ASUS chairman waxes poetic on the end of the Netbook class that it pioneered, ChromeOS replacing Android, and the future you probably didn't know about: Wristwatch Computers.
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Asus Says Netbook Is Dead, Hello Wearable Computers

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  • Ergonomics? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by captaindomon ( 870655 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:04PM (#30847692)
    Yeah, because we all know how easy it is to use a 1"x1" oval viewing screen strapped to your wrist, to view large PDF attachments, for example.
  • Here we go (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:05PM (#30847702)

    Wristwatch computers. (One more thing for my cat to attack.)

    IMO, this is simply yet another attempt to manufacture a "need" where none exists as in The Next Big Thing...

  • Re:Ergonomics? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:08PM (#30847754) Journal

    Not to mention you'll only have one hand to use it with. Have you ever tried typing/texting with a single hand? Its not as intuitive as two thumbs or a full fledged keyboard with 10 fingers.

  • eeh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:11PM (#30847786)

    ...Wristwatch Computers.

    hahahaha HA HA HA oh god, oh god... it kills me.

    You know, I can just believe that we can cram everything but the input and display into that small of a space -- but the human interface problem makes any further degree of minaturization rather pointless for general-purpose computers. In select circumstances, you can get away with a lack of keyboard or a mini one, but really -- anything you plan on using heavily you want to have a decently-sized display and an input device with more than two buttons.

    But even if you could solve the i/o problems, there's another more damning one: energy requirements. You need a power source for it. And there just doesn't seem to be any real technology innovations that are going to give you the energy densities you'd need to make it work for awhile.

  • Re:Dead already? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hansraj ( 458504 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:13PM (#30847820)

    I know you are joking but I didn't have to read the article. All I had to do was realize that the headline sounds immensely stupid given that wearable computers are not really a replacement for a netbook as of yet, and then I just had to skim the article to verify that it was the poster and not the original article that was being moronic.

  • by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:14PM (#30847844)
    Great. Asus leadership has turned to worshiping vaporware crapola. This reminds me of Nokia's cellphone designs [] before the iPhone came out and eat their lunch in the high end. Make usable and manufacturable designs people. Geez.
  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:21PM (#30847932) Homepage Journal

    Is it the future already?

    What do you mean "already?" Do you know how long I had to wait for my own flat screen computer, communicator, self-opening doors, and all the other impossible stuff they had on Star Trek? About the only thing that we don't have, out of all the impossible things we do have (microwave ovens, phonorecords you can play in your car, GPS, iPods...) is faster than light travel, replicators, and transporter pads.

    Yes, this is the future, and I had to wait a long time for it.

  • but (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KingPin27 ( 1290730 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:26PM (#30847996)
    This would make viewing and participating with certain types of "vivid" media a little more challenging to say the least.
  • maybe some day (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:33PM (#30848092) Homepage Journal

    No size of portable computer from wristwatch to 17" notebook will ever be obsolete. Different tasks require different sized screens

    Ever? Science fiction writers say screens will go away, replaced by glasses or contacts or other type of worn HUD which can show things in an arbitrarily wide field of vision. It ain't reality yet, of course, but it doesn't really sound all that far-fetched.

  • ASUS is dumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kevin108 ( 760520 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:34PM (#30848114) Homepage
    Everybody I know still wants a 9" netbook for $200.
  • Re:Ergonomics? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:36PM (#30848152) Journal
    *MY* phone has no computing power whatsoever, and sits solidly on my desk 24/7.
  • Re:DUPE! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:45PM (#30848292) Journal

    Maybe as a cell phone, but as a PC? I'm sorry, but I have to say this is a big can o' fail. Did you read the rest of what the guy said? Crap like this gem "I don't believe that the PC will keep evolving from simply [having] four core processors, to eight core to 16 core," he said. "I am tired of only thinking about the regular, dull PC roadmap."

    I'm sorry, but that is just dumb. Thanks to multicore we are finally getting computers that can keep up with even the fastest of us, and even my more clueless customers are loving the new AMD quads. All they talk about is how responsive their new PC is, and how no matter what they do their new PC never seems to slow down. I just tell them it ain't gonna get anything but better, as MLC SSDs and DDR3 becomes truly mainstream we will finally have systems able to feed 8-16 cores, which will enable even the most computational heavy tasks such as video editing to become "clicky clicky" and done affairs.

    And WTF? A watch PC? It will either be slow as fucking Xmas, have a usable battery life of 30 minutes or the battery will nicely roast your wrist. Battery tech hasn't gotten good enough to pull off that size without some serious tradeoffs. And while my dad can handle his netbook just fine I can just imagine him trying to deal with that thing on his wrist.

    So in the end I have to say this guy is full of it. I'm sure that most of the netbook manufacturers would like netbooks to just die, as it is cutting into their more lucrative laptop sales. But they can't get out because their are plenty of other companies that will happily take that business, and with the threat of ARM based netbooks, or "browsers in a box" they must really be worried. Hence they are desperate to cook up the "next big thing" to try to cook up a new and more expensive niche. But I just don't see folks giving up those nice sub $400 netbooks for an ultra expensive watch.

  • Typists (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:53PM (#30848396) Homepage Journal

    The desktop computer is on its way out for everyone but typists and coders.

    And guess what anyone is who writes e-mail, blog posts, or forum posts: a typist.

  • by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:01PM (#30848512)

    Which would be one of the reasons they are not ready for prime time yet: The display issue hasn't been solved.

    Sooner or later it will be, somehow. Foldable, projection, HUD, implant, something else; one will work well enough to be usable. Then we'll see if the other problems are solved or solvable.

    Really: He's not saying it's ready now. He thinks it will be sometime soon, and he's got his company working on it so they'll be ready when it is.

    He didn't say the netbook is dead. Just that it's a short-term solution, and long-term it'll be surpassed.

  • by biryokumaru ( 822262 ) * <> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:02PM (#30848514)

    Why do all these designs rely on tiny interfaces? That Nokia video had it fold out, but the "keyboard" was still minuscule.

    There used to be an old projection keyboard, where it projected a keyboard onto whatever surface you wanted, and made little clicky noises when you typed. That plus one of those tiny projectors duct taped around the innards of a smart phone and you've got a respectably powered computer with a large screen and a normal sized keyboard that fits in your pocket. Well, if you have kinda big pockets.

    You'd hafta have the software that college kid came up with a while back to make the projector not look crappy on uneven surfaces, but that's certainly not an unreasonable issue. Maybe same for keyboard, maybe not.

    Still, this would be just about as usable as a desktop machine, just about as powerful as some of the junk I see non-tech people using on a daily basis, and when it's off, it's smaller than a desk phone. Imagine turning your computer off and suddenly having your entire desk empty.

    Where is that computer? The one that doesn't have the sucky tiny keyboard where you can't even freakin' hit F5 anymore without pressing an fn button? Why isn't that the future of computing?

  • Re:Ergonomics? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HiThere ( 15173 ) <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {nsxihselrahc}> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:05PM (#30848572)

    What you do is, you wear glasses that display the screen across your entire visual field, and you connect them to the computer with Bluetooth.

    Why not? The glasses have already been built. (At least one design of them has.) And it might make for a *REALLY* interesting driving experience.

  • Re:Ergonomics? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:17PM (#30848712)

    The desktop computer is on its way out for everyone but typists and coders. When your wristwatch automatically interfaces with any number of large screens at your office or home, not to mention printers and fax machines, who is going to be worrying about the size of their watch display? We have the technology to do that now... and that's just one of many possible evolutions of UI. The possibilities are quite astounding.

    The desktop has been "dying" forever. You know who likes desktops? People who want to input into their computers worth a damn. The miniature keyboards and screens on other devices aren't efficient enough for serious all day use.

    Do you:
    -want to type up a report on a phone?
    -want to do CAD drawings on anything but a desktop?
    -want to design anything on anything but a desktop?
    -want to use mathematica on a phone?

    I'm sure, with time, there will be apps that do all these things on phones, but just shittier. I have tried various voice-to-text things, it's not there yet, but even at 100%, you're not going to replace a keyboard, if nothing but the simple reason of driving everyone around you nuts. But also because editing with voice sucks and is slower. The only thing going to replace a keyboard is mind control... possibly eye control.

    (BTW I would include most notebooks in the same category as desktops because: their alphabetical keyboards are about the same size, the screens are equivalent or even bigger than many early desktops and still 50-75% of the size of normal ones today. Basically, a notebook managed to maintain the size of all the actual user interface parts of a desktop and shrink everything else, in terms of power being almost a desktop equivalent. Also because there is no fundamental difference is the usage of the two other than portability -- a phone or watch have other forms for different functions.)

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:33PM (#30848896) Homepage Journal

    Any given technology can be said to exist in one of two states: Growing, or dying.

    There's a third choice: stable. Mature technologies are all around us, silently doing their jobs without much fuss or bother. We don't notice them, because we've grown up with them, but at one time they were the Next Big Thing. They stopped growing except for very incremental improvements years or decades ago, but they're not going away any time soon.

    Look at your refrigerator. Unless you've spent a lot of money for one with various gizmos, odds are pretty good it's much like the one your parents had when you were a kid. It may be a little quieter, a little more energy-efficient, and the temperature control may be a little more consistent, but it's basically the same machine. But there was a time, just within living memory, when temperature-controlled, electric-powered food storage in the home was absolutely revolutionary. It changed the way people lived at least as much as the internet has, and it addresses a far more fundamental need. But unless it breaks, you probably don't spend much time thinking about it. Why should you? It's just a fridge.

    I suspect that the classic desktop (or "desktop replacement" laptop) PC is going the same way. It's a useful machine, and there's really no particular reason to change it, or -- for the vast majority of users, anyway -- to run out and get the latest and greatest. Nor is there any reason to get rid of it. There have of course been many incremental improvements, and there will continue to be. But the fundamentals of the user experience haven't really changed that much for the last decade. It's my strong impression that a much higher proportion of computer users are quite comfortably using ten-year-old computers than was the case ten years ago, and I expect that proportion will only continue to increase. Using a 1990 computer in 2000 was a constant exercise in frustration; using a 2000 computer in 2010 is just fine for what the majority of users do on a daily basis. By 2020, they'll be refrigerators.

  • Re:Ergonomics? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:55PM (#30849202)

    Why would you want to wear your data uplink on your wrist? I keep mine in my pocket. It's called a smart phone. That way it's less likely to get broken, doesn't advertise itself as something worth stealing, and I don't have a big clunky thing on my wrist.

    A watch computer is a non-solution looking for a problem. The form factor just isn't useful for much other than telling the time.

  • Re:Typists (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:58PM (#30849226)

    That's great if all you do is use your computer as a fancy telephone.

    Look at anyone who uses a computer professionally, whether it's a secretary, coder, CEO or whatever. They've got a desktop or notebook. Sure, if we invent a super battery maybe my notebook will morph into a piece that's like a phone, a wireless keyboard and some big screens, but it's not going to morph into a watch, in isolation. Screens are getting bigger, not smaller.

  • by Creepy ( 93888 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:28PM (#30850568) Journal

    There is nothing new to Asus vaporware, but out of every five failures comes a great product. Some of their products are stillborn like the external video card that wasn't compatible with Vista's driver model, others are released but technical issues or poor adoption like the C90S upgradable laptop. Then they come out with a tiny notebook that runs x86 and create an industry.

    Other companies that make innovative products like Apple had their flops too, but sometimes a flop drives a new market, like the Newton, other times they move into an existing market and fail, like the Pippin. Then out pops iTunes and iPod and iPhone and they're a market driver again.

    Even Microsoft had its flops amongst their many hits (love em or hate em, you've gotta admit, they are very successful) - the MSX [], and Bob to name two.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein