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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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  • Point of order.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:07PM (#30847730) Homepage
    Just so Asus is aware. If the netbook is truly dead after only 26 (or so) months then you did not 'pioneer a new class of computer', you 'started a short-lived fad'.
  • by mafian911 ( 1270834 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:09PM (#30847758)
    Anybody remember Microsoft's smart watch? No?
  • No they aren't (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Transient0 ( 175617 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:19PM (#30847906) Homepage

    No size of portable computer from wristwatch to 17" notebook will ever be obsolete. Different tasks require different sized screens, and people who do those tasks will always want the most portable device they can do them on. Yes, for some tasks that will mean a wristwatch. But for many others that means a smartphone, or a netbook, or a desktop computer with three 21" monitors.

    Haven't we had this discussion before?

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

    by cromar ( 1103585 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:19PM (#30847914)
    That's erm... sort of a good point, but come one. Think outside the box a little.

    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.
  • Re:Ergonomics? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:21PM (#30847934) Journal
    Currently there's tech that:

    1) allows the blind to see - but with crappy resolution. Also do a search for "seeing tongue" - seeing is in the mind.
    2) allows paralyzed people to control devices with their thoughts.

    So if tech improves, the screen will be in your head. And the keyboard too.

    No need to waste energy on backlights.

    Add wireless tech and some "software glue", and you'd have virtual telepathy and virtual telekinesis.

    The real problem is Copyright Law and DRM. The laws and DRM systems might prevent you from recalling videos you record (as you walk in a mall that has copyrighted background music) or limit you to limited plays per pay...
  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:28PM (#30848032)

    Just so Asus is aware. If the netbook is truly dead after only 26 (or so) months then you did not 'pioneer a new class of computer', you 'started a short-lived fad'.

    What's fascinating is that we still even listen to the suits and their marketspeak. If I had a penny for everytime some guy in a suit thought he had the next "revolution in [tech]", I'd be a $1E+06. O_o Netbooks became popular because for a lot of people -- that's what they spend most of their time doing.

    When my friends hangout at our apartment, we all bring our laptops. Life without internet is scary! But a number of us have internet on our iphones, or wifi on smartphones and other devices, and spending $250 to have a very small form-factor laptop that can do internet isn't a bad idea -- it's something to throw in the bag on the way out the door, just in case you need to check e-mail or google something quick. Netbooks filled a niche -- which is now being taken over by more capable smartphones and embedded devices. That niche, however, is very much still alive and advances in technology or price reductions on netbooks could easily revive them.

    People don't care what you call the thing, as long as it does what they want it to... and it helps if it looks good doing it.

  • Not on my wrist (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pmontra ( 738736 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:39PM (#30848202) Homepage
    The last thing I wore around my wrist was (surprise) a clock some 20 years ago. I started having clocks all around me on computer screens at that time so I discovered I had no reason to wear one myself. Then came mobile phones. After all that time I can't stand having something around my wrist anymore. I have a clock for when I go hiking on the mountains but I strap it on the backpack. It's much more comfortable that way. Thinking about this Asus product, it may even sell well but I'd always go for something that can fit in my pocket and that's my mobile phone. I could call it a camera that makes calls and runs programs, or a computer with a phone and a camera but there is a limit to the number of devices we can carry around and recharge at home. No need for another one and no need to wear it.
  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:50PM (#30848346) Homepage Journal

    One thing I've noticed over the many years I've been following the computer industry is that despite what hype marketing departments, CEOs and industry analysts spin, often times new devices don't replace the older devices so much as just augment the array of where you use a computer. So time has shown that you generally don't have to worry about a mass switch to newer technologies. These dates aren't exact, but its generally when they started showing up in the public eye.

    *Mainframe/Server (1940s-infinity): Untouchable by user, but keeps track of info the user can't, makes sharing easier, etc. This will probably never go away as long as there is a need for reliability and massive storage.
    *Workstation/Terminal (1950s-1990s): Let's you do stuff in relation to server/mainframe, but only at work.
    *Desktop personal computer(1977-20??): Let's you try to do stuff at home. Can usually keep up with or exceed most innovations in technology. We will probably always have some sort of stationary access point for computing.
    *Standardized Gaming Consoles (1977-infinity):Makes easier for most people to play games, but have never been realistic for computer-type work. Often goes back and forth between whether computers have better games. And no, this isn't the first time people have said "The end of PC/computer gaming". I think gaming consoles come and go with the cycles of the economy.
    *Laptop (1980s-2020): Allows you do stuff in previous, but some people still prefer a desktop for power, customization, easy of repair
    *PDA/iPhone/Droid (1993-24th century): More convenient than a laptop, but generally only used for organization type stuff, still need laptop or desktop for most things. Actually, if you look at Star Trek, you'll notice that they don't really have a one-device-does-it-all thing either.
    *Tablet PC(1995-death of HP): More convenient than a laptop, but probably not as rugged. Only useful in some situations. Annoying when the touch display stops working. Will probably never catch on.
    *Notebook computer (2007-?): Can put it in your purse and hold it like the bible, but good luck reading a document, doing anything useful. My wife uses hers to play Netflix movies while she uses her fullsize laptop.
    *Wristwatch computer: Makes it a little easier to have fast access all the time to stuff a PDA would do for you. But you still need laptop or desktop.

    So here we are in 2010, and all of these computing access paradigms still exist. None of them have replaced the previous paradigm even close to as much as they claimed they would. The only think I could think might replace the desktop/laptop paradigm is if headset computing comes along and allows you to see a virtual large display and you can think what you want to do and it will happen reliably. But we still have a ways and people will need to get used to that. Some people won't want to mess up their hair and what about when you need to drive, etc.

  • The way I see it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rene S. Hollan ( 1943 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:57PM (#30848448)

    There's no need for a general purpose applications device on one's wrist, except for very specialized applications: phone, text messaging, compass, navigation, perhaps. Maybe calculator. The same sort of "apps" we had on relatively small screened cell phones of a few years ago, like my Moto E815 (damn that thing had a great radio).

    The trouble with this is that it's extremely battery limited. Still, if you want uberportable basics that run for one day, it's O.K.

    A step up is the modern IPhone or Android-powered phone. Belt clip size, with decent battery life (because it can hold a bigger battery). Now, combining the two allows for interesting possibilities: the wristputer now becomes an auxilliary display device: glance at your wrist to see your appointments, or incoming calls, etc. Just swap the SIM card from the wristputer to the cell phone to use the latter's mobile data connection.

    One step up is the single screen ebook. I see this as a handheld, which can function as a phone, or use the bluetooth or wifi connection to the belt-clipped phone, for dialing and call management (in parallel with the cell phone and wrist computer: if I'm reading a book and a call comes in, or I want to make a call, I'd like to do that from the UI on the book I'm reading instread of having to reach for another device (earbud, wristputer, or belt-clipped phone). Of course, it too can take a SIM card, if that's all you want to carry.

    Finally, for more serious reading, in the format of a traditional book, at the expense of size, is the dual-screen ebook, that folds. This one has color screens (instead of just, perhaps, e-ink). It has all the capabilities of the single-screen e-book.

    Each device is optimized for a particular purpose, but can be pressed into service for alternate uses: which devices a user caries depends on their physical activity and the types of computing they expect to be doing. I can very much see the single-screen e-book as a universal remote control, for example.

  • by zullnero ( 833754 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @01:58PM (#30848460) Homepage
    ...because they can't make any money on them, that they'd actually bring up the wearable computer thing again. Well, it kinda makes sense. You can charge a whole lot more margin for a wearable computer than you can for a low end, tiny laptop. But I thought we've been over this before. Wearable computers are only for dorks.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:02PM (#30848524) Homepage

    ...yes. Zardoz, not Star Trek.

    A TOS terminal is like a Mac Plus without the fashion sense.

    It even uses the same media... '-)

    A lot of tech is not as new as the kids think it is.

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:03PM (#30848550)
    A problem with wristwatch and cellphone computers are their relatively tiny screens. A projector could be as small as sugar cube, ring, or pen, yet illuminate a couple square feet of a wall or table top. Some cell phones are already coming out with projectors.

    I saw some neat demos at SIGGRAPH of self-registering projectors. You only have to get them approximately head-on. Tehn they detect the descrepency and warp the projection into the perfect desired rectangle.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:05PM (#30848568) Homepage

    Someone made a Linux watch once as a novelty...

  • by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:12PM (#30848654)
    Nor phasers or medical tricorders. Getting there though.
  • Re:Ergonomics? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cromar ( 1103585 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @02:36PM (#30848942)
    You caught what I was talking about, but missed my point. Desktops will become tools for those who need them - coders, gamers, graphic designers, etc. No one else is going to want or need them. Granted, I'm just brain storming here, but I am sure that given the sum of human creativity, we will come up with something more efficient than keyboards for these other tasks that don't involve typing. It's already happening with email, IM, SMS, etc. You don't need a full keyboard for that. And what you do need a keyboard for is a rather limited set of computing applications. Personally, I don't see the problem with dictating longer letters - it's worked in the past. But, there any number of other ways - digital pens/tablets, portable keyboards, scanning devices, etc. that could in the near future prove to be reliable replacements.

    In 10 or 20 years from now, people are going to look back aand laugh at use for spending the 70's through the 2030's spending so much time sitting in front of a computer terminal. The terminal/desktop and its beloved windowing systems and keyboard/mouse are going to become necessary for fewer and fewer computing applications as UIs evolve.

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court