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The Future of PC Products

Am I the only one frustrated with the stagnation of PC development? When did the smaller / faster / more storage / more consolidation rule become obsolete? By now we "should" have a cell phone that runs full windows applications, has a TB of local solid state storage, and easily docs into a workstation environment or a variety of simple larger pad display and even projection units. Instead we seem to be stuck with a bunch of flipping, folding, sliding, heavy things with 11-13 inch displays and at most 128G of hard drive. Is the PC world so devoid of creativity that we are all stuck waiting for the next follow on to the next Apple innovation?

I suspect one of the driving forces in the lack of progress is the hope of marketing "on line storage" for a "monthly fee." Message to the marketing overlords: no one wants to pay a monthly fee for anything, and creative solutions that make monthly fee based services obsolete will always be successful.

Anyone remember Digital Equipment Corporation, DEC? This creative minicomputer giant gave up on innovation in favor of large cost monthly support contracts. If you don't remember them, its because they are long dead, absorbed by HP and forgotten. A second example is GM's On-Star system. They offer diagnostics, human connect direction finding and emergency services - for a monthly fee. Give me a blue tooth ap that shares car diagnostics with my phone, an in car GPS, and I can call 911 thank you, which I already pay a ridiculous monthly cell fee for. We're already being monthly fee'd to death, and we're sick of it!

Microsoft's Surface Pro 2 is the only device out there moving in the right direction, and because they have no competition, they are keeping their prices high. And where is the competition? Samsung seems to have the most promising hardware, but where is their answer to the Microsoft Surface Pro 2? Maybe its time for HP to take it up a notch finally, and abandon the horrible "overlord software" that makes anyone with PC experience grimace at the thought of buying any HP product, printers included. (I suspect that is a vestige from DEC? )

Bottom line -- Its --- time --- for --- Innovation! We're tired of waiting!

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Haven't seen that at all.

In reply to: The Future of PC Products

As I did write apps for Windows Mobile it ran our apps written in C# with little change from the desktop version but the market didn't want a Windows PC in a cell phone. That was made clear with what happened next.

And there at 1TB SSD's today for a price but with what I'm seeing why would I carry that much around? And why would I want to go without a keyboard for what I do?

There's a lot of choice today. More than ever and maybe what you want isn't there? Oh wait, I see it, you feel the price is too high.

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In reply to: Haven't seen that at all.

So have a laptop shell to snap the core device into, whether the core device has phone functionality or not. "We don't need that" doesn't fly. There's alot of choice, but not much that inspires upgrading or moving forward.

And yes, competition spurs lower prices and innovation. The industry wide lock step into "Ultra book" paradise seems to have at least stalled innovation, and it seems to have killed Sony. Is it a coincidence that the leader of that "movement" has the only 10 inch 256G device out there? Just saying...

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What stall?

In reply to: Innovation

I don't see it here. I see a lot of varied wants by many folk but when you get right down to it, I don't need to carry 1TB of SSD with me as I have networks to get what I forgot at the office. There are some folk that "collected" a lot of videos that they want to carry around but those folk are what I call collectors and no matter what space you put into any device they will want more.

So that's not innovation at all. Again, storage space does not equate to innovation. Besides we have 1TB SSD we can put into most laptops.

I've never seen so many choices than today. And what you get packed into some Google Android Nexus 7 is pretty wild. I can't guess how long you've been on this ride but here I've been around a while. My first program ran on a GE 210!

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Core business needs

In reply to: What stall?

I'M TRS80 / DEC PDP vintage, so you have me beat by a few, but I'm more concerned about Windows core and application overhead for storage than pictures. Google Android Chrome etc etc is all nice, but core business functionality needs Office and Windows Applications, and we need to share Office and application "stuff" in conference rooms when the network isn't easily or quickly available, and we have a large cache of Office and database "stuff" we call on. Network links are fine for back up, but try selling something or leading a design review with layout tools in "audience waiting" mode some time. Multiply that by a variety of customers each with unique application requirements and hard drives fill up pretty fast.

The lateral innovation we're seeing now is fine, but faster / smaller / more integrated is still the driving force, and that seems to be missing. And that's what motivates corporate upgrades as well. I'd like to upgrade but XP is still doing the job on my old Sony, and I need to move all this "stuff", not pictures, when I finally decide to upgrade.

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At our office we have a nice network.

In reply to: Core business needs

So anything we need is on the network.

Again I see no lack of innovation but I'm surrounded by programmers and we have a solid network plus our own cloud. So if there is some forgotten file it can be fetched at will.

The last XP machines are in lockup. That is, we haven't been on XP for about 5 years except for legacy work for clients. It's an odd to some system where we lock away old development laptops with the development system ready for use if the client needs some update. After the contract and such is hammered out the laptop(s) are checked out and brought back into service, the changes made, testing, delivery and then backups and back into storage. XP is fine for some things but the limitations and risk is too high to stay there. In case you missed it, here's one reason it's gone at our office, there are more.

While the office and staff can work around such nasties the brutal truth is that XP had its day and it's maker didn't protect against such malware and show no sign that it's a problem.

-> Here's what I see missing. I really like what Dropbox did with their mobile access. You see all your files and they keep in sync but you pick and choose what files/folders to have local then if you try to get one that is not local, it offers to go get it. Very nice job.

You can bet there are patents over that and why you don't see that in an OS.

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PS. For "consumers" it's getting pretty nice.

In reply to: At our office we have a nice network.

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Moving Forward

In reply to: The Future of PC Products

I just noticed that WD has a way of using a local drive as cloud storage, they call it "My Cloud." This both proves and diminishes my rant about monthly subscription storage.

I'm sticking to my guns on the rest, however. I have a Kindle, a cellphone, and the old laptop, and I'd like to consolidate rather than just replacing when I upgrade. Though I can look at office docs on those other devices, I can't print or work on things, at least not easily. And messing with customer site networks and applications is still good motivation for adequate local storage over trusting in an omnipresent network.

I probably could have ranted in the "laptops" forum and gotten more sympathy, but that's part of the challenge as well, marketing a "next generation" device as clear definitions get fuzzy. In all my years in product development, whenever marketing was asked "do you want this or that?" the answer was "yes," and as annoying as that answer can be to a designer, it motivates creativity. We just need to move innovation beyond big / heavy / folding / flipping / sliding, imo...


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One of the problems about all in one solutions.

In reply to: Moving Forward

Is that when you make something that does it all, it might become a fire truck. Using the car market as an example if I wanted to consolidate and make the one vehicle that did it all, it has to be the fire truck. I could haul anything, put out fires and carry a dozen folk from place to place. Impractical for most it still is the most useful vehicle for almost every situation/need.

What am I looking at next? That Asus T100. Yes it may evolve into the T1000.

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Tractor PTO

In reply to: One of the problems about all in one solutions.

Yes, but with my tractor with PTO I can hook up a back hoe, brush cutter, post hole digger, etc etc without having to haul it all around. The engine is there for multiple uses.

And actually, with wifi, bluetooth, and now miracast, its almost all there without even needing a docking station.

We're getting there, we just need a better / smaller / more powerful engine and a variety of plug in options - touch displays and laptop "shells" of various sizes to meet different user needs for example.

Still no need to abandon the faster / smaller / more integrated track. Pictures and youtube videos are nice, but workhorses still get the job done and bring in the $$$.

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Laptops & tablets

In reply to: The Future of PC Products

One thing (besides Windows 8; don't get me started) that gets me is the "thinness" trend in laptops. It seems like an obsession to make them thinner. When I'm walking/running through an airport, having a lighter laptop certainly is much more comfortable on my shoulder. But why do I care if it's .5" thick or .8" thick? How could I even tell? Two pounds is two pounds. I don't carry it in an envelope. I would feel better knowing there is sufficient air circulation in there, though. I love my 11.5" ASUS Zenbook and I'd love it just as much if it were .3" thicker.

As for tablets, I gave in and got a Nexus 10 when they came out a year+ ago. Looks great. Hate typing, and keep touching things I didn't want to touch. I handled a relative's 7" tablet the other day just to type in my router password. My fingers are not big at all, but I had a hard time hitting the keys I wanted. Glad I got a 10". But I find myself using it less and less. Wonder when the fad will fade. Not much better than a phone, not nearly as good as a laptop.
Just my 2 cents.

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Phones & Tablets

In reply to: Laptops & tablets

I too, suffer very badly from fat finger syndrome in spite of having small hands.
Even with the laptop I like to plug in a full keyboard....its just easier for me and i don't mind the minor weight increase of lugging it around.

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In reply to: The Future of PC Products

I was lead system administrator, for a major Federal agency renowned for its technological prowess, of a heterogenous collection of computers that included numerous DEC VAXes, along with IBM AS400s, a whole slew of various flavors of Unix boxes like Apollos and Sequents, and just about everything else back to the days of the Univac.

Of course progress was more rapid in the earliest days of information processing technology. After his or her birth, a child is infinitely older and more experienced than he or she was a than he was the day before, and after the child's second day, it redoubled.

As far as desktops and laptops are concerned, it appears to me as if progress has proceeded apace. Do you remember what you would have thought about a 4TB HDD as late as, oh, say, 2009? Or a 1TB SSD, the prices for which are already falling within the realm of affordability? With my SSD installed, and fast DDR3-2133 (PC3-17000) RAM, and an Intel Core i7 processor, like the machine I sit at now is equipped with, everything is for all practical purposes instantaneous, including bootup from cold.

I saw a 4TB external drive advertised yesterday for about $150. I remember authorizing payment of $5,000 for a 500 MB drive for an IBM AS400, and the drive was the size of a cake box. Note that this was in the early-1990s, not all that monstrously long ago.

(Really. Do what I did. Build it yourself! You'll spend far less and get a MUCH better machine. The price for my home-built machine totaled less than half what my first IBM XT with a 4.2 MHz Intel 8088, two floppies, no hard drive, an amber monochrome monitor, and 360K of RAM cost me, in number of dollars NOT adjusted for inflation.)

32GB of RAM is now relatively commonplace (I have it here on my computer, plus 2GB on the video card). In 2002 that would have been a big hard drive.

Tablets have been aimed more at simplicity for the novice, casual user than toward power, but I agree that the Surface 2 Pro approaches the status of being a "real" computer, albeit toward the low end of the spectrum. And smartphones are, well, cellphones and will continue to be, forever limited by the size of their displays and their need to consume very little power to preserve battery life. But the processing power of some of the latest offerings has become reasonably prodigious, and advancements in their technology is advancing so rapidly that one is forever hesitant to pull the trigger on a purchase, knowing that something better is never more than just a few weeks away.

I am not sure what kind of advances you're looking for. Displays like that chess game Chewy and Luke were playing aboard the Millennium Falcon? Or perhaps the level of two-way responsive voice control we see with the main computer on the U.S.S. Enterprise? The funny thing is, 3D displays are here, as is increasingly sophisticated voice control.

And just by the way, although it works via Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth, my Hyundai Sonata's diagnostics are indeed available periodically on my Android smartphone (although I, a BMW guy, am embarrassed to be driving a Hyundai these days, but economic reality intrudes, alas!).

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very Wellll....

In reply to: Wellll....

I worked at IBM tech for about 6 months - found a flaw in the design of their first AS400's and I handled
service calls on the problems it created - by phone - hahahahaha got in a lot of trouble as they wanted
me to fly to germany and fix it in person - $$$ ... they were slow to implement a fix - simple structure
change for the support tray on those multi platter LP.s hahahaha
I remember when HD's hit 10 megs - it was amazeing - and then they just took off every couple months
from there till they hit the 1g mark. took a long time to get passed that I think mostly due to software
that had to be changed to handle it - somewhat like the year 2K problem hahahaha
Early 80's while I was in the middle of modifying the operating system on the C64 - thats when it
really started to explode. but I wasnt about to spend that kind of money on a IBM compatable so
built my own for less than half thru mail order.. started a small part time biz selling turnkey systems
for a $1000 less than market - includeing monitor and printer.
its been fun growing up in that arena... now it seems to be more for bling than anything else.
I saw some stats on XP's not too long ago - its not going to die anytime soon.. too many big businesses
cant afford the upgrades.
When we reach Captain Kirks level of computing it will probably end all of our pc chat and Cnet. all built
into new homes etc.... just need them to get to that cube instant ram they are working on. :-)))
wish I could live long enough to see it.

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The real Kirk.

In reply to: very Wellll....

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real kirk

In reply to: The real Kirk.

I bet he gets kidded about stuff all the time.

the 2 things that always bothered me in the beginning about star trek:
1) if you have a computer that can disassemble and label/track
all the molecules in the body - zap them down to a planet
and re- assemble them - why have doctors ?
2) shields - if you are generating a shield and some laser or
torpedo hits it - the '' hole '' would be repaired in nanoseconds
and thus never go down -
finally figured out why these minor problems were there hahaaha
drama ! the show would probably never have made it if they never
had death and destruction to keep the excitement up.
poor red shirts hahahaha

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The end of a myth or dream

In reply to: The Future of PC Products

Could it be that technology is advancing but we don't notice because we don't need it. Humans are not advacing, by much, we still write letters, take phtos, make movies and presentations and do maths. In the nineties many of these things were slow. Rendering HD video would have taken days or weeks (not that I tried). Print preview was slow. Scrolling down in Word was slow. But these days pretty much all we need to do, did, and will continue doing can be done in real time (with the exception of video rendering). So nothing new happens, there have been no new oohs and ahhs accompanying technological advance for a while. But that could be becase we don't need it (Tera bytes of memory, 3mm lap tops, touch screens). And worse, we are force to relearn GUIs for little to no increase in utility. What we may be seeing is not the end of technological advance but the end of the myth of 'technological advance makes our lives better.'

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I think it's never been better.

In reply to: The end of a myth or dream

Smart phones, nice tablets, and last month the office picked up a few Chromebooks.

Communication has never been better. I guess we should send a few folk back to the 60's.

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