Category Archives: sony

The Netbook is Dead

Back in the autumn of 2007, Asus launched their Asus EeePC. I managed to get my hands on one in February; a small form factor PC running Xandros (Linux) with a 7″ screen.

There had been small laptops before, but they were usually around £2000, the Asus EeePC was less than £200!

What do you use your computer for?

Photo source.

Before long, lots of other companies had jumped on the bandwagon, Dell, HP, even Sony started offering a cheap netbook. Notably Apple didn’t!

In November 2008 we recorded a podcast on the impact of the Asus EeePC and other netbooks; this was at the height of their popularity.

However it wasn’t long before the honeymoon was over. Only in March I was writing about some of the issues I had had with the very small netbooks.

Though I liked the Asus EeePC the keyboard was rather too small for me and I know others found it difficult to type large amounts of text on it. The HP 2133 was well suited to those who found the smaller micro-laptops too much of a microscopic size.

It was also back then we started to see the feature creep and added functionality with newer netbooks, in the same blog post I wrote.

However no point in recommending the HP 2133 as HP have decided to withdraw that model. Their replacement, the HP 2140 has a similar form factor to the 2133, included the nice keyboard, but now has a10.1″ screen. You have to ask is it a micro-laptop or is really no longer that form factor and more a subnotebook now?

We also started to see rising prices too. But the devices were popular with learners and practitioners. At most e-learning events too they were awash with netbooks.

However here we are two years after the launch of the Asus EeePC and the netbook is effectively dead, or will be dead soon!

The BBC reports that:

Rising prices and better alternatives may mean curtains for netbooks.

The small portable computers were popular in 2009, but some industry watchers are convinced that their popularity is already waning.

“The days of the netbook are over,” said Stuart Miles, founder and editor of technology blog Pocket Lint.

There are now no netbooks with 7″ screens, very few with 8.9″ screens, most are now coming with bigger screens, at least 10.1″ and sometimes larger. The original netbooks came with small flash based drives, often 2, 4 or 8 GB. This was fine for browsing or word processing, but not sufficient for video or audio. So manufacturers started putting in large traditional hard drives. HP pulled Linux from their netbooks back in February, and that was down to consumer demand, consumers wanted Windows and couldn’t handle or like the Linux OS. In my experience, though I did like Xandros, I found the SUSE on the HP netbooks difficult to use and (bizarrely) unreliable. One of the big issues with the netbook was that it was underpowered which meant it was unsuitable for internet video; as a result manufacturers started putting in more memory and more powerful chips.

The netbook as envisgaed by Asus and imitated by others, is now effectively dead. Most netbooks you buy now are effectively normal laptops, maybe a little smaller…

So what does this mean for learners and learning?

A fair few learners did buy netbooks, but many more bought traditional laptops, as they preferred the “better” user experience over the netbook. Netbooks for most users were as a second computer; learners were more likely to have a single computer and needed something more powerful. Netbooks often did not have the power to deal with media-rich learning content. However the death of the netbook means that there is not the choice that learners did have.

Or is there?

Newer technologies can result in more choice. For a lot of people I know the iPhone has replaced their netbook, and with the introduction of a large iPhone-esque Tablet device by both Apple and Microsoft in 2010 we may have a new style of netbook, a tabletnetbook!

"Sony plots death of Amazon Kindle"

I enjoyed this article from the The Register on e-Book Readers.

Sony – a company that has struggled to establish itself as a dominant player in the world of ebook readers – is anxious to remind you that the ebook market is still in its infancy and that the Amazon Kindle is far from winning the battle. In fact, Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading business division, thinks Jeff Bezos and co. have made some critical mistakes.

The e-Book Reader market is interesting to watch, as in education once a consumer product reaches a certain level of market penetration, we then start to see how we can use it to enhance and enrich teaching and learning.

e-Learning Tech Stuff #002 – Green Screen Technology

Once only available to Hollywood and BBC weathermen, it’s now possible for anyone to use green screen or chroma key technology.

Chroma key is a technique for mixing two images or frames together, in which a color (or a small color range) from one image is removed (or made transparent), revealing another image behind it. This technique is also referred to as color keying, colour-separation overlay, greenscreen, and bluescreen.

Source.

This video was made using a couple of Sony HDD Camcorders, on one of them was screwed a 37mm adapter with a ring of green LEDs.

greenscreen001

I sat on a sofa in front of a screen which is not green (but you can use green) but has reflective beads to reflect the green light back into the camera.

Using Apple’s iMovie 09 and switching on the Advanced Tools option in preferences allows you to add your green screen footage over existing footage.

greenscreen002

There is a nice and simple guide on how to do that here.

Has quite a bit of potential to making short videos more interesting and adding learners and practitioners over existing footage to explain stuff.

Sony eBook Reader software for the Mac

Only yesterday I mentioned that Sony were releasing new eBook Readers, today another piece of news from Sony.

I do have the older PRS-505 model and though I have two hundred odd (old) books on there (which came with the device) I haven’t really made best use of the Reader, partly as the software was Windows only and I generally on a day to day basis use a Mac.

So I was pleased to hear today that Sony have released eBook Reader software for the Mac. It was relatively easy to download, install and use.

Might start using the Reader more now…

Download the software from Sony.

Sony launches challenge to the Kindle

sonyebookreader0309

I do like the concept of e-Books and have a Sony e-Book Reader. I also would really like to have an Amazon Kindle, but alas they’re only available in the US.

The BBC News reports on the launch of a new Sony e-Book Reader.

Sony has launched a wireless e-reader which allows users to download electronic books on the go.

Analysts said Sony’s Reader Daily Edition is a direct challenge to Amazon’s best-selling Kindle device.

The $399 (£250) touch-screen device is able to store up to 1,000 novels and can download books over a high-speed mobile network.

It also has an application that can be used to “borrow” books from local libraries for 21 days.

In a recent presentation I gave, I talked about e-Books and how I felt that the Sony e-Book Reader was a first generation device, from which new and better devices would emerge.

By adding connectivity (like the Kindle) Sony has made the e-Book more useful and allows immediate satisfaction, it’s similar to the way that Apple’s iPhone allows you to download music immediately.

Think of the impact of this on the learner, they can be in college, at home, in a coffee shop and they can immediately download to their e-Book reader their assignments, readings, handouts as and when they want or need them.

Regardless of new media, interactivity, in education we still do rely on the printed word, books, journals, handouts. By making them available on an electronic device with a long battery life, it makes it much easier for learners to access information as and when they need it.

I am however slightly disappointed and concerned when I read:

The device will be available in the US from December.

Will we ever get a connected e-Book device in the UK?