Monday, September 15, 2008

Laptop Too Big? Try a Tablet

You'd like to tote your laptop computer everywhere. That is, if it didn't make your arm fall off. Internet enabled cell phones certainly take care of that size and weight problem. But then you have the challenge of dealing with the itty bitty buttons and the teeny tiny screen. It sure would be nice if there was something in-between. What you want is a device that will fit in the palm of your hand, yet have a screen big enough to easily use the Internet and Web based tools. Have you considered an Internet media tablet?

The Archos 7 Internet media tablet is a high end model of the ultra mobile computer. Think of a device that looks like a much larger version of the iPhone. It's all touch screen on front. That way you get a 7 inch color touch display with a resolution of 800x480 pixels. That's big enough to render Web pages directly, so you don't have to slide around peeking at little slices of the page content. Your browser is the Opera Web browser with Adobe Flash 9 video support, just like on a larger machine. You also get a PDF viewer and Email client.

Hmmm. Where's the keyboard? It's on the screen, of course. To continue the iPhone analogy, you use a touch screen keyboard for your data entry. Of course, the Archos 7 has a much larger keyboard because it has a much larger screen.

Connectivity is via built-in Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g access. You also have the option to plug-in a 3.5G cellular broadband adapter with a USB connector to a mini-dock adaptor. That should be everything you need to get on the Internet.

Now, truth be told, the Archos 7 and other members of the Internet media table product line are really targeted for multi-media on the go. Hence, the "media" tablet designation. What types of media? Movies, music, photos. Even high definition video, Web radio and TV, video podcasts, and video recording using the optional "helmet cam."

A helmet cam? It's a tubular video camera that connects to the Archos tablet so you can use it as a camcorder. I suppose you could strap it to a cycle helmet and go zooming down the street. Too bad about anybody subject to motion sickness who happens to be watching the results.

Video support includes MPEG-4, WMV, and M-JPEG. Audio support is MP3, WMA, Protected WMA, WMA pro 5.1 and WAV. There are additional plug-ins to support other formats such as MPEG-4 (ASP 720p) & WMV HD (MP 720p), H.264 up to DVD resolution with AAC, MPEG-2 MP@ML up to 10 Mbps (up to DVD resolution) and AC3 stereo sound (5.1).

How about storage capacity? Forget those little memory cards you plug into cell phones. This Archos 7 comes with 320 GB capacity so you can enjoy up to 400 movies, 3.2 million photos, or 190,000 songs before you run out of room. Battery life is a generous 12 hours for listening to music or 4 hours for watching videos.

If you feel your needs are gravitating toward more multimedia applications on a mobile basis, you might want to think about one of these media tablets to bring along. You'll also have access to the Internet on at least a casual basis. For some users, this could be just the right combination for personal and business use.

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