A new period of innovation is opening in the world of mobile computing, possibly inspired from ideas boldly implemented by the One Laptop per Child project, and diffusing across the commercial world from there.
In this vein, PC Pro announces the introduction of Asus’ £100 laptop:
“The notebook measures roughly 120 x 100 x 30mm (WDH) and weighs only 900g. We saw the notebook boot in 15 seconds from its solid-state hard disk. The huge auditorium then burst into applause as Shih revealed the astounding price tag. Dubbed the 3ePC, Shih claimed the notebook is the ‘lowest cost and easiest PC to use’. As the crowds rushed the stage, we sneaked off to the Asus stand to take a closer look.
The notebook uses a custom-written Linux operating system, much like the OLPC, though unlike the OLPC, Asus has chosen a more conventional interface. The desktop looked fairly similar to Windows and we saw Firefox running on one 3ePC. A spokesperson from Asus told us that the notebook would come with “an office suite that’s compatible with MS Office”, though he refused to confirm or deny whether that meant OpenOffice.”
Flash-based hard disks are probably going to become standard in a new breed of subnotebooks like this. As will Linux-based operating systems and open source desktop software stacks. Many new uses will be devised for this form factor, and probably an entirely new market will come into existence. Freedom from proprietary software is a strong contributing factor behind this wave of creativity.