Thursday, 19 July 2007

A New Offering - Hot off the Press!

Tatung are due to hit the market with what looks like a possible competitor for the Samsung Q1 Ultra.
It is affectionately known as the TTAB-T70A and looks pretty good...

Available in black or white.
It has an impressive spec as follows:
CPU VIA C7M @ 1.2GHz
Chipset VIA VX700
Hard Disk 1.8” HDD Options from 30GB or
Compact Flash Based Storage alternatives.
DDR-II Memory 512MB (Options up to 1GB)
Display 7.0” Wide TFT LCD Panel (LED Backlight)
800x480 Resolution
Resistive Touchscreen Input
Video Shared Video Memory up to 128MB
Audio Integral Speakers 2 x 0.5 W
Integral Microphone
Camera Integral 1.3 Mega Pixels
Security AuthenTec Slide type fingerprint sensor (Optional)
Operating System Options: Windows Xpe
Windows XP Pro
Networking Wireless LAN 802.11b/g
Wired LAN 10/100 Mbps (RJ-45 Connector)
Bluetooth v2.0 EDR
Expansion I/O PCMCIA CardBus type II Slot
SD Memory Slot
2 x USB 2.0 Ports
VGA Output (15pin female D-Connector)
Headphone Output Jack
Docking Connector
DC Input Jack
Front Panel Controls 1 x Power Button
4 x Hotkeys
Track Point 1 with Z-Axis Function
Front Panel Indicators 1 x Wireless Status
1 x Power/Charge Status.
1 x HDD Activity
Power Universal AC Adaptor 19V/65W (100~240V)
Rechargeable Li-ion Battery (14.8V@2600 mAh)
Battery runtime up to 4hrs
IP Rating IP53 (Front Bezel only)
Dimensions (W x H x D) 206 x 135 x 31mm
Weight 0.895kg with battery.
Operating Temperature +5°C ~ +35°C
Environmental EMC & Safety CE/FCC
Included Accessories TBC
Optional Accessories Kick Stand (Removable)
Docking Station providing:
1 x LAN
3 x USB 2.0 Ports,
1 x Serial
1 x DC-in
My thinking is that this, too, would present similar screen-size problems. However, it may not 'free the teacher' but I think this (and other similar devices) really do represent a glimpse of the future. Might this be the exercise book of 2010? Should we be looking to put devices like these into the hands of children? My feeling is to say 'yes' to both.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Back to the future.

The burgeoning UMPC field is such that today's awesome new device is tomorrow's old hat. To think that I was at the BETT show in January and struggled to find even a choice of devices illustrates how fast things are moving right now. I'm put in mind of the increasingly ubiquitous 'Shift Happens' presentation that is doing the rounds at the moment.
I was at a Mobile Learning event at Microsoft Campus in Reading last week which was 'mixed' in terms of value for me. Perhaps the most entertaining aspect was the presentation by a senior Microsoft representative elucidating the varied features and improvements inherent in Windows Mobile 6. Not entertaining, I hasten to add, for the content; but rather for the fact that the presentation completely bombed, crashed and died for technical reasons. Despite my obvious sympathy for anyone suffering technical problems whilst giving a techie presentation, there is something slightly smugly satisfying about this happening at Microsoft's supposed centre of excellence. A fact not missed by my neighbour who, on his Apple ibook, had a distinct ironic smile playing on his lips throughout.
Anyway, back to the future. Is it still UMPC? What about PDAa and EDAs? Well the answer is clearly 'That depends what you want it for'. There was much at the mobile learning event to persuade of the value of the PDA type device as a solution for the learner, but I'm interested in freeing the teacher.
I have to admit to a slight rise in pulse rate when I saw the latest offering from Samsung at the Microsoft event.

The Samsung Q1 Ultra

This has Qwerty keys on the housing that can be used relatively easily and make this device something that will definitely attract the PSP generation. Importantly, it also has cameras facing fore and aft (you'll remember how important this was to me) and is a fully functioning computer (also important). It is also extremely portable - more so than the Tatung M84A - and I gather that little rubberised bump-covers for the Q1 are now beginning to appear on e-bay.
HOWEVER, where the 7 inch screen and dinkiness of these little devices may appeal to the minimalists amongst us and will certainly turn on the teenagers, I mustn't forget the teachers and my original purpose. Because of this, the Tatung M84A is still winning. This is because of the perfect combination of mobility and screen size. I (and I suspect teachers) will want to be able to see a document page and easily read the text on it, whilst also using 20% of the display for the handwriting recognition/keyboard application. This is why 7 inches is too small and a PDA will never adequately solve the problem.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Release into the wild

Three devices have arrived and been sent out to schools.
To date, all my ideas have been 'in theory'. Now we'll see how they fare in the classroom. I'm going to provide a 'quick-start' face-to-face with the teachers. This will include a quick tour of the features (camera, audio recording, handwriting recognition) and how to get the software on - MS Office and MyScript Stylus (via network? Portable hard-drive? USB CDROM drive?). Also, a quick look at my e-portfolio/learning journey Powerpoint. I've also set up a UMPC community on the VLE for ongoing support/discussion/forum activity.
I am still very annoyed at the fact that Tatung didn't ship my device with XP Tablet edition, requiring me to buy handwriting recognition and rendering Onenote a shadow of its potential self. Now, of course, they are shipping the M84A with Tablet XP installed (at an additional cost) - too late for me.
I gather that the version of Blogger I'm using won't support Youtube video. This is a shame as I broke my Youtube duck with a bit of video taken with the Tatung and wanted to post it here. Not to worry, here's a link to it: