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dinky computers

It looks like Dell is coming up with one. Patrick Thibodeau says it’s A new computer that defies category. It’s not a tablet, PC, or cloud-only device – but Dell’s upcoming computer has everything.

What it is is a stick PC with an ARM system on a chip. It has a USB port for power and others for keyboard or whatnot and supports 1080p video. It runs Android with 8 GB memory and a microSD slot for storage.

These things are rather nifty but I wonder. Any monitor worth its salt these days probably has more processing power built in and probably has network, USB and camera memory card slots like the stick computer. What it doesn’t have is the provision for a general purpose OS and user installed applications.

That brings up a distinction that doesn’t seem to get much attention. There are dinky computers designed for human interaction like the Dell prototype. It seems that these will just meld into the user interface apparatus much like a tablet computer.

The other type is for automation tasks and trends towards super micro-controllers. These aren’t expected to live in an environment with general purpose displays and input devices (e.g. monitors and keyboards). That means they don’t need powerful graphic subsystems, built in networking and wifi, and other amenities. What they do need is a good interface to such things as an I2C bus and micro-controller like conversion capabilities between analog and digital signals.

The talk is about the demise of the PC as PC sales growth has slowed recently. The reality is that there is a change in progress as computing power has started to catch up with its possibilities. It is likely to take a while before people really get it figured out just how the future will be. The PC, smart appliances, tablet computers, cell phones, and other devices are all ‘experiments’ about just how people will use information technology. — Interesting times, indeed. Watch your wallet! (technology expenses should all be considered as short term and expendable so they should be a part of cash flow and not investment)

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