Time was Eric Schmidt sat on Apple's board and Mr. Jobs on that of Google's. The acrimony engendered by Android's entrance onto the smartphone stage and Steve's megalomaniacal sense of victimhood ("we didn't enter the search business!") ended all that. And so the marriage of the sexiest hardware maker to the most beautiful software firm, joined from the first day by their greatest enemy, Microsoft, ended.
Enter Sony, whose last global product offering, the PSP Go, only underscored what a growing embarrassment Sony is to the industry. Samsung has eclipsed them in core markets and has the muscle to release an iPad competitor (if not killer).
Engadget broke the PSP Phone (code named Zeus) story this week and has confirmed it: Android 3, marketplace of serious games, nice design:
I'll assume 800 x 480 but it would be great if they came in higher, or could run 720p. Its unique but Sony has rarely been a leader in mobiles, while it is often owned the TV space.
While Apple TV is a "hobby" for Apple and essentially an iTunes shill, Google TV finally brings the browser to the sofa and the bed, plus Hulu for yanks and iPlayer for us. YouTube is the world's second largest search engine. This will be big. A partnership with Sony makes a lot of sense for both but the premium charged over an offline TV is exorbitant - $300-$400 more according to Engadget. You could buy a Logitech Revue for that price difference but the Revue is a joke - 1.2GHz Z-series Atom processor in a plastic box that's extra big to get rid of the heat from the passively cooled CPU.
We have a sliver of a fraction of their resources yet we could a) design a fanless set top box with custom heatpipe that dissipates heat into the room and not the PC case b) build a fanless board into a 26" or 32" TV for much less than a $300 premium.
Maybe we will.
Aleutia's mission has always been to distribute computers to as many families and businesses as possible in emerging economies and particularly in Africa. Getting useful computers into rural schools, and especially secondary schools, is the real key here because that's where we see the most impact. The barriers are three fold: upfront cost, electricity access (ongoing cost), and reliability.
The industry worship of Moore's Law means we can't do much on cost because the silicon remains expensive (see above post) but we've built up a lot of expertise on passively cooling PCs which means we can produce a really reliable fanless PC at a reasonable price point. And we can get rid of hard drives by using SSDs (still expensive) or, in a classroom, by going diskless and keeping everything on a fanless DRBL server (we run all the Ubuntu sessions off an SSD).
Our T1 has been used in schools all over the world with some particular challenges from the Amazon jungle in Ecuador (humidity, lots of insects that try to get into the PC) to Afghanistan (heat, and zero access to spare parts).
Frequently we ship our T1s and monitors out and rely on a local company to put together the solar side of things but this tends to push up costs and is contingent on a good local supplier being present. In response we've put together a solution that will initially roll out in Nigeria.
It's completely solid state and the whole classroom consumes just 15 Amps or 180 Watts. It's compact enough so that we can ship it anywhere in the world with DHL and comes with everything you need to run 7 PCs and server indefinitely - all you have to do is add batteries. (Deep cycle lead acid batteries are a hazardous material and can't be shipped by air - we can always advise which ones to buy).
The explanation is below and we'll be providing updates (and videos) soon. Should be available to order on the site starting in December.
Moore's law dictates that every 18 months, we get twice the transistors for the same price. That used to be great in the 90s when computers were slow and in the 80s when computers were really slow. It meant when you typed a letter on the keyboard you didn't have to wait for it to appear on the screen.
But today it means that you get a quad core for the price of a dual core. Some games and video encoding programs can utilize 4 cores but the vast majority of software can only take advantage of 2 or even 1 core. Software has always lagged behind hardware.
So you get all this performance but it long ago passed the point of being "good enough" and overshot the demands of many people, especially those in areas with little bandwidth where YouTube cannot be streamed in HD. (Personal Caveat: I have ridiculous levels of bandwidth and like watching things in 1080p so I am writing this on a Core i3-based Aleutia H3).
And the problem is AMD and Chipzilla (even VIA) do not bring the base cost of processors down.
We've built a product line on the Intel Atom 230 (1.6GHz) and Atom 330 (2 x 1.6GHz), which was replaced by the D410 (1.66GHz) and D510 (2 x 1.66GHz). At least these new entrants reduced heat and power consumption by building the NM10 Chipset into the CPU silicon. Now we have the D425 and D525 - pushed up to 1.8GHz and probably overclock'able to 2.0GHz. This does help with tasks and we are going to start selling them next week but the price of the boards and CPU is the same as the last generation.
We can make a computer for $150 but I'd like to make one for $50. RAM and SSDs are coming down in price but what the industry needs is cheaper silicon (or boards with less crap on them).
Timor-Leste became the 62nd country we've sent our fanless computers to yesterday, when we shipped out a computing station kit of a 12V dual core Aleutia T2 computer and 12V monitor and all the solar kit to run it. This will be operating in a remote area for a Microfinance institute in Australia so it was essential that a) there's enough solar capacity to run indefinitely and b) that it be compact to keep FedEx shipping costs low. And it had to be easy to set up. Solar isn't absurdly complicated (even I've figured it out) but in remote areas it needs to be done right, otherwise you can blow a fuse in the solar panel (or in the DC plugs for the T2 and monitor).
We had a pair of weatherproof 20 Watt Monocrystalline panels joined by piano hinges with a a 5 meter weatherproof cable that terminates in a unique plastic male clip.
We use a Morningstar charge controller - this lets you charge the battery at the same time as you are using the PC - with 3 areas to connect cables: Solar (connect the panels here), Battery (connect the + and - battery leads here) and Lightbulb (connect whatever you want here - in this case a T2 and monitor).
And the brown (+) and blue (-) cables coming off the middle (battery icon) are again pre-wired to connect to the battery (for demonstration purposes at the office, just a 7 Amp hour deep cycle leisure battery):
Every solar solution we sell is fully tested in London (we are currently setting up an office unit as a dedicated solar lab) and we're going to start YouTube'ing most of them. That way you know exactly how the solution you bought works.
The solar kit is available from our site: http://www.aleutia.com/products/solar