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Tech

Top 10 coolest/most innovative mobile computers (2019 edition)

Here are my top 10 most innovative/coolest mobile computers. Note: I define mobile computers as anything that is portable or can fit in a luggage bag – and runs on a desktop OS. No iPads or mobile phones here.

10. Dell Adamo XPS (2010)

Dell came up with the thinnest laptop on the market in 2010 and one of the thinnest all time – only 10mm thin. They accomplished this by having the keyboard recess into the lid, the lid acting as a kind of ‘storage’ for the keyboard. And also a heat strip where the laptop opens with the swipe of a finger. pretty cool.

9b. Dell XPS M2010 (2006)

The father of the desktop replacement, this massive 20 incher weighed 20lbs! but folded into a briefcase so technically it was ‘portable’ and thus qualifies for this list. Still the fact that Dell thought up such a beastly machine over 13 years ago, is why it belongs on this list.

9a. Acer Predator 21X (2017)

Acer Predator 21 X - Notebookcheck.net External Reviews

Have to put this as a tie with the Dell because this is really pushing the limits of what could be considered a desktop replacement. A massive 21 inch curved screen device that weighs 20lbs and packs a huge amount of power this may as well just be a desktop at this point.

8. Asus ROG Mothership (2019)

One of the coolest laptops unveiled at this year’s CES, the Asus ROG mothership is basically a battery powered all-in-one PC with high end specs. Core i9, 144hz display, RTX 2080, its all there – and the keyboard is detachable so that gamers can use their own keyboard/mouse without the built in one taking up space like in most gaming laptops.

7. Porsche Design Book One (2017)

Yes its similar to the Microsoft SurfaceBook – but it has one key difference which is a 360 degree Yoga hinge. This means the Book One combines the Lenovo Yoga’s convertible form factor with the Surface Book’s detachable hinge. It’s the only computer with this design.

6. Acer Aspire R7 (2013)

A laptop that looks like the Starship Enterprise – this laptop has a screen that can be lifted upwards and moved closer much like an easel – this is geared towards artists and creators, but the screen can also flip backwards as well – and the touchpad above the keyboard. Very unique.

5b. Acer Iconia 6120 (2010)

A dual touchscreen notebook where you can use pretty much anything on the bottom screen, including a custom keyboard. This predates the Lenovo YogaBook by several years and is still an interesting design today.

5a. Toshiba Libretto W700 (2010)

Toshiba Libretto W105-L251 review: Toshiba Libretto W105-L251 - CNET

Coming out at around the same time as the Acer Iconia, this dual screen netbook also featured dual touch screens, again – WAY before dual screen multitouch devices were a thing. 

4. Sony Vaio UX (2006)

The ultimate UMPC, the Vaio UX is still a marvel of design and engineering. It ran Windows XP (can be upgraded all the way to Windows 10) and can fit in your pocket! It was the first computer to have an SSD and had a fingerprint scanner over a decade before it was commonplace on notebooks. Truly an amazing piece of tech.

3. Razer Edge Pro (2013)

Razer Edge Pro was a gaming tablet that ran a Core i7 with a GTX 640LE and paired it with a console grade gaming controller. This idea was very unique and allowed users to play Windows games on the go in a form factor much smaller than gaming laptops – and way before the Nintendo Switch as well.

2. Asus Zenbook Pro Duo (2019)

Just announced at this Computex 2019, the Zenbook Pro Duo packs a 15″ 4K OLED display along with a secondary 14″ 4K display AND a third numpad/trackpad display AND a RTX 2060 graphics card. This thing is the coolest computer I’ve seen in quite a while, and I’m excited!

  1. Onkyo DX (2010)

Technically this would belong to Razer’s Project Valerie if they ever made that laptop, but since they didn’t – this netbook gets it. It has a dual display – one display slides out from under the other – and its also a convertible display on top of that! I have no idea why this design idea was not adopted by other makers but out of all PC makers – Onkyo – an audio equipment maker was the one to come up with this. Surprising.

Categories
General

Functionality over form for gadgets, Style over brand for clothing

One thing that’s really changed about me from the past is I no longer care about showing off my wealth; that’s something that I’ve criticized Chinese people for a lot and still do. I don’t understand whats the point of showing off your wealth by buying a fancy car or wearing expensive designer clothing. Like whats the point? You want people to know you are rich? Why? So they can rob you? Sounds arrogant to me.

I am actually quite blessed to say that since 2011 since I got my first job out of university, I haven’t really ‘struggled’ to make ends meet, per say. I’ve been living comfortably (I’m not rich.. just comfortable) for the past 6 years. But I was a poor university student before 2011 plus things in Canada usually cost more, so one of the first things I did when I first came to San Francisco was to buy up a lot of brand name clothing! A&F shirts, Lacoste polos, Lucky Brand / Guess jeans, you name it. I spent a lot of money on new clothes, only to realize that it didn’t really matter. I didn’t really care about the names and SF people really didn’t care either. When I lived in Korea I threw away all my American clothes and exchanged them for no name Korean brands – which were ironically better quality because they were made in Korea and alot of the name brand clothing was made in China. But the important thing is the style. I noticed in Korea people didn’t care about brands so much like in China – they cared about the style more. If it looked good, then wear it. Who cares who its made by? I learned this when I was in Korea.

So now I don’t care what brand I buy or wear anymore as long as it looks good. The opposite applies to electronics. I own laptops by Asus, Microsoft, Lenovo, Dell and Apple. My speakers are made by LG, Sony, Yamaha, Klipsch, Polk Audio, Creative, and Bose. My phones come from Sony, Apple, Essential, Blackberry and Google. My TV is Panasonic. My headphones are Sony, Fender, Monster, Audeze and Master&Dynamic. My microphones are Shure. My cameras are by DJI and Sony. My Keyboards are from Aorus, Logitech and Microsoft. My mice are from Asus, Microsoft, Razer, and Logitech. So yes I have brand name electronics – but they are all different brands. I don’t really have brand loyalty but I do care that they are not some cheap no name Chinese knockoff. That is important to me. But thing to note is that for electronics, I care about functionality of what I buy more than the design.

Take a look at this computer.

Apple MacBook Pro
Apple MacBook Pro

This computer is the epitome of form over function. It’s sexy looking, it’s thin and it’s made of aluminum. It’s nice looking. But it’s rather limited in functionality. There’s no touch screen. The graphics are integrated. The keyboard has shallow travel. There’s only 2 ports on it and one of them is for charging. The only reason I have this computer is for MacOS – which is essential for my programming tasks. It may as well just be a travel ultrabook – and even then the iPad Pro + keyboard kills it in portability, or Microsoft Surface Book 2 just kill it for the specs. Overall I only have this computer for the OS thats it. This computer costs $1900 when configured with the Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD.

Now look at this computer.

Lenovo ThinkPad TP25
Lenovo ThinkPad TP25

This computer is the epitome of function over form. I use this one as my main computer over the MacBook – even though it costs the same amount of money, $1900. It’s not sexy looking sure – it looks like it came from the early 2000s in fact – but it has way more functions than the MacBook has. It comes with the same specs first off – Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD. Furthermore – it’s tested to military standards, keyboard is spill-proof, the keyboard is a full 7 row keyboard with at least 4x the amount of key travel the MacBook Pro has, it has mobile broadband (WWAN) and a removable battery (the Macbook you can’t even upgrade the RAM), it has a full set of 8 ports (no dongles needed), it has Nvidia 940MX graphics (granted not the most powerful but still better than integrated), you can use the pointer without taking your hands off the keyboard (its called a trackpoint), and it has a touch screen – and it weighs just 0.5lbs more, and a full 3 year warranty. So yeah. I’m taking this computer almost every time (except when I need to program or use Final Cut Pro).

Here I’m responding to TP25 haters…

Function over form. For much the same reason I have a Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact over the new iPhone X. Because even though that phone looks better with the thin bezels and OLED screens and stuff – mine has more battery life, microSD, headphone jack and IP68. top spec hardware specs too. And did I mention at half the price of the iPhone X? Yeah that too. I’ll always take the more useful over the more stylish for electronics. For clothing I take the stylish over the brand name. Because clothing is a huge part of how people see you and how you present yourself. A good stylish looking shirt or blazer is going to draw way more attention than using a sexy bezel-less iPhone X. I guarantee you.

Categories
General

the iPhone 10th anniversary & legacy..

On the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, people have been celebrating how revolutionary it was.. and yes, it does deserve all that praise. Steve Jobs was a brilliant marketing genius and visionary. Apple products haven’t been the same since he passed away. The Apple Watch (whats the use case?), the iPad Pro (stylus?), the new iPhones (no headphone jack?) and the new MacBook lineup (all USBC?) have all been criticized a lot since they came out and some design flaws like the camera bump in the new iPhones, no headphone jack, the elimination of magsafe and switch to all USBC etc have caused to people to wonder if Steve Jobs was alive if those things would have been approved.
Well, I’m not sure, but definitely I can say the presentations haven’t been as awe-inspiring with Tim Cook in charge. He’s more of a quiet delegator whereas Steve could light up the room and take charge with everything.

The iPhone brought *capacitative* touch computing to the massive. Previously, touch screens have been mostly resistive touch which made those devices very hard to use and required a stylus to use them. Back in the mid 2000s I did use some Palm devices, Pocket PCs and carried around a hefty Windows Convertible PC (yes they had those back then!) all which required styluses to use. It was a pain.
After the iPhone and iPad came out, every device got much easier to use, and just using the fingers was so simple and easy.

There are some things I miss about the pre-iphone phones though. I think people unfairly look at the old Blackberrys and Windows Mobile devices as crap compared to the iPhone but thats not exactly true. People forget that the original iPhone had no 3G, no copy+paste, you couldn’t attach images in emails, there was no selfie cam, there was no video capability or flash, no third party app store, etc. A lot of smartphones back then had all those features. No it wasn’t as easy to install a third party app onto a Pocket PC or Palm OS device as an iPhone’s App Store, but there definitely was a thriving marketplace for those old devices. It wasn’t as bad as people thought it was.

Moreover, I liked how every device looked so unique. You had flip phones, slider phones, swivel phones, dual slider phones, transforming phones, etc. These days everyone has the same phone.. iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy, etc the same black slabs everywhere. Back then there was very slim chances you and your friend had the exact same phone model. Here are some standouts (I own alot of these):

Nokia XpressMusic 5700
Nokia XpressMusic 5700

Blackberry Porsche P9981
Blackberry Porsche P9981

Samsung Alias 2
Samsung Alias 2

Pantech Matrix Pro
Pantech Matrix Pro

Nokia N95
Nokia N95

Nokia N93
Nokia N93

Nokia E90
Nokia E90

Nokia E70
Nokia E70

Motorola Aura
Motorola Aura

Motorola Flipout
Motorola Flipout

Yeah especially Nokia had a lot of really cool designs… we won’t be seeing these kind of designs anymore unfortunately.

And another thing is cellphone charms! remember those?

cellphone charm
cellphone charm

Young people might not even know that back then, phones had a hole where you could attach a charm to it.. that hole is not longer on modern smartphones so cellphone charms (the way people could customize their phones) have now been replaced by smartphone cases, which IMO isn’t quite as great. Yeah you can still customize your phone with a case, but its not the same as having a good old fashioned charm.

So yeah just pointing out some of the negative side effects of iPhone’s legacy..

In other news, I’m going to Korea next month and not a moment too soon.. been dying here of boredom having nothing to really do. my plan right now is to just save up money for next year. After the hassle of getting yet another work visa at the border, I don’t really plan on doing that again. I’m planning to leave in another year or so, and go back to either Korea or Canada. Yes, that means I’ll have to leave my current job, but unless I can work remotely it just won’t work out. I don’t get enough vacation time with my current job to get the freedom that I want.

Also, planning on selling my home too. There are a few reasons for this. Yes having a place in San Francisco is nice and all, but the housing market in SF is beginning to cool off, and for the price I could sell my apartment for, I could easily buy another place in the US (I’m thinking San Diego because of the weather and West coast location), AND have enough spare money to help me get another place in Vancouver Canada (with the help of a mortgage) as well. I’ll just rent out a storage locker while the unit is on sale and then just move things out when I get my new places. But yeah that’s my longer term plan. My best friend in San Francisco is in the same situation as me except he is 5 years older so its probably even more urgent for him, but he doesn’t want to stay here either. And besides him I have very few friends and very little reason to stay in SF. 90% of my friends are in Korea or Canada so it makes more sense to move to those places instead. I’m in the USA just for saving up money that’s it, but hopefully the US/CAD exchange rate remains the same next year else I’m losing a lot of money if I don’t exchange now…