What a difference an inch makes

Over the last few weeks I have been blogging and podcasting about my Acer Aspire One A110L (sold in the UK as the A110-ab) with which I am more than satisfied and which has revolutionised my work because I no longer take a 15″ laptop with me, just to setup a router or access point.

Before I purchased the Acer model, I was originally thinking about buying an Asus Eee PC.  Both are, or at least were, available with Linux and so it was really a matter of which one was easier to configure for UMTS and other software that I wanted to use.  Taking a 8,9″ computer weighing about 900g with me to an appointment makes a big difference.  Plus the Linux version boots a lot quicker than the older Windows laptop.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Asus roadshow in Frankfurt and was shown the new models that will be appearing in the coming months, and it appears that these smaller laptops will be getting bigger – with 10″ or even 12″ displays.  Asus obviously believes that this is the way forward, as they have now announced that they will be phasing out the 8,9″ versions of the Eee PC this year.

Whilst I can understand the need for a 12″ version to offer an alternative to the more expensive high-end 12″ laptops, I think it is a mistake to give up the format that made this type of computer so successful.

Blu-ray v HD-DVD – just another format battle?

Today’s news shocked me at first: Toshiba has effectively conceded defeat for the HD-DVD format and Blu-ray is the winner.

It was a battle that, although it had interested me, was not one that I was going to let affect me. I am currently quite happy with the DVD standard for video and data, and although it’s interesting to see where the technology is going, I already see enough problems with the DVD subformats to worry too much about any new ones.

That said, I am worried that in the not too distant future, we will not be able to read the DVDs that we write today.

When I got married I archived all of the digital pictures on a CD and gave copies of this CD to our relatives. One of my friends asked me if I was sure that I would always be able to read them. At the time I thought that the CD format was pretty much standardised, and the pictures were in JPEG format – something that I couldn’t see dying out too quickly.

And yet now I find myself really wondering if I will be able to read the CDs in 10 or 20 years time. What will come after Blu-ray? Will the drives read the ‘old’ CDs? Or will reading a CD then become like reading a disc today.

Actually I still use 3.5″ discs as one bank that I deal with accepts DTA files on them. I also use one when I want to print flyers at the local copyshop.

So currently I find myself using 3.5″ discs, CDs and DVDs for my data, not to mention my USB stick and the SD card in my PDA and the MMC card in my mobile phone.

Is Blu-ray going to be just another format to add to the list?

I remember the VHS/Betamax time at the beginning of the 1980s – the current discussion has often been compared to this. At home we had VHS, at school Betamax. At least one person I knew had betamax at home, but everyone else had VHS – and eventually my school changed as well. Whatever happened to those betamax recorders?

The fact is, that I still use VHS cassettes. Yes, I can record a DVD instead, but when I want to play it somewhere else there are always compatibility questions: is it +R, -R, +RW, or -RW? Has the last session been closed? These two simple questions determine whether or not I can watch my recording on other equipment. VHS does not, normally, have this problem (although I did once have an SVHS recorder…)

Will Blu-ray bring the compatibility that VHS once did?

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