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Hands On with the Lenovo ThinkPad W700 with built in WACOM tablet

At the Intel SIGGRAPH booth, I ran into something unexpected at the Intel Software Network kiosk – a brand new (just announced this week) Lenovo ThinkPad W700.

Lenovo ThinkPad W700 about to swallow my bestickered Mac Book Pro whole


Besides being quite big (you can see it’s about to swallow my bestickered MacBook Pro whole), this Centrino 2-based monster’s claim to fame is the integrated Wacom drawing tablet in the wristrest.

Lenovo ThinkPad W700 with built in Wacom drawing tablet


The specs are extremely impressive, too: 17″ WUXGA (1920×1280) display, Intel Core 2 Extreme quad core 3.0GHz CPU, up to 8GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GPU with 1GB of RAM, and two hard drive bays for RAID 0 or RAID 1. This is pretty much the fastest portable on the planet.

Perfect for artists, webcomic creators, Photoshop junkies, and anyone else who doesn’t want to lug their external drawing tablet around. Instead, you can just lug the W700 around, because it’s a stretch to even call this bad boy a “laptop”. 😉

I think this system has officially claimed the title of “Lapzilla” from the 17″ MacBook Pro. Saw some more of it at the Lenovo booth, and there’s no other way to describe it other than “monster”. :-)

Oh, and for reference, prices start at around $2900.

That price, however, doesn’t include much. Only a Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of RAM, lower resolution screen, no Wacom tablet, 512MB VRAM, etc.

Maxed out with all the goodies (Quad core processor – $875, WUXGA screen – $225, 4GB RAM – $170, Wacom tablet and Pantone color corrector – $150, 1GB VRAM – $400, 2 fast hard drives in RAID 0 – $435, and a Blu-Ray drive – $450 inflates the price up to a whopping $5500. And that doesn’t even include the even more spendy option for a pair of fast SATA 64GB SSD drives (which you can’t apparently RAID together), which would add another $2000+ to the price. Yikes. I guess the size isn’t the only “monster” thing about the W700. 😉

Update: Here are a couple more photos, of the monster W700 trying to eat my little 8.9″ Eee PC 901. :-)

Big and Little - Lenovo W700 and an Eee PC 901


Monster Lenovo W700 Swallowing a closed Eee PC 901

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Video: Amazon Kindle Unboxing and First Impressions

I finally broke down and ordered an Amazon Kindle, now that they’re back in stock. It’s an ebook reader device, and since I read so much (borderline obsession), and there are growning piles of dead tree versions of books all over my house, I figured a Kindle was a good idea.

In this video, we go over the packaging, basic functions of the device, discuss its wireless features, have a look at the fabulous (dare I say revolutionary?) electronic ink screen, and generally check out the new gadget.

Camera help and cameo appearances by my wife Rachel and our son Gabe. You can download the higher quality original Quicktime movie file (about 6 minutes, 72MB), or get a code snippet to embed/share this video on your own site by clicking the little “connect the dots” icon in the player above.

I’ll be posting more thoughts as I use the Kindle more (I’ve had it less than 24 hours), but the verdict so far is: I LOVE this thing! I only wish I hadn’t had to wait so long for Amazon to get them back in stock.

You can find out more about the Kindle, browse the books, newspapers, and magazines available for it, and generally get more information at Amazon’s Kindle page (affiliate link – if you decide to buy one, and use that link, I get a small percentage, which helps to pay for my gadget buying habit).

Post a comment or message me on Twitter if you have any questions, and stay tuned for a lot more Kindle information in the days and weeks to come! :-)

Update: There’s a LOT of great discussion going on down in the comments for this post. I’ve been typing like mad, answering questions, so make sure you have a look if you’re interested in what book formats the Kindle can support, what you can use the SD card for, what I think of the DRM on the Kindle, how the design feels in my hands how to use the Kindle to read RSS feeds for free, and more! :-)

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Exclusive: 23 minutes of hands-on with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices

OK, so I’m a couple days late, and I know I’ve been teasing you with photos and videoappetizers“, but I hope the quality/content of these videos makes up for it. While I was in Shanghai, China last week for the Spring 2008 Intel Developer Forum, I stayed a few extra days to work with the Intel Software Network China team, with the hope that I might be able to score some hands-on time with some of the Mobile Internet Devices that were shown for the first time at IDF.

There are only about 20 MIDs in the world today, all prototypes, and they were pretty much all at IDF. As you can imagine, access to them is jealously guarded, and they were pretty busy being shown off, participating in photo shoots, etc. My access to them got postponed, rescheduled, and moved around a lot, until one afternoon, we got the call. “You can come play with the MIDs if you can be here by 5:30pm.” It was 5:00pm, and Welles and I jumped in a taxi right away, headed for the Intel Software group’s Mobility Enabling Lab. I didn’t have time to go back and get my “big boy” professional video gear, so these videos were shot on my pocket Aiptek Go-HD camera, secured by a GorillaPod. I think they turned out pretty well.

Big disclaimer: the Linux-based software for both the Lenovo and Aigo devices I used is NOT final – there are some features that aren’t implemented, and performance optimizations that haven’t occurred. This is NOT how they’re going to be when they’re released commercially. There are crashes, slowness, and missing features in these videos. Think of this as a preview of the foundations of the software – what it’s capable of in general. Then squint your eyes a little and imagine the final version, a little more polished, sitting happily in your pocket. :-)

First up, here’s a 13 minute video of the Lenovo Ideapad U8 Mobile Internet Device (MID). It’s one of the more unique hardware designs, with it’s flared end, special limited edition Beijing 2008 Olympic color scheme, and hardware number pad, for T9 text entry. In the video, I take a detailed look at the hardware (Intel Atom processor, two cameras – the rear one is 2.0 megapixels, SD slot, GPS, USB ports, etc.), and spend some time poking around with the software/user interface:


You can download the high quality (640×360) MP4 version here – the file is about 153 MB. You can also embed/share the video on your own blog or site by grabbing the Show Player code from the video’s page on blip.tv or by clicking “Embed” in the show player above.

Next up is 10 minutes of video with the MID from Aigo. I cover pretty much the same aspects of this device in the video as I did with the Lenovo Ideapad – hardware (sliding QWERTY keyboard, two cameras – the rear one is 3.0 megapixels, MicroSD slot, USB ports, “Smart Key”, etc.) and software and user interface. The Aigo device looks very similar to the Gigabyte MID, which has been floating around, making appearances. So much so that I suspect they’re manufactured by the same OEM, but I didn’t get any concrete information on this, so I’m just speculating. Here’s the video:


You can download the high quality (640×360) MP4 version of this video (117 MB) here, and get the embed code to share the video on your own site/blog on the video’s page on blip.tv, or by clicking “Embed” in the show player above.

Now that you’ve seen the videos, I hope some of your questions have been answered. And, no doubt, you have new questions. I’ll do my very best to get answers for you, so post your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Thanks for being patient while I got these videos ready. I have a TON more video content that I shot at IDF, and that will be coming out as it gets processed/edited. But this is the juicy stuff, so enjoy! :-)

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An Appetizer: Video of the Lenovo and Aigo MIDs at Intel Shanghai

I’m working on the video I shot while I was at the Mobility Software Lab at Intel Shanghai yesterday, getting some face time with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices. I posted the photos late last night (thank you all for the comments!), and ever since then, you’ve all been chomping at the bit to see the videos. I have good news and bad news…

The good news is, I just posted an “appetizer” video, with a quick look at the MID hardware, comparisons to the Fujitsu and Samsung UMPCs (and my iPhone), and a glimpse of the lab. It’s about 2.5 minutes long, and you can watch it right here:


The bad news? The really detailed videos I shot of the UI and applications on both devices are too long to go up on YouTube (which has a 10 minute limit). I don’t want to cut anything out of the videos – I want you to see everything I saw. And I’d really like to have higher quality for the videos than what YouTube allows. But since my video service of choice, Blip.tv, is blocked in China, I can’t upload the videos until I get home. My flight leaves in about 18 hours. It won’t be long!In the mean time, please accept my apologies, and this “appetizer” video as a token of my love, along with the promise that the real “meat” – the UI video you’ve been waiting for – is coming soon. Over 20 minutes of it. And it will look better than YouTube. :-)

Thanks for being patient! :-)

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World Exclusive: I got to play with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) at Intel Shanghai

There are only about 20 Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) existent in the world. Most of them were in Shanghai last week for the Intel Developer Forum (IDF). 10 of them were in the Mobility Software Enabling Lab at Intel Shanghai, where I got special access today to shoot photos and videos, as well as some hands on time to play, with the Lenovo Ideapad U8 MID and the Aigo MID. They also had some other devices around for comparison – an old prototype UMPC with a pivot screen, a Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium UMPC, and a Fujitsu Lifebook UMPC. And I threw my iPhone in a few of the photos for size/comparison’s sake.

I’ll post a more detailed writeup of my impressions of the devices soon, as well as the video of the time I had with them (summary: the Lenovo Ideapad U8 looks and feels wonderful in my hands – I WANT one!). I spent several minutes on video with each device, examining the hardware and UI/software features. Right now, thought, it’s almost 1 AM, and I need to get up early to do a blogging training with the Intel Shanghai software guys. But I wanted to get these photos up and available as soon as possible.

Please post any comments or questions you have either in this post, or on the photo’s page on Flickr. I want to answer all of your questions, but I’m going to sleep for a few hours, and don’t want to miss any of them. Please be patient, and I promise I’ll answer all questions. :-)

The entire set of 33 photos is available in this photoset on Flickr. Feel free to browse through all of the photos (bonus photos: some shots of the Intel Shanghai sales offices, which occupy floors 22-24 of the ShanghaiMart tower). Click here to view as a slideshow, and you can see full size/resolution versions of every photo on Flickr by clicking “All Sizes” on the photo’s page.

And now, the photos! Here are some that I think turned out best – be sure to check out all 33 photos in the Flickr set!

Aigo and Lenovo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)
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Aigo and Lenovo Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs)
Fujitsu Lifebook, Samsung Q1 Ultra, Lenovo MID, Aigo MID, prototype UMPC
Stack: iPhone, Lenovo, Aigo, Fujitsu, Samsung
Stack: iPhone, Lenovo, Aigo, Fujitsu, Samsung
Keeper of the MIDs, Lenovo Ideapad U8
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Gearing up for Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in China next week

Getting Geared Up for China

Some of the stuff I’m getting ready for my trip to IDF Shanghai (no, my drink and my Nerf gun aren’t going – they live on my desk 😉 ). Most, if not all, of this stuff will be on my person in my cargo pants pockets for the duration, ready to capture audio and video on the spur of the moment:

Of course, this isn’t all I’m taking. The “big” stuff not pictured includes my Canon XH A1 HDV video camera (with the accompanying mic, light, tripod, etc.) and my Nikon D40 DSLR camera. (Those are all affiliate links.)

I’ll be shooting video of some of the keynote and demos at IDF – the Intel Developer Forum – in Shanghai next week. I’ll also be spending some time with the Intel Software Network team there.

This is my first time to China, and I’m excited and nervous. Mainly because I always get nervous/anxious before a trip. I worry that something will go wrong, I won’t have the right gear/paperwork/etc. I’m sure it will all be fine, though.

I may not have very good Internet access (I know a lot of services I use are blocked in China, but I will have VPN access back through Intel’s proxies), and I know I’m going to be really busy, so updates might be sporadic. But I’ll definitely be posting stuff to Twitter, etc. So if you want to follow me on my trip use Twitter, and watch my blog (www.tinyscreenfuls.com) and my lifestream (www.joshbancroft.com).

Shanghai here I come! :-)

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I Have the Coolest Keyboard in the World – Apple Wireless Keyboard

It’s been over a year since I got my beloved MacBook Pro (when I joined Intel Software Network). For most of that time, I’ve been using one of the previous generation Apple Wireless Keyboards – the one with the white keys and transparent base. It’s been a great keyboard (even though the white keys get filthy, and the transparent housing lets you see all the disgusting gunk, dust, and board chow that gets caught in there). A couple of weeks ago, I was helping our department admin order an Apple keyboard for someone else in the group, and she asked if I wanted one. What do you think I said? 😉 A day or so later, in email, she asked if I wanted wired or wireless. I thought for a minute – the new Apple Wireless Keyboard doesn’t have the full size separate number pad, arrow keys, and PgUp/PgDown/Home/End keys (the wired USB version does). Could I live without those? I decided to give it a try.

Last week, the new keyboard arrived, and I’ve been blown away by it ever since. :-)

It’s Bluetooth, which means that it will work with more than just Apple computers. It does have some Mac-specific keys, though, like Exposé and Dashboard. It also has the traditional Apple volume up/down/mute, and eject keys, and this latest version adds media shuffle controls – Play, Next, Previous, etc. – which to my delight work to control iTunes even when I’m in another application (like right now, writing this in MarsEdit). But the amazing part of it is just how freaking thin and light it is:

Apple Wireless Keyboard, Old and New

It is much smaller than the previous full sized keyboard. The little roll at the top/back holds 3 AA batteries. One end of the “roll” unscrews for battery access, and the other houses the power/pairing button.

Apple Wireless Keyboard, MacBook Pro

The keyboard is almost exactly the same size as the actual keyboard on the MacBook Pro:

Apple Wireless Keyboard, MacBook Pro
Apple Wireless Keyboard, MacBook Pro

So how has it been to use it for a few days? It took some getting used to. My fingers had to relearn the spacing/layout of the new keyboard, but that happens with any keyboard. And now that I’ve gotten used to it, I’m in love. The feel is wonderful. Even though the keys are shallow, and the whole thing is very thin, the tactile response of each keypress is lovely. The old keyboard feels mushy and stiff (at the same time) and bouncy by comparison.

Do I miss the full size number pad? Not really. Once, today, I was typing a phone number or a zip code or something, and my hand went to reach for it, then realized it wasn’t there. Not a big deal. The arrow keys are in roughly the same place (and exactly the same place as on the MBP itself), and the trick of using Fn+Left, Right, Up, and Down for Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn is the same thing you have to do on the integrated keyboard, so that, too, isn’t really a big deal. I do kind of miss the dedicated forward Delete key, but again, Fn+Backspace does the trick, just like on the MBP.

Overall, I love this little keyboard. I pick it up and wave it around at people, just to marvel at how thin it is. And it just looks so darn cute sitting on my desk, being all tiny next to the huge stuff that surrounds it (the old Apple Wireless Keyboard, my 24″ monitor, my MBP, etc.).

This would be the absolute perfect home theater PC/living room computer keyboard if it had some sort of integrated pointing device or trackpad. So thin, light, and beautiful! :-) Now, if they would only update the design of the Mighty Mouse to match it’s thin, aluminum companion…

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