A Super Ultra-Portable Mac in an Easy-to-Swallow Pill?

by Joe Leo, Columnist November 28, 2006

OPINION: (11.28.06)-- Reports from various Mac rumor and news websites previously stated that Apple had applied for a patent that involves the use of a virtual touch screen interface which all signs pointed to this innovation being used in a future iPod. The long-awaited, "true" video iPod, with no scroll wheel on the face, allowing for a large LCD screen to view videos, and the touch screen being the controls.

What if analysts' predictions are going the wrong way? What if they're following a trail off the beaten path? What if the real trail leads to Apple's next newest product?

A report yesterday from ZDNet.com proposes that an Apple tablet computer may be coming soon. Maybe writer Jason D. O'Grady of ZDNet.com's blog, "The Apple Core" is onto something here that analysts--who are calling all bets for a new touch-screen iPod--need to take a pill for to cure their obsession with Mac mp3 players.

The idea's not that far off. Sure, one would automatically expect this innovation, a virtual touch screen interface to be used on an iPod. But a touch screen also could be used on your computer monitor in order to control actions on the screen (much like employees at fast-food chains take your order and punch "buttons" on the screen).

Or more useful, on a computer system that is totally controlled by a touch screen, avoiding the need for a keyboard, mouse, and other input devices. A tablet PC.

This same hypothesis came to mind Sunday afternoon when we came across a computer already on the market that utilizes the touch screen interface in order to operate the machine. We discovered the product when checking out CompUSA's weekly advertisement for this week.

On the front page is a product they are marketing as, "Your entire office in one compact package." Said product? A Sony VAIO UX Micro PC.

From the specifications they provide in the product description, the mini computer contraption features Intel Centrino Mobile Technology, with an Intel Core Solo Processor, 1GB of RAM, a 40 GB hard drive with "G-sensor shock protection," and Bluetooth built in.

On top of that? The 4.5" screen has a touch screen interface which sports a built-in keyboard underneath (keyboard, they mean keypad, right?), built-in wireless WAN, and two webcams. (Two webcams... why anyone would need two webcams is beyond us. A digital video camera and still camera would've been more logical). All this for only $1899.99 after a $100 instant savings.

The reason why we took notice of this product is because it was previously pointed out to us by a reader who e-mailed us in response to a story we did last month. At that time, we discussed the idea of Apple bringing back the ultra-portable line, the 12" PowerBook G4, in some new, smaller, MacBook-ized form based on a laptop that Sony has on the market that's even smaller and more ultra-portable than Apple's own.

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