Get Ready For Ultra Personal Computing

A remarkable fact that is emerging from tons of CES news releases is the “increased connectivity” in devices which till a few months ago lived pretty much in isolation. And it all came together this morning, I received an email from KeySpan, and they were pitching me on something called a USB Server.

bq. The USB Server connects USB devices to a Mac or PC via a wired or wireless Ethernet-based LAN. The USB Server will ship in late Q1 2004 with an MSRP of $129. Much like a USB print server, the USB Server enables attached USB devices to be used and shared by client PCs on a LAN. In addition to printers, the USB Server supports other USB devices such as hard drives, scanners, and more.

In other words, it is home networks and sharing of devices made relatively easy. I had a duh! moment, for this is something so simple that one wonders why no one had actually thought of this before. I personally think it is a very clever product, even though I have not had a chance to put my grubby paws on this device.

A day or so ago, NetGear had introduced a network enabled hard drive with USB and Firewire ports. (Here is a link to the press releasein case you are interested.) Again it was a case where a discrete piece of hardware in now part of a larger home network. Wi-Fi enabled printers, and other devices are also coming down the pike.

As an aside these developments, make me more confident about the future of two companies, Via Technologies and Transmeta. They both make processors, which lack the oomph of an Intel or AMD. However, if the devices which normally were plugged into the motherboard get “network enabled” we don’t need the horsepower which we have become accustomed to. (I am assuming not all of us are burning DVDs yet!)

These two companies, for past few months, have tried to convince me that we are in the era of “ultra personal computing.” I have resisted their come-ons for sometime, but I think if this trend of connected peripherals continues, I might change my mind. It would make sense for me to carry a tiny notebook, with a 6 inch screen, 20 gigabyte hard drive and 512 meg of memory, embedded bluetooth, WAN chip (Cellular chip of some sort) and Wi-Fi. It could replace my Palm, and be small enough to go everywhere. Put a Vonage client in this device, and I am ready to go forth and communicate.

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