Om Malik and the Cloud Computer


Zeus_cloudOm Malik is currently having a look at the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC and has written an interesting piece on his experience with the HP.  Om outlines what he is looking for in a mini-notebook and his POV is very interesting to me.  Om feels that mini-notebooks should be "cloud computers", or a portable device that uses basically a web browser to do all of the user’s work in the cloud.  This fits right in with Kevin’s experiment of trying to live in the cloud exclusively and I was interested to hear that Om is expecting this from his mini-notebooks.

I agree that portable laptops of a smaller form like the Mini would be perfect for a cloud computer but I see their utility as a bit more than Om perhaps.  The strength of these mini-notebooks like the HP Mini-Note, the Asus EEE PCs or the MSI Wind is that they can run all of my apps when I need them to.  That means that instead of replacing my main laptop for example I can still take the mini-notebook on a business trip when needed.  In that scenario it could indeed replace my laptop and make for a lighter bag.  Om’s perspective on the mini-notebook or cloud computer is a very valid one and it accentuates what we say often here on jkOnTheRun- everybody’s needs in a portable computer are different.  That’s why there is no "killer" portable computer.  It would only be a killer device for some of us and not useful for others.


Mark Roddis

Suddenly a Cloud PC = a dumb client!

I am not sure this is the right direction because as others have said above the internet is not everywhere and the internet is not “always on”.

But on the flip side we don’t need 4 cores and 4GB of RAM and a Terabyte of storage to check email, bash up a word document and maybe put the finishing touch to a Powerpoint presentation whilst sitting on in Starbucks.

And this I think is where the new UMPCs succeed over the previous idea of the netbook where the device was very dumb and relied on being connected.

Virtual desktops might work. My EeePC 701 can run a virtual image of my work PC if I need it to either from an SD card or over the wire.

So maybe a halfway house.

The client has “some” onboard capability so it can survive when offline but it does not need LOTS of onboard capability.

Chris K said above that the description sounded like an iPhone. BINGO. You just need something like that with a real screen and keyboard (and I have made a similar suggestion here before around Windows Mobile) and I think we have the dream device.


Sounds to me like he want’s Palm’s canceled Foleo.
I’ve always said Hawkins was either five years ahead or five years behind…I’m starting to lean towards the former.

John J D'Alessandro

It sounds like Om is almost exactly describing the iPhone, not a UMPC per se. (The only omission on the iPhone from his list is ethernet.)

Chris K

The more I think about it, the more I see problems, and not solutions. The big thing that makes sense to me is a close cousin of cloud computing, and that’s the Virtual Desktop.

It’s an incredible thing, having a multi-core desktop-class CPU, 2GB of the latest, fastest RAM, and a 36-spindle RAID array for your laptop, but it’s just not quite usable when you’re on a plane, detached from the cloud (ironically enough, when you’re IN the clouds!)

Of course, now you can take that virtual machine with you, but at best, you’ll have it limited to a Via C7M or Atom CPU with much worse performance, and a smaller hard disk. It’s just not where it needs to be. Of course, with a home server and a work server, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to offload your Virtual environment to a host computer when you can, running primarily off of WiFi and a severely downclocked CPU, and resorting to a significant speed/voltage increase (perhaps even enabling the second gig of onboard RAM on the fly,) to run the same environment on the go, at the cost of battery life.

The problems I see with that are mostly the need for a ~50Wh battery in a portable device (though the Sony TX and Fujitsu P7000 series had that,) and some truly advanced power management technology.

The big shift will happen when hotspots provide more than just network access, moving up to handing out an IP, some bandwidth, and some spare CPU capability on-site.

James Kendrick

These comments are very interesting to me as I am not one convinced that the cloud is mature enough to be my only work environment. What I find interesting is how these comments indicate that the main problem with working in the cloud is the ability to always connect to it. I am in the fortunate position to have a redundant portal into the cloud so I admit I don’t think about that too much, except when on an airplane.

For me I don’t find the cloud apps to be rich enough yet, or that they don’t yet address some of my particular needs. Interesting conversation indeed.

Rick Huizinga

I am in agreement with a couple of points from Om’s article:
1) The HP runs very hot. Perhaps an Atom based HP Mini-Note would rectify this issue.
2) Weight: 2.7 lbs is on the heavy side for a mini-note. This is in the weight range of a 12.1″ ultra-portable.

Michael Greene

I’m in agreement. As a hardcore traveler I can tell you that I find PLENTY of cases where I am unable to connect. In the air, inside a building where my EVDO card just can’t reach the outside world, or the rare occasion when I am someplace in the country where there is no Verizon coverage. I love cloud computing ( has changed the way I work, not just how I store things) but I still believe in Software PLUS Services.

Gavin Miller

Interesting disussion but we’re YEARS away from effective cloud computing if ever. Even on my small island (Britain) net access is just not pervasive enough.

Try working on the plane/train or in a car as your 3g card struggles to keep a connection, or in the basement of a client’s office as you get ready to fire up that powerpoint presentation, only to find a blinking light and no access.

Nope, these mini notebooks are for convenience, either for travelling, lounging around the house with, or as a backup PC.

let’s see what the future holds though……


Malik’s article is interesting. The irony is that after reading his check list of features resembles what the clamshell Windows CE devices (e.g., NetBook Pro, NEC MobilePro, etc.) would have likely evolved into. Now we have the newer Windows Mobile devices that are, in my opinion, just a bit too small.

Two days ago, I would have agreed with the “cloud” concept, except last night we had unexplained internet connect problems for the entire evening… and then it mysteriously come back around midnight. It’s not that I have to be connected 24/7: it’s just that I want to be able to connect when I have to.

For me, I think the “cloud” concept is going to have to mature more before I can trust it to be entirely reliable.

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