SanDisk is prepping a new line of diminutive solid-state drives (SSDs), designed specifically to fit the cramped quarters of low-cost PCs and laptops. The SSDs will be available in 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB capacities — certainly not record-breakers, but the case-less memory module is only 3mm tall and has only one-tenth the weight of …
Nah then, a class name for lo-cost computers?
OK, over to the brighter ones :)
"Small, Cheap Computers™"
Is the term you're looking for
Ultra Mobile Computers
That is what they are.
Price is relative, the real thing is the mobility, and that is ultra.
'sub-laptop' makes sense, though I like The Reg's "Small Cheap Computer" moniker.
I actually wonder if "eeePC" was a more catchy name then it could have become a generic name for these things.
Their generic name should be...
They're too big to be called palm tops, even though you can easily hold them on one hand and type with the other, but too small to be called laptops.
Surely they could have squeezed an "i" in somehow?
A name for small cheap laptops
How about "laptop" ?
Usually when the Reg needs a name for something, it conducts a poll...
(the 'p' stands for a PATA interface)
PATA? Really? Given the premium for SSDs anyway, is it really too much to ask for a SATA interface?
What to call them
DON'T call them low-cost systems. They're NOT. Many of them cost as much as low-end notebooks, yet have only about 1/3 the specs.
How about "Toy Laptops"? Just like toy dogs, they're more for show than for any real use and their owners are way too enamoured of them.
too small for a lap....
...how about calling them hand jobs?
Cheap PC, CheapyC, Qi PC
There is some crap about trying to call them ultra-portable, and so charge a premium for compactness. For me, the advantage is the low cost, (I would prefer one with a decent size keyboard and screen) so pick a word that makes it clear that the advantage is the lack of cost.
For those of you who cannot read pinyin, qi is pronounced like the start of cheap, but while smiling. Which by some co-incidence matches the name of a company designing low cost daylight readable LCD screens (pixelqi).
"SanDisk's pSSD offering (the 'p' stands for a PATA interface)........"
"The pSSDs support both Linux and Windows XP operating systems."
Previously, when I have read vendor data on 'spinning' PATA hard drives, the info doesn't state that it supports both Linux and Windows XP operating systems. I thought this was because PATA is a standard interface and that Linux and Windows both have long established drivers for interfacing to PATA (maybe down at the BIOS level).
Is there something about these pSSD cards that makes them different, so that we need this reassurance of Linux and Windows compatibility?
I understand that there is a 'wear levelling' process applied to SSDs but I'd have thought that this would be taken care of by the on-card driver circuits?
We should call them either sub-notebooks (even though they're still bigger than most actual paper notebooks), or UMPC, as they are indeed Ultra.
Anything except the yank "netbook", ugh!
Call them laptots, like a laptop only smaller,
(c) AC, elReg.
A few name suggestions
Cuter (contraction of "Cute" and "computer")
Handbag computer (it should fit in most)
Bikini computer (it has a tiny top and a small bottom)
Notbook (pun on "Notebook" and because it is, in fact, not a book).
Re: UMPC clarification
This has been discussed before, but the the UMPC spec calls for a touch sensitive screen of 8" or smaller. Therefore, by definition the eeePC et al. are NOT UMPCs.
A couple of suggestions
Since they are smaller than a laptop....how about crotch top???
Call them SMUT:
Similarly Manufactured Useless Technology
@AC - too small for a lap
A lot of people seem to have bought these things just to show that they have one "Of course, it's not a proper computer, you need a Mac for that" - yup, 'hand jobs' is right. Also some of these owners go on and on and on about them and that, to me , is just plain on and onanism.
Use with regular motherboards?
How long until I can use one (or more - RAID!) of these potentially low-cost pSSDs to boot Linux on a fanless and totally silent desktop motherboard? :)
Any signs of a pSSD-to-full-size-PATA adapter knocking about in Taiwan? I also agree that it's odd to see PATA and not SATA these days, perhaps it was a cost or compatability issue?
As for the name - Small Cheap Computers sums up the category, with Mobile Internet Devices/Internet Tablets for the class of device punted by Nokia (N810 etc.).
Re: What to call them
Steven Knox wrote: "How about "Toy Laptops"? Just like toy dogs, they're more for show than for any real use and their owners are way too enamoured of them."
No way man! I got my EeePC last year and it has been immensely useful due to it's small size & sheer portability, had I spent the same amount on a 'full size' laptop I would have been cursing it almost daily due to the sheer size/weight/unportability of them compared to the EeePC.
You can't hold a normal laptop on the palm of one hand whilst typing with the other, and not have to put it down after 30 seconds because awkwardness & weight of the thing makes your arm ache badly, but you CAN with an EeePC.
I like Laptots
..but for goodness sake avoid anything with the Americanised "sub".
sub-prime mortgages: Crap mortgages because they're mortgages for people who can't pay.
sub optimal query plan: crap query plans
Re: Steven Knox
Fair enough, you have no need for a device that is half the size and weight of a 15" laptop. However these devices are definitely not fashion accessories. Sure they have a lower spec than a £300 laptop but what can that more expensive laptop do that these devices don't? They provide all the capabilities that people most people need from a 15" device in form which is so portable and so cheap that it becomes a carry anywhere item. You can keep it in the glove box of the car, keep it permanently on hand in your briefcase, stuff it into a rucksack or handbag. The normal £300 laptop is portable but it's definitely not something you choose to carry around if you have a choice.
Most purchasers of UCMCs (Ultra Cheap Mobile Computers) will buy them in addition to a normal desktop or laptop and not as a replacement. When you need net access, word processing, entertainment on a train journey or just the ability to show some friends/colleagues/relatives the photos you took on holiday it's perfect.
I'll be taking my UCMC on holiday where I can slip it into my hand luggage with no need for the laptop bag. I'll be able to check my email, get some work done if it's required and watch a few recordings copied over from MythTV.
@I like Laptots™
Don't forget the ™, otherwise Microsoft will claim they invented the name and claim some internal project that nobody ever heard of used that name years ago.
Laptots™ is a trademark of Mr Coward and theRegister.com.
Remember folks, if you want to know what's going on in the world, read the comments section of elReg...
** flash **
Given that their Extreme IV compact flash cards already have effectively a PATA interface, work with DMA and have nearly twice the write speed (the real bottleneck of using a SSD), I fail to see the appeal of these.
"How long until I can use one (or more - RAID!) of these potentially low-cost pSSDs to boot Linux on a fanless and totally silent desktop motherboard? :)"
I first did this about 2 years ago. There are thousands of home brew "car pcs" that do the same, nothing new, desktop pcs are even easier.
What to call them
If they have Windows on them I would call them 'Pointless'.
@Joe K - Netbook is Britsh!
Joe, the Psion Netbook dates back to at least 1999 (http://3lib.ukonline.co.uk/historyofpsion.htm) and many people have been waiting for any company to bring out something with the same usability (decent keyboard, reasonable screen, excellent battery life) for the last decade, and we're only just getting towards that same class of machine now with the eeePC etc. but with much shorter battery life.
So "Netbook" is a great name with a great British history, not "yank" :-)
"Given that their Extreme IV compact flash cards already have effectively a PATA interface, work with DMA and have nearly twice the write speed (the real bottleneck of using a SSD), I fail to see the appeal of these."
My laptop won't boot an OS from a USB device, and the PATA hard drive it has is slooooooow.
Ok, that's a limited market, but hey, it's a start.
Your laptop will boot from a CF card as it replaces your HDD via ata directly, nothing to do with usb. All you need to do is change the flash card to "fixed storage" using "atcfwchg.exe", which can be found if you look hard enough. Your notebook will not be able to tell the difference between it, these modules or your old disk.
The extreme IV cards are very fast, the 4Gb can be had for $50.... I can boot XP in 15seconds on a modest celeron-m notebook. A RAID pair would likely come close to the state of the art ssd drives available and only come in at $100-120, a quarter of what's being asked.
I first did this with an earlier, slower Sandisk Extreme II card, this wasn't ideal as it didn't do DMA. Of course back then, flash with enough capacity to store an OS was expensive anyway. People have been doing this with homebrew linux routers etc. with as little as 16MB for years and years. Great way to recycle old, small cards.
It's the mutli-level bit that's interesting
Single Level Cell (SLC) Flash is faster and more reliable, but is also very expensive.
Multi Level Cell (MLC) is chepaer, slower and less reliable.
So, if Sandisk can sort out the reliability with intelligent controllers then using MLC will allow for a fairly drastic drop in flash drive prices with a bit of a compromise in speed, but still a lot faster than hard drives.
As a comparison my understanding is that most USB Flash drives are MLC and that's why you can get 8BG USB drives so cheaply.
Roll on the SATA version.
@Joe K & Chris O'Shea
I must be one of the few that bought a Psion Series 7 (that I later upgraded to be a Netbook)
It's amazing even now how effective the design still is and also how similar it is to the eeepc. Funny enough though, the screen of the netbook is bigger than the eeepc 701 the keybord is a bit better and the battery life is better too. Instant on too.
Much less capability than the eeepc of course (there has been alot of progress since 1999 when I bought my Series 7) but Psion really showed the way to go.
If only they could have stayed the course...............
So I'd like to recommend 'Netbook' as the generic name for these devices - in honour of their British forbear!
PS. When will someone make an even smaller device to replace the pocket sized Psion Series 5 !?
They are smaller than laptops and have horizontally challenged keyboards, so they are apto's.
They are not Laptots™, because that would obviously miss the target market.
¹ The Universal Terms¹, together with the Additional Terms², form a legally binding agreement between you and your conscience in relation to your use of the stated term. It is important that you take the time to read them carefully.
² If there is any contradiction between what the Additional Terms say and what the Universal Terms say, then the Additional Terms shall take precedence in relation to that unsage.
³ Now send those Californian lawyers!
I have never had the reason to look before, and as such I am ASTOUNDED at the existance of CF-IDE adapters. That is *brilliant*. I was aware that the CF cards have an IDE bus type affair on them, but I didn't put 2+2 together!
Nice one - I'm off to investigate chunky CF cards....
The Naming of Things
When they come out with Grointops I'll think about it...
Re: sub-laptops by Grant
"I actually wonder if "eeePC" was a more catchy name then it could have become a generic name for these things."
Depends how you pronounce it (yes, I know there's an official explanation of what it should be - that's not stopping everyone I speak to). E? E-E-E? Triple-E? Given the number of times it says "easy..." on the box, I /still/ like the idea it should be e's-e-PC (easy peasy).
["i] the one with the pocket full of rebus puzzles
> I first did this about 2 years ago. There are thousands of
> home brew "car pcs" that do the same, nothing new,
> desktop pcs are even easier.
Yep, I know about CF-IDE adapters, I wasn't so much wanting this in my desktop rather I was just asking how long it will be before some enterprising Taiwanese manufacturer produces a pSSD adapter for desktops!
Until we know the price of a pSSD, it seems irrelevant comparing it with CF+IDE adapter etc. - who knows, pSSD might be cheaper or expensive MB for MB, and since it's purpose designed as an SSD it may even be more reliable and/or faster.
I see it's appeal as another option for desktop users with the appropriate adapter - CF+IDE adapter, pSSD+adapter or pucka SSD (or of course booting over the network...!)
i said, already "baby laptops"!
this is good news.
imo, SSD development is crucial to this space.
not necessarily much bigger, but definitely much cheaper, please!
btw, tracking this space here (you're welcome!)
I'd go with Netbook, arguably because it pay's homage to the Psion Netbook that was kind of the same size and form factor with emphasis on solid state drives. Shame they've not got the instant-on and touch screen functionality of the Psion though. I also imagine these will be used mostly for internet related tasks such as checking email, browsing the web and blogging rather than for the serious grunt.