Friday, May 19, 2006

"He who laughs last laughs best." Keep that in mind as I lead up to the ironic twist at the end of this post.

So, following the news that the DualCor cPC would lack integrated wireless connectivity and the assload of disappointment and outrage it triggered, Dave Ciccone, Director of Strategic Alliances at DualCor and mobile tech expert, has stepped forward to say "y'all should've listened to Sumocat". Not in those exact words, but read my responses and you be the judge.

Me: "I think you guys are missing the point. 802.11b is top-end by PPC standards, but slow for a TPC. Even g is yesterday's tech. Bluetooth is creeping along, but Wireless USB might displace it entirely. Phone carriers do not provide all the same services. Should DualCor lock you into just one? And don't forget Wimax. Plus, not everyone needs BT, wifi and phone in one device."

jk: "I believe that WiFi (b or g) should be in every WinXP device sold. What is the last WinXP mobile device you remember without at least WiFi? I agree that they want to give choices but even so there are certain bare minimums that must be met to be truly useful. There are NO wireless connectivity options currently available for the cPC that provide high speed connectivity, and I am afraid they will be hampered by this."

Me: "I agree with the necessity of wifi, but not integrated does not equal not available (is that too many "nots"?). If you only want wifi, you plug in that card. If you only want phone, you plug in the other card. If you want both, plug in the phone CF card and a wifi dongle. For the wireless trifecta, use the phone card and a USB wifi/BT combo dongle. In the future, perhaps there will be a single card for all three. But for the present, I think plugging in a dongle is an acceptable solution."

fil: "Mark, I hear what you are saying, but the practical application of carrying around multiple CF and/or USB cards minimizes any UMPC/handtop device's ability to be mobile."

Me: "Yes, but that's not necessarily the case here. You can get by with one CF card, which sits in the device, and one USB dongle, which can stay plugged in. You don't need to swap anything. It is a grab-and-go solution."

jk: "Actually, you are much more likely to find yourself needing to use two CF devices at the same time and in this case you can't. ... On my Sony U71 I have integrated WiFi but no BT so I have to use a BT CF card when I am using my keyboard and mouse. If WiFi is not available then I tether the U to my Treo via USB and I can tell you it becomes a bit unwieldy pretty quickly. Integrated BT along with the WiFi would make this much easier, and it would be a nightmare if I also had to provide WiFi with an external solution."

Me: "James, if I have a CF card providing phone and a USB dongle providing BT and wifi, then what else do I need? This setup seems to hit the points in your example just fine. No, it is not ideal, but it is a no-swap, grab-and-go solution. Yes, phone is a low-speed Internet connection and EVDO would be preferred, but EVDO options in general are limited right now and I don't hear a lot of good things about Verizon. :)"

jk: "Sumocat, having to provide third party radios means you will have to make sure that the particular device comes with drivers for both WinXP and WM5 which I believe will be difficult. You will not be happy if you plug in a radio and it will only work on one of the OSes and not both, and a lot of OEMs only provide drivers for WinXP. This would not be a problem if DualCor provided an integrated solution as they would also provide drivers for both OSes."

A legitimate concern which was since been addressed, but it still stems from the not integrated != not available issue, which has caused a lot of irrational outrage. If they say wireless relies on peripherals, it is logical to assume they will offer these peripherals, as does any other OEM. The Mac Mini from Apple is barebones, but you don't have to go third party to get the peripherals.

Admittedly, I am taking an optimistic approach to the cPC. However, I'm not oblivious to the spin factor. Lack of integrated wireless connectivity is a drawback, but I believe there is a simple reason for this...

"In a device this small, you need to pick and choose what hardware to include and features that may not be used and are rapidly advancing are not keepers. Given the choice, I too would have taken the modular and upgradeable approach with the wireless tech (however I usually take the modular approach anyway)."

And this is the approach Dave says they took: flexibility and user option. Maybe space constraints really was not the driving force, but modular design does open up choices and options. Can't say it's a perfect solution, but you play the cards you're dealt.

So here's the twist: Despite my unwavering support for the cPC, he who laughs last won't be me. Rather, it will be the naysaying reviewers who get their hands on the device. I'll be the chump sitting on a park bench reading and/or watching their reviews, looking like someone shit in my cereal because the same experience would cost me two grand. On the plus side, I'm sure the reviews will be well executed and I won't have to recycle my UMPC counter-review.

[+/-] show/hide text

DualCor cPC: He who laughs last


  1. Nice synopsis. I am sure the cPC will be a fantastic device. It's very unique with the two OSes. One other consideration you're overlooking in the integrated vs. external WiFi debate is battery life which in my experience is always better with integrated solutions. At any rate you are correct, at $2,000 not many will get to find out for themselves.

    By Blogger James Kendrick, at 5/19/2006 09:36:00 PM

  2. Can't argue with the power issue, but I find that externals generally deliver better range so it's not entirely bad. Just another first-gen trade-off.

    BTW, my Scribbler was originally priced well above $2000 so maybe I can one day get a refurbished cPC for half price too... one day... 'Til then, I'll just have to drool over the reviews.

    By Blogger Sumocat, at 5/19/2006 10:51:00 PM

  3. We should all listen to Sumocat. Well done.

    By Anonymous Warner Crocker, at 5/20/2006 08:44:00 AM

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