Here’s the basic idea: The machine is as thin as possible, runs low end hardware and has a single button for powering it on and off, headphone jacks, a built in camera for video, low end speakers, and a microphone. It will have Wifi, maybe one USB port, a built in battery, half a Gigabyte of RAM, a 4-Gigabyte solid state hard drive. Data input is primarily through an iPhone-like touch screen keyboard. It runs on linux and Firefox. It would be great to have it be built entirely on open source hardware, but including Skype for VOIP and video calls may be a nice touch, too.
Instead, I'm suggesting that the thing we think of as a netbook should really be something else—a flat-panel, touch-screen tablet that can do photos, music, movies, e-mail, games, and full-function Web browsing. The device would include a small amount of onboard storage but would depend on the Internet cloud for most of its resources. Why no keyboard? Because then the device would be conceived as an appliance. You'd use it mainly for passive computing—for reading e-mail and Web pages, for looking at photos, for sharing documents in a meeting. You'd keep it on your lap to scan Facebook as you watch TV or bring it to bed to read the news before you go to sleep. You'd catch up on your e-mail as you ride the bus to work; you could respond to that e-mail using the on-screen keyboard, and when you get to the office, you could connect a USB keyboard.
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