Technologizer: Classic PCs vs. New PCs: Their True Cost

oncomputers

By Harry McCracken

You’re familiar with Moore’s law. You know all about the accelerating pace of information technology. Regardless, you’re still amazed at how many gigabytes you can fit in your pocket these days. Remember how your first computer’s entire hard disk only held 20 megabytes? You could accidentally swallow a thousand times as much data now if you weren’t careful.

But how much did that old hard drive cost? I mean really cost?

349 total views, no views today

Continue reading


Technologizer: Worst PC in America Slideshow

oncomputers

By Harry McCracken

Some PCs are born crummy. Some achieve crumminess. And some have crumminess thrust upon them. Those are my conclusions after judging our Worst PC in America contest, in which we asked you to tell us about really rotten personal computers–with the lure of a snazzy HP Envy 13 laptop to be awarded to the most outstandingly awful entry. Herewith, some highlights lowlights, including both once-decent machines that have fallen upon hard times and some systems that were kind of terrible and/or just plain odd from the get go.

326 total views, no views today

Continue reading


Technologizer: Worst PC in America Contest

oncomputers

By Harry McCracken

Attention, computer owners! Some of you own some really lousy PCs–either ones that were dogs in the first place, or which have gotten so roughed up over time that they’re just plain sad. Maybe most of these machines aren’t in active use–I sure hope not–but if they aren’t, they’re lurking in closets and attics across this great nation. I just know it.

And we want to hear about them, since the one type of computer more memorable than a great one is a bizarrely terrible one. Here’s your incentive to spill your guts: Courtesy of HP, we’ll pick a winner from among all people who tell us about their bad PCs–and that person will receive HP’s extremely slick, feature-laden Envy 13 notebook as a prize. (Thanks to HP for providing it.)

Entries must be submitted no later than 5pm PDT on Friday, October 16th. Use of photos (one of ‘em, at bare minimum) and videos is encouraged.

HOW TO ENTER THE CONTEST

208 total views, no views today

Continue reading


Technologizer: Microsoft Does Tablets. Yes, Again

oncomputers

By Harry McCracken

Gizmodo is reporting on what it says is Microsoft’s prototype for a new sort of tablet computer – one with dual screens bound up like a book, and an interface that involves both multi-touch (like an iPhone) and a stylus (like a Tablet PC). It’s supposedly code-named Courier, and Gizmodo has a video walkthrough–which is done in animation, so this could be a concept rather than a product that’ll ever be available for sale.

291 total views, no views today

Continue reading


Technologizer: World’s Weirdest Portable Computers

oncomputers

By Harry McCracken

There aren’t many pieces of technological design that simply can’t be improved upon, but the clamshell-style laptop computer case–introduced by Grid Systems in 1982–may be one of them. That’s why the vast majority of the portable computers built ever since have used it. But for more than a quarter-century now, inventors have been trying to top it, with folding screens, screens on stalks, folding keyboards, two-screen clamshells, tri-fold clamshells, and more. Most never even get off the drawing board. Herewith, a gallery of designs from Google Patents (click the filing dates to see the patents). There’s only one in here I might have considered buying, but on some perverse level I admire them all.

323 total views, no views today

Continue reading


Technologizer: Technology’s Most Magnificent Failures

oncomputers

By Harry McCracken

Life, as John F. Kennedy once helpfully pointed out, isn’t fair. Neither is the market for technology products. There’s no law that says that the best products win: The history of tech is pockmarked with breakthrough hardware, software, and services that were dismal failures in the marketplace. (It’s also rife with mediocre products that became massive bestsellers, (insert your own example here.)

277 total views, no views today

Continue reading


Technologizer: Office 2010 ‘The First Look’

oncomputers

By Harry McCracken

Microsoft is starting to let folks in on the Webbiest, most collaborative Office ever. But it’s not all there yet.

Today at its Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans, Microsoft is announcing that it’s distributing a Technical Preview version of its upcoming Office 2010 suite to tens of thousands of testers. It won’t be a public beta that’s open to everyone who wants a sneak peek; that will come later this year, and the final version of Office 2010 isn’t due until some time during the first half of next year. But for the first time since it demoed some features last October, Microsoft is showing off the new Office and providing more information about its plans. And it’s briefed reporters and provided them with early access to the Technical Preview (including me).

405 total views, no views today

Continue reading


Technologizer: Firefox 3.5 Review

oncomputers

By Harry McCracken

Was it really fewer than five years ago that Firefox 1.0 debuted? Its arrival ended the dismal period in which only one browser–Microsoft’s mediocre Internet Explorer–seemed to be viable. With Firefox, Mozilla proved that millions of people were itching to adopt a better browser. And today, we find ourselves with multiple better browsers: Not just Firefox, but also Google’s minimalist Chrome, Apple’s flashy Safari, the ever-inventive Opera, the highly social Flock, and even the no-longer-calcifying Internet Explorer 8.

All of which means that Firefox 3.5–which Mozilla plans to formally release today–is no longer a shoo-in for the distinction of being the favorite browser of browser fans.

405 total views, no views today

Continue reading


Technologizer: Patentmania! Personal Computers of the Early 1980s

oncomputers

By Harry McCracken

The first few years of PC history were its stone age–the era when any signs of life whatsoever were history-making. The period from 1985 to the present, as amazing as it’s been, has been one of consistency and compatibility. Which is why I think of 1980-1985 as the most interesting half-decade in PC history. Almost every new system (including some that debuted in 1979) was still an experiment–and even flops could be fascinating. Herewith a gallery of notable examples, illustrated with evocative drawings from Google Patents.

293 total views, no views today

Continue reading


Technologizer: Windows 7 RC – FAQs

oncomputers

By Harry McCracken

Sixteen questions (and answers!) on the new, almost-finished version of Microsoft’s next OS.

Windows 7 is here–sort of. Yes, Microsoft still isn’t talking about when it’ll ship the final version–all evidence suggests it’ll be sometime this Fall–but the company is unleashing the Windows 7 Release Candidate today. It’s a free, all-but-final version of the operating system, and it’ll work until March 1st, 2010 before Microsoft forces you to uninstall it or overwrite it with a paid-for copy of the final edition. In short, if you’re itching to give Windows 7 a try, you can.

833 total views, no views today

Continue reading