How smart is smart?

Essay by courlove7 November 2003

download word file, 2 pages 3.4 3 reviews

Your desktop computer is up in the home office, but you'd really rather delete your spam with one eye on the big living-room . Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could run your favorite programs remotely from a slim device you could carry anywhere in the house?

That's more or less the premise behind ViewSonic's Airpanel V110, the first incarnation of the technology Microsoft has dubbed Windows Powered Smart Displays. Smart? For a display, yes, but this isn't a full-fledged computer like the Tablet PCs it will inevitably be confused with. It's basically a dumb 25-centimeter flat-panel color touch screen that weighs a little over a kilogram.

But thanks to a big battery, Wi-Fi networking and a smidgen of computing power, the Airpanel can remotely control a Wi-Fi networked PC running Windows XP Professional. The PCdoes the real work; the Airpanel acts as a distant monitor, speaker, keyboard and mouse.

If only it worked a lot better and cost a lot less. It does come with a copy of Windows XP Professional for PCs that lack it; home users will find the upgrade anywhere from simple to impossible. A USB Wi-Fi adapter is also included for your host machine, in case it's not already networked. But for the Airpanel's $999 price you can buy a notebook with a fast processor, lots of memory, a DVD drive, a big screen, a decent pointing device and an ancient technology known as a "keyboard."

The missing keyboard is by far the worst of the Airpanel's omissions. You can attach a standard USB model, but that's workable only if you're willing to leave the unit in its charging stand to prop it up. In laps, noncontortionists will suffer with what's built in: a virtual keyboard that pops onto the screen at the touch...