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Hardware Thread, RM Asus miniBook review in Technical; @TeddyKGB - RM don't really cause controversy, but we as IT Professionals do! I like the debate as it's great ...
  1. #61

    Michael's Avatar
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    Re: RM Asus miniBook review

    @TeddyKGB - RM don't really cause controversy, but we as IT Professionals do! I like the debate as it's great to get opinions of other professionals, but even better, I hope RM read these forums.

    Indirectly, we probably answer a lot of their questions or give them direction where they need to go. As I said in my last post, Minibook is great and I really hope RM build on it. No other company has really touched on the area which makes it a unique and interesting shiny new product.

  2. #62

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    Re: RM Asus miniBook review

    Firstly, I would like to say that devices slightly larger than the minibook that fit your criteria already exist ... but because they use ultra thin platter based drives rather than the solid state memory used in the minibooks (and other ultra mobile devices) it increases the cost. Other minitiarised version of hardware also increase the cost.

    Asus (who are actually the folks behind this) have obviously thought that 8GB is probably what people need ... but have put 2-4GB in and left it up to the user to decide about how they want to expand it.

    Personally, I already had a number of SD and Micro-SD cards (512MB, 1GB and 2GB) that I use with my phones or PDA. I am used to using these cards the same way many use USB memory sticks as portable storage.

    For me, this is one of the important areas.

    Secondly, the move to a tailored linux environment that is pretty intuitive is a bold move for RM. Yes, they have given the option to run Windows for that that *really* want to ... but if they wanted you to do that it would come with it loaded and a Linux CD as an option ... not the other way round. The introduction of this device as a linux based appliance, using open source software, can be seen as a major kick start for most schools reducing their licence costs and increasing the concepts of skills rather than applications.

    Thirdly, without pointing out the obvious ... there is a slight matter of the compulsory online learning space. The move to online learning (partly as a method to push independent learning, but also to drive other agenda such as extended schools, computers for pupils, literacy, numeracy, etc) will be part of the next big push (well, it already is but most schools or govt agencies haven't worked out why or how yet ... they have just seen small pockets of successful schools using it and have worked out that it is the way to go!)

    Finally, for a number of subjects, once concepts and skills are embedded then often all they need is a tool or appliance to record work. Some use exercise books, some use digital documents, some use video or audio. This is a quick, cheap and efficient way of helping with the middle of those 3.

    I would also like to point out that no school could survive *just* with these devices. They would be complimentary to full workstations, the same way that thin clients are. It is all about using suitable devices.

    Once we actually have some being used in anger we can then work out management of the devices, an important area that often gets forgotten when something new comes along.

    Remember when heads said that laptops were the way to go? and then presumed that they would never need fixing or thought 'oh ... one more technician is all that is needed for another 500 devices on the network!'?

    The benefits of an appliance such as this, with minimal support requirements, also come out as a benefit. The less time out of action the more use, with the minimal of requirements for spending ages locking them down so they are unusable!

  3. #63

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Re: RM Asus miniBook review

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael
    For the record, the spec for £257 ex VAT was as follows:

    Celeron M 420, 1.6GHz, 1MB L2, 533MHz Bus
    15.4" Screen
    80GB SATA Disk Drive
    DVD-RW Drive
    512MB DDR2 (upgrade to 2GB)
    Onboard Sound, Graphics, WLAN, LAN, Modem

    This isn't a poor spec and is very similar to the laptops I have in some schools, which have over 20GB worth of applications installed connecting wirelessly. Why you'd want to wipe a computer of this specification, I am not too sure. XP works really well on the above specification.
    That spec, to be blunt, is pathetic. Windows XP would run very poorly on that - we have a good selection of laptops with better spec's than that which run XP poorly. You failed to mention the followintg - poor warranty, poor battery life, heavy device, large power supply brick and overall portability is low.

    This is an appliance, not a desktop replacement (which is what many people by laptops for now). It is there for connectivity to web based resources, it is there for connectivity to services (such as terminal servers) and it is there for basic use of office suites.
    So how would an appliance, (with the current specs) truly benefit any educational establishment? Web based resources (other than the internet) are still relatively thin on the ground. The teachers and pupils I support have gone past the point of basic use of an Office Suite. Only the very young pupils (Yr 2 and 3) do what I'd consider the basics of an Office Suite.
    I would say that 90% of activity on our computers in our school is simply research and simply office usage. They find information online, copy it into word and print it for use in lesson. On top of that we then have the online games and applications used by maths, by our SEN dept and by our MFL dept. This would probably be about another 5%. The remaining 5% would be the traditional installed applications being used in ICT, Maths and English.

    I never said Open Office was a bad thing. Open Office is great, but not on the Minibook. Even for basic use, I cannot realistically see users typing on such a device. And to conclude, I think you've touched on what my point was all along. ICT is probably the fastest evolving area in education and all curriculum subjects should be integrated into ICT. It makes learning fun, interesting, interactive, but in my opinion in its current form, the Minibook wouldn't benefit an educational establishment. I really do hope RM build on the idea and release larger Minibook's with better specification(s), as it could really work, but the demands of education as they currently stand already exhaust the capabilities the Minibook offers.
    I could see uses for the following:

    1. School trips
    2. Quick use research and type-up devices in lessons
    3. To replace the use of AlphaSmart type devices in the SEN dept
    4. To allow usage of ICT outside the traditional classroom - ie. during summer, take the kids outside to use them
    5. Data logging
    6. Groupwork devices
    7. At a stretch, so long as funding was in place, 1 laptop per child schemes - and therefore could also replace paper planners/diaries.

  4. #64

    Michael's Avatar
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    Re: RM Asus miniBook review

    That spec, to be blunt, is pathetic. Windows XP would run very poorly on that - we have a good selection of laptops with better spec's than that which run XP poorly. You failed to mention the followintg - poor warranty, poor battery life, heavy device, large power supply brick and overall portability is low.
    If that specification is poor, then the Minibook is even worse technically isn't it? Firstly you started with warranty. Both the laptop I quoted and the Minibook come with 1 year warranty. It's on RM's website...
    As for poor battery life, heavy device and the power brick - Logic says battery life and weight will be better on the Minibook. As for the power brick, I'm sure the Minibook has one similar to a laptop. It's not going to be integrated is it? The world's true power brick though is on the XBOX 360, but that's for another time

    I would say that 90% of activity on our computers in our school is simply research and simply office usage. They find information online, copy it into word and print it for use in lesson. On top of that we then have the online games and applications used by maths, by our SEN dept and by our MFL dept. This would probably be about another 5%. The remaining 5% would be the traditional installed applications being used in ICT, Maths and English.
    Educational software isn't that demanding, budgets are not large and purchases need to be made strategically. I support a group of schools which all have laptops with similar specs to what I quoted, used on a day to day basis. The teachers are happy, the kids get to learn and the lesson objective is accomplished. I really couldn't care less what the specifications are, so long as it fulfils the purpose and it does. If it didn't, users would sure let me know about it, believe me.

    If 90% of the activity is research and office based then I really don't know what to say to that. At the schools I support, they have a whole range of curriculum software, covering all curriculum areas. Office based work is just a small part of the curriculum. What about all the Literacy, Numeracy, Science, RE, PE, and other ICT applications? As I mentioned before, there's around 20GB's of installed applications.
    You make it sound you support more of a business organisation type of environment, where they may use specialised application(s) and MS Office for e-mail etc...

    I could see uses for the following:

    1. School trips
    2. Quick use research and type-up devices in lessons
    3. To replace the use of AlphaSmart type devices in the SEN dept
    4. To allow usage of ICT outside the traditional classroom - ie. during summer, take the kids outside to use them
    5. Data logging
    6. Groupwork devices
    7. At a stretch, so long as funding was in place, 1 laptop per child schemes - and therefore could also replace paper planners/diaries.
    At the schools I support most of the points you mentioned are accomplish using traditional laptops and it works. The exceptions are school trips, but that's at the school's discretion and not my decision.
    Realistically the computer per child isn't going to happen anytime soon. Authorities have ratios in place schools must meet, but the prime problem is budget or lack of. Additional machines also need to be maintained, managed and of course even us IT people only have two hands.

    I'll reiterate what I said before, and that is when and if the Minibook is a few generations down the line, it could be a very viable, cost effective alternative which does pretty much anything (within reason) any educational establishment requires of it.

    When the Minibook is adopted, it will be interesting to hear from their experiences and when I say their, I am referring to the people of tomorrow. It's the pupils who will be a true indication just how successful the Minibook shall be and how influential it is to their education.

  5. #65

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    Re: RM Asus miniBook review

    Just for information for people who are interested in the progress of XP on a RM Minibook.

    We have successfully installed XP, drivers, relevant windows updates and Open Office to keep space to minimum.

    Once completed the strip down of XP, we have accumulated 1.6gig of free space!!

    Our next venture is to remove the drivers XP comes with pre-loaded to save even more space.

    On the note of running XP - We have no problems. The device quite easily runs XP and has boot times of roughly 55-60 seconds from cold start to desktop showing after logon. Programs such IE, Ooen Office etc start with no lag, and the device comfortably runs a few programs simultaneously. My only drawback at the moment is that you need to to type with 6 fingers instead of 8!

  6. #66

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    Re: RM Asus miniBook review

    Well it is here so will be doing video review that will get released later this week.

    Russell

  7. #67

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    Re: RM Asus miniBook review

    Ours arrived today. I shall be digging more later in the week.

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