More Thoughts on a Solar PC for 2011

Looking back on the date of my previous post about a Solar, mobile PC for 2011 I think its time for an update.
Firstly, WOW!, the Galaxy Tab is working out amazingly well for me as a productive device and PCs just can touch it in terms of social apps, location, tracking and microblogging. I’m still using my netbook for long-form writing but as time goes on, I’m writing longer and longer pieces on the Galaxy Tab.

As for battery life, the Tab is returning a minimum of 7 hrs (that’s a hugely busy day on it) and a maximum of 2 days. The battery inside is 10wh which is 1/5th of the battery on a 7hr netbook. With a charging voltage of 5v at around 1500mah it’s something that can be run from 500gm of power pack for a week. Wherever you are in the world, are you going to be away from a source of mains power for that long? The only problem is that the charger is fairly unique in delivering a quick-charge via up to 2A over a USB port. You will have to search long and hard for a solar-powered or battery pack solution to support that. The only option is to trickle charge it from a standard USB port overnight. It really does take that long but it might work for you. With a 420gm weight, no moving parts, a Gorilla Glass hardened screen and a good range of cases and covers available, I won’t hesitate to recommend it to travellers.

If you really need Windows though, you might want to wait a few months. I saw a some new ultra-mobile PCs based on the Intel Oaktrail platform at CES in Jan and the efficiency is looking good. Samsung will be launching the TX100 (aka Gloria and PC7 Series) in March and the message from Samsung is that you’ll be getting 9hrs battery life in under 1kg with an SSD, 2GB of RAM. It’s the perfect setup for some ultra-mobile and ultra low power computing. The screen is somewhat exposed as it’s got a tablet/sliding keyboard form factor but that’s the only thing that causes me any concern. Expect something in the region of 45wh on the battery capacity though. This is no smartphone!

Finally though, we’ve seen some indicators that more smart-books could launch in 2011. Honeycomb, the tablet-oriented version of the Android operating system will support multicore ARM architecture and should stimulate developers to make more pro-oriented apps. Expect the pricing of these ‘HD’ apps to be more than you’re used to on a smartphone but don’t expect anything near the prices you get charged on Windows. Devices like the 7hr, 800gm, Toshiba AC100 would come of age if Honeycomb got ported to them and then things would get interesting. The AC100 has a 15wh battery and costs around 200 euro!

2011 will be a great year for low power computing and for those that have occasional access to mains power, maybe that solar requirement will drop away as we move within the 10wh / day requirement. Off-the-power-grid computing will be easier than ever.

I hope to do some off-the-grid travelling during the summer and of course, ill report here if I find anything of interest in the meantime.

[This post written in portrait/thumbing mode on the Samsung Galaxy Tab using the WordPress application.]