Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland

Shiny Toys

I went along to the BETT show today; a big educational technology event that's held in London every year and generally features lots of nice kit nobody can actually afford. Last year, for example, the "Wow" toy was a globe that was actually a computer display - I assume it worked by a projector in the base and some optical system that projected the image onto the entire 360 degrees. You could use it for things like animated weather maps - I never really got into the software on offer for it because the thing cost £5000 at the discounted show price, and I knew there was no way we could afford it. For some reason they didn't seem to be around this year, although the show is big enough that I could have missed them.

This year the shiny toy everyone seemed to have was a lot more affordable; the Asus eee PC. I must have seen a couple of dozen of them on stands around the place, all of them running the standard Asus software suite. There didn't seem to be any educational software written specifically for them yet, but you can bet it'll come.

I'm still trying to make up my mind on going for an Asus - I can afford one, but I'm not sure I'd actually use it enough to justify buying it. The size is the problem for me - it's too big for a pocket, which means that when I'm riding a bike it would have to go in the panniers or a shoulder bag, both recipes for problems. I'm still not 100% convinced I would use it away from home in circumstances where I wouldn't have my laptop with me.

None of this really explains why my existing sub-notebook, the Jornada 710, doesn't seem to get a lot of use - it easily fits my pocket. But that may be because it's fairly limited in its capacities compared to the Asus. I think I'll probably dither a while longer then end up buying one - they look to be a lot of fun, which is always a plus with new toys.

Talking of toys, the Lego stand had some amazing models - the big hit for me was a robotic scorpion, built out of Mindstorms kit, that was programmed to spot a hand moving in front of it and manoeuvre to sting it with its tail. What impressed me most was its striking speed, pretty damn fast. Wonder how long it'll be before someone puts together some of this kit to make real robot assassins...

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