Thoughts on TabletKiosk i72xx Series

August 6th, 2006

TabletKiosk last week announced two new eo UMPCs, the i7209 and i7210. Both models have similar form factors and are re-branded versions of the UMPC marketed in Asia under the Founder brand-name. In some ways, these new models are a step up from the already (and still) available eo v7110, although the older model also still has some key advantages as well.

The key difference between the two TabletKiosk UMPC product lines is the choice of processor and chipset at their core. With the i72xx series, the “i” stands for “Intel” while the “v” in v7110 stands for “Via”. The i7209 is based on the Intel Celeron M while the higher-end i7210 is based on the Intel Pentium M. Both models also use the Intel 915GMS chipset, with integrated DirectX9 3D graphics. Both also have a 1.3 megapixel camera, an SD card slot, and 7.1-channel sound built-in. Finally, these new models also each come with a docking station that provides Ethernet, VGA, S-Video, and additional USB connectors.

These are all nice enhancements over the previous model. The Intel processors and chipsets should provide a decent performance boost over the Via, particularly with the Pentium M based i7210, likely to be the fastest performing UMPC yet available. Until some hands-on reviews of the units start to be circulated, it won’t really be known whether the battery life is better than what was found with the v7110, but improvement is very likely. The better video and sound capabilities should give these new models an advantage over the v7110 for multimedia features, also competing pretty strongly with what the Samsung Q1 offers in this area (other than its instant-on capabilities).

The main area in which the v7110 continues to have a big advantage is customization of the memory and hard-drive configurations. With the older model, you can select configurations of 256MB, 512MB or 1GB of RAM, while the i7209 is only available with 512MB and the i7210 comes with 1GB. Even more significantly, the v7110 uses 2.5” hard drives, which provide a considerably wider range of choices than the 1.8” drives used in the i72xx series. The i7209 comes with a 30GB drive while the i7210 comes with a 60GB, each running at 4,200RPM. Surprisingly, TabletKiosk doesn’t appear to offer the opportunity to customize the i7209 with more memory or a larger hard-drive, although I would think that such upgrades should be possible.

The v7110 is available with hard-drives ranging from 40GB all the way up to 160GB and at speeds of 5,400 or 7,200RPM. Obviously, the v7110 is capable of substantially higher storage capacities and much faster performing drives. They do also offer the ability to send the unit back for later upgrades to the larger drives or memory (at a pretty substantial cost, of course) or the components to perform those upgrades yourself are pretty readily available, assuming you are pretty comfortable with that kind of fairly delicate computer maintenance.

With the faster processors and other added features, the i7xxx series does cost more than the v7110. The i7209 is priced at $1,099 and the i7210 costs $1,399. By comparison, the v7110 starts at $899 for the minimum configuration, with 256MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive. Even if you upgrade the RAM to 512MB to match the i7209, the price is only $998 and that is with a larger, faster hard drive. If you upgrade both the RAM and hard drive to match the i7210, the v7110 comes to $1,239. The price of the v7110 doesn’t exceed that of the i7210 until it is upgraded to either a 100GB 5,400RPM drive or a 60GB 7,200RPM drive, either of which comes to $1,423.

My v7110 has 1GB of RAM and the slower 100GB hard drive, meaning that I paid the above referenced $1,423 price, only $24 more than the i7210. Obviously, if I were purchasing my UMPC today, I would have to give serious consideration about which model to buy. I’m honestly not entirely certain which one I would have chosen if I were making the decision cold, but I don’t regret my purchase. Doing a quick check on my hard-disk, I have about 40GB free currently. That means that trying to carry everything I have on my eo currently, the hard-disk on the i7210 would be completely full with memory cards or external USB drives as the only option for adding additional storage.

I certainly would appreciate the extra processing power, improved multimedia features and, likely, improved battery life of the newer model, but portability of data was really the prime motivation for me purchasing a UMPC. In fact, that is the main reason why I choose the eo over the Samsung Q1. I use my eo to carry around essentially all of my personal and professional documents, my entire digital photo collection, all of my purchased tracks, as well as a fairly large number of tracks that I have ripped from CD at a lossless bit rate. If anything, I suspect that my storage needs on my UMPC are apt to increase, if anything.

While the new models would be more appealing to me if they used the faster, higher-capacity 2.5” hard drives, I still think that they are a strong addition to TabletKiosk’s UMPC line. More importantly, these new models indicate a definite commitment to UMPCs on the part of the company. Already, they have added several new accessories that are compatible with all of the available eo models. I’m sure that these new models will fit the needs of many potential customers better than any others currently available and overall that is a big positive for the UMPC in general.

Are UMPCs Safe for Kids and Teens?

July 17th, 2006

Following the press coverage and discussions of the UMPC, one topic that is brought up pretty frequently is how useful these devices could be for students. The emphasis on these discussions is usually on the note-taking features of the Tablet PC operating system. The portability of the UMPC makes it seem rather optimal for carrying to and from school and from class to class. Microsoft even offers a free education pack for Tablet PCs that provides a number of useful tools for students. This can be downloaded from Microsoft’s website and even comes pre-installed on the TabletKiosk eo.

Anyone who follows the news is likely at least somewhat aware of the many recent stories about the dangers that kids face on the Internet. While the Internet has opened up a whole new world of both learning and socialization for kids, it also has introduced significant dangers ranging from targeted marketing to easy access to inappropriate (even pornographic) content all the way up to the risk of contact with child predators. Social networking sites like have become immensely popular with the younger population, making these sites particularly attractive targets.

Child safety online is a topic that I have taken a lot of interest in, both as the father of a toddler that I realize will grow up with the Internet as a key part of his life and also as a software engineer that has spent a large portion of my career working on online products largely targeted to younger audiences. PC Magazine recently published an excellent article entitled Do you Know Where Your Child Is Clicking? In this article, they outlined how quickly and easily a great deal of personal information about a child can be obtained simply by following up on information in personal web pages and online profiles that may initially seem to be very vague. Even kids and teens that seem to be generally cautious could still be setting themselves up for exploitation, thus requiring a great deal of parental vigilance and oversight of the young person’s online activities.

A primary recommendation in this article, which I have found to be consistent in most articles of this type, is for parents to not to give privacy while their children are using the Internet. Kids and teens should instead only use connected computers that are kept in a common area of the home where the parents or other family members are likely to be present. It also is recommended that the parents maintain primary control over the computers, including full administrative rights. These goals strongly conflict with the personal and portable focus of current UMPCs.

Connectivity is generally considered to be one of the primary functions of a UMPC. Wi-fi, Bluetooth, and/or cellular networking have been standard, built-in features of nearly every UMPC so far. The only significant exception has been the DualCor and its expected lack of built-in connectivity has been its most widely-mentioned criticism, leading DualCor to heavily emphasize the availability of add-on cards. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if a wi-fi and/or Bluetooth add-on card is standard in the box, once these units are released. Read the rest of this entry »

Report and Reflections After eo Recall

July 4th, 2006

Last week, I sent my eo in for the recall service intended to improve the battery life. Although TabletKiosk had initially stated that they simply would be replacing a defective part, by the time they actually started performing the recall service they had decided to simply transfer the hard drive, memory (if expanded), and back panel (with the serial number and Windows activation number), to an otherwise completely new unit.

I was very pleased with TabletKiosk’s flexibility and efficiency handling the recall. After getting the initial return authorization, I exchanged periodic emails with them until they confirmed that they had everything in stock for performing the recall work. This let me avoid sending it back before they were ready to quickly turn it around. Once they were ready, my desktop PC had gone in for repairs and I didn’t really want to be without my eo. TabletKiosk was very accommodating, immediately agreeing to hold the replacement unit until my other system was repaired.

Once I did send it back, the turn-around was about as fast as it possibly could be. I sent it back via UPS next-day delivery on Tuesday. On Wednesday afternoon, I got an email with the tracking number for the return shipment even before the tracking showed my shipment as delivered. TabletKiosk was so fast that they were able to complete the transfer and ship the unit back to me before UPS could update the tracking data on their website. I had my replacement eo by 1pm on Thursday.

The new eo works pretty much as expected. The battery life is definitely improved, with about 2 hours of use now readily achievable under normal use. This still isn’t stellar, and is still less than the 2.5 hours originally advertised, but it is a definite improvement and it absolutely improves the usability of the eo. Once the extended battery becomes available in a couple weeks, I honestly think that the battery life will be sufficient for pretty much all my needs.

Otherwise, the new eo seems pretty much identical to the previous one. I have seen some reports that the heat dissipation has been improved in the replacements, but I can’t really say that I have noticed much improvement. The device still gets pretty warm, mainly over the vent on the left side. It never had been overly bad on my eo, though, so it is definitely possible that mine simply was not as bad as some of the others from the first shipped batch.

While any recall is inconvenient, now that this one has been completed I can honestly say that it was a pretty painless experience. By transferring the hard drive from the old unit to the new one, no data was lost and there was no need to re-install anything or to do any restoration from backups. TabletKiosk’s efficiency resulted in me only being without my eo for almost exactly 48-hours, which is an exceptionally short time for a mail-in recall.

Of course, TabletKiosk certainly should have been aware of the battery life issues prior to shipping the first batch of devices and should have at least notified buyers ahead of time with the option to complete the order at that time or not. Even with the battery life issues, I have gotten nearly 2-months of good use out of my eo, thus I am glad that they didn’t delay shipping the product for this issue. I simply feel that being more up-front about the issue might have given them better publicity and, possibly, reduced the overall cost of the recall.

Based on the relatively few people reporting on the recall online, I suspect that they ended up with a lot of returns for refunds. The only other blogger that I have seen reporting experiences with the recall is CTitanic from Ultra Mobile PCs Tips. While I’m sure there were some other eo buyers that kept their unit but don’t participate in the online UMPC community, I do think this suggests that the percentage that didn’t return their systems was likely pretty low. I still think the eo is an excellent device and, after the recall, it now is very competitive with the Samsung Q1 and other similar devices in this class. I really hope that the recall hasn’t tainted the overall reputation of TabletKiosk or the eo and that it ends up selling well.

UMPC as Primary PC

June 26th, 2006

Last weekend, my desktop system developed a major overheating issue. I attempted to correct the problem by replacing the CPU heat-sink and fan, but ended up messing something up and leaving the system unable to boot at all. As a result, it has been at the repair shop for the last week. This means that my UMPC has been serving as my primary PC for the past week, resulting in an interesting test of its overall usability.

My desktop PC is kept in our living room and even since I got my eo, I have mostly still been using the desktop system when I was in that room. Even for tasks like web surfing and email, I have mostly been using the UMPC when on the go or around the house in rooms other than the one where the desktop PC was located, particularly up in the bedroom. With the UMPC as the only PC available this week (unless I want to use my wife’s notebook PC), I have now expanded to using it anywhere in the house. What I have found is that this has helped to introduce me more to the wonders of “couch surfing”, the term that many in the UMPC community have used for web browsing from the couch while parked in front of the TV. While I admit that I almost feel a tad lazy web browsing in that way, I also get the feeling that I could get way too used to it. It is a bit decadent, but also pretty nice…

This week, I do wish that I already had the docking station cradle that has been announced for the eo, but not yet released. This cradle while add VGA and Ethernet ports as well as a couple extra USB connectors. If this were already available, I could have essentially used the eo as a desktop PC some of the time this week by hooking it up to the monitor, keyboard, and mouse that are currently going unused. The USB connectors on the eo itself do allow the use of the keyboard and mouse, if I want, but connecting it to the monitor isn’t really an option. There are a few USB-based video adapters on the market, but they tend to be expensive and also have a reputation for being very slow. I’d rather wait for the cradle. Admittedly, this is one case where the Samsung Q1 would have been advantageous, since it does have a VGA connector directly on the device. For me, though, this would really only have been advantages during this time that the docking station cradle isn’t yet available.

Even with the docking station unavailable, I am actually writing this blog post while sitting at the computer desk in my living room. I am using the extra stylus that was included with the eo as a stand (the plastic stand that TabletKiosk sent me is on my desk at work) and have just moved the full-sized computer monitor out of the way. Since space is pretty limited on my desk with the monitor still there, I am using my smaller Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard and the touchscreen/mouse stick instead of plugging in the full-sized keyboard and mouse. It would be nice to have this hooked to the bigger monitor, but I’m still finding this to work very well.

The biggest disadvantage that I have found to the use of the eo as my primary PC has been the poor battery life. With my desktop box in the shop, I have not yet sent in my eo for the recall service, so I’ve had to keep working around the way-too-short 1:20 battery life. Even once I do get the recall work done, that probably isn’t going to extend to much over 2 hours. That is still pretty short for fairly heavy usage. Of course, it isn’t extremely hard to keep the system on the charger much of the time when using it around the house, although even there it has been something of an inconvenience. I have a 2-year-old child, which means that I really can only use the eo on the charger in places where he can’t easily get at the cord. On weekends, my wife and I also typically spend some of the time taking turns hiding out in the upstairs bedroom while the other watches our son. It also still isn’t unusual to have to get up with the kid in the middle of the night on some days. With no desktop PC downstairs, I have run into a few occasions where the battery ran out and the charger was in the other part of the house. It actually has me considering getting another charger to keep downstairs, although I suspect this problem will be much less significant once the extended life battery is available.

Read the rest of this entry »

Data synchronization and the UMPC

June 10th, 2006

Around the same time as this week’s release of the first public beta of Windows Vista, a ZDNet article reported that the previously-announced features designed to facilitate synchronization between multiple PCs were being removed from the list of included features planned for next year’s initial full release. This strikes me as an important and very disappointing bit of news for UMPC owners, as this promised Vista feature could have filled a fairly glaring hole in the current set of tools provided by Microsoft.

One of the most appealing aspects of a UMPC is that that it is a fully-functional Windows XP (and eventually Vista) PC without the dependency on a tether to a larger desktop or notebook system. Palm or Windows Mobile PDAs typically require such a tether for software installation, data initialization, or other similar tasks, but I think the greater power of the UMPC led Microsoft to the mistaken impression that synchronization tools were not really a requirement.

In reality, though, I strongly suspect that the majority of UMPC owners are going to experience a need to keep a lot of data synchronized between home and/or work systems and the UMPC. I find myself regularly copying documents, application data and settings, music, photos, and video from my home or work PC in order to maximize the mobility of all my core information. Since a UMPC is a more full-featured computer, a peer-to-peer style of synchronization makes more sense than the master-slave type used with PDAs or other similar portable devices (such as music players), but it still is needed.

Out of the box, readily available methods for transferring data between my TabletKiosk eo and other systems include shared drives over the wi-fi connection or the file transfer services that are standard to Bluetooth. The Samsung Q1 does provide a couple other file transfer options via the built-in CompactFlash slot and their inclusion of a USB 2.0 file-transfer cable (and software). Either of those options can also be available on the eo with additional $20-$30 purchases. I already picked up an inexpensive USB CF reader for my eo at the local Staples store and have ordered a file transfer cable as well to simplify transfers with my work PC, which doesn’t have Bluetooth or wi-fi available.

What is missing is software that automates the synchronization of data between the UMPC and the other systems. Without some form of third-party software, you can only manually copy files from one system to the other. I think this was a major omission in the design of the standard set of tools supplied by Microsoft for inclusion in every certified UMPC. Ideally, what is needed is a mechanism where, once appropriate data pairings between the UMPC and another PC have been set up, the synchronization would happen invisibly in the background while the system is idle. There probably would be a need for some kind of a notification mechanism for conflict situations (such as data modified separately on multiple systems), but most of the time it should work in a “set it and forget about it” manner.

Considering the high mobility of a UMPC, one key issue that any synchronization mechanism needs to deal with is that not all remote locations will be available at all times. In my own case, I can only access my home system while actually connected to my home network and can only access my work system after running a VPN client. A lot of the currently available solutions, including Microsoft’s own Foldershare synchronization service, seem to be very focused on overcoming this issue by creating ever-present accessibility via the public internet. This may be through the copying of files to a remote server or though special clients that run on each system and maintain a connection to a central server.

I can see the merit in these types of solutions under some circumstances, but there also need to be options that take into account that security needs very often dictate that data not be accessible outside of the local network. Corporate users, in particular, really are not going to be comfortable with potentially sensitive and confidential data being stored on someone else’s server or otherwise being made accessible out of the direct control of the company’s employees. In fact, the company that I work for has issued some pretty specific policies banning the use of remote data accessibility tools on systems connected to the company network. A complete synchronization solution needs to be able to detect whether or not a remote resource is actually available at any given time and handle either situation appropriately. Read the rest of this entry »

TabletKiosk sends recovery DVD, stand, and T-shirt

May 31st, 2006

Late last week, I ordered a car charger from TabletKiosk for use with my eo. The package came today and, in addition to the charger, it contained a second box with a few extra items that TabletKiosk will apparently be sending to everyone that bought the first batch of units.

The package contained the Windows XP Tablet Edition recovery DVD, a plastic stand that was described in the manual for the eo, but not included in the original box, and a t-shirt with the TabletKiosk logo on the front and the eo logo on the back. Note that the t-shirt is an XL size.

While I had expected that the recovery DVD would eventually be sent, I was surprised and pleased by the inclusion of the other two items. The t-shirt, in particular, was a very nice surprise.

After the break, here are some photos of the items. Sorry that the shirt was still a bit wrinkled from shipment when I took the pictures. Read the rest of this entry »

Update on eo Battery Life Issue

May 27th, 2006

Yesterday, TabletKiosk sent out a notice to all of the purchasers of the first batch of eos announcing a voluntary recall in order to install a hardware fix that should improve battery life. They have indicated that they found a faulty component that was causing a significant portion of the excess power drain on the units.

The email stated that the units will need to be sent back to TabletKiosk for the repair and that they will be shipped back within 72 hours of receipt at their facility. The email provided contact information to request return shipping instructions. I sent them a request for those instructions yesterday, but have not received a reply yet at the time of this writing. It was unclear from the email whether they would cover the cost of return shipping or if that will be the owner’s responsibility.

In addition to offering to repair the devices, the email also offered a 25% discount off the purchase of any one eo accessory purchased before the end of July. I requested that they apply the discount towards my pre-order for the extended battery.

While I’m not that happy about having to do without my eo for a few days, I am glad that they found a cause for the problem and that they are offering to correct the existing units. With the battery life improved, the eo will be a substantially better and more useful device. It is expected that any units shipped going forward will already have the hardware fix installed, which makes it much easier for me to now recommend the eo to people who believe its feature set will meet their needs. Read the rest of this entry »

eo Battery Life Issue

May 20th, 2006

Anyone who has followed discussions of the TabletKiosk eo v7110 in various forums or blogs should know by now that there is a fair amount of controversy surrounding the device. The primary issue is that the originally advertised battery life (with the included 3-cell battery) was over 2.5 hours, but the reality is that the eo cannot manage more than 90 minutes or so under normal use. Even with pretty much everything (including the screen) disabled, testing has generally shown an upper limit of about 2 hours.

The issue is well documented on other sites and has been publicly acknowledged by TabletKiosk as well. Over the course of last week, requests sent to their technical support department (I opened a ticket with them myself) met with fairly terse, stock responses acknowledging their awareness of the issue and that they were working on finding solutions. On Friday, they sent a mass email to all eo owners once again stating that they were working on the issue and extending the no-penalty return period for purchases up to 30-days instead of the usual 15. Right now, there is a lot of discussion online among early adopters about whether or not each of us plan to keep our system or make use of this return policy.

Many are pondering whether TabletKiosk knew about the problem before they shipped or not. I have worked either with or in technology quality assurance groups for much of my career and I know that QA can sometimes take a back seat to marketing-driven deadlines. It really looks to me like TabletKiosk was pretty focused on being able to issue that press release announcing that they had the first UMPC available in the US market and that probably resulted in a rush to shipping. They also were likely influenced some by the rather excited and somewhat impatient pre-order customers (including me) who were really making it known that we wanted to get our orders as soon as possible

We do know that the shipment of the first batch was delayed by a little over a week after they discovered that a large percentage were defective due to a case molding problem. At first, it might seem that the extra time spent verifying that the remaining units were ready to ship should have increased the chance of them identifying the battery life issue; the opposite may very well be true. The need to identify and certify the units that did not have the show-stopper defect could easily have caused a large percentage of basic functionality testing to be set aside. With the impending shipment of the Samsung Q1 greatly threatening the ability to issue that “first to market” press release, serious measurements and testing of the battery life may simply have been set aside. Read the rest of this entry »

E3 and the UMPC

May 16th, 2006

Last week, I attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) at the Los Angeles Convention Center. This is the large annual trade show for the video and computer game industry. I had that after the show I would be able to write an article for this site describing the ways in which the UMPC was represented at the exhibits. Unfortunately, instead I am left only with the opportunity to write a lament about its absence.

Of course, I am very well aware that the UMPC is not being particularly promoted as a gaming device and that there are, in fact, some significant technical impediments to running a large percentage of Windows-based games on them. The first generation devices do not really have suitable specifications for many modern games, particularly in the video/graphics hardware. In many cases, PC games are also very difficult, if not impossible, to play without a keyboard.

Even with these limitations, though, some games really do work well on a UMPC and it is a safe bet that most UMPC owners will at least occasionally use them for games. Microsoft should be working harder to identify games that do work well on a UMPC and get that information out in front of current and potential owners. Some sort of an official certification program for games (and all other software, for that matter) would be a very smart move and E3 really would have been a great place to promote such a concept.

One of the main reasons why it was disappointing that UMPCs were missing was that this year’s exhibits paid quite a bit of attention to portable and casual gaming. Of course, as expected, there were enormous booths dedicated to elaborate, cutting-edge games with realistic graphics running on state-of-the-art desktop PCs and game consoles. What was less expected was the amount of space dedicated to casual games designed to be compatible with lower-horsepower systems and for being easy and fairly quick to play. A UMPC really is a pretty ideal device for playing this sort of game.

Casual games took up a portion of the booth space from many of the major game manufacturers, while other companies that specialize in casual games even had large booths of their own. These games were frequently shown not only on PCs and/or game consoles, but also on cell phones and other hand-held devices. This indicated the desirability of playing these types of games on the go. Had the PC versions of some of these games been shown on UMPCs instead of desktop systems, it could have made quite an impression.

I believe it is primarily Microsoft that really missed the boat here. Not only did they fail to work with casual game developers to get them to use UMPCs to show off their products, they didn’t even bother to use them in their own booth! As would be expected, Microsoft had one of the largest and most prominent booths at the show, with the bulk of the space dedicated to showing off the XBOX 360 as well as high-end Windows-based gaming. In the back, center portion of the booth, though, they did have a section dedicated to showing off “Microsoft Casual Gaming”, with an emphasis on the availability of these games through MSN. With Microsoft as the primary driver of the UMPC concept, I was amazed to find that they were showing these games on desktop PCs and cell phones (presumably running Windows Mobile), but there was not a UMPC in sight.

One of the games being featured on the desktop computers at Microsoft’s booth was a puzzle game called Hexic. As part of the promotion of the casual gaming concept, they were handing out gift cards to show attendees with a free registration code for the game. Since I had the card for a free copy of that game, I downloaded a copy to my eo after I got home and gave it a try. The game works extremely well on the UMPC and I’ve actually enjoyed spending some time playing it. The graphics and sound are well within the capabilities of the eo and the game is completely playable using either the touch-screen or the eo’s pointer-stick. This certainly could have been demonstrated on a UMPC very effectively.

As a final note, I will mention that the only UMPC that I actually saw at the show was the one that I brought along myself. The food court areas and lobby were equipped with free wi-fi in order to allow show attendees to use portable devices to check email or surf the web during breaks from the show. At one point, I found a table in a coffee shop and used my eo to read and respond to a few emails that had come in while I was at the show. During this time, I did attract some attention from people who came up and asked me about the device. Wouldn’t it have been great if those attendees had instead been seeing and playing with UMPCs at the Microsoft booth or other exhibits?

Music on the eo

May 12th, 2006

Over the last few days, one ways that I have been using my eo has been as an audio player while at work. The large storage capacity, network connectivity, and ubiquitious compatibility with file formats makes it a pretty much ideal portable digital audio player for use on an office desktop or other location where you don’t really need a pocket-sized device.

One of the biggest problems plaguing most portable digital music players is the fact that the industry has yet to standardize the file formats or, particularly, digital rights management schemes being used. Music purchased from online stores generally will only work on certain brands of portable players. For example, without additional conversion (usually involving loss of quality) an iPod can only play music purchased from iTunes, which itself won’t generally play on other brands of players.

Out of pure business necessity, every format and DRM scheme is compatible with Windows XP. That makes a UMPC into a universal portable music player. All you have to do is download and install the software that is required for playing whatever music you want to play. It is a bit of an irritant having to install a bunch of different music players on the device in order to get the widest compatibility, but it is certainly preferable to not being able to play some types of music at all.

The first music player that I installed on my eo (other than Windows Media Player, which comes with it) was Apple’s iTunes. Its online store has the best selection and it also has an exceptionally good podcast manager. Most importantly, since I have a Creative Labs portable player instead of an iPod, music purchased from iTunes wasn’t previously available to me on the go. Read the rest of this entry »