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Asus W5Fe SideShow Enabled Laptop

Author:  Jason Jacobs
Date:  2007.08.30
Topic:  Notebooks
Provider:  Asus
Manufacturer:  Asus

Asus W5Fe Laptop

The W5Fe SideShow Explored:

The SideShow display on the W5Fe draws its information from cache memory in the form of 1GB of NAND Flash. This allows the display to cache information that is obtained while the laptop is up and running. As you can already guess the big attractor to this laptop is the externally mounted 2.8 inch SideShow display. What most people do not realize is while this is the W5Fe's biggest asset it is simultaneously its biggest drawback. Windows Vista SideShow lacks support and with only a handful of downloadable gadgets its nearly useless. The potential of SideShow has not even been slightly tapped and the possibilities were Microsoft actually to support with feature with usable gadgets is endless. The external 2.8 inch display could be used to show DVD movies in memory or streamed from a flash disk, optical, or hard drive saving battery life big time. That having been said I enjoyed spending some quality time playing with the display and its funcationality. When powered on the display automatically rotates when the laptop lid is opened so that the display is still right side up. I got endless questions and comments from interested people who saw me with the laptop.

According to Microsoft:

"Wouldn't it be great if you could read an e-mail message, confirm a meeting location, or check a flight reservation without turning on your computer? What if you could check the program guide in Windows Media Center by using a display that's built into your remote control? Windows SideShow puts this information literally at your fingertips on a wide variety of devices that can retrieve information from your mobile PC or desktop computer.

Windows SideShow is a new technology in Windows Vista that supports a secondary screen on your mobile PC. With this additional display you can view important information whether your laptop is on, off, or in sleep mode. Windows SideShow is available in Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, and Windows Vista Ultimate.

Windows SideShow uses gadgets, convenient mini programs, to extend information from your computer to other devices. Gadgets can run on a Windows SideShow–compatible device and update that device with information from your computer. Using a gadget, you can view information from your computer regardless of whether your mobile PC is on, off, or in the sleep power state—which can save you both time and battery life."

This is all wonderful visuals but the reality is that Microsoft marketed SideShow as this amazing feature then virtually stopped all development of gadgets to support it.

The other blaring issue is that the W5Fe and all other SideShow enabled devices must use Windows Vista as an OS to use the external displays. Without Vista these displays will not function. So essentially you have bought a laptop that is stuck with one OS for its' entire life.

Clearly the Asus implementation of SideShow looks great and is functional, but how easy it it to use? It took me a total of about 20 minutes to begin using the display controls easily. The controls consist of a 4-way directional pad with center button, an On/Off button, menu button, and a Back button, thats it. Navigation within SideShow is relatively easy as is obtaining information.


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