Digital Life: Laptops enter the third dimension -- but just don't try leaving home
There's a famous story, possibly apocryphal, of an American tourist seeking directions in the arse-end of Kerry. He approaches a local to ask the best way to Tralee. "Well, I wouldn't start from here," deadpans the Kerryman.
Sony faces enough challenges trying to popularise 3D entertainment without cramming it into possibly the world's ugliest laptop. But that's exactly what they've done with the Vaio F Series machine. If I were them, I wouldn't start from here either.
The Vaio F may not be the first laptop with a 3D screen but it's undoubtedly the most powerful. Thanks to the crisp, high resolution (full HD, fact fans) of the display, it's also the most impressive when it comes to showing off your movies and games, 3D or otherwise.
As a workhorse machine, it effortlessly chews up anything you can throw at it, thanks to gobs of RAM and Intel's latest processor.
But there's no escaping the blinding reality that the usually reliable Sony seems to have designed the Vaio F in the dark. Two bulky, mismatched slabs have been bolted together and the whole ensemble bristles with sharp edges and unexpected bulges.
The trackpad buttons are too small and the battery life is abysmal.
In short, this is not a machine you will get out and about with. Let's face it, you weren't going to wear those daft 3D glasses on the train to watch a movie, were you?
At home, the Vaio F makes a sort of sense. It's the cream of the 3D-laptop brigade if that's what floats your boat. Sony's after-sales service and long-term reliability count for a lot too.
But for the whopping €2,150 price tag you could buy a decent 3D telly plus PS3 and still have change left over for a pretty little netbook.
This year's back-to-school season produced a raft of stories in the media about teachers replacing books with iPads. It may be several years before all schools go the way of the tablet but you sense it's inevitable.
You can get a taste of what it might be like with Human Body app from respected publisher Dorling Kindersley. This iPad version of DK's book of the same name for students explores biology with a detailed look inside the body.
Copious text and annotations explain what everything does but the app fails to make the most of the medium, with just a handful of animation and video sequences.
Some may baulk too at the €12 cost when the more detailed book and accompanying DVD can be had for just a few quid extra at Amazon.
Bits & Bytes
In case you missed the deluge of 9/11 retrospectives over the weekend, YouTube has put together a collection of videos from eyewitnesses and survivors' relatives.
The collaboration with The New York Times newspaper includes archived news broadcasts from September 11, 2001, plus viewers' own reflections on a terrible day.
The Junior Spiders, the little brother to the annual Eircom Spiders web awards, is open for nominations.
Primary and post-primary students with an interest in the web can enter in several categories such as best blog and best web app.
Nominations close on November 1.
Pearl Jam are building up to the launch of their movie PJ20 to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary by releasing a free download of a new song.
But it is available for a limited time only -- grab the tune 'Ole' before the end of the week.