Sometimes, things are too cool for their own good.

The Asus Eee is an excellent idea. It promoted open source computing (at least in its earliest incarnations), showcased some cool technologies in order to pare back costs to the bone.

But the Eee quickly showed its commercial roots. Rather than concentrating on the neat idea of a low-cost basic computer, Asus began adding extras. A bigger screen? You got it. XP instead of Linux? No problem.

What hasn’t changed much is the size of the average netbook, small even for those of us trained down from standard keyboards to the compressed arrangements on standard laptops.

Despite this handicap, the Eee spawned a series of clones, as other manufacturers race to get in on the act. Dell is only the latest to get on board.

What worries me is the precedent set by mobile phones. Once upon a time, mobiles weighed a ton and had a battery life measured in minutes. Then technology improved, and they shrank to manageable size.

Trouble is, they kept shrinking, and mobiles are now so cramped I frequently misdial.

Is it too much to ask for technology in usable sizes? Tricorder-sized sounds about right.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.