One of the big themes here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is miniaturization. The ever shrinking size of memory and the ever increasing capacity of small hard drives has fueled "total packages" in smaller industrial design impelementations. In my discussions with Sandisk who showed me a 2GB microSD card that's smaller than a child's fingertip, I was told that they could actually make the microSD card smaller, but then, it would become impossible to handle. For example, grabbbing it and inserting into a slot. Loss is a big problem at sizes smaller than that too. Not only do shrinking memory footprints enable tiny but full featured music players like Sandisk's Sansa Connect, they're also enabling a wave of ultra-mobile PCs (UMPC) that offer most of the power of a regular notebook or desktop in a very small handheld device. Not surprisingly, UMPCs are here in force at CES. We've already got some video of Seamless Internet's SX-GEN and, currently, in our video pipeline, we have shots of new UMPCs from OQO and Samsung coming out (hint: the new Samsung Q1 uses solid state memory instead of a hard drive).
Among the UMPCs here at the show is Black Diamond's Switchback PC (pictured above left). The company claims that it's the world's first rugged UMPC. According to the brochure for the rugged UMPC, the Switchback and take beating. It's waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, vibration proof and it can sustain temperatures ranging from 32 to 122 degrees without going down. As you'll see in the video, I gave the Switchback the ultimate test. I dropped it on the conventional hall floor: