The ASUS EEE keyboard PC was shown off at various trade shows for electronics last year (2009) and people were in awe. If you don’t believe me, search for “ASUS EEE keyboard PC” at YouTube and watch some of the videos. Of course, this is nothing new. In fact, it means that home computers have come full circle since they started as integrated keyboards with the Commodore and Apple computers in the 1970s.
One of the reasons I moved from a Commodore 64 to Commodore 128D in the late 1980s was due to the detachable keyboard. Even though the keyboard was still a proprietary item, it would be cheaper to replace the keyboard than replacing the entire computer.
Standard PC keyboards these days are incredibly cheap and easy to replace. It’s a good thing, too, because things like hair, dead skin dust and other particulates can get between and under the keys and cause specific keys to stop functioning (requiring some severe cleaning). I won’t even go into what happens when you spill water or coffee on a key or two by accident.
With the old Commodore and Apple computers, companies started developing custom key covers that allowed you to use the keys while protecting them from contaminants. Again, it was much cheaper to replace the plastic key covers than it was to replace the proprietary keyboards. This is exactly the same problem that needs to be addressed for the new keyboard PCs or the companies making them are going to be in for the rude awakening of more than average warranty repairs.
The New Commodore Keyboard PCs
ASUS didn’t invent anything new with the ASUS EEE keyboard PC. I don’t believe a touch screen designed with a mobile browser is worthwhile considering this isn’t a mobile computer; it’s a desktop computer replacement.
Curiously, I checked Commodore USA and they have three new keyboard PCs in the offering, with each being a little different. The Commodore Phoenix looks promising as a 64-bit keyboard PC. I like the fact that you can add a removable HDD to the system.
Alas, I will never own a keyboard PC unless it comes with a key protector or you can buy them separately. This is why I use a desktop computer from day-to-day and only use a laptop computer (a netbook, actually) when I absolutely need to be mobile (unless my desktop PC craps out and I decide to use my laptop as a desktop computer).