At the Intel Developer Forum last week, a lot of the buzz on the demo floor was around new Atom hardware. There were the requisite netbooks and EeeClones floating around, but it seemed like peculiar little quasi-computers, or palmtop Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) stole the show. Sure, it's impressive to see a full, net-connected Vista or Ubuntu desktop running on something the size of a Sega Game Gear, but who exactly is supposed to use these? I played with as many of them as I could (see which ones in the gallery below), and they are impressive, as least as feats of engineering. But as usable consumer devices? Not so much. None of the manufacturers have figured out exactly how we are supposed to interact with these machines, implementing half-baked touch controls, keyboards that suit neither your thumbs nor multiple fingers, and hardware that is too small to use for a long period of time but too bulky to fit in your pocket. Oh yeah, and projected prices range from $500 to well in excess of $1000. That said, I've got a different needs than a lot of users, and I'm exceptionally curmudgeonly for my age, so I'll pass it it you.
Another thing I was thinking with regards to these devices and small netbooks in general- we reduce the keyboard size to make them smaller then lumber them with QWERTY keyboards- that in themselves aren't the most efficient for typing at speed ( originally designed to slow down touch typists on typewriters to stop the keys from jamming) but because the QWERTY keyboard is the de-facto standard nobody is brave enough to introduce a layout more suited to these devices. And consumers themselves are reluctant to learn something new.
Mobile phones, due to their size, had to look at alternative methods and T9 has shown that alternative input methods can work. I think that this is an area the manufacturers should seriously investigate.