At the Intel Developer Forum in September (yeah, I'm late), Intel Researchers demonstrated a working model of their personal server. What's a personal server? Essentially its an iPOD with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. OK, its a little more than that. It also has the smarts to let other devices hook up to it in meaningful ways. I've always viewed by Bluetooth-enabled T68i as a communications hub and wished I could marry it to an iPOD.
Note that this is different from a PDA. In some ways, its less, in some ways, its more. A personal server doesn't necessarily have a large, touch-sensitive screen or a PIM (personal information manager) installed on it. Bring it next to a PDA, though and all the data on it becomes available for use on the PDA. Walk into your office and the data on the PS becomes available there. More importantly, walk up to any terminal and your data is available. There are some security issues, to be sure, but its an interesting scenario.
Since I pretty much take my laptop with me where ever I go, I have a personal server right now--its just much larger than an iPOD. If I could assume that there'd be a display and keyboard wherever I went, I would need a laptop, just the data. The vision assumes a world where high speed access to the network is spotty and that's probably going to be true in most places for a long time.
This reminds me of an interview of Jim Gray (storage guru) I read recent. In the interview he talks about attaching processors to disks and creating smart disks. He's taken to shipping whole computers around to get that effect because its cheaper than sending the data (multiple terabytes) over the net and simpler than shipping IDE drives and having to install them when they show up.
This raises the question: what do you do with an iPOD that carries 20 terabytes instead of merely 20Gb? Certainly, you start carrying you movies around on it. What else?