One of the things I like to do, even when I’m not actually thinking of buying a new computer, is keep track of what’s out there and what I would buy if I needed a new one. Ever since I bought my Shuttle SV24 I’ve had a particular interest in small-form-factor and quiet PCs, so I’ve been watching developments in this space quite closely. The manufacturers in this space often don’t sell directly to consumers, and sometimes they do a poor job of identifying who does, so I head over to Google to find vendors and check prices. After all, the coolest component or system in the world becomes less interesting if it’s drastically overpriced.

Lately I’ve been noticing that a lot of the newest stuff, especially in the SFF/Quiet PC space, is available elsewhere before it’s available in the US. Often the stores are in Asia, close to the manufacturers, but a surprising number seem to be in the UK. For example, mini-itx.com quotes prices in British pounds. I’ve noticed that new celphone and PDA models are almost invariably available in Japan before the US, often in other Asian and European countries too. Is the US no longer the market of choice for introducing innovative high-tech products? Is the rest of the world starting to view us as technological conservatives, unwilling to try something new? That prospect worries me.