Archive | March, 2007

My Top 3 UMPCs.

Posted on 29 March 2007

Based on excitement factor alone, here are the three UMPCs that are at the top of my personal watchlist. For me, they all represent UMPCs 2nd generation.

Samsung Q1 Ultra – 1024×600, 300nits screen is Wonderful. Perfect for the 7″ screen size. Good design and potentially good performance from both the CPU and battery puts it right at the top. Keyboard is a bit of an unknown but potentially useful. Price also unknown. [spec sheet]

KIDC-US702. This is the convertible UMPC that we’ve seen running Vista. Design-wise it looks fantastic and has all the elements I desire on my UMPC. Including a real mouse pointer on the bezel! By the time it comes out, the Celeron will seem very dated. Fingers crossed for a McCaslin platform refresh. [spec sheet]

UMPC-X. Or rather, the HTC Shift! If I knew more about the platform, battery life and price of this device it would be my #1 UMPC desire. The physicals are superb and if HTC got the keyboard right, there’s going to be a lot of happy reviewers and journalists. [spec sheet]

Here’s my Top 3 in a tunable comparison window.

Bubbling under – Intel’s T-swivel UMPC. Great design for a consumer UMPC. McCaslin platform will be good. 4.8″ screen optimal for 800×480. No word on weather this really is a device that will be launched on April 18th. its likely though. [Device info.]

CeBIT. How was the Ultra Mobile Reporting kit?

Posted on 29 March 2007

In a word, superb. It was such a pleasure to be using all that modern technology could provide in a 4.5KG package. The Kohji performed perfectly, the S2 IS too and I didn’t charge anything all day. I was able to roam completely cableless.

Just to re-cap, I had a Canon S2 IS, A Kohjinsha SA1 and a 3G phone (see previous post with overview video.) Although I took an HSDPA modem I found that the advantages of Internet access over Bluetooth far outweighed the bandwidth drop so I used my 3G phone for Internet access. I also took along a tripod and some AA batteries for the camera. The idea was that I could take pictures, blog and even live-blog wherever and whenever I wanted and the whole thing worked well together as a one-man live blog and image capture kit. Read on…

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Another unknown UMPC platform.

Posted on 28 March 2007

Not only have we got to wait until April 18th to find out what’s in the Q1 Ultra UMPC but there are huge question marks now about what’s in the lovely looking HTC Shift. It runs Vista, it runs Aero Glass apparently, its rumored to have a VIA processor inside, HTC is a company closely connected with VIA and yet even VIA’s UMD bloggers don’t know what’s really driving it. Bjorn Stromberg says:

About the only thing I can say is that Engadget seems to be spreading this rumor and I have no idea where they got their information. HTC isn’t releasing any information about which CPU they’ve chosen and as such, VIA is unable to talk about it at this time.

VIA don’t even seem to have a Vista capable solution that runs without Aero Glass yet. None of the VIA-based UMPCs are shipping with Vista and there has been no public word about it since CES back in Jan.

If HTC are going to release this UMPC in six months with VIA inside there’s a lot of  work to be done. It could be a new C8-M processor, it could be a new CoreFusion part, it could be an enhanced VN896 chipset. We just don’t know. VIA. Some info please? Are you really working on something or should we all concentrate on the Intel announcements on April 18th.

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Intel publishes some details about Penryn and Nehalem.

Posted on 28 March 2007

Intel have just published some more details about their ‘tick-tock’ CPU roadmap but there’s nothing in there about Ultra Mobile  devices. Again, the information is confusing. Intel say they have 6 Penryn family processors and a total of 15 products in development. I assume that’s 6 ‘families’ each with more than one processor specification.  The number 6 tallies with previous reports but  Intel had said that the sixth 45nm processor would be for UMPCs. In the new press release there’s no word about Ultra mobile CPU’s or platforms.

“The new UltraMobile CPU is in addition to the first five,” he said. “The first UltraMobile devices we’ll see in the latter part of the year.”

I guess that the new UMPC processor is going to be part of ‘Penryn’ but is still to be finalised and written into the official roadmap. As there is no single core processor listed in the Penryn range, maybe its going to be a single core ULV version of the notebook ‘mobile’ processor. As before, the timescale is 2008. At least that tallies with the previous reports.

On April 18th we should start to get details about the 2007 platform codenamed McCaslin. Up until now, rumors and suggestions about the specification of the CPU and GPU vary wildly.

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New UMPC blog

Posted on 27 March 2007

It looks like VIA have another UMPC (VIA call them UMD’s) blogger out there. This time its an anonymous blog but has a slightly female and non-native English European feel to it. I’m guessing its Eliane Hoffman, a marketing dept. colleague of Bjorn Stromberg (UltraMobile Life)

The blog kicked off yesterday at the end of last year but was updated yesterday with a series of posts and an interesting promo video showing a branded Amtek T700. Its an old device but in the promo they mention the VX700 chipset. I thought the T700 had the VN800 so perhaps they’ve updated the motherboard? Maybe they’ve dropped the T770 mother board into it?

Its good to watch the insider blogs because you can read between the lines and get some nice tips about company strategy. Watch for info on that HTC UMD. Its got a VIA inside!

Ultra Mobile Devices blog.

Update: Another one to report today. Vikram Madan the development manager for incubating UMPCs at Microsoft has started a new blog.

Hi-Res HTC Shift image

Posted on 27 March 2007

Update: Specification page now available.

Hi-Res image of the HTC Shift is now available.

This proves that the image is of a real device. Why? Because you can see dirty finger marks on the mouse button!

Holy Shift HTC!

Posted on 26 March 2007

The HTC Shift news of today came much earlier than expected. I was really expecting the first information to come out of Computex in June. But who’s worrying! Accelerated UMPC development seems to be the name of the game at the moment.

Of course it looks great. The specs could be wonderful (1.2Ghz CPU, good graphics capability, lots of radio connectivity and a good looking, workable keyboard design) but there’s one very significant question here. If HTC are showing a UMPC to the world, does it  mean that they’ve already talked to their channel partners and agreed deals to sell this through carriers? Could this be the first UMPC to be available in the high street for a subsidised price? Could this bring UMPC into the mainstream?

On the technical side, one question I can’t resolve in my mind is, how did HTC get aero running on a VIA platform. Either VIA have developed a new chipset/gpu, or they’re using an Intel GMA950 (or better.) Intel would rather go against the grain a bit (seeing as HTC is practically a sister company to VIA) but if VIA don’t have the capability and Aero is seen as significant then they might have taken the decision to go Intel (and perhaps keep Intel happy during the legal troubles that still exist?) Take a close look at the screen shot. I know its only a graphic but there’s an Intel icon in there! If you look to the right of that, the pen-flicks icon is there (meaning HID drivers.) Too good to be a mock up?


Click to enlarge.

Pricing thoughts? Well its got to sit above the Advantage. That’s for sure. The technology inside is  a lot  more expensive than the Advantage  too. And the sales volumes will be less (I assume) so lets put 30% on the price of the Advantage. That  gives us about 1200 Euros. I think that if you’re prepared to put 50 euros a month into a data tariff, this little sweetie will be yours for 600 Euro. ($800)

I can’t find any specs on the size yet but it looks like its going to be one of the smallest 7″ screened UMPCs seen yet (apart from perhaps the KIDC-US700.) We can see stereo speakers, the fingerprint reader, thumb pad (I hope its better than the one on the Medion. I much prefer  the mouse pointer but there could be physical size reasons why they went for a thumb pad.)

And what about the similarity with our very own UMPC-X! Its uncanny. One assumes that HTC had 4 or 5 designs on the table a month ago. I wonder if our work influenced them to choose this one!

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HTC Shift UMPC

Posted on 26 March 2007

Update: We’re tracking the latest info on the HTC Shift datasheet.

I’m out of the office right now (actually in the perfume dept of a local store) but thanks to a UMPC I can relay the info about a new HTC Windows Vista device that is surfacing.

This is the HTC Shift, due for Q3 and running vista no less. There’s talk of Vista aero capability but its not 100% clear.

More info at jkOnTheRun

Update:

Haven’t we seen this design somewhere else?

Medion UMPC delivery times extended again.

Posted on 24 March 2007

Only a few days ago, Medion were reporting 3 weeks delivery time for the Medion UMPC. Its up to over 4 weeks now which takes it towards May and well past the Intel IDF conference where 4 more UMPCs will be announced. If just one of those UMPCs is a similar form factor and price, the Medion will have some tough competition. Is it just me or does anyone else think that UMPCs take longer than they should to get to market?

For more info on the Medion UMPC and nearly 50 more Ultra Mobile PC products, take a look at the product portal.

Mainstream UMPC coverage.

Posted on 23 March 2007

Something I wanted to do today was to summarise a number of stories that hit the mainstream press over the last few days. I don’t need to worry about writing anything now though because Warner (GottaBeMobile) and Joe (OnlyUMPC) have just done it for me.

Read this and this.

A lot of indicators are changing for UMPCs now. We’re seeing more understanding of how the device can fit into various scenarios, we’re seeing clues that manufacturers are getting results from their market research work and at last (and this is one of the biggest indicators for me) mainstream journalists have stopped using UMPCs as a whipping-boy and are starting to do real research and reporting on it. 

More hints about the Intel UMPC-specific CPU and McCaslin. Confusing.

Posted on 22 March 2007

CRN Australia have just posted a report about the Intel Solutions Summit in San Diego. Apparently, Intel said that the UMPC-dedicated CPU is currently under development using a 45nm process (‘Penryn’ architecture) and the first UMPC device to use it will be available later this year. It doesn’t quite tally with what Intel said last week in Hannover but its not far off.

At CeBIT, Intel announced that the UMPC processor would be ready for devices in 2008 and that it would enable, when coupled with technology from partners in the UMPC ecosystem, sub 4-watts UMPCs. No, not sub 4-watt CPU’s, Sub 4-watt UMPCs. About 1/3 of the power of todays UMPCs.

If you look at the 45nm roadmap, it starts with dual-core notebook processors so it makes sense to me that the UMPC version is simply (!) a single core version of those? This is what I think the 800mhz processor in the Samsung Q1 Ultra is too – Core 2 Solo – A part that has been previously announced at higher clockrates. (Celeron 523, Core 2 Solo U2100 and U2200) DailyTech reports this which I tend to agree with based simply on the current roadmap and gaps in the announced products list.

The Q1 [ultra] offers an 800MHz Core 2-based processor and Intel’s 965 chipset.

The 965 chipset, however, uses the X3000 GPU which is not what we saw/heard about the Q1 Ultra. I heard it was simply an Intel i945 (GMA950.) If you want even more confusing data, read this article at The Register where they say that ‘Steeley’ (originally planned for 2008) is a 65nm part and thus, not the UMPC-specific chip planned for 2008. They also think that the Samsung Q1 Ultra is either running on Tolapai or Core 2 Duo ULV. Tolapai info is here. I wonder if they’ve developed Tolapai into a ULV solution.

Its fun to try and work it all out but it really hurts my head!!! The only thing I can deduce is that Intel are accelerating the program to product Ultra Low Power platforms and VIA could lose one of their big advantages very quickly unless they get a C8-M out quickly.

One other snippet of info before I go and have a cup of tea. DailyTech reports that Samsung want to sell up to 300,000 units this year. That’s similar to what I thought I heard Samsung say in the press conference but I wasn’t 100% sure so I didn’t report it. (I’ll never make a real journalist!!)

Medion Germany ramping up for UMPC launch.

Posted on 22 March 2007

The countdown clock has started ticking again for Medion Germany. Delivery time is down to 3 weeks and there’s a new set of info pages on the website. I’ve also received some press photos.

 

UMPC03UMPC02UMPC01
Click to view larger sizes.

Lets hope the clock carries on ticking this time because if it goes beyond April 18th, Medion might find themselves fighting against 4 more consumer focused devices.

I was told by the German product managers that the US, UK, FR and NL launches will be in a similar time frame to the DE launch but I will try and confirm this in the next 24 hours.