Archive | July, 2007

i7209 video review.

Posted on 31 July 2007

About a year after its launch, Get Connected have published a review on the Tablet Kiosk i7209 UMPC. Actually I only know that it was published on YouTube yesterday. Its possible that this has been aired before but its worth watching though because they present it in quite an appealing way and even show the docking station which is a really great way to work with a UMPC as a low-end desktop solution. I had the i7210 until the charging system died on me and I remember using it like I’ve used no other UMPC since. The dual-screen extended desktop mode was more productive than my normal 2.5Ghz desktop PC and I miss it a lot. Not as a UMPC, but as a portable workstation.

I wish there were more UMPCs available with docks. At the moment, the only UMPC devices that have real docking stations (not USB extender docks or port replicators) are the i7209, i7210 and Sony UX range. [Edit: OQO Model 02 too!] The Everun is due to get a dock soon but its not quite powerful enough and doesn’t have a big enough screen to be used as well as the i7210 was. The Amtek U560 could be the first of the 2nd-gen UMPCs to have a docking station.

Anyway, as I was saying, Get Connected TV have a video of the i7209.!

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More input speed test results.

Posted on 31 July 2007

Update: 15 Oct. Added Jenn’s OQO Model 02 result.

Jenn of Pocketables write an excellent review of the (rather uninspiring) Flipstart last week and in it, she summarized the typing speed tests that she had done on previous devices and compared it to the Flipstart.

I thought it would be a good idea to combine that list with my tests and some other results picked up from around the UMPC community. The results range from the smallest thumboard to full size keyboards and gives a good idea how certain form factors and keyboards styles affect input efficiency. Its interesting that the iPhone is as fast as some of the mechanical keyboards on UMPCs and that the new keyboard on the Kohjinsha SA1F00V and SH6 is way faster than the previous versions of that keyboard.

The percentages listed are the percentage of full touch typing speed achieved by the tester. If anyone has any other speed test results, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list for future reference.

Brando Mini BT Keyboard [Ctitanic] 27%
DialKeys on Samsung Q1P [Jenn] 29%
i7210 onscreen keyboard (TIP) [Chippy] 30%
OQO Model 01+ [Jenn] 34%
Apple iPhone [Jenn] 35%
Kohjinsha SA1F00A (UMPC mode) [Jenn] 36%
Sony Vaio UX180P [Jenn] 37%
FlipStart, high-capacity (UMPC mode) [Jenn] 40%
FlipStart, both batteries (laptop mode) [Jenn] 41%
Medion/Gigabyte [Chippy] 42%
FlipStart, slimline (UMPC mode) [Jenn] 43%
Everun portrait mode [Chippy] 46%
Pepper Pad 3 [Chippy] 50%
Kohjinsha SA1F00A (laptop mode) [Jenn] 51%
Pepper Pad 3 [Jenn] 54%
OQO Model e2 [Chippy] 53%
OQO Model 02 [Jenn] 51%
Kohjisnha SA1F00A laptop mode [Chippy] 55%
Eleksen Fabric [Chippy] 60%
Kohjinsha SA1F00V [Spoonsworld] 85%
Kohjinsha SH6 [Chippy] 85%
Fujitsu P1610 [Ctitanic] 87%
Samsung Q1 organiser keyboard 100%

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HTC advantage X7501 – ‘faster performance’ than Q1

Posted on 30 July 2007

So says Mobile Tech review who seem to be rather impressed with the latest version of the HTC advantage, the X7501, with its VGA screen, 8GB drive and Windows Mobile 6 interface. After last weeks consumer UMPC depression and realization that the Nokia E90 gives a better consumer mobile experience than a Windows-based UMPC, they might actually be right. But don’t worry. I haven’t lost the plot just yet. I’m just opening my eyes as wide as I can to get a feel for how people perceive mobile devices. Performance has nothing to do with processor specs. If you can get to a browser within 2 seconds of picking up a device that’s been in standby for an hour then you’ve got rather a big head-start over a Windows XP or Vista based device haven’t you. And that’s why devices like the E90 and HTC Advantage seem fast. Instant-on and optimized user interfaces.

Mobile Tech will be producing a more detailed review in the next few days but in the meantime, take a look at their mini-review (and on our datasheet) and see if this device could fulfil the things you think (or thought) you need a UMPC for. How close is it? Would you rather pay $900 for a UMPC with Windows XP, Internet Explorer, good storage, no 3G connectivity, no GPS and no cam or $900 for a PPC with Windows Mobile 6, Opera, minimal storage, full HSDPA capability, a GPS and a 3MP cam? Its a really tough call if you ask me.

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Back to work. UMPC news updates.

Posted on 30 July 2007

Catching up! Catching up! I’m nearly through all my RSS feeds and starred items (which are tending to lose priority as they build up) and am nearly back up to ramming speed on UMPC reporting. I was actually quite surprised how little news there was over the last few weeks though. Is everyone on holiday? Here are my highlights from the last two weeks.

First-up, I want to highlight a couple of great posts from Thoughtfix. He’s really putting a huge amount of effort into his Nokia Tablet and UMPC blogs and I’m really enjoying his videos. The first item I want to highlight is the latest ‘coffee with thoughtfix’ [Did you just put ice in your coffee Dan?] which highlights the need for instant-on and long-term standby. One of the things on my testing list is a comparison of standby drain of the various platforms. Let me do a quick 1 hour test with the Everun right now. As I put it into standby it has 27% battery life left. [1 hour passes…] Taking it out of standby (which takes 10 seconds for startup and WiFi connection) 1 hour later shows…Wow! 27%. Actually that’s quite amazing. I’ll do some more testing with that. 3-hours test starting with 26% battery capacity…NOW! I wonder if the Everun could last 100 hours on standby…[Update: It dropped 2% in three hours. Amazing. 100 hours standby looks possible.]

I’d be happy if I could keep my device in standby all day and be able to startup in 4 seconds. Sub 1-second would be nicer of course and even better would be an active standby mode like on the N800 where the device is still running and available for instant use. The VIA-based solutions are getting very close though. On the Q1b HSDPA here, I can optimize the setup (max batt life settings, all radios off, sound off, backlight off, hdd in standby, close all unnecessary programs) and it will run for a total of around 12 hours on the extended battery. If I turn HSDPA on, sound on, connect to the Internet and run Trillian with 5 concurrent IM protocols, I still get 9.5 hours. [Figures from Notebook Hardware Control] With these figures you could argue that the all-day UMPC is already here but unfortunately, these figures can’t be achieved across the board with all devices. What Samsung did with the VIA platform was quite special and others need to follow that example. Listen to Thoughtfix and watch VIA and Samsung!

The second Thoughtfix item was the Geocacheing report. That looked like fun despite Thoughtfix not finding the cache. I have to put a word in for Windows at this point though. For navigation, mapping and GPS solutions, there is no better platform than Windows. Good turn-by-turn road navigation solutions are think in the ground but when you want to get into detail, Windows is the way to go. I sometimes use a Garmin mapping solution with topographical maps. They go down to amazing levels of 3D detail. Add Google Maps and satellite imagery over the top (take a look at the Touratech QV mapping solution. Its amazing.) and add a dash of live local search and you’ve got no more excuses! You can even track and blog with live Google maps mashups on the way!

Frank was busy blogging as usual. Alphagrip looks cool although I just couldn’t face having to learn it! He also highlighted a cool bit of work that NeoTechni is doing and talking about on the Origamiproject forums. NeoTechni has put together an Origami Experience clone for XP-based devices. I’ve been running it on my Everun and its a damn good effort. I’m not sure how long it will be until MS send him a polite email asking him to stop copying but it doesn’t really matter because he’s proved that it doesn’t take much effort to do a good skinning and front-end GUI project. Skinning and front-ends is something that I’ve been looking closely at since the shock of the negative public response to the Everun in Helsinki. I’ve also been looking at RoadRunner too. It goes a lot further than Origami Experience and includes hooks into GPS programs and other goodies. It even includes gesture support. I’m seriously wondering if Ubuntu Mobile is going to go far enough in its first release. It needs to be really really good to pull people away from Windows solutions although the license cost saving will certainly help the lower-end devices.

My starred item from Ctitanic though was the snippet of info about VIA’s new core – Isaiah. I actually wanted to highlight that I don’t think its really UMPC-relevant. Despite the reported higher processing capability, its going to need more power and that’s an absolute no-no for UMPCs. I don’t think we’ll see this core entering VIA’s UMPC/UMD strategy. It sounds like a notebook solution to me. Do we actually need more power in UMPCs at the moment? I’d like to see manufacturers focus on battery life, form factor and marketing before they start to add more processing power. My thin-client mobile life won’t really benefit from any more processing power but if the battery life took a hit, it would be a big step backwards for me.

Over at JKOntheRun, Kevin is looking to power all his mobile devices with a bit of good old fashioned human-power. Respect to you Kevin. As you say, its not going to make a dent in your overall daily life power usage but you’re showing people the right way forward and how energy efficient these devices already are. If you can store up that power, you can make it mobile too! I just wish I was getting more summer here so that I could power the Solar UMPC blog completely from the sun. It been a terrible summer so far. Maybe I should look into the human powered solution. God knows I could do with a bit more movement and exercise in my life!

Richard Brown, a marketing senior for VIA highlighted an interview that Hexus did with him at Computex. Its a good one and shows that tiny tiny tiny Mobile-ITX board that VIA are planning to release before Christmas. He also asks “what is the perception of VIA in the market place?” and is asking for feedback. If you ask me it depends what market you receive VIA in. I only see them from a UMPC point of view and so to me they are a leading innovator of efficient and mobile computing platforms. To others, they’re probably the best developer of small motherboard solutions in the world. How do you see VIA? Let Richard know and you might win a prize.

Craig Pringle was forced into using the Samsung Q1P for work duties after his LS800 went haywire a few weeks ago. He writes up a report of where it doesn’t work and where it does work. His number one problem is the inking experience. Yes, the Q1 range is completely geared towards finger touch which means that handwriting is going to be a problem. You’ll have to get the R2H for a better handwriting solution Craig. I want to highlight the ‘no docking station’ fault too. I miss my i7210 and its docking station and the Q1P is pain to plug in and disconnect every time you want to use it with a big screen and keyboard.

There are a couple of forum threads worth highlighting and the first I want to mention is the amazingly detailed and well though-out responses to my article about the consumer UMPC test in Helsinki. To date there are 49 really really good comments and when I get a chance, I’ll be taking this thread and going through it as a report in itself. Thanks to all the site members who input into it.

The second thread I want to highlight is a good one on Origamiproject forums about the Fujitsu U1010. On page 2 of the thread you’ll find an owner report about the U1010. The Fujitsu U1010, Kohjinsha SH6, HTC Shift and VIA Nanobook are going to be at the center of a new type of UMPC, the productivity UMPC. These devices will have 7″ screens and real mechanical keyboards. My feeling is that the U1010 is actually too small. Its not going to fit in a pocket so why bother making it so cramped. The 7″ screen works best with 1024×600 and is a great way to get productive mobile computing in a sub-1KG package. One of these devices is going to end up as my mobile productivity tool and I will combine it with the Everun UMPC as my ultra mobile handheld and car computing solution. At the moment I’m testing out the Kohjinsha SH6 but the battery life is causing me problems. The Fujitsu U1010 is too small so unless Kohjinsha sort out the battery life problem, I’ll have to wait for the HTC Shift and the VIA Nanobook / Packard Bell Easynote XS. This mobile productivity solution is going to have to be good to beat the Q1b HSDPA and organizer pack I have though.

So that just about brings me up to date with RSS feeds now. Summer holidays are coming to an end here in Europe and in the next 4 weeks I think we can expect to see the start of the Christmas ramp up. Marketing teams will be leaking info and looking to get sales commitments from their resellers so expect to see some market movement. The iPhone is coming to Europe and I’ll be waiting in line, there’s another Intel Developer Forum coming up and hopefully I’ll be getting a sunny week to do that Solar UMPC tour.

Finally, a big thanks to JKK of JKKMobile who was an excellent host in Helsinki. I’ll never drink Salmiakki Vodka again but it was fun trying it!

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VyePC brands Kohjinsha SH6 for UK market

Posted on 29 July 2007

The MyKohjinsha blog is reporting that the Kohjinsha SH6 is going to be branded by VYEPC in the UK. The Vye mini-S37 looks to have exactly the same specifications as the SH6KP10A which has the 1GB RAM and 100GB drive option. The first reseller of the deice will be UK UMPC specialists, PocketPC Solutions and the price is £799.99 inclusive of UK taxes. PocketPC Solutions can also deliver into Europe.

I’ve just posted a mini review and video of the SH6 which will give you a good introduction and overview of this ultra small notebook.

 

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Kohjinsha SH6. introduction video and mini-review

Posted on 28 July 2007

I’m still pretty annoyed at the battery life issue but its time to put my personal feelings to one side now and do some straight reporting on the full Kohjinsha SH6 experience. I’ve only had it for three days but I’ve spent enough time with it to have an opinion on most aspects of it by now.

Kohjinsha SH6. I’m feeling let down.

Posted on 28 July 2007

I’m going to make a video intro to the Kohjinsha SH6 later today but before I do, let me get something off my chest.

At the top of the list of my first impressions of the SH6 (that I bought with my own money because I felt confident about the McCaslin platform) is, unfortunately, a very negative comment. Its something that is annoying the hell out of me and makes me wonder if Intel have enough control on their UMPC ecosystem partners because this issue should never have happened. The problem is battery life. This is a device using second-gen UMPC-focused Intel silicon and the new low-power Samsung 1024×600 LED-backlit screen and a device that follows in the footsteps of its 4-hour AMD-based older brother, the SA1. Its a device that you expect to have at least 3 hour battery life and yet, even with its 3-cell battery, its only a 2-hour device. What’s going on? Building a PC based on a 600Mhz power-optimized CPU means you’re at least considering battery life but to end up with a device that has a battery life that’s no better than the first UMPCs of 2006 is very poor indeed and to be honest, does not satisfy my minimum requirement for a useable UMPC. Since finding out about the battery life i’ve been checking and testing everything I can and i’ve even thought that I might have a faulty device but if that’s the case then all the other owners i’ve checked it out with have faulty devices too.

I should try to counter this negative point with a run-down of some of the positive features of the SH6 but I’m not going to. I feel so let down. Fan noise and heat are compounding the problem and Vista is annoying me with its slow startup times, huge unnecessary bloat and need for optimization. For some, the battery life issue might not be a major issue but as someone that knows what should be possible in 2007 I can not ignore that fact that this device appears to be badly engineered. No wonder Kohjinsha are going to offer 6-cell battery for it.

More about the SH6 later when I’ve calmed down. Maybe if I play with the fantastic keyboard and awesome screen some more, it will cheer me up a little!

Update: My mini-review and video intro has now been posted.

Chippy and JKK’s Helsinki videocast.

Posted on 26 July 2007

As you might have read on the portal, I took a holiday in Helsinki, Finland last week and co-incidentally it happens to be the home town of JKK a UMPC designer and blogger that I first met up with at CeBIT this year. It wouldn’t have been right if we hadn’t done a videocast and the result was an epic 100-minute discussion about the UMPC devices of 2006, the state of the market and some talk about future possibilities. We’re both very pleased with the resulting video.

Highlights include a mini review of 10 UMPC devices including a pre-origami UMPC from 2003 that not many people will have seen before, my statement that the best consumer focused UMPC is actually a smartphone and a large amount of praise for the Amtek T770 slate-style UMPC. We talk about how we hold UMPC devices, optimal screen sizes and resolutions and have some very passionate talk about user interfaces. Finally we talk about what Menlow and Mobile-ITX could bring. In the video you’ll see the Q1b, Q1P, N800, T700, T770, Coxion Webbook, Everun, R2H and Mobits VX-3.

The video is a single-take effort with pausing only to change memory cards and check battery life on the camera. Its raw but good! The YouTube version is shown below and there’s a 90MB downloadable WMV version available here.


Its long but worth-it. Even if we do say so ourselves :-)

 

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Back to work the easy way.

Posted on 26 July 2007

You know that feeling don’t you. The feeling you have when you get back from holiday and you know that within 18 hours you’ll be working. Well how about getting woken up at 10am by DHL who want to deliver a brand new UMPC! The timing could not have been better and here I am, as happy as a pig in poo, typing away on my new Kohjinsha SH6. The sun is shining. My neighbor is baking pizza for our families and I feel like singing. Its good to be back at work.

IMG_4348 IMG_4349

What do you want to know about the SH6? Everything I guess and I’ll be working at full steam over the next weeks to bring you all you need to know about it. I can tell you already that the screen is fantastic, the keyboard has none of the problems of the keyboard on the SA1 and even Vista basic seems to be working well out of the box.  More about the SH6 later though because I’m just finishing off a post about a great videocast that myself and JKK made in Helsinki last week. Its coming up in the next post…

Everun. Helsinki public opinion.

Posted on 22 July 2007


Wish you were here!

I took the Everun out yesterday for a full day and night tour. Apart from the day being a lot of fun, it was a big UMPC learning experience for me because as we went around Helsinki and stopped of in bars (including one completely ice-clad and kept at -18 degrees C) we took the opportunity to ask the general public what they thought of the Everun. I want to write about the experience in a lot of detail when I get back here are a few key points learned from people we gave the Everun too.

– Mini keyboards are useless for Women with nails. That’s covers most Women and its going to be a big challenge to consumer Internet devices.

– The Everun is heavy. That’s what people said. But when we probed a bit further its actually because the Everun is heavier than you expect for its size. It doesn’t matter that its a quarter of the weight of a notebook PC because if the customer picks it up and its heavier than expected, its heavy!

– The XP user interface is totally totally useless for a consumer Internet device. Not one person was happy to use XP. We need to learn from this. Simple interfaces are absolutely critical to the success of a device. If I had been able to demonstrate RedFlag Midinux or even Origami experience, the device would have been much more interesting to the end user.

– You need always-on Internet. Wifi isn’t good enough. People want instant Internet access.

– The most wanted application was email

– Media didn’t interest the people we interviewed.

– Women don’t think the Everun is particularly pretty.

– The Everun constantly gets compared to mobile phone. Its a terrible consumer mobile phone which makes the Everun hard to promote after this first impression.

I’ll have more time to discuss this later in the week but right now I need some time to think!

 

 

 

E90 testing in the flagship store

Posted on 20 July 2007

What was the first shop I stepped into in Helsinki today? Nokia of course! I needed to get hands on with the E90. Its a fine piece of hardware.

The screen is lovely and browsing is better than on any smartphone I’ve ever tried (I’ve never tried the iPhone.) It’s not the FIE but its going to be close enough for a lot of people. The rest of the package is high quality and very complete. I like the keyboard too.

I’m pondering over buying one for further testing. Stay tuned.

Off to Finland for holiday and a UMPC meet-up

Posted on 18 July 2007

The first time I ever met anyone from Finland, this was the result. OK, we were half-way through a day of Oktoberfest beer madness but its still a fond first impression of Finnish culture and I can still remember it vividly! ‘Kippis! Kippis!’ still rings in my head. The second set of Finnish people I met was in March this year when jkk of jkkmobile met up with me at CeBIT and we didn’t stop talking UMPCs for about 4 days. Funnily enough there was also a large amount of beer involved.

So its with some worry that I take my wife on a holiday to Helsinki tomorrow ;-)

I’ll be packing the rucksack full will all sorts of unnecessary mobile and UMPC equipment and hoping that the wife doesn’t notice. Jkk will be doing the same and coming over to the hotel for a UMPC chit-chat and you never know, we might even post a few videos of the put-it-on-the-room-bill madness. Apologies in advance and all that!! As far as the portal goes I will still be posting but it will be in holiday mode only. All rambling will be kept to a minimum. I’ll still be checking emails and dealing with back-office business too. In between all that I will be trying my best to focus on a relaxing holiday with my wife, taking saunas on the hotel roof, eating lovely food, exploring islands and ignoring the free WiFi, 7.2mbps HSDPA and the Nokia flagship store containing a number of E90’s!

When I come back there should be a Kohjinsha SH6 waiting for me and I’ll be diving straight into that as soon as my smalls are washed. I’ve heard some good reports already so I’m pretty excited about it. I’m planning for it to fit in as my productivity UMPC with the Everun taking over consumer duties when I’m not supposed to be working.

Have fun while I’m away!