The UMID carries an 18Wh 2-cell battery. To put it into perspective, its about 60% of the size of most netbook and UMPC batteries and about the same as the battery packs you’ll find on the OQO 02 and the Fujitsu U820. We have seen specifications on a 4-cell battery option but a spare 2-cell is really all you’re going to need.
Worst-case battery life (Wifi on, web working) is slightly under the 3.5-hour mark. Best-case with Wifi-on is about 4.5hours. Playing back a medium bitrate film under CPU will return around 4 hours. If you can configure the device to decode video in hardware, expect another 30 minutes on top of that. As mentioned before, we’re getting reports that the 1.1Ghz version is turning in even better results although there may be some penalty in terms of longer times for certain computing tasks.
Using the LaptopMag web-page loading test that starts a browser, loads a page, pauses for 10 seconds, closes the browser and continually repeats with a cycle of different websites, we were able to get 4hrs and 10 minutes. (Credit to LaptopMag for sending a copy of their test script.)
Where’s the mouse control? You’re looking at it! The touchscreen is the only way (apart from Windows accessibility options that allow you to use the cursor keys) to control the mouse. You can do this with finger or the built-in retractable stylus. Using the default settings on Windows XP on this 1024×600 screen is definitely going to result in some frustration but fear-not, there are two things that can help. The first has already been done for you in the touchscreen drivers. UMID have enabled cursor stabilisation and ‘constant touch’ which, while we have no idea if they are hardware or software changes (we suspect software) they work well to increase the hit-rate on icons and window controls. The second option is to run through a quick set of XP display optimisations. Increase the ‘DPI’ to ‘Large (120 DPI)’ in the advanced display settings and use the appearance tab under Display Properties. Under the ‘advanced’ button you can access a set of controls that let you increase Window buttons, fonts and scroll-bar widths. Spending time with this can really help the usability.
We also installed Fences to help partition the on-screen icons into groups. You may want to try this too.
The quality of the webcam is good for such a small device. Recording using Movie maker at a relatively high 1mbps bit-rate resulted in better-than-expected results. It also works with Skype although you will be hitting CPU limits that will keep the frame rate down. Streaming with Ustream again returned better than expected results. Not totally smooth but certainly acceptable for a quick broadcast.
- Firefox3, Chrome, Opera, Tweetdeck and Thwirl all tested perfectly.
- Skype V18.104.22.168 works well with built in mic and speaker. Normal quality video works at a slightly reduced frame-rate.
- YouTube – works well All normal quality YouTube videos tested well in windowed and full-screen mode. All HQ videos tested worked in windowed mode. Many worked perfectly in full-screen mode too. (Always-on battery mode) No HD YouTube support.
- Google Earth (4.2.0205) worked reasonably well in DirectX mode. Certainly not as smooth as on a desktop or laptop but usable.
- CoolIris plugin for Firefox worked with few stalls or hiccups. Good.
Firefox load times.
- Firefox application startup time: 3 seconds.
Page load examples (full script and flash support over Wifi.)
- UMPCPortal: 6-7 seconds
- Google News: 1-2 seconds
- CNN.com 6 seconds
- Facebook 3 seconds to login screen
- uk.yahoo.com: 2 seconds
- Techmeme: 4 seconds
- Gmail (full version): 7 seconds
- Google Reader (633 items): 4 seconds
Overall, page loading times were extremely fast.
We haven’t tested any games with the UMID Mbook.
Bluetooth quality was not extensively tested. The system uses BlueSoleil version 5.4.244 which, in our opinion based on a number of devices running the same stack, is a stable and easy to use stack.
We had no problems at all with Wifi configuration or reception. Reception appears to be slightly better than average. The Marvell sd8686 only supports B and G modes.
The TV module was not configured and only supports Korean protocols. A DVB-T option would be perfect for many people in Europe but unfortunately, it looks like the device will only be delivered with the Korean-standard DMB TV module.
The UMID was supplied with a basic pouch-style bag, the two dongles for USB and audio, a spare stylus, an English manual, a lanyard and a Windows XP Home CD. We didn’t get any pics of the packaging in our gallery but or friends over at Pocketables did in their very good unboxng photo-shoot. Be aware that some markets and resellers may receive different package contents.
So far we haven’t been made aware of any optional accessories.
Who’s the target customer?
This is clearly an advanced mobile device and with the keyboard, it’s speed of operation and ability to run a desktop operating system it’s going to appeal to a number of different types of people.
Microbloggers and Mobile Bloggers. Getting the best out of contact feeds and social networks is something the UMID excels at. The version we had did not include 3G but there is a version with 3G. Tethering via mobile phone is also an option. The keyboard is flexible enough to be used for quick emails and blogs via thumb or table-top pecking.
A home-bound quick-access internet device. Perfect for looking up TV schedules, transport timetables or booking tickets and searching online databases. You’ve got quick, full-web access in a stylish package.
Video playback. The 4.8” screen and long battery life provide an excellent PMP experience.
This is not a device for digital photographers due to the difficult-to-access SD and USB ports.
The form factor and lack of GPS would be an issue for those looking for a navigation device.
We’re impressed with the technology in the UMID Mbook, the processing power, the battery life, the screen and the fast SSD. We’re not impressed with the fiddly micro-SD slot, headphone and USB ports though and these, we’re sure, will be major issues for a lot of people. Build quality could also be better. Despite these issues, the UMID is a device that you keep going back to and keep wanting to take with you, even if you don’t have any ‘computing’ activities planned. It’s a very flexible, and fast, pocket companion. One might say, a pocket microblogging rocket!
Full specifications along with links to related articles in the UMID product page.
Pricing and availability
No pricing or availability at the time of writing. Guideline, entry-level prices are ranging from $500 to $700 and we’re hearing that imports will be available through resellers in May. We’ll update when we hear something definite.
Thanks to Mobilx for sending the UMID Mbook over. Their sales page is available here.
(*1) UMID are said to be looking at improving the build quality and it’s possible that final retail versions will have a better construction.