UMPCPortal Product Awards 2009

Posted on 10 December 2009 by

bestof2009 2009 was, again,  a tough year for designing, building and selling UMPCs. Windows Vista continued to drag down performance and the economic situation meant that many UMPCs didn’t reach the market. Despite that, the advances we’ve seen in 2009 have been some of the best ever. Performance was boosted with the availability of high-speed SSD drives. Battery life was improved through the use of the Intel Menlow platform and market pressure meant that the price/performance ratio took a huge step forward. In one of our videos this year I talked about ‘double the battery life, for half the price.’ That’s how far we’ve come since 2006 but into that equation go more features like GPS, 3G, haptic feedback, better designs, silent operation and lighter weight. Only last week, Fujitsu launched the UH900 which makes it, if our database serves us correctly, the first 5.6” ultra mobile PC to break the 500gm barrier. Amazing.

In this article we would like to highlight four products that we think deserve ‘Best of 2009’ status.

Best ultra mobile PC of 2009.

Viliv X70 EX, SSD.

We’ve chosen the Viliv X70 EX SSD because of it’s focus on quality and it’s flexible form factor. Battery life, build quality and disk speed help to make this a solid and reliable device and a good part of an ultra mobile setup that can go from sofa to car to desktop. The SSD helps to make the X70 EX rugged too which is very important. 3G, Car mount, quality casing solution and even voice capability are options if you want them.


Viliv have proven that many of the most important elements for quality ultra-mobile computing can be put into a device at a very reasonable price. A huge step forward.

We also considered.

  • Viliv S7. Another very solid and reliable device with amazing battery life. The S7 is focused on ultra-portability though and is best used on a table-top.
  • Fujitsu U820/U2010/Loox U. A device from 2008 that is still able to offer excellent all-round ultra mobile PC qualities.

Best Mobile Accessory of 2009

This was an easy one. First tipped as accessory of the year in March, it proved itself during the rest of the year. The Novatel Mifi 2352 (GSM/UMTS) version is simple, reliable and performs very well as a bridge between a single 3G data connection and a WifI hotspot that up to 5 devices can ride on. With a built-in web server and router firmware it’s exciting to imagine how this access box could turn into a content delivery platform. We predict many variants and versions of this popping up in 2010.

We also considered:

  • Nothing else came close.

Stay tuned here and at for details about how you can WIN A MIFI 2352 over the next week.

Best Mobile Software of 2009

2009 was the year that the mobile application market took off in a very very big way. There are thousands of mobile applications to choose from but the one application that continues to help mobile computing users more than any other is Mozilla Firefox. Version 3.5 saw a much faster javascript engine being introduced and it’s plugin ability allows mobile and small-screen users to tailor their web experience in ways that bring huge productivity and efficiency advantages. Notable plug-ins include the ever-useful Grab and Drag, No Script and of course, Mozillas own Weave plugin which is a bookmark, password and tab syncing software that can save a lot of time and keypresses.


We also considered.

  • Google Chrome for it’s CPU and javascript efficiency.
  • Tweetdeck
  • Amazon Kindle for PC
  • PDF Annotator
  • Favorite applications from the Wakoopa ultra mobile PC team

2009 ‘Showcase’ award.


We simply have to give an award to the Archos 5 Internet Tablet. This isn’t a UMPC, isn’t a 3G-capable mobile internet device and is still in need of a lot of firmware work but the technology, operating system and price are a huge step forward for ARM-based devices. The web experience is good (although far from perfect) and the battery life puts all UMPCs to shame. As for sizing, we’ve never seen so much internet-connected capability is such a small device. The Archos 5 Internet Tablet shows us what could be possible in 2010. Full review here.

Biggest Disappointment of 2009

While deciding this award, the team discussed the Crunchpad/JooJoo. We also wanted to list the ASUS R50A too but the first hasn’t been launched yet and the latter was a 2008 device.

In the end we settled on the Always Innovating Touchbook as the biggest disappointment of 2009.

We first reported about it in May and were excited to see what Linux and an ARM cortex processing engine could bring to the sector. The design, a modular slate/netbook design was interesting too. We were so excited, we ordered one. Fortunately for us we weren’t part of the early set of customers and after we read the early reports, we withdrew our order. Users reported stability issues in the software and even stability issues in the device itself; it had a tendency to tip. Battery life was unimpressive, the firmware poor and all-in-all, it looked like customers were being asked to pay to join a beta-testing program. The story hasn’t changed much since then. Always Innovating have released a ‘fix’ for the early balance problems; “a small plastic part that customers can glue at the back of the keyboard part” and there have been a number of firmware updates but core hardware updates need to be done before this is a real product that can serve duty in the ‘pro-mobile’ sector.

It highlights a very important point because the Archos 5 and Always Innovating Touchbook are based on similar hardware and software platforms. Specifications are only half the story.

Top Articles of the year.

Here are the most popular articles of the year. Thanks to Ben for two articles that went viral and crashed the server!

Top searches of the year. (from search engines)

  • Viliv S5
  • Viliv S7
  • Asus T101H
  • UMID M1
  • vgn-p limited edition

Also see the keyword analysis article here.

Predictions for 2010

We’ll be posting a ultra mobile PC predictions article very shortly so stay with us.

Categorized | News

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  • James Pond

    Nice article, thanks.

  • Paul Park

    Nice article. Yes, I like my X70EX as well.
    I am expecting that Adroid device and MID will be booming in 2010.

    How about outlook article in 2010? :) Thanks in advance.

  • HoboJ

    Nice article. I certainly agree that the touchbook is very disappointing. I was expecting something a lot better.

  • fixup

    I agree the x70 is one of the best seen in years. I wish Viliv adds a keyboard to it in 2010. Yes I know the S70; it is a crap – too large compared to x70. BTW, the size in your product database for S70 is wrong, much smaller than its actual size.

  • borax99 (Alain C.)

    The X70 looks very nice but, for my money (literally, I bought one!), the finest UMPC of 2009 was the Viliv S5. Build quality, flawless performance, it just reeks of excellence.

  • scoobie

    How is a slate a “flexible form factor?”
    Surprised the umid M1 isn’t mentioned – I’d have given it UMPC of the decade.

  • alslayer

    After taking a 2nd look the Always Innovating Touchbook doesn’t look half bad. I have been looking at getting a Smart Q7 but the touchbook actually looks better. The main complaint seems to be the keyboard not being balanced but I am more interested in the tablet. Of course the Smart Q7 also has beta software.

  • ninetynine

    I agree on the touchbook. Linux distro, slate+keyboard, and promised battery life were all pretty awesome. But now their own forums only talk about poor build quality and alpha level software. For a $500 netbook you would expect better.

  • squirrel

    What about Always Innovating Touchbook, I’m disappointed in the weight – 3 lb is too much. When it was announced, they spoke about only 2 lb.

  • denix

    Comparing Archos 5IT to AI Touchbook is like comparing apples and oranges.

    * TI OMAP3 ARM Cortex-A8 CPU
    * Linux kernel

    * Archos uses Android OS, made by Google, AI uses Angstrom/OpenEmbedded, made by the community
    * Archos hardware is made by a large experienced CE company (Archos), AI is made by a 1-person startup

    So, the biggest difference is that software and hardware for Archos 5IT are made by large corporations (Archos and Google), while software for AI is made by the community of enthusiasts and the project is executed by a single guy, who ordered component production from somewhere presumably in China…

    But AI Touchbook is still a testament for what the community can achieve when working together. Another example of such development is Pandora mobile gaming console.

  • poster

    Wow, you seem to like shoehorning the Archos 5 Internet Tablet in most of your articles…

  • UMPC Portal Product Awards 2009:

  • netbean

    i like BENQ S6, and viliv s5, BENQ S6 is lighter.

  • alslayer

    Yea I think the Archos 5 is Chippy’s favorite device. It matches his dream device he wrote about a while ago. Also in one of the live sessions he said he loved the device.

  • xemone

    I know this might be the wrong place to post this but am I the only one who sees an iPod/iPod touch/Safari themed I tried it on firefox, opera and chrome and it’s all the same. It’s just on the main page though, the other umpcportal pages I visited are all fine.

  • xemone

    back to normal!

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