Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Eee PC T91 Touschreen GUI - Hands on

Looking excellent. I had always assumed it was on a Linux build but its on XP. I'd like a bit of that on a few UMPCs please!

Video is from http://www.netbooknews.de/1904/video-eee-pc-t91-touchscreen-interfacegui/

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Intel Featuring MIDs at Mobile World Congress

A couple of new devices on this video. UMID and Lluon (incorrectly identified as the Digifriends MID in the video!) are devices we are definately looking forward to getting some reports on.
If anyone reading this is down in Barcelona next week and gets the chance to get hands-on with these two devices, please please take some pics and videos for us!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

15 Manufacturers will use Snapdragon to make 'Ultra Mobile PC's' in 2008.

Another Snapdragon-related report from Stacey at GigaOM who quotes Qualcomm as saying they have 15 device manufacturers lined up for Snapdragon-based devices that should be available in 2008.

That's a lot. But not if Qualcomms or Stacey's definition of a UMPC is different from mine. If we re-name the devices, mobile Internet smartphones and consider the prototypes shown at CES then I can believe it because in the smartphone world, every manufacturer has to play the Internet game in the top quartile of their product ranges. Anything less than a Cortex-based device is risking being under-powered for the heavyweight world of 'real' Internet.

I'm excited that the ARM-based devices are moving into the mobile Internet market. It means competition and learning. Take the best of everything in 2008/9 and 2010 is going to bring some absolute gems based on Cortex 9, Mobile-ITX and Moorestown.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

MIDs will raise the bar for high-end PMPs

Worth highlighting  from the PMP perspective is the news that  Intel Atom along with the Poulsbo will enable a full HD playback experience. While reviewers have yet to see this in action, Intel are talking about 1080p playback performance [PDF] and have also announced that Real Networks will produce an optimised (chipset and finger friendly) player and codec-set for the platform. [News]

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I'm an Archos 605Wifi owner and it handles most content well but I certainly cant feed high bitrate or high resolution H.264 into it. As for the Internet aspect, it's what I'd call 'entry-level.'

Add the following features to the video playback capabilities and I think you'll have something that raises the bar for high-end PMP's so high that Archos and Cowon will have to introduce new models based on new hardware platforms  in order to benefit from this growing portable Internet and media player (PIMP?) market. My prediction is that we'll see Archos release an Intel-based MID within the next year. Anyway, here's the list of features that needs to be considered.

  • Unified codec pack
  • Open software stack
  • 3G modem
  • Cameras
  • 5", 800x480 screen
  • Keyboard
  • Firefox 3 browser
  • GPS
  • Navigation capabilities
  • DX9 and Open-GL performance (enabling gaming and compelling UI's)
  • Full IM, email and productivity software suite
  • Big developer network
  • Massive PR and marketing weight.

Take the Gigabyte M528 for example. When (not if) I buy one I'm going to be getting a device that is essentially a Nokia N810 and Archos 605 Wifi on steroids. Both of those devices have value on their own but if you add the two together and throw in a 3G modem, you get far more than the sum of the parts. It moves the PMP into the realms of social media networking, one of the fastest growing segments in the Internet today. Yes, the price will be high on day one but the features, as far as I'm concerned are worth shelling out some beans for. HD playback, 3mbp auto focus camera, GPS, 3 hours battery life, 3G, keyboard, hi-res touchscreen and a Firefox 3 browser. Oh come on, this is just portable gadget heaven isn't it?

If you're a PMP fan, maybe an Archos or Cowon owner, I'd love to hear your opinion. What aspects of the current PMPs will MIDs have a problem with. Community? Price? Battery life? UI?

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Qualcomm interview (GigaOm)

In a week where we've been bombarded by news (or Pyrotechnics as Richard Brown of VIA, calls it) from the Intel IDF, it's important to remember the other side of the fence. Over in smartphone, pmp and pocketPC land, things are happening just as quickly. The PR machine isn't as big but the products could be just as capable.

GigaOm interviewed Qualcomm’s Dr. Sanjay Jha , COO and president of its CDMA technologies division last week and put a few interesting Ultra Mobile related questions his way.

Stacey Higginbbotham asked the following:

When will these [snapdragon-based] devices come out, and how does this compete with Intel’s Atom processors for ultra-mobile PCs?

Sanjay replies: Devices using Snapdragon will come out in the second half of this year, before or after Christmas. And I wouldn’t say we’re competing with Intel because we want to focus on a pocket-sized device that you can carry with you. Intel’s specifications for Atom are focused on a device with a 7-inch to 9-inch display.

I think Sanjay needs to do a little bit more research. 20 manufacturers are licensed (as ARM might say!) to produce MIDs and all should produce devices before Christmas. Nearly all of the devices will fall smack-bang into the pocket-sized market so Qualcomm, you DO have competition.

ARM-based MIDS will come and i'm sure we'll see them with longer battery life and smaller designs than with Atom but will they be powerful enough to handle the a full browser and all the media that a user can throw at them?

GigaOm interview.

Via ElectronRun

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Nokia working on ext. screen and keyboard support

Nokia is working on software support for external screens and keyboards under a project called 'NoBounds.' Its not surprising, but it's very significant and could open up mobile phones to be used with third party screens and keyboards for a more desktop-like experience. It could also open the doors for a whole new range of accessories. A bit like the hi-quality design I drew up last year!

More interesting than my design is the video and information that Internet Tablet Talk got hold of.

nokiascreen  Internet Tablet Talk: The NoBounds Project

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WiMax-enabled Nokia Tablet news

According to a Boy-Genius four-liner, there's a rumor that the Nokia N810 will launch with WiMax soon. I don't see many people jumping up and down with joy though. A clutch of users in Baltimore perhaps but even these people are still wondering how much it's going to cost.

WiMax on the N810 is at most, a demonstrator for the Xohm ecosystem so I personally think it's one we can ignore as end users. If Nokia wanted to make a peoples product they would drop a 2.5G modem inside and partner with someone to make a $20 per month contact but I doubt that would be on the cards for this generation of the device. Nokia have a lot to do to bring the UI and software standards up to consumer levels so it wouldn't make sense to push the tablet into the mainstream just yet. It would just end up with a bunch of unhappy customers expecting an iPhone-esque experience.

Its good to see WiMax gaining momentum. God knows America needs something that will allow them to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of mobile connectivity. It has been really interesting to hear the negative stateside response to Ericsson's comment about hotspots dying and it highlights how far behind the infrastructure is in comparison with Europe and a lot of Asian cities. In Germany, T-Mobile have just announced a pay-as-you go 7.2mbps 3.5G deal which undercuts their own hotspot product. As they are the biggest hotspot provider in Germany, it gives us some idea of where the carriers think this is going! Go WiMax!

N810 with WiMax launching April 1st.[Rumor]

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Nokia Maps 2.0. Personal is best.

image I have three navigation programs that I use on my PC and UMPCs. PC Navigator, Sygic and Autoroute. All three of them have now been made totally redundant by Nokia Maps 2.0 on my N82 smartphone. Its doesn't quite have the screen information that you'd get by using a UMPC but the fact that it is always with me, net-connected and personal makes it far far more useful. I doubt I will ever go back to a dedicated or PC-based navigation system now.

There are two other features that make it more interesting too. 1) Its small enough to be used for pedestrian navigation. 2) The potential for it to be further enhanced into a social, tracking, weather, traffic and local information tool is incredible.

Nokia have a killer smartphone feature on their hands here and anyone developing for PC or dedicated navigation platforms might want to think twice about continuing.

mapsn82

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The Mobile Internet Devices of CeBIT 2008.

Something had to give last week. Despite two of us hitting CeBIT (representing UMPCPortal and JKKMobile) there was a serious lack of time to get much posting done. UMPCPortal was my primary blogging platform and Carrypad suffered which is a real shame because my heart is so much more with consumer Internet devices than 7" mini-notes.

I think I can summarise by saying that for me, CeBIT split into two threads. The mini-note thread (boosted by the Eee PC 900 announcement) and the Intel mobile Internet devices thread. It's the latter that's the focus here because Atom, the Intel processor brand that will be used in these devices, is all about consumer products. From TVs, fridges and cars through to 'netbooks' and 'nettops' (intel expressions) with PMPs, PNDs, dedicated Internet tablets and eventually in late 2009 or 2010, the smartphone. The processor is focused on size, power efficiency, heat and price, not processing performance. In addition to the Atom processor there's a big push to make a new operating system platform. Moblin is the Linux-based core OS that Intel is developing and we'll see this appear on many of the Atom-based products.

Here are a few examples. Firstly, (and my personal favorite right now) the Gigabyte M528 MID. Its a pocketable mobile Internet device with a finger-optimised and attractive user interface, 3G, cameras, flash storage and a slide-out keyboard. Pricing is said to be 699 Euros and it will include GPS, 3G and a 3mp auto-focus camera. I've written extensively about it over at UMPCPortal. Check out some of the videos and hands-on reviews.

Image4

Using the same Compal design but targeted at the Asian market is the Aigo branded version of the same device. Both devices have the same hardware but use different user interface layers over the Moblin core linux.

Image6

A similar 'slider' device is the A-Bit MID. This one is targeted for a global launch according to A-Bit. Specs are very similar but it might have a slightly more powerful processor and larger battery. Final specs aren't available at this stage. Look out for a presentation video on this at UMPCPortal in the next few days.

The LG device was at CeBIT but it's not a mobile Internet device, apparently. LG want to position it as a productivity or professional device and will offer it with Windows Vista and will call it a UMPC. A similar approach is being made by Toshiba too. Their pocketable device will also run windows and will also be called a UMPC. Strangely though, the Toshiba device doesn't have a keyboard.

toshibaumpc

Coming this summer!

Overall it looks very positive for consumer devices coming out of the Atom stable this year. We should expect to see 10 appearing in summer (before August) and another 10-20 coming out in the latter part of the year.

MIDslide2

Clockwise from top: Gigabyte, Clarion, EB (probably under another brand), Lenovo (Asian market) Toshiba UMPC, LG UMPC, Digifriends, Aigo, ASUS, Benq.

For more details on Atom and the Intel MID plans, check out the Atom/MID article on UMPCPortal.com. Most of the devices are in the Carrypad product database and the UMPC Product database.

Note: UMPCPortal is having performance issues right now.

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UMPCPortal down

I'm sorry everyone. UMPCPortal is down due to a storage array problem that has hit my hosting service.

Feel free to browse Carrypad although some of the images here are served by the same server as UMPCPortal!

Steve 'Chippy'

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mylo 2 and N810 side-by-side at Pocketables.

mylonokia

It's very interesting to see the physical differences between these two devices. The Mylo is a lot thicker and the screen much smaller. I already think the N810's screen is too small for 800x480 browsing.

The Mylo 2 keyboard looks better though. One of the issues I have with the N810 is the lack of separation between keys so the Mylo 2 could actually be easier to use.

As Jenn says in her article though, these two devices are targeted at different people and don't really need to be compared. If I had to choose though, I'd keep the money and put it towards an LG Xnote or Gigabyte MID.

Pocketables: Sony Mylo 2 (Com-2) vs Nokia N810

Happy 2nd Birthday Carrypad.

Two years ago I submitted the first post on Carrypad after spending weeks trying to analyse exactly what device I wanted when my 2 year Vodafone contract was finished. It turned out that nothing fitted my needs and so the definition of a Carrypad was born.

Here's the first few paragraphs of the first post:

The simple fact is that you'll never get everything on one device. It wont happen until we evolve better eyes and smaller fingers.
You cant watch a video for any length of time on anything under 3.5" across.
You cant type at an efficient speed on anything less than a mini-qwerty keyboard.
So why bother trying to cram it all in to one device? i guess the marketing people can answer that question and its probably something to do with customer perception.
If you do buy the all-in-one device though, I can guarantee you wont get the best out of it.

Which runs along the same lines as the two-device strategy post I made yesterday.

The Carrypad definition still holds true. The two defining features - large screen and mini-qwerty keyboard - are the core of a good Carrypad although I have made one important update to the requirement. 3G cellular data access. I would have previously accepted a tethered solution (Bluetooth to mobile phone) but having had devices with it built-in, I know how much more freedom it creates.

Two years on, I still haven't found the Carrypad. Devices like the Raon Digital Everun get very close but the hole in the market for the ultimate Carrypad device is still there. The LG Xnote, Digifriends and Gigabyte MID's are looking promising though and i'll be looking forward to tracking them down at CeBIT in a few weeks.

As for the Vodafone contract, I took a Nokia 6280 then and this time round its a Nokia N82.