Tag Archive | "mobile PC"

Advance Tech Communications Magic W3 – Pocket PC Phone

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Excitement turned to disapointment yesterday when I took a closer look at this 4.8″ UMPC. The Magic W3.

No it wasn’t the 800*480 screen that disapointed me the most although Windows 7 on that resolution is not recommended by Microsoft. It wasn’t the small battery which would probably only return 2.5hrs in-use battery life and it wasn’t the fact that it’s aiming for a highly niche phone-pc market (read expensive.)

The most disappointing thing about the Magic W3 is that it uses the ‘old’ Menlow platform. Oaktrail technology (that’s the Z6xx series of Atom CPUs) has been sampling for well over a year now and given the clear advantages of Oaktrail in a device like this it’s hugely disappointing to see Menlow. Maybe the price was too high or, more likely, this has been developed over more than a year by a small firm that doesn’t have access to the samples that the big guys do. Intels partner teams should be reaching out to manufacturers like this and helping get their best silicon inside.

Just think about what’s being missed here.

Smaller form factor platform
Lower tdp
2x graphics speed
Hardware video encoder
Faster memory bus
Faster disk I/o
Vastly improved standby times
Longer in-use battery life
New power states
Windows 8 forward advantages
Intel Meego and Android builds which could bring even better battery life.

That’s a list of advantages I would not ignore if I was developing a ultra mobile PC product today.

I’m trying to find out availability, price but at this stage, I’m not expecting this to be appearing in too many retailers books. Specialists only? What do you think? Will it even reach the market?

In the next article today I’ll be looking at the Fujitsu F 07 C, a ultra mobile PC with a 4″ screen that is built on Oaktrail.

http://www.advancetc.com/index.htm

Posted, possibly while reclining, with the Galaxy Tab 7

Sources: Viliv Closing Shop

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If this is true, I won’t be surprised because there’s been a trail of hints over the last few months that have already led me to put warnings out about Viliv.

According to not one, but two of our business contacts, Viliv is just about ready to shut up shop. Our sources tell us that Viliv have been in receivership for a while and despite trying to find a buyer for some of their unique ultra-mobile computing solutions, have failed to secure a future for them. It looks like its the end of the road for Viliv and we’re just waiting for formal, public confirmation.

The clues started back at the end of March when one of our contacts at Viliv announced they were leaving. A short time afterwards, Viliv abruptly called  stop to their long-term banner advertising with us. No amount of discounting could win them back. Considering their positive feedback in the past, it was a surprise. Then, at the important Computex trade show in June, Viliv were a no-show. Since then we’re seeing summer holiday announcements on their myviliv website and have also heard that their US support number has been closed. We’ve also been unable to get any contact with Viliv for comment or update on their products.

Interestingly there’s one large reseller in the UK that has just started to take pre-orders on the new Viliv X70 Slate .  Let’s see if any action is taken to close that channel over the next weeks. Given the information we have, we don’t expect those pre-orders to be fulfilled.

As for support and sales of stock, we susupect it will be spotty from now on. At this stage, it would be prudent to buy from a reputable dealer but do bear in mind that parts, accessories and return-to-base repairs may be difficult.

Viliv were a pioneer and a true believer in the pro-mobile space. Their products were always class-leading in terms of quality and features. To us this sends an important message out to everyone. Developing and selling pro-sumer mobile products is a tough business. Buying them is almost as hard but as always, we’ll keep you updated on solutions as they appear. Fingers-crossed that someone else picks up the X70 Slate design as it could have been a unique Windows 8, Meego and Android tablet.

Windows 8 Brings More Mobility, but Should You Wait?

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Win8-3I, like many others, believe that Windows 8 will re-enable the pocket productivity market and lift us out of this strange consumer-focused mobile mess we’re in at the moment and get us back to a place where we have ultra mobile PC choices for our mobile, flexible working practices and scenarios. Marketing, social networking, price wars and tablet fever are getting in the way of what many people want – productivity in the pocket.

I love Android and IOS of course but I’m not letting that change my opinion that there is a requirement for a full desktop capability in a handheld form factor. The market is indeed fairly small but it’s in many different niches and sectors. [Raise your hands in the comments if you’re one of those ‘niche’ users.] Android and IOS have done a lot for mobility, sharing and mobile media and have quickened the pace of mobile processor developments so much that we’ll all benefit in the end but when you look at the software, the pace of development of productivity software is just embarrassing. On the whole, It’s a sector that focuses on quick-hit, fast turnaround, short-lifecycle software and it’s vastly different to the full-fat, long lifecycle, productive and flexible software you get on the desktop. Two years after this consumer mobile market started taking off there still isn’t a way to buy an off-the-shelf DVB-T module, extend the screen or even log in with multiple user IDs. There are literally hundreds of features that are missing and each one of them is a potential roadblock for the advanced mobile user.

That’s why Windows 8 is an exciting operating system to look forward to. It will retain probably all of the flexibility of Windows 7 but will introduce important features from the world of consumer mobile devices. Always-on, improved sensor support, touch user interface, quick-hit apps and sharing along with support for ARM-based platforms and new X86 platforms that remove some of the old legacy PC features and introduce new boot and power management subsystems. Between now and, lets say, mid 2012, I doubt we’ll see any of the existing mobile operating systems advance so far that they challenge Windows and none of the new operating systems have much of a chance either. Buying an ultra-mobile PC has never been so hard but 12-24 months is a long time to wait for Windows 8. If you’ve got a requirement, you need a device and it’s as simple as that.

Your first strategy would be to sit tight and do nothing.  That assumes you don’t have a new requirement or your current device(s) can be stretched out until then. If you have a new requirement though, be it speed or scenario, and you don’t have a device you can cover it with you could believe the rumors that Windows 8 will arrive early or you could do one of the following things:

1 – Go netbook

It’s a low-cost solution but requires a table or a lap. That’s not quite ultra mobile computing is it! Having said that, if you want to save money until Windows 8 comes along, searching for a surface or using your lap might not be too much of a problem to put up with. My advise would be to look at some of the Atom N550 or N570-based devices with a focus on Samsung who still seem to lead with better build quality and more efficient electronic engineering and screens than others. The NF310 continues to get good reports. Asus are also worth considering and the Eee PC 1015 with N570, 2GB RAM and Windows 7 Home Premium is a real bargain at under 400 Euro in my opinion. There’s even the updated T101MT with N570 and 2GB, Windows Home Premium and capacitive touchscreen at around 500 Euro in Europe. Drop a fast SSD into that and it should make quite a nice Windows convertible.

2 – Buy a Menlow UMPC

Given the age of Menlow and the lack of choices around it’s not something I would recommend to everyone but if the pocket is the destination and Windows is the requirement, what option do you have than to buy a Viliv N5 or a UMID Mbook SE? Both companies appear to have disappeared from the radar though so be very aware that major failures may not be fixable.

3 – Wait for an Oaktrail UMPC

ECS and Viliv have both talked about building a 7” Oaktrail-based Windows tablet but unless a major customer or market is found, neither of those solutions are going to hit the market. By all means, wait and see but I personally think it could be a very long wait.

4 – Buy an Oaktrail-based tablet

Early review of Oaktrail-based devices aren’t singing the praises about performance and with the CPU inside being basically the same as before, it’s no surprise. The RAM will need to be 2GB, the SSD will need to be fast, Aero will need to be turned off and I dare say there’s some GPU driver improvements to be made but despite the claims of speed issues, you’ll still be able to render full flash and javascript-enabled web pages with 100% accuracy and faster than any ARM-based tablet out there. Battery life reports are showing marked improvements too so if running a PC in a 5W power envelope is your aim, take a close look at Oaktrail. The Samsung PC7 (TX100, Gloria) slider is one to watch out for and although my recent queries to Samsung don’t return any new information, they certainly don’t indicate that the project has been scrapped. I’ll keep you updated on that one.

5 – Go IOS or Android, adapt your requirements and track the developments

You may want to plug in your DSLR and run the remote capture software but there are alternatives. In this case, check out the Eye-Fi card. For those wanting full Microsoft Office support, look at the Asus Transformer and think about a remote desktop solution. For full-internet-experience browsing, look at whether IOS or Honeycomb will satisfy your needs. On smaller Android tablets, the Dolphin HD and Opera Mobile browsers are coming along nicely. Firefox is progressing too.  Think about a Dell Streak (only 299 Euros here in Germany right now) or a Galaxy Tab (350 Euros) along with a low-cost netbook. Look at PC keyboard sharing solutions for Android. Think about the Google suite too. Android also offers a lot that you can’t get in a PC yet. Location, Sharing, always-on and a large amount of fun!

If you’ve read this far, you’re into ultra mobile computing which is a good thing. It’s fun, flexible and productive but you will also have very individual requirements. The private pilot. The dentist. The courtroom assistant. The musician. The world-tourer. Take a close look at your requirements and see what would want and compare it with what you, realistically, will need. If possible, take a risk or two and ignore that extreme scenario that you’ve got on your list. One thing I would advise all of you to do though is to check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab. I’m not joking when I say it changed my mobile computing world. I no longer have a netbook. I no longer have a high-end smartphone and there are very few scenarios that I can’t cover with it now. I’ve heard people say the same about the Dell Streak (5”) too. If you really can’t swallow that, the iPhone 4 has to be high on the list, the netbooks I mentioned above and even some older devices like the Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium.

Oh, and don’t forget to look at the Toshiba Libretto W100/W105!

Creeping Back into UMPC Territory

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I tweeted this earlier today: “If companies want to differentiate in the tablet space, the should try smaller devices with keyboards. Slider, clamshell at 5-7″ My follow-up tweets to queries highlighted that the time and ingredients are right now. A new attempt at the ultra-mobile PC shouldn’t be far away. The ultra mobile PC of 2006-2008 failed, yes, but not because of the wrong concept. Portable, desktop-style capabilities with flexible connectivity options, a slant towards social, always on and the best web experience possible is something a lot of people still want to see but at that time, the processing platforms and the software just weren’t suited to the idea. It only really came together when Android and IOS moved up into the area to bring the battery life, features, speed and, importantly, the desirability – a ‘complete product’ shall we say. These ultra mobile devices are currently successful in the tablet form but that doesn’t mean that its the tablet form making them successful.

Over 50 tablets were available for viewing at Computex this year (you can find most of them on the Computex product pages) and they all looked much the same. While the OS and software can be a differentiator, what about devices are sitting on a shelf in a shop? Physical differentiation is required. Being able to see a keyboard (and think about productivity) is something that netbooks used to their advantage and the slider form factor was undeniably popular during the ultra mobile PC years; The HTC Shift being the prime example.

Only a few minutes after sending the tweet though, I stumbled across this. They aren’t new devices so don’t get too excited. These are the sort of clay, plastic and computer based  mock-ups you should expect to see in any large ODMs lab but they show a desire that couldn’t be realised 3 years ago.

Dell Slider 1 dell_slider_4

They could be realised now though and with Windows 8 on the horizon, could offer every flexibility that the ultra mobile PC offered too. And there’s another thing – the economics of mobile devices have changed. The numbers are much bigger now and not only is there a proven market for a third mobile screen, there’s a need to differentiate. While tablet designs are easy, cheap and low-risk, there’s a new opportunity coming up and designers will be thinking about those designs today.

I wouldn’t put any money on the next-generation of Ultra Mobile PCs being called UMPCs at all but who cares! As long as we get what we want, we’re happy right?

Via Notebookitalia

Another use for the Oaktrail Tablet – Intel Honeycomb in 2H 2011.

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tx100 honeycombI’ve been talking about this since, well, over a year ago.  Intel’s new-generation mobile platforms, including Oaktrail, Moorestown and Medfield, could couple well with Android. I don’t mean a community X86 project, I mean official, Google approved, power-optimised versions of Android. Honeycomb included.

Image right: Mock-up

Digitimes just reported that “Asustek Computer and Lenovo are to launch Oak Trail/Android 3.1 tablet PCs soon and also Cedar Trail/ Chrome models in the second half of the year.”

Dual mode tablets will be possible and there’s even a chance that virtualization could let multiple OS’ run concurrently. Oh how I hope Intel get on stage at Computex and show Windows, Meego and Android running on the same device. Why? Because it’s a great choice for the pro-customer and when it comes to productivity, we need more CPU power than ARM-based solutions can deliver today. Intel should also be able to achieve ‘always-on’ with these new platforms too. When I asked Intel about Android a year ago they said that power optimisation work was lagging MeeGo. Lets see next week how far MeeGo has come. I’ll try and find someone in Intel to give us a Honeycomb update too.

Anyone fancy a triple-OS Samsung TX100?

VIa netbooknews.

Sony Freestyle Hybrid PC Looks Ultra-Mobile, Shift-Like

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When the ultra mobile PC world had a little more momentum than it does today, Sony had a few high-end offerings that stood head and shoulders above most other models in that they had some amazing engineering and used some relatively high-end CPUs. The Sony UX range had a huge fan-base and still stands on its own against competitors today. Looking at the Freestyle PC that was revealed in  a Sony presentation a few days ago, I see another unique product. Is this a sub 10” slider?

‘Freestyle’ indicates multiple usage scenarios with a consumer slant. The ‘Hybrid’ part of the name indiates the same but does it go further than that? While I don’t expect a dual-CPU, I do expect the Oaktrail platform to be used to provide the Windows OS with an overlay layer. It might also include a dual-boot or fast-boot mode. It would be nice to see an Intel Android build on this to give a true hybrid usage model.

As for size, check this out. It’s the Hybrid put side-by-side with the Samsung TX100 which is a 10.1” device.

hybrid, pc7

The Sony Hybrid doesn’t look like a 10”-er to me. There’s no trackpad and the ratio of thicknesses (look at the USB port on the side) and frame width compared to the screen size says 7” or 8” to me. This could be a replacement for the Vaio P11. By looking at the P11 you get a better feel for the real-world size of the Hybrid.

vaioP111SE1

And here’s the 7” HTC Shift. Again, look at the port sizes.

HTC Shift RHS open

There are no specifications available for the Sony Hybrid yet so none of my speculation can be confirmed. I look forward to it though.

Freestyle Hybrid news found via Slashgear.

What are You Looking for in The Next Ultra Mobile Personal Computer?

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Ignore the old Orgiami-related ultra mobile PC term and take it for what it stands for. What do you want from your next Ultra Mobile Personal Computer?

Next week at IDF Beijing, Intel will be revealing what we suspect to be Cedar Trail, the next generation netbook platform. The problem is that there have been big changes in this market in 2010 and 2011. Netbooks have changed thanks to AMD, the user has changed, the internet has changed and there are now 3G-enabled, always-on tablets available for the price of a netbook. Intel may not have had time to build that market change into their new product so lets take  look at what it could reasonably achieve and then ask the question, what do you want in an ultra mobile personal computer?

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Cedar Trail predictions here are based on personal knowledge and experience.

Cedar Trail is unlikely to be a major step forward in processing, graphics or video power but is likely to use the latest technologies and process to offer smaller dies which also means cheaper prices and lower power. In previous netbook platform generation changes we’ve seen 20% performance improvements couple with a 20% improvement in efficiency. Cedar Trail is unlikely to beat that so it would make sense that Cedar Trail is aimed at pushing the size and cost down. In the developed countries it is unlikely to make a huge difference but it could make a difference in developing countries.

Processing – Cedar Trail will be based around the Atom core and is likely to remain a 2-chip solution with CPU, GPU and Memory Controller on the same die. A change in the process to 32nm will improve efficiency and allow for a reduction in die size. Single and Dual-Core versions are likely to be available and clock rates are likely to remain in the 1.5-1.8ghz range. Hyperthreading will of course be included but we’re not expecting any surprises in terms of processing performance. No Turbo Boost, 2Ghz or quad-core versions…yet.

Graphics – This is an area where the Pinetrail platform has been hit hard in the last few months and Intel will either need to turn round something that matches the AMD C-50 APU or offers another angle. I don’t suspect a move to Power-VR cores and I don’t expect a huge boost in 2D/3D acceleration.  Don’t expect any GPGPU-related enhancements either. Cedar Trail is unlikely to compete with AMDs APUs in that respect because Cedar Trail is likely to be aimed at lower cost, smaller size, lower power.

Video – HDMI out is a must along with HD decoding. I expect that to be the major enhancement in Cedar Trail which will link with Adobe Flash to finally offer a smooth 720p YouTube experience and a 1080p experience via HDMI cable.

Restrictions – Microsoft is likely to continue to offer netbook-level licensing but that doesn’t mean that the platform itself can’t be used for other purposes. Expect Cedar Trail to be the simplest route to designing a Windows 7 Tablet which means you’ll see it with Windows Home Premium and MeeGo meaning 2GB and larger screens.

Pricing – Platform pricing will reduce slightly but the main cost advantages come in sizing and power budget. The smaller size and lower power dissipation means less time and material needs to be spent on the enclosure and motherboard. A fanless design could mean sealed-units which means a major saving in design and production costs. Smaller batteries can considerably reduce cost, especially when they are sealed-in units. Sub $200, 5hr units should be possible.

Power Envelope – With video decoding moving to a dedicated chip there will be improvements in the battery life claims from netbook manufacturers. The 8W TDP figure is likely to shrink to 7W to reflect this but be aware that these advantages may be offset by manufacturers as they enable lower cost or smaller batteries, again, meaning lower-cost products. Video playback battery life is likely to be the only truly noticeable change.

Features – Intel may choose to offer a wireless subsystem that includes support for Wireless Display and Wireless Audio. These ‘value-add’ features will be used in developed markets on higher-end products. USB3.0 is unlikely.

Always-On? One of the game-changing features for a netbook would be always-on. That means idling down to 100s of milliwatts of pwer usage. unfortunately, the basic PC platform is not built around this concept. The Cedar Trail platform is likely to adhere closely to the PC platform architecture and thus is not likely to offer any always-on features. That’s the value-add for the Z-series platforms (Oaktrail, Moorestown, Menlow)

Mcafee in silicon? Not for this time round. Like ‘Intel Insider’ and other premium silicon features, we’re likely to see these in high-end notebooks and desktops before the feature becomes cheap enough to put in a netbook.

In summary, Cedar Trail will bring two things to the market:

  • Cheaper netbooks for developing markets. Possibly sealed-unit low-cost 3-cell netbooks for the first time.
  • Thin, light, fanless, HD video, wireless display, HDMI features to high-end netbooks. Claims of battery life will increase but the average in-use battery life is likely to stay around the 7hr mark for advanced 6-cell netbooks.

Boring? Unfortunately, for most readers of this site that I know live in developed countries, yes. Cedar Trail isn’t going to be the marketing-fest that AMDs Fusion was although Intel and their partners will certainly try. There will be no major gaming performance advances. No GPGPU features and no high-end connectivity through USB3 or LightPeak. There will be no always-on features either but that’s largely the fault of the PC design itself. (And the reason why Moorestown and Medfield can’t run Windows!)

Asus Eee Pad TransformerViliv X70

Eking M5 UMPCHTCShift00a

What do you want from your next Ultra Mobile Personal Computer?

Key features I’m watching for this year are:

  • High Dynamic Range Computing (ultra low power to high-power computing in one unit)
  • Controlled Always On feature (not wild multitasking always on as with Android)
  • GPGPU features for accelerated browsing, image and video processing.
  • Modular Design
  • Fun, dynamic user interfaces
  • Attention to sharing in the operating system
  • Controlled standby with restricted multitasking / use of silicon. (To provide the ultimate always-on battery life)
  • Application store
  • Touch and Keyboard
  • Location support subsystem
  • Multi-user
  • Phone and Desktop devices in the same family running the same operating system.
  • Cloud-based applications (Like Google services)

What i’m talking about is a modular netbook that spans the world of mobile features and desktop features. You could also see it as a smartbook that breaks out of the cheap software mould and offers rich working applications such as office suites, a/v production and developer environments. It’s a device that spans the two Full Internet Experiences. Or maybe it’s two, that work together. We’ve seen attempts at this before but so far we haven’t seen the processing platform or operating system that has been able to drive it. Android and MeeGo are moving in the right directions and we should also expect Windows 8 to embrace this. Think of devices like the Asus Transformer.

Related article:  Social Netbooks and ARMs Lock-In Opportunity

Related article from GigaOm -  The Big Mobile and Desktop Platform Merge Is Underway (Written recently by Kevin Tofel)

I’ll be speaking about high-dynamic range computing and bridging the mobile / desktop gap at Mobile Monday next week in Munich.

The related IDF keynote will be on the 12th April (time on your location)

So fire away in the comments below – what are you looking for in a 2011 Ultra Mobile Personal Computer?

My UMPC and Netbook Retire Today. AMD and ARM Move-In. What Happens Next…

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Intel have dominated my mobile device choices for nearly 5 years but all that has changed in the last 4 months. Today, my ultra mobile PC retires and my netbook gets an upgrade.

For the last two, years my main computers have been a Quad-Core desktop that I use for hosting live sessions, podcasts and some video editing, and two mobile devices. The Gigabyte Touchnote Convertible Netbook has been my laptop and a Fujitsu U820 (actually a Japanese version U/B50N) ultra mobile PC has been used as my hot-desktop (as shown in this article.)

Today, the two mobile PCs drop away and are replaced with an AMD-based netbook solution and an ARM-based tablet. The Acer Aspire One 522 and Galaxy Tab have become my mobile device choices which means there is no longer a ultra mobile PC in my life.

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The Fujitsu U820 had previously been my ultra mobile computer for expo’s and conferences and I remember using it successfully at SXSW in 2009. Over the last 5 months though its usefulness has waned because the Galaxy Tab has taken over. It fits *my* usage patterns a lot better. I sacrificed some ‘Full Internet Experience’ for weight, battery life, location, social networking apps, built-in camera, always-on and 3G. I talked about this ‘changeover’ last year. It’s now happened.

The Touchnote was still working well and I had no problems with it. After 2 years it’s proved to be rugged and capable but when the Acer Aspire One 522 came along last week it gave me so much more, in less weight and cost. Now that the Tab has taken over ultra-mobile duties to an acceptable level, there’s also no need for the U820.

I’ll miss the touchscreen on the Touchnote but I’m getting better battery life, more processing power,  way better HD and graphics acceleration and my 4GB RAM, SSD and Home Premium upgrade are adding to the experience i’m getting from the Acer Aspire.

The Acer Aspire One 522 is now my daytime desktop as well as my lightweight notebook.

IMG_6892

What happens next?

As 7” tablets get better and better with improved software, faster processing engines and higher quality connectivity there’s more and more that can be done on them. I’m already creating articles, emails, Tweets, IM and images but I see improved video and camera hardware and software coming too. I see accessories that could help the tablet become a unit that everything could be done on if needed. I would have no problem whatsoever using a solution like this for a week if weight and energy restrictions demanded it. The need for an ultra-light netbook is reducing for me. Having said that, the requirement for a PC with a keyboard doesnt drop away completely.

7” screens aren’t comfortable for rich content generation and editing so I still see the need for a netbook or notebook for ‘bum-on-seat’ activities. What I see happening is that my netbook will get taken up a notch into a 11.6 or 12.1” territory that allows me to improve my video work. It’s a project I’ve already started. That could happen very soon as the Asus Eee PC 1215b nears availability.

Smartphone load drops.

As for the pocketable device in my life, I’m finding I use a smartphone less and less now. Dropping back to a 3.5” or even 4” experience for Internet and social networking activities  is painful and I’d rather take the Tab with me than have a large smartphone. My smartphone is now a voice, sms, MP3, USB storage and emergency internet device. The N8 fits in so well here because it also has a stunning camera that allows me to photoblog with ease.

Because of my tablet use, I don’t expect to be putting much load on my smartphone any more and the list of requirements changes totally.

Intel’s next netbook move.

I confess that I didn’t have a lot of faith in AMD’s Brazos solution but they did it. They’ve made a classic disruptive move which will change the face of the netbook forever and, unless Intel repond quickly, take share away from Intel in the low-cost computing market. Well-known features/keywords like ‘HDMI’ and ‘1080p’ that are recognizable to the man on the street will differentiate AMD from Intel and where the price is the same, there’s little to think about. Games are also possible on AMD netbooks and it leaves little room for Intel to play in when it comes to Cedar-Trail.  They’ll have to increase the CPU power (1.66ghz dual-core is a nice figure that looks better, and performs better than the AMD 1.0Ghz solution) and add their thermal monitoring to allow overclocking on a core-by-core basis. 2.0Ghz ‘Turbo’ will be worth seeing. They’ll also have to add the 1080p capability from their Menlow and Moorestown platforms. To beat AMD they will need Wireless Display and hardware-accelerated H.264 and WMV encoding features to help with video format conversion. Longer battery life is a must and this is something Intel is highly likely to deliver with amazingly low quiescent states and very tightly-coupled wireless solutions. Given the likelihood that they will have a lower platform TDP and enable a smaller motherboard size, Intel solutions are likely to be thinner and lighter.

Can Intel enter the always-on tablet space?

AMD appear to be a long way off from having a soft/hard stack that satisfies the requirements for an ultra mobile computing device but I still see big opportunities in the near, 1-2 year timescale for Intel. 2011 truly is just the start of a new era of multi-device computing and Intel have been working on developing solutions to hit all areas of the market for the last 3 years or more. Wi-Di (wireless display), hardware security, thermal monitoring, overclocking and Intel Insider are features that could really add something to a mobile platform and as we look towards higher processing platform capability (including faster busses and rich connectivity) Intel do have an advantage, especially where screen and wireless connectivity take the lions share of the battery drain. As for always-on, their Moorestown and Medfield hardware, coupled with their software solutions, appear to have that covered. Android for consumption; MeeGo for a cross-over Linux-based solution. Windows for a full, pro-computing solution. They have had serious problems getting a partner to make a compelling device but lets talk about this again after the MeeGo conference in May and the Nokia MeeGo product which could also air at that time.

And don’t think I haven’t forgotten about all the advantages that come with having a traditional mobile PC soft and hard architecture. USB host, multitasking user interface, mouse-over, business software, security, multi-user, extended display, remote desktop, upgrades and hacks, printing, ad-hoc Wi-Fi and a thousand other features that you forget about until you need them. If anything, my desire for high quality, flexible productive systems has gone up in the last months and this might sound strange but since the Japan disaster last week, I’ve been looking at mesh networking and emergency computing again and find that an X86 ultra mobile PC would be the best place to start. To that end, I’ll be loading up the U820 as my emergency computer.

That’s enough about me. How are you finding the ‘X-Over’ year of 2011?

Note. All my computing solutions have been paid for by my company and are not sponsored in any way. Runcore, however, supplied the SSD that i’m using in the Aspire One 522.

UK Company Testing Viliv X70 Slate – Feedback Positive

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There are a lot of companies out there that you’ve never heard of but who have an important role in deciding whether a device hits the market. The distributors are often, along with carriers, the first people to have hands-on with preliminary hardware builds. They make multi-million dollar decisions and can make or break a product. It’s a risky, but important behind-the-scenes business.

One UK distributor that has been bringing mobile computing solutions to retailers and large business customers in the education, government and corporate sectors is Think 4 IT solutions. I had a chat with them yesterday about a number of products they’ve got shortlisted and others that they are considering after their visit to CES. One of them is the Viliv X70 Slate and, being one of the more important ‘pro-mobility’ products at CES, one I was interested in hearing more about.

Working with prototypes it’s difficult to give a full opinion but it’s clear that the X70 Slate is looking good so far. Battery life looks to be impressive and Think4IT reported that they’ve had 6hrs of video playback from a full charge. Remember, it’s a 21wh battery we’re talking about here so that’s about 3.5watt drain in video playback, from a full PC. (Most desktops will draw that much in standby mode!)

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The most interesting part of the conversation involved interest from a major customer and a wish to speed up the availability of the Windows tablet. They’re pushing for end of March. No word on price yet.

We intend to stay in touch with both Viliv and Think4 so stay tuned for the earliest news on the new ultra mobile PC at UMPCPortal.

We’ve got the X70 Slate in the product database here.

Ocosmos OCS1K Morphs into OCS1U and Loses Keyboard

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I’ve got bad news for many of you that were very interested in the Ocosmos OCS1K slider ultra mobile PC today. The slider version has now been dropped (Official. It won’t be produced.) in favour of the mini tablet version you see in the middle above. For a company that tries to promote its own multiway pad input solution, I guess this isn’t surprising.

Specs are shown above and the only thing I can add is that the battery should be bigger in the new version leading to longer battery life. If you look at the Oaktrail figures so far and the size of the device you’re probably looking at 4-5hrs of usable battery life.I can’t see how they could really squeeze much more out of it in real-world scenarios.

Here’s a video from the very noisy Showstoppers event last night.

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Does The Market Need More Windows Tablets?

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The readers here at umpcportal are generally a productive bunch. Many of you have been following the swiss-army knife of mobile computing, the handheld windows pc, for years and judging by the comments here, I know that a lot of you know exactly what you want.
Given that you’re an intelligent bunch I wanted to ask you your opinion on Windows Tablets.

Intel have just announced a run of Windows tablet PC’s for 2011 and we can expect them to be on both the Pinetrail and the new Oaktrail platform. Weight is likely to be 800gm and battery life no more than 5hrs given the size constraints. Capacative  screens are likely to feature heavily and you can guarantee that there will be more than one overlay package included that is supposed to make Windows 7 finger-friendly.

My position is much as it has always been. Mobile PC’s have their place but the requirement for full desktop operating systems is going down, not up. Sure, with a marketing push there might be some sales to be had but that’s nothing to do with ‘requirement’ right?

And what about the tablet form factor? Is that the best form factor to be putting out with a mouse-driven OS?

I’m interested to hear your views and specifically, thoughts about the following questions.

– Is the requirement for Windows 7 Tablets going up or down?

– Is the tablet form factor the best for a full handheld pc?

– What features are needed to increase the requirement of Windows handheld devices?

– What are the major selling points of a Windows handheld PC?

– Will marketing Windows Tablets as consumer devices be a good long term strategy?

Looking forward to your thoughts.

OCS1 Oaktrail UMPC. Official Specs Posted. Q1, AT&T Target

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Thanks to nick95 in our forums we now have an official spec sheet on the Ocosmos OCS1 that we covered at IDF in September. The OCS1 was one of the first Oaktrail products we’d seen and definitely, a UMPC! [Tracking page includes links and videos]

5” Slider screen at 1024×768 looks useful but those controllers don’t include a mouse pointer which, especially on a Win 7 device with capacitive screen, is not going to help. Interestingly, Ocosmos are pitching this at carriers although to be honest, every UMPCs manufacturer’s secret aim was always to get a carrier as a channel.

If I remember my Oaktrail specs correctly, we’re looking at a 1.5Ghz or 1.9Ghz single-core CPU (I suspect the former) here and some interesting improvements over the older (no, let’s just call it ‘old’ now!) Menlow platform. 400Mhz GPU with HD decoding, 720p encoding, MP3 decoding hardware, improvements in memory speed and a more compact silicon layout. Overall battery life improvements are expected to be in the 20% range (that info comes to me from an ODM contact using the platform) with idle (screen-off, Wi-Fi connected) potentially even better.

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The OCS1 is being pitched as a gaming device but I have a few problems with that. 1) Windows games often required the CDROM to be present. You’ll need ‘no-cd’ hacks. 2) The GPU is improved over Menlow but years behind the performance of a modern PC. You’ll need to choose games 3-5 years old although with AppUp starting to deliver some interesting games and game developer partnerships, it’s one to watch for games that will definitely fit the screen and processing capabilities.

When we spoke to Ocosmos at IDF they were talking about 10 hours battery life but let me tell you that even if they slap a 24wh battery pack on the back, 10hrs is still only going to be the idle, screen-off figure. I’m expecting a 10-15wh battery and an average in-use drain of about 5W giving about 3hrs of working, screen-on life over about 5hrs of ‘on’ time. If they manage to squeeze in a 24wh battery it will raise the price and weight somewhat but return an interesting 5-7hrs.

‘Target Launch’ is Q1 2011 which sounds interesting enough for a CES showing. We suspect that if they’ve got something working well by CES, it will be on the Intel booth. Between now and then we’ll try and get an direct update from Ocosmos.

Ocosmos website.

Ocosmos OC1 thread in the forums.