Tag Archive | "UMPC"

2007 UMPC Back In Service thanks to Uniqueness

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2013-06-11-2622

My Samsung Q1b, a 2007-era UMPC based on a VIA C7 CPU and including 3G was one of my most mobile UMPCs. I used it, without plugging it in to mains power, for 10 days. This 7-inch 800×480 resistive touch-screen PC weighing 770gm and including just 512MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive cost me over €1100. Battery life was around 3hrs. Today I found another use for it as an analogue audio recorder.

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After trying 5 different laptops, a tablet PC and a USB audio device I finally found out that the Q1b has stereo line-in recording capability via the mic-in port. All the other devices I tested had mono inputs. A quick download of Audacity and I was recording some cable radio for in-car use during a multi-country trip at the weekend.

Going back to using XP was a shock and having to use the pen on an 800×480 screen was very awkward. The Tablet Input Panel felt basic in comparison with what we’ve got today but there were a few surprises. Firefox was still fast, accessing network drives not a problem and Audacity (an older version I had installed) was working fine.

Crystalmark scores were around 12K for this UMPC compared to around 50K for the latest Atom tablets but the ‘low’ performance is more than enough for this audio task.

I wouldn’t recommend anyone buy one of these at all but it goes to show that there are unique features in every device and some that you just have to keep a hold of.

Do you have an old PC you’re still using because it has a unique feature that you just can’t find anywhere else?

Acer W3-810 8-Inch Windows 8 Tablet Appears for £469 in UK. New Pics. Specifications.

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Acer W310

Rumors started in April about this 8-inch Windows tablet but today we’re pretty happy to see it in a reputable retail channel in the UK. The Acer W3-810 is listed with 2GB RAM, 64GB storage in silver for £469 which, after removing tax, is the equivalent of about the same in dollars. Littlewoods, the online supplier, say they can deliver this by 17 June.

A full specifications list is not available yet but from the images it appears to be the tablet only and not including the interesting docking keyboard.

A 32GB version of the Acer W3 had shortly appeared on Amazon.com for $379 until it was removed.

Acer W3-810 Specifications, based on leaked info are as follows:

  • CPU: Intel Clovertrail Z2670 (2×1.8Ghz)
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 32GB or 64GB
  • Screen: 1280×800
  • Camera: Rear-2MP, Front-2MP
  • Micro SD Slot
  • HDMI out (we suspect micro HDMI)
  • micro USB (host capability unknown)
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth 4.0+EDR
  • 2-Cell Li-Polymer (3500 mAh) Battery (25Wh)
  • Size: 218.9 mm x 134.8 mm x 11.43 mm
  • Weight: 500 grams

Acer W310 (1)Acer W310 (2)
Click to see large images

We’re expecting this to launch at Computex in a few hours after this posting so check back at UMPCPortal for more info.

Source: Littlewoods.

How to Turn Your UMPC into a DIY AirPlay Receiver

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My Sony Vaio UX180 UMPC spent many years as the center of my mobile world. However, since the rise of the consumer smartphone, it hasn’t seen much field use lately. While the latest mobile devices are wonderful in many ways, they still lack the amazing software/hardware compatibility which comes with a full-fledged Windows-running x86 PC. I hung onto the UX180 knowing that it would be able to fill some role at some point down the road thanks to that compatibility. A few days ago I finally uncovered the perfect role for it — my UX180 is now back in active duty as an AirPlay receiver and it gladly plays my music, videos, and photos to my big stereo system and big TV. Here’s how you can turn your old UMPC into an AirPlay receiver!

Read the full story

The Amazing Open Pandora Story Continues

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phoca_thumb_l_PandoraFront

The Open Pandora project has been an amazing project to follow. We first reported on the product, an OMAP-based Linux mini-laptop primarily focused on gaming emulation (but kitted out with some interesting features for anyone interesting in mobile computing) in Dec 2007 and in the last 4 years the product has gone through some amazing ups and downs with spec changes, production issues and community financing but it looks like they’ve made a break-through and that Open Pandoras will be shipping soon.

Update: The first devices off the production line are now being shipped. [9th March 2012]

pandoraThe story would make a great book. We saw an update in Dec 2008 showing a prototype build and an Angstrom OS build and after a year of refinements it finally went into limited production in May 2010. 4000 units should have been produced before Feb 2011 but it didn’t happen.  “[The production company] communication has been terrible, the missed all the deadlines they set themselves and they have a failure rate of at least 25%.”

On 12 July 2011 ‘EvilDragon’ the lead developer for the project wrote a post entitled ‘A fresh new start’ explaining how production was being stopped as a result of problems with the Texas-based production company. The search started for a new production company and by 27th of the same month they had found a candidate. Soon after, 70 investors had stepped forward and pledged nearly half a million Euros. Contracts were prepared and pre-orders started again.

The next months updates are worth reading in full over at the Openpandora news forum. There’s snow, hacking, sad news about a community member, delivery problems, contracts and more. It’s an amazing story that ends up with this fantastic post and video entitled “100% success.”

 

What a joy to watch.

The OpenPandora story isn’t over yet though. Mass production is due to start next month and after 4 years of waiting, the specifications don’t look as good as they used to. There’s software to write too. What you’ve got here though is an open-source, very efficient  handheld PC with a strong community behind it. It’s also a bit of history.

In support of the Open Pandora project I’ve put in an order and  I’ll do my best to give it airtime on UMPCPortal when it arrives. You can place a pre-order here. I’m sure there are many readers here who already have their orders in.

Check out the Pandora Rebirth competition too. Apps for prizes and follow OpenPandora on Twitter here. We have a specification page here.

XPPhone V2 Coming With Intel Inside. Enjoy the Press Release

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It looks like the XPPhone guys are at it again with their ultra-converged solutions. This time a 4.8″ mini Slate ‘phone’ running on a 1.6Ghz Atom platform.

Not much information is given in the press release regarding specifications but given that all the Images are renders, this is likely to be something for 2012, and a rather niche market given that the weight and active standby time on this ‘phone’ is going to be restrictive.

We doubt its a Medfield phone but we’ll keep an eye on this one as a Viliv S5 alternative. In the meantime, enjoy the press release!

http://en.xpphone.com/news/kuaibao/114.html

Buyers Guide – CCC 2011 #4 The Mobile IT Manager

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It looks like we’ve hit another 7” requirement with very few solutions. Any more of these requests and i’m going to go out there and make my own UMPC and sell it to you all!

Mike contacted me to see if he could get some suggestions for an extremely mobile computer. It’s one that needs a full MS office suite and also needs to do duty as a support system in a light aircraft.

Here’s the breakdown.

·As an IT manager I use the MS Office suite, MS Project, MS Visio, and Firefox to do my job.

· I also travel by small plane for work and I need a unit that runs Windows so that I can use my flight navigation software (www.anywheremap.com)

·The yoke (steering wheel of the plane) can only accommodate a unit with an 8.9 inch screen without blocking critical flight instruments – 7 inches provides the best fit

·When I land at the local airport I often use a car GPS for street navigation.

·I don’t use my computers for gaming or video editing, but I do need to have reasonably snappy performance in the office environment.

 

That’s a clear requirement. 7”, Windows and wallop! right into the no-devices zone.

I initially thought about leading with a device that had GPS installed but that can be problematic. In my car there’s a UV filter on the screen and it kills reception. Where reception is critical, a well-positioned GPS puck is going to be the answer. Bluetooth isn’t the most reliable of connectivity mechanisms but once set-up, it does work.

Now that we don’t need the built-in GPS, we’ve widened our scope ….

I’m looking at the Libretto W100/W105 as I did in the last CCC. Mike is in situations where power is likely to be available and in the plane he can use a power brick. Do they have cigarette lighters in small planes though?! As with our previous CCC, there’s also the Q1 Ultra Premium (2nd-hand) and the Viliv S7 convertible. It’s got a faster SSD, good battery life and is available with 3G. It might not have the oomph to run Windows 7 though. The same goes for the Viliv X70 EX

It’s the Windows requirement I want to get right in the suggestion though. A UMPC running Windows 7 really needs a fast SSD, a 1.6Ghz CPU and, preferably, 2GB RAM.  It’s why I keep thinking about the Libretto W100 but then there’s the screen area to think about on that. It could be too big!

I’ve got three more to offer-up though. (Click images for more info)

HP Slate 500. 8.9” screen. 1.8ghz CPU. SSD.  Includes dual-layer screen. The HP 500 does seem to be satisfying most people that buy it. At 1.8Ghz it’s got just enough more than a 1.5Ghz Z-series Atom, along with an SSD, to make Windows 7 work smoothly. Here are some more thoughts on the HP Slate 500.

Panasonic CF-U1. It’s an expensive rugged 7”-er ($2K entry price) but it’s a seriously good bit of kit.  It only has a 7” screen but it’s a fairly bulky 7” device.

Netbook Navigator Nav 7 (or even Nav 9). I heard from Netbook Navigator yesterday that the Nav 7 is about ready to launch and I’ve just put all the details of this one in the database. Obviously you’ll need to wait for some reviews before committing but it certainly looks compact enough. Unfortunately there’s no docking station or VGA / HDMI out but from your email, Mike, I see you’ve been using a USB-based docking station anyway. This might work for you. I’ll be writing more about the Nav 7 in an upcoming article. [Available here when posted]

So, Mike. What do you think? Will an 8.9” device work for you (HP Slate 500) or are you determined to go for a 7” device? Are you OK without VGA? Do you want laptop-style processing power?

Chime-in with comments people. Mike needs help!

Our Mobile Computing Forums are Back!

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We had so many problems with the UMPCPortal forum earlier this year that I eventually had to close the forum for new registrations. After some thought we decided to completely re-build the site on a new system and today we’re readyto announce our new mobile computing forum! It’s clean, fast and has all the features you expect.

forum header

We’ve moved the new forum over to MeetMobility.com and expanded it to cover the segments that match our three main websites.

All the accounts and the 37000 posts from UMPCPortal have been migrated (all the way back to Origami in 2006!) and those that were regular members should be able to log right into the new forum and get going. Some users (those with 5 posts or less) will find themselves as ‘banned’ users. Contact us via the link at the bottom of the forum and we’ll get you up and running in no time. Unfortunately we had to lock out thousands of spam accounts and ‘real’ users will have got caught up in that process.

Forum pro’s might notice that some features aren’t enabled or optimised. We’re still tweaking the set-up so don’t hesitate to give us feedback and tips. Vbulletin is a new process for us.

We hope you get stuck in and enjoy the forums. Ben and myself are looking forward to mobile computing chat with you there.

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 UMPC 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 UMPC 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 UMPC 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 UMPC 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 UMPC 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.



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