Catching up! Catching up! I’m nearly through all my RSS feeds and starred items (which are tending to lose priority as they build up) and am nearly back up to ramming speed on UMPC reporting. I was actually quite surprised how little news there was over the last few weeks though. Is everyone on holiday? Here are my highlights from the last two weeks.
First-up, I want to highlight a couple of great posts from Thoughtfix. He’s really putting a huge amount of effort into his Nokia Tablet and UMPC blogs and I’m really enjoying his videos. The first item I want to highlight is the latest ‘coffee with thoughtfix’ [Did you just put ice in your coffee Dan?] which highlights the need for instant-on and long-term standby. One of the things on my testing list is a comparison of standby drain of the various platforms. Let me do a quick 1 hour test with the Everun right now. As I put it into standby it has 27% battery life left. [1 hour passes…] Taking it out of standby (which takes 10 seconds for startup and WiFi connection) 1 hour later shows…Wow! 27%. Actually that’s quite amazing. I’ll do some more testing with that. 3-hours test starting with 26% battery capacity…NOW! I wonder if the Everun could last 100 hours on standby…[Update: It dropped 2% in three hours. Amazing. 100 hours standby looks possible.]
I’d be happy if I could keep my device in standby all day and be able to startup in 4 seconds. Sub 1-second would be nicer of course and even better would be an active standby mode like on the N800 where the device is still running and available for instant use. The VIA-based solutions are getting very close though. On the Q1b HSDPA here, I can optimize the setup (max batt life settings, all radios off, sound off, backlight off, hdd in standby, close all unnecessary programs) and it will run for a total of around 12 hours on the extended battery. If I turn HSDPA on, sound on, connect to the Internet and run Trillian with 5 concurrent IM protocols, I still get 9.5 hours. [Figures from Notebook Hardware Control] With these figures you could argue that the all-day UMPC is already here but unfortunately, these figures can’t be achieved across the board with all devices. What Samsung did with the VIA platform was quite special and others need to follow that example. Listen to Thoughtfix and watch VIA and Samsung!
The second Thoughtfix item was the Geocacheing report. That looked like fun despite Thoughtfix not finding the cache. I have to put a word in for Windows at this point though. For navigation, mapping and GPS solutions, there is no better platform than Windows. Good turn-by-turn road navigation solutions are think in the ground but when you want to get into detail, Windows is the way to go. I sometimes use a Garmin mapping solution with topographical maps. They go down to amazing levels of 3D detail. Add Google Maps and satellite imagery over the top (take a look at the Touratech QV mapping solution. Its amazing.) and add a dash of live local search and you’ve got no more excuses! You can even track and blog with live Google maps mashups on the way!
Frank was busy blogging as usual. Alphagrip looks cool although I just couldn’t face having to learn it! He also highlighted a cool bit of work that NeoTechni is doing and talking about on the Origamiproject forums. NeoTechni has put together an Origami Experience clone for XP-based devices. I’ve been running it on my Everun and its a damn good effort. I’m not sure how long it will be until MS send him a polite email asking him to stop copying but it doesn’t really matter because he’s proved that it doesn’t take much effort to do a good skinning and front-end GUI project. Skinning and front-ends is something that I’ve been looking closely at since the shock of the negative public response to the Everun in Helsinki. I’ve also been looking at RoadRunner too. It goes a lot further than Origami Experience and includes hooks into GPS programs and other goodies. It even includes gesture support. I’m seriously wondering if Ubuntu Mobile is going to go far enough in its first release. It needs to be really really good to pull people away from Windows solutions although the license cost saving will certainly help the lower-end devices.
My starred item from Ctitanic though was the snippet of info about VIA’s new core – Isaiah. I actually wanted to highlight that I don’t think its really UMPC-relevant. Despite the reported higher processing capability, its going to need more power and that’s an absolute no-no for UMPCs. I don’t think we’ll see this core entering VIA’s UMPC/UMD strategy. It sounds like a notebook solution to me. Do we actually need more power in UMPCs at the moment? I’d like to see manufacturers focus on battery life, form factor and marketing before they start to add more processing power. My thin-client mobile life won’t really benefit from any more processing power but if the battery life took a hit, it would be a big step backwards for me.
Over at JKOntheRun, Kevin is looking to power all his mobile devices with a bit of good old fashioned human-power. Respect to you Kevin. As you say, its not going to make a dent in your overall daily life power usage but you’re showing people the right way forward and how energy efficient these devices already are. If you can store up that power, you can make it mobile too! I just wish I was getting more summer here so that I could power the Solar UMPC blog completely from the sun. It been a terrible summer so far. Maybe I should look into the human powered solution. God knows I could do with a bit more movement and exercise in my life!
Richard Brown, a marketing senior for VIA highlighted an interview that Hexus did with him at Computex. Its a good one and shows that tiny tiny tiny Mobile-ITX board that VIA are planning to release before Christmas. He also asks “what is the perception of VIA in the market place?” and is asking for feedback. If you ask me it depends what market you receive VIA in. I only see them from a UMPC point of view and so to me they are a leading innovator of efficient and mobile computing platforms. To others, they’re probably the best developer of small motherboard solutions in the world. How do you see VIA? Let Richard know and you might win a prize.
Craig Pringle was forced into using the Samsung Q1P for work duties after his LS800 went haywire a few weeks ago. He writes up a report of where it doesn’t work and where it does work. His number one problem is the inking experience. Yes, the Q1 range is completely geared towards finger touch which means that handwriting is going to be a problem. You’ll have to get the R2H for a better handwriting solution Craig. I want to highlight the ‘no docking station’ fault too. I miss my i7210 and its docking station and the Q1P is pain to plug in and disconnect every time you want to use it with a big screen and keyboard.
There are a couple of forum threads worth highlighting and the first I want to mention is the amazingly detailed and well though-out responses to my article about the consumer UMPC test in Helsinki. To date there are 49 really really good comments and when I get a chance, I’ll be taking this thread and going through it as a report in itself. Thanks to all the site members who input into it.
The second thread I want to highlight is a good one on Origamiproject forums about the Fujitsu U1010. On page 2 of the thread you’ll find an owner report about the U1010. The Fujitsu U1010, Kohjinsha SH6, HTC Shift and VIA Nanobook are going to be at the center of a new type of UMPC, the productivity UMPC. These devices will have 7″ screens and real mechanical keyboards. My feeling is that the U1010 is actually too small. Its not going to fit in a pocket so why bother making it so cramped. The 7″ screen works best with 1024×600 and is a great way to get productive mobile computing in a sub-1KG package. One of these devices is going to end up as my mobile productivity tool and I will combine it with the Everun UMPC as my ultra mobile handheld and car computing solution. At the moment I’m testing out the Kohjinsha SH6 but the battery life is causing me problems. The Fujitsu U1010 is too small so unless Kohjinsha sort out the battery life problem, I’ll have to wait for the HTC Shift and the VIA Nanobook / Packard Bell Easynote XS. This mobile productivity solution is going to have to be good to beat the Q1b HSDPA and organizer pack I have though.
So that just about brings me up to date with RSS feeds now. Summer holidays are coming to an end here in Europe and in the next 4 weeks I think we can expect to see the start of the Christmas ramp up. Marketing teams will be leaking info and looking to get sales commitments from their resellers so expect to see some market movement. The iPhone is coming to Europe and I’ll be waiting in line, there’s another Intel Developer Forum coming up and hopefully I’ll be getting a sunny week to do that Solar UMPC tour.
Finally, a big thanks to JKK of JKKMobile who was an excellent host in Helsinki. I’ll never drink Salmiakki Vodka again but it was fun trying it!