Reasons to love and avoid UMPCs

Updated on 10 June 2018

I picked up on a thread this morning that Ctitanic has relayed. Although its not a particularly well written article, the subject matter is good and I want to expand on it. Reasons to Love them and Reasons to avoid them is the theme at the end of this article by AustralianIT and I’ve started my own list below. I want your input too so if you hate UMPCs with a passion, let me know why.

REASONS TO LOVE UMPCs

  • They’re very small. Most UMPCs come in at well under 1000gms and some are now under 500gms. That’s, at least half the weight of a lightweight notebook PC and in most cases, much much less than half the size (volume)
  • They are full PC’s. UMPCs are not PDA’s! They use miniaturized PC components and therefore are capable of running desktop operating systems like Windows XP, Vista or Linux.
  • They are relatively powerful. In comparison with traditional mobile devices they have a lot of power. Graphics co-processors are standard and the base CPU is a far more complex calculating machine than that in any pocketPC or smartphone.
  • Wireless connectivity. Through WiFi, Bluetooth and even cellular-data, UMPCs are able to connect to the Internet just as well as any notebook or laptop PC. With USB, audio and often, docking ports, further connectivity options are not restricted.
  • Compared to traditional mobile devices, the storage options are better. Even the smallest 5mm-high hard drives are able to store 60GB now. SD, CF and even PCMCIA card slots are possible.
  • They are more flexible than single-use devices like mobile phones, MP3 players and Video players.
  • They enable new usage scenarios. Sofa, bed, bus, car, plane, train. Places that are often difficult to use a notebook suddenly become more enjoyable with a UMPC. Lie back and surf!
  • Designs are more exciting. A notebook is a notebook. A ultra mobile PC comes in many styles and designs. 4,3″ pocketable up to 7″ with keyboard. Sliding keyboard, folding keyboard, thumbkeyboard and even touchscreen keyboard. A ultra mobile PC is arguably more stylish and exciting than the standard notebook form-factor.
  • They are cheap! Yes, compared to Ultraportable notebook PCs, UMPCs are generally cheaper. $799 for a Q1B. $799 for an Everun. $799 for a Cathena. Compare this to the prices for Ultra Portable Notebooks!
  • They are among the most energy efficient computers in the world and can provide far more battery life per watt/hour than a notebook PC.
  • They generally include touchscreens which opens up new possibilities for operating software and entering data.
  • They are often near-silent. Some UMPCs don’t have any fans at all.
  • They are modular. Through docking stations and accessories you can turn your ultra mobile PC into a notebook, desktop, TV/PVR, navigations device or carpc.
  • For users that don’t use productivity applications or don’t input a lot of data, UMPCs can replace a notebook and allow a users to trade down from a larger smartphone to a stylish feature phone.

REASONS TO AVOID UMPCs

  • Keyboard options are limited. UMPCs are not designed for inputting large amounts of text. 
  • Despite UMPCs being very efficient, their size means that large notebook-PC sized batteries are too heavy and big. As a result of including small, lightweight batteries, their life can be under 2 hours. [The best UMPCs with extended batteries, however, can last well over 6 hours.]
  • The screen is small: an 800×480 screen size is not optimal for productivity work. newer screens have 1024×600 resolution but still, this can be limiting.
  • They don’t fit in most pockets. If Ultra-Mobile to you means ‘pocketable’ then I’m sorry. UMPCs are not pocketable.
  • They are not user friendly. The flexibility of a full operating system comes with the downside of a large learning curve and high possibility of bugs. The user interfaces for desktop operating systems where never written for touch or small screens and can cause problems.
  • UMPC’s are not consumer priced. UMPCs have not moved into the mass market yet and as a result, prices remain similar to high-end smartphones.
  • They do not replace a notebook. For productivity users that input a lot of data and require the use of high-end productivity applications, UMPCs are not as good as a notebook.
  • They do not replace a smartphone. A smartphone is a pocketable device that is optimized for voice activities and operation using one or two fingers. A UMPC, due to its larger size and over-complex operating system can not replace a smartphone.
  • UMPCs aren’t available. You can’t find many examples of UMPCs in your local electronics shop. Despite there being over 50 different models to choose from, they remain in the hands of specialist online resellers.
    For more detailed info on UMPCs, have a look at the ultra mobile PC Buyers Guide 2007. You’ll find images, videos and links that will help you learn more about this new segment. And don’t forget, please drop your comments below. Unfortunately you have to register to comment (thanks Mr Spammer) but its a quick process and you can do it here.

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