Archive | July, 2007

UMPC-Lite and other UMPC terms.

Posted on 18 July 2007

Its getting almost impossible to choose the right terms and labels for the consumer based UMPC segment without upsetting someone now. I’ve just been responding to a thread of comments about the N800 where we were talking about whether the N800 should be called a UMPC or not and here’s what I wrote:

It does become confusing doesn’t it. Should a device with a desktop operating system that has a restricted UI be classed as a separate device? If it works, does it matter what processor it has?
Currently I call the N800 a sub-umpc but to a consumer its going to look similar to an x86 device running Ubuntu Mobile in three months.
Are we going to call MID’s UMPCs (bear in mind that you only need to install XP and its a UMPC!)
I tend to think that for the sake of the market, we should always use the term UMPC somewhere. Nokia is using this technique of calling its mobile devices ‘computers’ too.
I think its more important to choose a term for marketings sake than on technical grounds.


Image from Pocketables.net

…and then 5 minutes later I picked up on a really nice article that Jenn wrote over at Pocketables. She’s calling the iPhone a ‘UMPC-lite’ device. She says that a UMPC-Lite device is simply a MID (mobile Internet device as defined by Intel) with an ARM processor. A desktop operating system on an ARM processor with a consumer optimized user interface and application-set. I like it. There are some things to think about though…

  • Some people would say that restricting  a user user interface means its not a PC? Hey, all user interfaces are restricted and in fact originally, PC’s never even had a GUI, just command line interfaces. My iPaq H2210 can run Linux and do that much better than my old PC could. Is my PocketPC a PC?
  • If I ran my UMPC using Origami Experience alone, does it mean its not a UMPC?
  • If I take a full Linux operating system and port it over lock, stock and barrel, to an mobile ARM device and get it running smoothly, would it be a UMPC? If I did the same with, say, OS-X, would it be a UMPC?
  • Nokia call their N-Series ‘Multimedia Computers.’ is that wrong?
  • If the consumer decides that they prefer the fun user interface and presentation-method that the iPhone uses, why should we bother to re-create a traditional Internet experience on a consumer focused UMPC? Fun could be more important than function to the consumer and could create more sales. (See iPhone)
  • If Nokia released a communicator running Internet tablet software on an x86 processor, would it be a smartphone or UMPC?

OK, enough of that! In my eyes, this concept of re-presenting a ‘PC’ to a user in a different form is a good one, especially for consumers, and I like the way that the ‘PC’ term is being used and is moving forward. I also like the way that, for anyone entering the UMPC market for the first time, the term UMPC is the dominant term across all sub-segments and I like the way that its separating from its old Origami roots. I think people marketing these ultra-mobile-Internet-communications-and-media-devices (!) need to use the momentum that the term UMPC has now and to keep on pushing it. Stick with it. Don’t mess around trying to create confusing little pockets of devices with new names. PPC, MID, PIMD etc etc. I see just one split in the market and that’s between the consumer UMPC and professional UMPC. Consumer UMPCs are optimized to ‘drain’ content from the internetworks and professional UMPCs can ‘source’ content in an efficient way too. Or am I biased because I run UMPCPortal? possibly but its already too late. Google has already linked the term UMPC with hundreds of devices and of all the terms, this is the only one that’s got momentum. Everyone uses the term UMPC, even if its in a negative sense so if you’re in the business of marketing ultra mobile devices you have to use the term UMPC in order to get peoples eyes. No-one is searching for ‘MID’ or ‘UPPC’ in search engines. In the last month, 11000 searches ended up on this site by using a search expression with UMPC in it. In the same period, the number of people reaching me using a search expression with MID in it was just 237. That’s less than the number of people that reached me using the search term ‘jabra bt8010.’

So let me see a show of hands. Should the manufacturers, resellers, promoters and marketeers continue to use ‘UMPC’ and add descriptive terms like ‘sub’, ‘lite’, ‘consumer’, ‘pro’ or should they try to influence Google, confuse custonmers and make up a new name? Come on, lets welcome the iPhone into the (sub/lite) UMPC fold with open arms, give it a big multi-touch kiss, learn a lot from it and get the Ultra Mobile PC segment developing even faster. Ignoring it is not an option and that’s why i’ll be queueing up for one when it launches in Europe.

Tekkeon MP3450 Review

Posted on 18 July 2007

So its been awhile since I’ve posted anything on UMPCPortal.  I now have a new toy, and I thought I would share my thoughts on it with you.  I just received today the Tekkeon MyPowerAll MP3450.  Steve “Chippy” Paine did a review on the MP3400 a few months ago, and after reading it, I had to get one.  I decided to wait a little bit, and I am glad that I did.

I took a trip to tekkeon.com where I came across a new listing for a new MyPowerALL Device…the Tekkeon MP3450.  What separates this from the MP3400?  The 3400 provides you with an additional 6Wh at 56Wh, while the 3450 provides 50Wh.  What does this mean?  Powering a device such as a UMPC, or a Laptop will result in less capacity, and there for less overall battery life.  The 3450 is rated at being able to power a Laptop for about 3.5Hrs.  I haven’t had a chance to test this however I must say so far its doing quite well.

A few other differences that I would like to point out is the MP3450 has the capability to charge not only a portable device such as a Laptop, it also can simultaneously charge a USB device such as an iPod or Digital Camera.  The most important feature that I think is key to the selling point of the MP3450 is its ability to link up with an additional battery pack (MP3450-10), and provide double the capacity, so you’re getting roughly 100Wh out of it.  Seems more bang for your dollar than having to purchase an extra battery for your UMPC, Notebook, or other portable device.

Conclusion:

The build quality is very solid, and all of the accessories that were given with the MP3400 are given with the MP3450.  The leather case varies slightly however I find this one much nicer as it just slides out, while still maintaining protection of the device to prevent scratches, or if you have butter fingers, to protect from shorter drops.  I was able to find the Tekkeon MP3450 over at Newegg for only $114 with $5.00 shipping.  Quite the bargain compared to the MP3400 which is about $20 more.

Mozilla browser ported for N800

Posted on 18 July 2007

So there’s one of my complaints about the N800 out the window. They’ve (Maemo and Mozilla teams I assume) ported the Mozilla engine over to it and now you’ve got full Ajax support and the possibility of plugins within the Nokia N800 browser. A quick test on my N800 confirms that at least Google Reader is working now and that you can switch between Opera and Mozilla engines and get different results. Over on the Internet Tablet Talk forum there are pages of people buzzing about the more complete Internet browsing experience. And its only a beta release! (Note I have seen crashes. Its not ready for mainstream yet.)

I’ve moaned about the FIE on ARM before but it looks like I might have to think about moving the Nokia tablet from sub-UMPC status to UMPC status making it the first ARM device I’d recommend as a consumer-focused ultra mobile PC. Not quite yet though. Not in its N800 incarnation. That processor is still not powerful enough to get things flowing smoothly for customers. Page loads are still as slow as before and media playback/YouTube still stutters along. BUT…its a big step forward and really heats up the x86 vs ARM race. I have to say that the Maemo project appears to be coming of age nicely and it makes things very interesting indeed for the next version of Nokia Tablet hardware.

More info on the N800 available here.

Via Ubuntu Mobile mailing list. (See Wiki for more info.)

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Pepper Pad 3 now available in UK. EU-wide too.

Posted on 17 July 2007

My favorite sofa surfer, the Pepper Pad 3 took a while to get across the pond but its finally arrived in Europe. In the UK its being carried by Expansys for 400 ‘softs’ and as their network extends across Europe, its available in almost any Euro country for a tad over 600 Euros. That’s 200 Euros less than the nearest UMPC competition.

Now could be an interesting time to buy a Pepper Pad as Pepper prepare to release another version of the software which includes the Skype voice client.

More information on the Pepper Pad 3 including galleries and a full review is available on in our product database.

Via Pepper forums.

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Reasons to love and avoid UMPCs

Posted on 17 July 2007

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 UMPC comes in many styles and designs. 4,3″ pocketable up to 7″ with keyboard. Sliding keyboard, folding keyboard, thumbkeyboard and even touchscreen keyboard. A UMPC 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 UMPC 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 UMPC 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.

Intel launches mobile and Internet Linux project.

Posted on 16 July 2007

As the Intel Ultra Mobile ecosystem moves forward with both RedFlag and Canonical developing distributions for the next generation of Intel-based MID devices, Intel has gone public with some of the development work that’s been going into these projects through a new portal called Moblin at moblin.org. At the same time, Intel have pulled together a number of other resources in order to attract developers to get on-board with the new developments.

I picked up the announcement on the Ubuntu Mobile development list.

We are happy to announce the launch of the Mobile & Internet Linux Project on http://moblin.org. Moblin.org is an umbrella open source project focused on the development of Linux for Intel-based devices. Moblin.org is also an incubator for prototyping new ideas and building a community of developers around them. Currently, moblin.org hosts a number of projects, including an Image Creator, Browser, UI framework, power policy manager, and various non-PC oriented applications and software components. The work so far has been focused on Intel-based devices, but is open to contributions for support of other architectures.
One of the main goals of moblin.org is to serve as the point of integration for these projects, and to ensure the interoperability of the various components.  Moblin.org enables the creation of complete source trees and binary images that can run either on actual devices, or in an emulated environment for testing purposes. We’ve just started the development on moblin.org, so please join our
developer mailing list-all are welcome to contribute to the various projects, or propose new ideas and projects on moblin.org. You can join the mailing list at http://www.moblin.org/community_mail-list.html with much more information available at http://moblin.org.
Rusty Lynch — Bob Spencer
Intel Open Source Technology Center

How about that. ‘The work so far has been focused on Intel-based devices, but is open to contributions for support of other architectures’ Nice to see Intel publicly entering into the open source spirit of things although I guess it would have looked a bit selfish if they had tried to tie an open source project to their hardware!  At the new site you’ll find source code, mailing lists IRC channels and oh wait, no forum. Strange, They should get that sorted out straight away. Apart from that though, it looks like a great start. If you look careful you’ll find hints about some of the new features for Ubuntu Mobile which is now only three months away. The browser will be based on Mozilla 2.0 with a ‘finger-driven UI’ and ‘clean UI, standards-focused, xul-based, add-on support, plugins’ There’s even some early renderings showing ideas for various components. The image, left, shows an early idea for the media player.

Join the development team at Moblin.org

Tiny USB stick + Tiny UMPC = Tiny personal digital video recorder.

Posted on 16 July 2007

Over the weekend I took delivery of a tiny digital TV tuner USB stick and naturally, it made sense to pair it with some tiny PC’s.

The �75 Terratec Cynergy Piranha has just been released in Europe and it offers support for DVB-T, DAB and T-DMB standards, not something thats going to be much use in America but in Europe, free-to-air DVB-T (terrestrial digital TV) has been around for a number of years and is now a popular way to receive TV. As you can see, the device is tiny and even includes a detachable mini-aerial making it perfect for attaching to a UMPC for the ultimate flexible portable digital TV and recording solution. Read on for more info and videos.


Click to go through to the gallery.

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Uber-iPhone (x86-based of course!)

Posted on 13 July 2007

The (youknowwhat) Phone introduced a lot of people to enjoyable touch interfaces. If was only a matter of time until it was replicated on a UMPC…

 

Source MicroPCTalk via Pocketables.

Eee PC. preview from NotebookReview.com

Posted on 13 July 2007

Lucky Andrew at NotebookReview got his hands on an Eee PC…

Highlights appear to be fast startup and shutdown, keyboard a bit shaky but good enough to “crank out a few emails” and an attractive build.

As for software:

You can browse the web using Firefox, use Skype with the built-in web cam and microphone, open Word and Excel docs and edit them, view photos, listen to music files, use AOL IM, MSN messenger or just about any other major chat client via Kopete. In other words, all the basic functions you perform on a PC you can do on the EEE PC.

I have a few issues with the device myself. Firstly, there’s no Bluetooth so for me its hotspot-portable but not mobile. Secondly, if the build quality is low, it certainly won’t be mobile. My other question is, can you add a hard drive? If not then its not going to be competition for the VIA Nanobook variants.

Andrew also reports that the base price could not be $250 and we’ve already heard that its going to be 200 pounds in the UK and 299 Euro in Spain.

Full notebookreview article here.

Our Eee pc 701 specifications page (images, news links, specs)

 

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Samsung Q1 Ultra for $1499 (U.S.)

Posted on 13 July 2007

In this video from ZDNet, David Berlind gets Samsung to reveal that a 32BG SSD Q1 Ultra will be only $1499. Not $1999 as we previously heard.

Does anyone else think that David Berlind looks like Jim Carey?

Original article from ZDNet here.

 

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Take the Tour! Fujitsu U1010 flash presentation

Posted on 13 July 2007

Flashy with flash! Its a lovely presentation. Many people said that they didn’t like the looks of the Lifebook U1010 but I’ve been a secret fan since day one.

Thanks to site member Glenn for the tip. The flash presentation can be found here.

Latest news for the U1010 can be found here.

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Browser comparison on N800, iPhone, N95, Everun, Q1p

Posted on 13 July 2007

Jonathan Greene has published a video that shows a comparison between the three browsers on the N95, N800 and iPhone. He summarizes by saying that he prefers Safari over Opera. (iPhone over N800) which raises a few questions for me, someone that’s always saying ‘browsing starts at 800 pixels wide.’ He puts the devices through a tough test of Google apps (Gmail, Google Reader) and a few basic websites. The summary is that while the N95 browser is good, its just not up to the standard of the N800 and iPhone.

This, of course, is a Wifi test. In a non-hotspo area with 3G coverage, the N95 wins hands down! I wonder what Matt Miller would say about this. He’s just returned his iPhones (yes. More than one!) in favor of his N95 and has even put an order in for a Nokia E90. I’ll be watching for his opinion on the E90 browser.


Full post from Atmaspheric | endeavors

The N800 and iPhone are consistently proving to be two of the best ARM-based devices out there (E90 needs a good test though!) but I still think there’s a big big difference between Opera/S60 Browser and full x86 browsers. To that end I’ve made a similar video by taking the N800, the Everun and the Samsung Q1P  and running them through some browser speed-tests. I’m writing this before I make the video and I’m expecting the Everun to be much faster than the N800. Its a full X86-based Windows PC (and costs a lot more too!) so should do well. The Q1P should be the fastest though. Lets see how it goes…

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Click To Play

Update: ArchosLounge joins the browser demo party and brings along an Archos 605 Wifi!

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