Archive | July, 2007

Origami optimized reader available. For some.

Posted on 11 July 2007

Last week I was introduced to the world of e-books. With the Everun in my hand I finally thought ‘mmm. Here’s a device that’s bloody perfect. Sub-500gm, bright screen, auto rotate, long battery life. Perfect.’ And it was. Really good. Its better in the hand than any other UMPC I’ve tried. I feel like I did when I discovered MP3’s – I’m downloading e-books like I’m about to go on a 5-year holiday!

Naturally I was interested in trying out the new touch-optimised Reader on my touch-screen device and tried installing it. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzt! No way. You need to have the Origami TouchPack installed. What?

I’m back to Mobipocket now.

Nokia tablet with keyboard. Images.

Posted on 11 July 2007

As a company goes through product R&D they are likely to churn out a number of prototype devices. Some don’t get past the wooden model stage but other get through to the final rounds. This one looks like its made it through selection.

The screen appears to be 4:3 format. Maybe 800×600. More importantly though, what’s under the hood? Is it still going to be a sub-umpc on ARM or will they make the jump to x86 with a Menlow or Mobile-ITX platform?

Via Engadget where you can find more images.

Samsung Q1Ultra-Pro 800 Bahir HS for Germany

Posted on 10 July 2007

Q1 Ultra NewsCeegoo, Casomii, Barto and now, Bahir. Q1Ultra Pro 800 Bahir to be exact. ( NP-Q1UA000 )

As expected, the details of the German model Q1 Ultra are trickling into online distribution channels. Detailed specifications haven’t got into the system yet but I’m expecting those within 24 hours. Lowest price is €1199 which is, at current prices, about the same as the Q1B (HSDPA) and €150 more than the Original 60GB/1GB Q1.

Update: Direct from Samsung.

Q1Ultra-Pro 800 Bahir.

  • NP-Q1UA000/SEG
  • Intel® Prozessor A110 800 MHz 512 KB Cache 400 MHz FSB
  • Original Windows® Vista Home Premium
  • 7” Wide WSVGA 1024 x 600 Touchscreen
  • 1024 MB PC2-4200 (1 x 1024)
  • 60 GB 1,8″ 4.200 UPM
  • max. 128 MB Intel Graphic Media Accelerator 950
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g 10/100 Ethernet Bluetooth
  • 690 Gramm
  • AV Station NOW, Schutztasche, Sync-Kabel, SRS WOW HD Sound, Dual Kamera (0.3M + 1.3M Pixel)
  • Recommended retail price €1299.

I’m trying to find out about fingerprint scanner and HSDPA No Fingerprint reader on this model according to Samsung. (Direct email) and Availability in about 2 weeks (from date of post.) HSDPA model will follow in October.

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Raon Digital Everun UMPC. Full Review.

Posted on 10 July 2007

In May 2007, Intel told the world that they saw two markets for the UMPC. One, a higher-end market for professionals and productivity users. The other, a low-end market focused mainly on smaller, cheaper, less powerful entertainment and communication devices aimed at the consumer. This consumer market is something that Raon Digital has been focusing on since they launched their first UPMC back in August 2006 with their 4.3″ screen, AMD Geode powered Vega UMPC and a year later, Raon are continuing this focus and still seem to be ahead of the game. The Everun has launched with the same small form factor and long battery life as the Vega but with some additional and unique features along with a great price. UMPCPortal was lucky enough to get a production sample S30H for long term testing and here’s the full review.

Amtek u560 / Aigo UMPC. Full specs.

Posted on 10 July 2007

I have a confession to make. I’ve been sitting on information about the U560. Sorry everyone. Its nothing to do with an embargo or non-disclosure agreement, its to do with my bad, er, memory which only got jogged when I saw this U560 news filter through from Engadget today. There’s no real news in the Engadget article, just a few more images. Its been known for along time that the Amtek U560 would wear the Aigo badge and dare I say that our U560 images are better than Engadget’s anyway?

Here’s the new information though. [image right] Its the full production specification for the OEM model from Amtek. Click for the full-size version. All the data has been transferred into the product database.

About the device – I think it highlights quite effectively what happens when you add a sliding keyboard to a UMPC. It gets thick. A keyboard needs a frame, a layer of switches and the buttons themselves. This all takes space and I doubt anyone can do it successfully in less than 5mm. If you look at the Everun (full review to be published later today BTW) you’ll see a depth of about 25mm. The Amtek is 36mm deep making it almost impossible to get into a pocket. Battery capacity looks to be big though at 25W/hr. This should last longer than the Fujitsu U1010 which only has a 19W/hr battery. Maximum memory is 1GB. Drive is a 1.8″ 30, 40 or 60GB option. Camera is 1.3MP.

We previously heard that target pricing is around $1200 and release is planned for Dec 2007. Considering that the top-end Everun S66HS is $1100 and the Fujitsu U1010 is around the same price, it looks like there’s three ultra compact models to choose from at that level now. Check out the comparison table here. Which one would you go for? A screen PPI of nearly 250 could be much too tight for most people although it is slightly better than the Sony UX.

Images, hands-on thoughts, short video. 

Longer video showing keyboard.

Amtek U560 specs and news links in the product database.

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Good battery life tips.

Posted on 10 July 2007

You might have seen this article already but if not, its worth reading because its highly relevant to UMPCs.

15-ways to extend your battery life. It includes tips like ‘Dim your screen’ and “Hibernate not standby.’ 

My extra tips are:

Browsing is CPU heavy. If you’re just reading text on a website, try using the RSS feed if they have one. It can cut CPU usage considerably by avoiding all the processing power needed for flash, animated GIFs and javascript. Using an offline reader also means you can pick up all the news and then turn off the WiFi, which brings me to the second tip…

Turn of WiFi as much as possible. If you can connect via your mobile phone using Bluetooth or a USB cable, do it! In some UMPCs this can save up to 20% of battery drain. Again, try using offline tools (email client, RSS reader) to save on WiFi usage.

Screen dimming is very important. In an idle UMPC, it can save 20-30% depending in the screen type.

Kill those background tasks. I use Spybot Search and Destroy’s advanced features to keep my XP startup list as slim as possible. If you’re using Vista, optimise it!

Use power-saving modes but don’t slow yourself down too much. Some power-saving modes are extreme. The VIA-C7 locks down to 400Mhz in battery saving mode and it can really slow down the workflow.

Via jkOnTheRun

USB Duet EZ-Dock video.

Posted on 10 July 2007

Now we know why that USB Duet EZ Dock solution only works on the Eo Tuff Tab! OK, so its possible to integrate USB client functionality into the motherboard and this is probably just a demonstrator but that’s not going to happen for a while. And am I missing something here? Can’t you do this already over Remote Desktop? Is it just networking over a USB cable?

Someone fill me in please. I’ve tried contacting the PLX people but didn’t get a response. Is this something that could be integrated into cheap docking stations?

 

Kohjinsha SA6 hits the import channels.

Posted on 09 July 2007

Thanks to UMPCPortal member and frequent twitterer Rodfather, I just found out that the Kohjinsha SA6 is showing up on Dynamism and Conics, the gadget importers. I have been waiting for confirmation on processor type, model numbers and pricing and this gives us the answers.

It looks like there will be two models each in two colors. Black and white. The low-end model (SH6WP04A / SH6KP04A) has the 40GB drive and 512MB ram. The second model (SH6WP10A / SH6KP10A) has a 100GB drive and 1GB RAM. Both appear to come with Vista which is strange as I understood that Vista in 512MB of RAM is a no-go configuration.

Conics are offering the 100/1 version for $1049 I’m not sure what support, delivery or tax is applicable. Annoyingly, the XP Pro version is being offered for an extra $160. I assume that’s because Vista has to be de-installed. I wonder if you get the Vista licence thrown in. Dynamism have both versions available. No XP version unfortunately and the pricing for the SA1 (Geode version, 800×480 no touch) has not gone down either which is suprising as Data Evolution are offering them for $799. I would expect to see some movement there very soon.

The SH6 is way up high on my wish list. The original Kohjinsha SA1 was fantastically useful. I’d recommend an XP version of this for digital photographers and mobile bloggers without hesitating. Not a Vista versions though. Not on a 600Mhz McCaslin.

All the UMPCPortal SH6 information via this link.

New UMPC Rumors.

Posted on 07 July 2007

Don’t get too excited as there’s really no meat here. Frank talks about a DELL UMPC rumor. Apparently it won’t have a keyboard. I also read a blog a few weeks ago that was talking about and HP UMPC and if we’re on a rumor roll here then don’t forget that BenQ are also said to be producing a UMPC this year. Oh, and there’s Averatec (‘maybe Christmas time’ they told me last week.) And Acer and Toshiba too!

I feel sure than nearly ALL PC manufacturers are looking at UMPCs by now. They would be silly not to look at the possibilities with Menlow and Mobile-ITX for 2008. The image on the left shows a prototype from Intel that I haven’t seen anyone using yet. I wonder….!

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iPhone will not be 3G in Europe for 2007.

Posted on 06 July 2007

Good news for UMPC vendors trading in Europe today. The Financial Times reports that the iPhone will launch in the UK, France and Germany with 2.5G only during 2007. (shortened story here.)

So, the ‘real Internet’ (says Kevin Tofel) on a mobile phone won’t actually be mobile until at least 2008 and I suspect that it will be at least late 2008 before Europe gets a 2nd gen, 3G iPhone. This also means that if you’re choosing a mobile phone to partner with a notebook or UMPC as a modem, you can forget the iPhone. My recommendation would be this 3-step plan to the 3-device strategy.

  • Don’t go ‘high-end bulky business smartphone’ go thin, light and stylish. Take the chance to buy an object of desire. A nice 3.5G capable Samsung U700 or LG Shine that will slip into your pocket and give you email, RSS, mini-web, camera, storage and a 3G cellular modem.
  • Throw your notebook in the bin/eBay.
  • Buy a 5-7″ ultra mobile PC that will give the the real, true, honest, full Internet experience, a mobile video experience like none you’ve had before, a mobile workstation for real on-the-go productivity, an in-car navigation and entertainment solution and more storage and connectivity that any normal user could expect to use.
  • Use your desktop PC for your hi-end and long duration productivity work. If you must have a notebook, get one that replaces your desktop PC.
    If Apple turn up with an 800×480 device capable of the FIE and HQ video playback then sure, lets take another look but remember, if you want the FIE its not going to go into your pocket for a few years yet. You’re going to need to consider that three-device strategy until those folding scrolling screens are sorted out and Bill Gates recons that’s going to be another 5 years at least.

iPhone news via Mobile2Day.de

N800 gets Skype, YouTube improvements.

Posted on 06 July 2007

N800 skype
The N800 runs Skype at last!

Thoughtfix pinged me this morning (while I was browsing from bed!) to let me know that a software upgrade was available for the N800. My only answer was ‘Skype?’ Sure enough, its there, its a tailored N800 application and it works. This is really great news. He was making a video while I dragged myself out of bed and across the hallway into the office. I saw his Skype presence active and gave him a call. You’ll see it in the video that Thoughtfix has put up. Calling from N800 over 3G (Vodafone Germany) to EVDO (not sure what networks Thoughtfix is on) and Thoughtfix’s N800 worked too although it was a little choppy.

A second bonus is that YouTube is much improved. If you let the video download before playing it, it works smoothly. I suspect that the quality has been cut as the quality you see if similar to the quality under Windows when you set the Flash player to ‘low quality.’

Update: Rhapsody works In Europe! Well at least the 30-day free trial works OK.

Check out Thoughtfix’s Video at TabletBlog.com.

More Nokia N800 info.

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Portege R500. How did they get the 7 hours battery life?

Posted on 05 July 2007

Fancy a 7 hour UMPC? Well the Toshiba Portege is said to have a 7 hours battery life in 800gms of weight. Why can’t UMPCs use the same technology? Wouldn’t it be great to have an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.2Ghz GMA950 UMPC using the new U7600 Intel 65nm processor? Wooosh! Well, let me bring you some news. Intel based UMPCs use exactly the same technology and are often MORE efficient than the Toshiba Portege R500. 7 hours into a UMPC just doesn’t fit.

As usual with manufacturers battery life claims, its mostly smoke and mirrors. Firstly, Toshiba have used a nice testing trick that we’ve seen before. The 7 hours life is based on the JEITA test. To be blunt, its rubbish! I analyzed that test a few months back when I was suspicious of Fujistsu’s 4 hours UMPC battery life claim and found that its one of the easiest battery tests you could ever give a PC. Its a hands-off low-load and idle test and is effectively useless in determining real-world figures. Real-world usage with WiFi, reasonable screen brightness, and rich browsing is surprisingly heavyweight and easily knocks off about 30% of battery life from the JEITA test so in this 7-hour case, you’re already down to under 5 hours. Secondly, we’re dealing with an Intel processor and GPU here. Devices based on these chips can idle nicely down to very low power drain levels but can also burst to very high drain levels. A 1.2Ghz Intel CPU and GPU running at full tilt runs at least twice the drain of say, the AMD Geode LX800. Its not surprising that some R500 testers are reporting around 4 hours battery life because Vista and media-rich websites will use all the processing power they can get to perform their tasks and when the task is done, the user will just keep piling on new tasks! The final important point to note is that there a huge battery on the R500. In fact its about double the size of a standard UMPC battery at around 60W/hr. The same marketing trick is used with the Flipstart UMPC. It ships with a relatively massive 40W/hr battery and appears to have a good battery life. When you analyze the figures you can see why! Oh, there’s one other thing too. The 800gms weight is for an SSD version of the R500. I’m guessing that the JEITA tests where done using the SSD version which would have saved even more power.

If you factor all these elements in and scale the whole Portege R500 product down to UMPC sizes, weights and heat dispersion characteristics, you end up with a 30W/hr battery and around 2 hours of useable battery life which is exactly what we had 1 year ago. The only way you could scale the Portege down into a competitive UMPC-sized package would be to limit the ‘burst’ capability of the silicon and simply put, to slow the user down. I wonder how you could do that? Cap the clockrate perhaps? Well well well! That’s exactly where we are today with the Intel-based Stealey UMPCs.  Menlow, due at the end of 2007, will be interesting. There’s some new and quite mind-boggling chemistry and physics going into the 45nm ‘low-k dielectric’ that should help to bring the watt-per-clock and thermal characteristics down a lot but don’t expect miracles. Bandwidth capping will remain an important battery, heat-saving and user-slowing technique.

So does the R500 look any good after that? Well, I guess so. Its using ultra-efficient components and that’s always good in my book. Its got a nice transreflective, LED back-lit display and if you need a full sized keyboard and DVD burner, its there! Apart from that though, I can’t really tell you much about these notebook things. I’ve never owned one and probably never will.

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