I follow your reviews and commentary with great pleasure and interest.
Thanks for the great work!
Hereï¿½s a question. I have very basic needs in the ultra mobile PC world. As an academic researcher in the humanities, I spend many days in archives and libraries, where I enter text (sometimes longish text), which I then transfer to my PC. Thatï¿½s my life ï¿½ much of the time. Iï¿½ve been using Psion products for the last 6 or 7 years, but my Revo is
coming to the end of its performance. A basic word-processor, a good keyboard, a decent screen, and the ability to transfer text to the PC ï¿½ thatï¿½s all I need or want. Anything else ï¿½ phone, internet, camera, etc. ï¿½ would be a bonus, but isnï¿½t necessary. Can you point in some direction? Toward a product, a company, or a person, who might recommend a post-Psion machine?
Michael. Thanks for the email (and compliment!) This challenge is something I previously spent some time thinking about when I was doing my Solar-UMPC tour. All I wanted was a writing device with a good keyboard, bright screen, a simple suite of apps and long battery life. I kept coming up with the same answer – a mini Palm Foleo. Lets take a look at the requirements in more detail because its an interesting challenge.
Form factor. Notebook / clamshell. You could use a foldable keyboard with a slate device but there are two problems 1) if you get a Bluetooth one, the battery will ruin out when you don’t want it to! and 2) Its something else to forget or lose. I highly recommend the integrated keyboard approach. Clamshell is best for screen protection.
Screen: 7″ (800×480) gives you table-top readable text sizes for most eyes and the smallest form factor where you get a comfortable keyboard but at these sizes, its not exactly ‘post Psion.’ Post-Psion to me means ‘pocketable’ and that means 4-5″ screen. I pay a lot of attention to devices with this screen size because its at the fusion point of smartphones, PMPs and mobile Internet devices where one can just about retain pocketability but can also permit useable Internet-use resolutions. For text input though, 800×480 wouldn’t be required.
There is a category of devices out there that might work for Michael. Take a look at some of these designs:
Lovely aren’t they. These are all Korean dictionaries with 4.3″ WQVA (472×320) screens. They are all pocketable, all have keyboards, all have simple operating systems and long battery life. But you can’t get them with English language operating systems. I’ve written, frustrated, about these devices before, hoping that soon, someone will bring a MID with a similar form factor to the market. [Take a look at some more designs and thoughts about the mini ‘clamshell’ designs here.] Hopefully, soon, Menlow and Mobile-ITX will enable these type of designs because It think its what a lot of people are waiting for.
Other specs. We want long battery life. Minimum 4 hours. The weight should be under 500gms. The operating system is not that important. The storage should be flash-based with an SD card option and that’s about it. Oh wait, price. $500 should do it but I know Michael is prepared to go up to $1000 for the right device.
So where does that leave us? In summary, there are no devices that fit the requirement in the 4-5″ screen bracket. If you want a comfortable typing experience, you have to couple a touch-typeable keyboard with something like a 7″, 800×480 screen resolution (maybe 1024×800 if you’re happy to play with font sizes.) In this bracket there’s only two choices for Michael – The Eee PC and the Cloudbook and as the latter isn’t even available yet, I’d give the Eee PC the first look.
But what if Michael wants something smaller and is happy with the ‘pecking’ keyboard method? There’s nothing there in the Ultra Mobile PC market for Michael except the U810. It’s absolute overkill for what he needs, has the wrong screen res and is really too big but its the only option. In the smartphone category HTC Advantage 7501 is an option. Again its overkill and it hasn’t got such a nice keyboard as the U810 but at least the screen resolution is more useable and the size is more manageable. The price is slightly better too and if he wanted, he could add a Bluetooth keyboard. Syncing with a PC should be a breeze too.
Here are the top 3 choices then:
If anyone else has suggestions or thoughts, let Michael know in the comments below. Michael. I hope that helps you. Let us know what you think!