10 reasons why an Ultra Mobile PC is better than Netbook (and 5 UMPC recommendations.)

Posted on 14 July 2008, Last updated on 14 July 2008 by

As I  look at the UMPCPortal product pages today I see something I have never seen before. The top 10 most popular devices, based on visitor clicks, are all notebooks. 4 of them are touchscreen convertibles but the rest are plain old low-cost, dare I say boring, netbooks. I knew it would happen at some point. Low-cost = Raised Eyebrows. We’re all suckers for a bargain but these are not the mobile devices I’d prefer to see high up on the list. Where’s the ever-useful Q1 Ultra or the MID-before-its-time Raon Digital Everun? When I think of UMPCs I think about features and smaller sizes and not run-of-the-mill designs and ultra-low costs.

My main job in life is to promote UMPCs. I believe in them and I believe others will benefit from them. Netbooks are definitely a valid choice in the mobile computing space and, just like i’m happy that the iPhone is introducing Mobile Internet to millions, I’m happy that netbooks are introducing more millions to mobile computing. I will continue to report and highlight products in these areas and under no circumstances would I say that smartphones or netbooks are bad choices. But when it comes to mobile computing, there are some features that make certain devices stand out from the crowd. The term ultra mobile PC – Ultra Mobile PC – is the term that is most applicable to these mobile-focused computers.

So here’s a little ultra mobile PC love. It’s a list of 10 reasons why a mobile PC is better than a netbook. You may not agree but by the end of the list, you should get a feel for what I believe a ultra mobile PC is.

  • Design choice. You get the choice of clamshell, slider, modular, tablet or notebook style. Sizing to suit your hands. Style to suit your eyes. The design-space for UMPCs is far more varied and you’re likely to find something that really fits your needs.
  • Battery life. UMPCs tend to have better battery life than netbooks. Historically they’ve been built around old notebook CPUs but today, that’s changing. Expect to see far better energy efficiency in Mobile devices compared to Netbooks as the designers put autonomy high on the list of features.
  • Size. You want it sub 400gm, you got it! 1KG is for tables. 600gm for two hands. 400gm is for the pocket and holding with a single hand. You decide.
  • Touchscreen. Touchscreens are quick. Touchscreens are fun. Touchscreens enable far more usage scenarios. Handwriting. Annotating. In-Car use. Gesture-based UIs. A few mods on the XP user interface and even that can be quick and fun.
  • Mobility features. Fingerprint readers to save on typing. High-brightness screens. Rugged builds. High-speed SSD drives. Modular builds. Built-in 3G modems. One of these features might appeal to you. You won’t find them on netbooks!
  • Accessories. Car mounts. Keyboards. Docking stations. Multiple battery options. Cases. Sleeves and a lot more. UMPCs can be modified in ways that other PC designs can’t.
  • Usage scenarios. Bed, Sofa, Bus, train, plane, two-handed, one-handed, standing, sitting, driving, biking, flying. Kicking back with a PC has never been so relaxing.
  • Lead the way. Mobile computing and mobile Internet are coming because to many people, it brings advantages in being connected to people and information. Integrate it into your life now and start reaping the advantages immediately.
  • Increase productivity. As a result of the size and features, you’ll start to find that an Ultra Mobile computer works in places you never thought of working before. Traffic jams. Waiting lines and outside the changing room while you are waiting for your partner to try on that 5th dress.
  • It’s fun. Its fun to learn different ways to use a mobile computer.  Its fun to choose a new device. It’s fun to be connected. UMPCs are fun!

Let me leave you with 5 ultra mobile PC recommendations to think about.

Kohjinsha SC3. The first ever device to be based on the Intel Menlow platform. Amazingly small and efficient but packs a 7" swivel touchscreen, a GPS module and ExpressCard/34 slot. More than a just a mini-notebook.


The Gigabyte M704. A great-value all-rounder with slider keyboard. Wonderful 7" 1024×600 touchscreen. Far smaller than even the Eee PC 701.

Samsung Q1 Ultra Premium. Notebook power in a tablet package. 6hr battery life and a 1.3Ghz Core Solo processor. Also available with 800Mhz processor. A great, well-designed all-rounder.


OQO Model 02/E2 One of the smallest UMPCs going. Packs a full PC specification in a well-designed, stlyish, pocketable size. Class-leading keyboard.

WiBrain B1. Starting at under 400 Euro (330 export price) this has to be one of the best ultra mobile PC bargains available. 1.2Ghz VIA processor, easy-to-use keyboard and mouse pad. High resolution 4.8" screen.

57 Comments For This Post

  1. TareX says:

    I’m surprised the HTC Shift isn’t on the list… I mean, slider touchscreen, tilts… excellent build, perfect connectivity…

    I agree UMPCs are a lot more charming than mini-laptops aka netbooks. But they were just getting bigger and bigger, less pocketable, and the thumb keyboards where getting less and less usable. Why not get the same size, with a laptop design, where u can use all fingers to operate?

    The slideout OQO m2 and m704 are amazing, they used to be my favorite. But now, they are slowly being replaced by qwerty smartphones, which are pocketable and also thumb operable… when WM7 devices hit, their form factor will be obsolete for umpcs…

    But they certainly were my favorite, but see, even you listed the Kohjinsha SC3 which has a netbook form factor as your favorite :)

  2. NobbyNobbs says:

    Tha main problems with umpcs still are availability and pricing.
    Go to any any of the big retailers in Germany, and the only umpc you are gonna find (but also only if you are lucky) ist the samsung q1 or one of the asus devices. Gigabyte, amtek, wibrain, oqo… you only can get these via the internet (and often enough only from sites outside germany, i.e. high shipping costs and taxes to be added) and have to trust reviews on these devices because you don`t get any chance to test ore even look at these devices yourself.
    And the price tag on these devices also still is way too high for the average consumer or even most of the so-called prosumers to get an umpc. The gigabyte m528 surely seems like a great device – but it`s probably (as there still is no official pricing) way too expensive if you consider that a nokia n800 already is available for less than 200€.

    I just would like to see more umpcs like the wibrain: (quite) cheap, solid, nice form factor. If devices like this would be more broadly available, umpcs could finally get going.

  3. John D'Alessandro says:

    I loved my Newton 2000 (upgraded to 2100), and still regret that I have sold it years ago. I am so sorry that there is nothing that can replace it. I will soon have an iPhone 3G that I hope will take its place in my heart, but I doubt it (even though, in ways, it is WAY more powerful). Why did I love it?

    Instant on. You could really take notes with the thing because it acted like a notebook. Flick it on and write. (Can’t take notes like this with an iPhone, but it has instant on and I can use Evernote.)

    Handwriting recognition. My Toshiba M400 has it, and it may be better at the actual recognition, but there is nothing like just writing anywhere on the screen and having it magically translate into typed code in the correct spot. I am a teacher, and I could enter grades in spreadsheets live as I walked around the room. Now, I tap the correct cell, tap the entry area, write, tap the insert button…not the same. (I bought it with Vista installed)

    It was ALMOST pocketable with ALMOST the correct screensize. I was really psyched to get the Samsung Q1 last year when I got the Toshiba. It is basically the same size as a Newton with a much bigger screen. But then I started hearing the nightmarish slowing down with Vista, and went for more horsepower. Also, it has “real” notebook price.

    What would be perfect? Someone needs to get off their butts and make a 5-7″ tablet WITHOUT A KEYBOARD that is designed in hardware and software to not need a keyboard, similar to the iPhone, but with better text-entry in mind. It seems a shame that we live in a world were handwriting recognition is well-developed and sits in the back of our ultra-modern operating systems lying dormant because it is too clumsy to use. Take the tablet, simple OS, basic 4 office apps, maybe 2 decent art apps (a paint and a draw), make it wireless using Wi-Fi and a slot for the various cell networks, touch-screen (and preferably WACOM also), and that bundle I would happily pay the $1500 to buy. But not with Windows + clutter, as it would be too slow.

    What happened to the dream of Linux?

  4. chippy says:

    @Tarex. These arent my favorite UMPCs! Just wide-ranging random selection to highlight the range of devices available and some of the key features.

    @Nobby. Yup, price and availbility are a big problem. Fortuately, its changing. Slowly but surely. Many devices will still remain niche to-order devices but I think we’ll see some of the popular brands start to appear in carrier and retailer shops.


  5. Futurize Korea says:

    Just curious, why aren’t PDAs included in the UMPC genre?

  6. Sascha says:

    So on top of the recommendation list is a netbook, right?


    sorry chippy i couldn’t resist


  7. Maarten Hammega says:

    Nice article, but where is the Sharp WS016SH / Willcom D4?

    It’s based on the new Atom dual core platform, touchscreen, wifi/bt, high resolution etc.

    As for myself, I got bugged with the HTC Shift as I pretty much hate Windows Mobile and the slow performance.
    Now I am looking at the Kojinsha SC3 and the Sharp WS016SH which I should get some more info about soonish.

    I love the design of the Sharp/Willcom device but I love the 2GB ram and all the ports of the Kohjinsha SC3.

  8. Anonymouse Reader says:

    I agree with your list. However…

    So when we see this new AMD processor based design:


    Will it be a UMPC or a Netbook?

    PS – Any News on this one yet (or unlike the Asus leaks that created tons of crazy pre-release buzz over the original EeePC, is this device so secret now, that no one knows anything more about it)?

    Off-Topic (yet an interesting question): Since AMD has a big small notebook computer that is using it’s processor already (One-Laptop-Per-Child XO), the question to guess at is: If, due to this previous working relationship, if any of the XO power saving technology would make it into future AMD designs from other companies?

    An interesting hypothesis could result from this question… as Intel was part of the OLPC group until the folks at Intel were told that OLPC rejected using any of the new Intel processors because Intel’s processors, designed to use less power, still used too much power (and instead stayed with AMD, causing Intel to leave the OLPC working group, just before January of 2008, as at that point Intel saw OLPC as a competition in the small low power netbook space, because OLPC was using an AMD processor and not an Intel processor).

    AMD’s main problem right now, is that it is late to market with a totally less power using option (one that beats Intel) in the portable PC (netbook and UMPC) commercial, non-OLPC, market. Most Manufacturers are already in production with lines based on Intel (to convert profitable production lines right now, and move instead to AMD, might be so costly that AMD just is cut out of the space now because they are so late in entering it? This makes it a challenge for AMD as to enter markets and replace Intel based production lines, they have to have a clear winner (spec wise) and that mean that they use so much less power that battery life of an AMD unit blows Intel’s offerings totally away. If they don’t do this… then, production will stay with Intel, because it is cheaper vs changing a manufacturing line from Intel to AMD.

    Why is AMD hiding it’s UMPC and Netbook processor designs? I see no press on any AMD products in this space at all?

  9. Dreador says:


    Oddly I did the opposite moved from a m400 to a q1 and for me the q1 wins. Also tried a eee but found the m400 better than this as the clamshell was too limiting.

    I have upped the memory and tweaked vista and dont really mind the speed now

    plus for q1 and umpc

    portability – you can use it anywhere and unlike many I find the q1 keyboard useable

    battery 5-6 hours on one charge with net acivity

    price wise the q1 wasnt a million miles from a netbook

    in fact the only thing i prefered on the m400 was the touch screen, on the q1 writing cag handed on it is almost impossible.

  10. chippy says:

    Again, the product list isn’t a definitive list of the top 5 umpcs. Its just some recommendations highlighting the scope of the UMPC sector. Don’t fret that your fave device isn’t in there!

    And Sascha. Shrink a netbook, add some pro features and yes, you have a UMPC! ;-)

    As for PDA. I take note and cover them when necessary. You’ll find some WM devices in the database. I should have one coming in for test this week (Opera Mobile 9.5 beta is out tomorrow)
    I’m excited to see if WM7 resurrects part of the PDA market and elevates the big-screened devices up to a point where they can be considered pro-mobile with FIE features, good processors and swift, enjoyable, productive software.

  11. Scot says:

    This segment seems to be changing so quickly – I’m reluctant to pay the price for a UMPC. I think that’s why the netbooks are so attractive – the price is such that you won’t feel as much regret when the next best thing happens six months from now. If the prices were a bit lower, I would be there. Also, where is wireless draft n on these devices? The 901 has it.

    Great website.

  12. tal says:

    Steve, I hope you will spread the same love towards MIDs soon.

  13. Benjiro says:

    No offense, but this site is also partly to plain for the netbooks being in the top of the listing.

    The last few months, about 70% of the news has been about netbooks & there variants. This last weeks there has finally been some other news, but just go back one page in the archive. What do you see, 1 post about the D4, and all the rest netbooks.

    Its nice and well to see a post about the eee, but like most sites, you get bombarded with eee xxx, eee yyy, and all the other clones…

    At times i wonder if this site’s url better be http://www.netbooksportal.com

    I hope nobody takes any offense to this, but how can you NOT expect the netbooks to be the most clicked in conditions like that, and even more so when all the last 5, top 5 UMPC’s are all showing netbooks to the right side of the site. Notice the irony in that… Top 5 UMPC’s… Its better rename to Top 5 Netbooks.

    Last week i saw a “UMPC” in a local ( big ) warehouse, i was shocked to see it. Hell, i don’t even remember the model… In reality it was just a netbook. Even worse was the performance on that thing. After 5min of trying, i gave up in frustration ( running a Via cpu ). The response was slow, even graphic buildup showed a delay. Frustrating like hell. The only good thing was the price point ( 499€ ), instead of the usual +700€ or +1000€ prices… But then again, it felt so frustratingly slow, that my 4 year old PDA ( x50 ) was faster! Thats really going to convince people to buy a “UMPC”…

    What people want are UMPC’s like the Shift, D4, with the needed performance & battery life, at the right price point. But fat chance for that. I’ve been lurking in the UMPC community for over 2 years ( or is it almost 3? ) for a device that does it all, with the right price, performance, size, battery life. And yet, its still not there. The D4 comes 2de best, but 2de best is still not a sale ( and ofcourse limited to some area’s ).

  14. fixup says:

    Admit it or not, UMPCs are still not as pocketable as a smart phone or MID, nor as productive as a notebook. They are still geeks’s toys, until they drop down below $500 and are truly pocketable.

  15. ecsk2 says:

    Whereas I strongly agree and feel UMPCs and Netbooks shouldn’t even be considered together (meaning I’m even questioning if they “belong” on this blog at all :)), I will confess to be one of those who’ve clicked on Netbook topics more than UMPC topics lately.

    However I have ask some questions where I see there is contradictions or/and inaccuracies, and here they are:

    1. “Design choice. You get the choice of clamshell, slider, modular, tablet or notebook style. Sizing to suit your hands. Style to suit your eyes. The design-space for UMPCs is far more varied and you’re likely to find something that really fits your needs.”

    UMPCs outside the OQO or at a stretch perhaps Sony UX or the Flipstart, are just in a size where a Netbook makes more sense, as you pay less and get more (in my opinion you get more). All in all I feel like ALL UMPCs are like a car where the body really can’t handle/support the powerful engine that’s put in it, read battery time, heat and vounrability vs. price.

    2. “Battery life. UMPCs tend to have better battery life than netbooks.” HUH?? I’m sure I will be presented with some table of numbers after questioning this but with my own UMPC categorizing (read: OQO, UX and such sized devices only) and having owned a number of them for instance OQO 01, 01+ and 02 and UXs and now several netbooks, the UMPCs have had an UP TO 2-2.5 hour battery time, whereas my netbooks easily do double that and I’m not even trying, whereas with the UMPCs I was constantly consciously trying to squeeze the most out of the batteries, alway trying to find ways for charging or/and double sized batteries etc.

    3. “Size. You want it sub 400gm, you got it! 1KG is for tables. 600gm for two hands. 400gm is for the pocket and holding with a single hand. You decide.”
    OK and I have, I feel that if it won’t fit in my pocket anyhow it might as well be as close to a “real” laptop as possible but without the size & price, and voila the netbooks have done that with their $400-600 price. *IF* there will be some pocketable MID/UMPC for up to double that with similar battery time as the netbooks I’ve now had (EEEs) I might consider one.

    4. “Touchscreen. Touchscreens are quick. Touchscreens are fun. Touchscreens enable far more usage scenarios. Handwriting. Annotating. In-Car use. Gesture-based UIs. A few mods on the XP user interface and even that can be quick and fun.”

    I’m split on touch screens first off active screens as on the OQOs don’t really appeal to me and my needs at all. Secondly the iPhone has implemented a great UI but I have to say when “on-the-go” your traditional touch screen many times don’t “work well” for me due to the lack of accuracy when you’re walking around and trying to “hit” a specific location (read: windows mobile is by far NOT suitable for walking around and computing, unlike the iPhone), now how the Sidekick implements “mouse location” I really like for mobile computing as it shows a “box” around the “clickable” part(s) on any website and scrolling the scrollball will jump to the next one be it left-right or up-down. Now on the other hand when you have a device of the size of M528 / OQO with the lack of size and thereby place for a touchpad a touchscreen can be a nice feature, however I don’t feel that your average OS (read XP) is very well adapted for using a 5-7″ touch screen due to icon sizes.

    5. “Mobility features. Fingerprint readers to save on typing. High-brightness screens. Rugged builds. High-speed SSD drives. Modular builds. Built-in 3G modems. One of these features might appeal to you. You won’t find them on netbooks!”

    Am I really the only one who couldn’t care less about fingerprint readers? I’ve tried them once and thought they were incredibly inaccurate and cumbersome, and personally don’t see any need for it, but like I ask, is this ONLY ME?
    High brightness screens? I’ve never had an UMPC nor netbook where the screen would’ve been great or even good in outside sunlight. High-speed SSD, how about just starting with SSD as such, they’re more common on netbooks than on UMPCs, what would indicate that HS SSDs wouldn’t become too once their prices comes down to reasonable ones? 3G modems, from my understanding of this blog and JKK”s the opposite is true that there are a few netbooks that WILL come with 3G shortly?! You WON’T find….do you mean can NOT FIND (at this time) or do you really mean that you WILL NOT FIND as in a future tense? That would seem like predicting something impossible to predict, if I were to guess I’d tend to say its only a matter of time before ALL of these features will find their way to both Netbooks and UMPCs (if UMPCs even survive as a consumer product?)

    6. “Accessories. Car mounts. Keyboards. Docking stations. Multiple battery options. Cases. Sleeves and a lot more. UMPCs can be modified in ways that other PC designs can’t.”

    That is where MIDs (still a very much evolving market) and Smart phones take over right? With the border between MID and Smart phones getting more diffused by the day with devices like the M528 and iPhone 3G just to name two.

    7. “Usage scenarios. Bed, Sofa, Bus, train, plane, two-handed, one-handed, standing, sitting, driving, biking, flying. Kicking back with a PC has never been so relaxing.”

    Ironically this is one of the reasons I got rid of my OQO!! The fact that I could with a then sub notebook (Sony TZ) and now netbook (EEE) keep it on my lap, on a table or on the sofa or any other surface for that matter and still keep using it either passively (watching something) or actively for instance with my BT mouse and thereby use it without using both (or even one) hand(s)! With a UMPC (without any dock or any other accessory) I am forced to involve both hands in order t comfortable use it, adding to this the smallish screens of UMPCs makes you keep it closer to your eyes, again HOLDING it rather than having it rest on something. As for driving and biking, well driving I can stick my netbook on the dash of my cars with hardly any accessories, as for biking I don’t know what I would use an UMPC for ON the bike, that my smartphone or MID couldn’t do, not to mention unless I have a 12V dynamo how am I going to power that hungry UMPC? :) Flying?? If you’re talking about being a passenger in a plane, then fine it’s like being in your sofa more or less, with the benefit of being a LAP-device vs. a HAND-device, if you’re talking about being at the controls of a plane, well I guess it could be on the “dash” as in one of my cars, but I don’t really feel that a UMPC nor Netbook should be there in the first place unless your a professional and use it as such. Ok ok for GPS you say, I personally don’t like the “add-on” GPS’ in vehicles I think they look out of place and to some extent will interfere with how your vehicle is designed to be used wherever you stick it. I personally want to utilize a built in screen and perhaps hook up my UMPC or Netbook to it with being in the glove compartment or somewhere, and also thereby automatically having a more appropriate UI on that screen.

    8. “Lead the way. Mobile computing and mobile Internet are coming because to many people, it brings advantages in being connected to people and information. Integrate it into your life now and start reaping the advantages immediately.”

    I don’t see how UMPCs would standout vs Netbooks or smart phones or MIDs (for that matter) when it comes to WWAN or WLAN, am I missing something? How do UMPCs lead the way in mobile computing/internet unlike netbooks?

    9. “Increase productivity. As a result of the size and features, you’ll start to find that an Ultra Mobile computer works in places you never thought of working before. Traffic jams. Waiting lines and outside the changing room while you are waiting for your partner to try on that 5th dress.”

    I can see how this is true for the type of devices *I* look at as possible UMPCs I could own (as mentioned the OQO sized ones) but I don’t really see myself carrying around a “traditional” UMPC to any of these situations frankly, even being at those locations with an OQO (been there done that btw!) raises more attention/questions than one might want, unlike using one of the smart phones I have not to mention my hang up with the UMPCs that they take a good % of the time “you have” in those situations t0 get “ready to play” and then once they’re up and ready to “rock & roll” I feel like I can only make it through rock….and then I’ve either on low battery or with a dead battery, with UMPCs :)

    10. “It’s fun. Its fun to learn different ways to use a mobile computer. Its fun to choose a new device. It’s fun to be connected. UMPCs are fun!”

    To me it almost sounds like the “different ways” is synonym with “compromises having to be done” with UMPCs. Yes yes I’ve tried to keep the iPhone out of this comment as I do NOT feel it belongs here, but under the term FUN I feel it does belong it truely is fun in an EASY way to use the iPhone, that is the type of fun I feel mobile computing should be, as we all know at the present time you can’t get ALL the power you’re used to at your desk with mobile computing so the things you CAN do should be as easy and fun as possible without having to do any “tricks” to “get there” which I feel the iPhone UI & solutions do but not UMPCs.


    Although I questioned a lot of things in this post http://www.umpcportal.com/2008/06/expensive-iphone-3g-plans-revealed-in-germany/ at the end of the day I am doing the same thing myself, that is using a phone (or actually two) in conjunction with a netbook as my main devices for mobile computing, and I feel THIS combination (i.e. smartphone(s) + netbook) at the present time is a better alternative to any UMPC out there.

  16. chippy says:

    I might have to publish that.

    @tal. The love is already starting!

    @Benjiro. While we make a lot of news ourselves with our reports, research and reviews, most of it comes from other places. If there’s a lot of netbook news here it means there’s a lot of netbook activity out there.

    @fixup. Your comment appears to be flawed. You imply that UMPCs need to be pocketable and productive but then you say they they are geeks toys unless the price drops. This points to ‘buy it because it’s cheap’ syndrome ;-)

  17. ecsk2 says:

    I might have to publish that.”

    You’re kidding right? :)
    I was hoping you wouldn’t get offended.. LOL!

  18. Rahul says:

    The problem with UMPCs is that they are expensive.

    You talk about 400gm devices. If you really want a small device, then smartphones or the N8x0 are a lot better value for money. On small screen devices, its not feasible to do heavy duty computing. A smartphone or a Nokia N8x0 like device is a lot better value for money. Consider a combination of a netbook and a N800. You can buy them BOTH for the price of one UMPC and have more flexibility.

    UMPCs are no doubt attractive. If you can afford them. The needs for ultramobility for most people is not important enough to pay a much higher price. The difference b/w ultramobility and not-so-ultra mobility is not significant enough for 99.9% people to pay the extra money.

  19. Rahul says:

    Hmm that last comment appears incomplete.

    Basically, the reasons are that UMPCs are attractive to a class of users. Netbooks are attractive to a different class of users. For people who need ultramobility, people who are airports or in the train frequently, UMPCs perhaps make sense.

    As a student, I dont have much use for UMPCs for example as the difference b/w 400gm and 1kg is not that big in practical terms for me. For students who go to class carrying their laptops everday, or for people who travel moderately frequently (not every week lets say), netbooks make more sense.

    Netbooks also make sense as a cheap computer if you use your computer for only web browsing, writing small documents and music etc.

    Cost is a big factor. The question when buying is : do you need the ultramobility? If you do need ultramobility, then consider a UMPC. But if you need some mobility but not the “ultra”mobility .. netbooks offer much better value.

  20. ecsk2 says:


    Sa oled rahul? :) (either you understand that or then not, it’s a word in a specific language :))

    Anyway, yes I agree that the Netbooks were designed for and do accordingly attract a very different average customer than does the UMPC customers, needless to say price being one factor. Now price aside (I’ve been willing in the past, and have done so, to spend $1500-2000 USD on devices that would feel my needs but not any more) even at present time if you spend the $2k USD you will NOT be able to have the lightweight and flexibility and battery time of pocketable smart phones, MIDs or/and PDAs, call them what you want. I believe I am not alone in being an avid UMPC fan but having abandoned the use (ownership) of any for the time being, just because these attractively priced Netbooks do a lot more for the size. Meaning the size/productivity ratio is BETTER on netbooks vs. UMPCs at this time, since I do take into account pocket-ability AND battery time a lot, the UMPCs lack a too much to be an effective alternative for myself right now.

    Don’t get me wrong though, I am by NO MEANS an UMPC hater/basher, I love the concept and follow the development closely in the hope that one day my statements will be very outdated and that the UMPC can overcome the obstacles they have for me today, I feel the M528 is getting close now!

    Just to tie this post in with another one I just did a little I feel if there was a UMPC as “ready made” as the Sony PSP feels like it is I believe there would be a lot more Netbook buyers considering and buying UMPCs! Thought it appears that the PSP too is struggling with some not all too great battery time also (from doing a few google searches).

    What we need to see is the same battery time revolution as we saw in the mid 90s on mobile phones! going from all night charge and a few hours useable time to several days of use between charges, obviously this is different with WiFi, WWAN and GPS use but still the battery times have change for those devices dramatically!

  21. Greg says:

    I have always believed that web pads, UMPCS, netbooks, MIDs, etc. needed to be geared towards “Joe Sixpack”, initially, to gain momentum. They must be familiar, easy to use and relatively inexpensive. eee pc, whether we like it or not, hit a nerve in Joe that heretofore none of the others could tap. Most of the UMPCs that I have used, seen or read about are just too incomplete, too expensive or too ugly (no cool factor). I’ll bet many UMPC fans have either purchased a new 3G iPhone or are thinking strongly about it. Its not what they really want but they are tired of waiting for complete, reasonably priced and cool looking UMPCs to show up. I know I am thinking about it.

  22. KevinR says:

    chippy – Don’t worry too much. I think one reason for the current “top 10” is that umpcportal is (one of) the strongest sites for information on the whole MID/UMPC/Netbook arena. I found it while searching for info on the latest Netbooks and Low Cost Notebooks. Not having followed the UMPC area before I had no idea there had been so many over the past (few) years.

    Anyway – you have the broadest amount of info I have seen, so you are attracting a lot of traffic that is especially interested in the current new models. These are all Netbooks or Netbook/UMPC crossovers like the M912 & SC3.

    Also on the site and in the market Netbooks at £300- are going to attract many times the number of people as a UMPC at £800+, sometimes plus a lot!

    Carry on the good work!

  23. chippy says:

    @KevinR. Thanks! Encouraging.

  24. Rahul says:


    “sa oled rahul” : some googling tells me it should translate to “are you content?” in Estonian but not very sure since the word “rahul” seems to mean lots of things in Estonian?

    Please dont take my comments as discouraging. That was not the intent :)
    UMPCs, MIDs and netbooks etc are all very interesting so please keep your articles rolling.

  25. ecsk2 says:


    Aah the powers of Google ;) after having already posted that I too Googled it (with another keyword) and found a site stating “10 things you didn’t know about … Rahul…” :) which I think matches with your input on here better :)

    Yes the word rahul (which comes from “rahu” or peace) can mean a lot of things in that language indeed :)

    @Rahul RE @Chippy, DITTO!

  26. ecsk2 says:


    Upon a little more Googleing it would appear that we are in neighboring area codes :)

  27. Kevin Neel says:

    I find myself in a camp similar to ecsk2’s. I don’t have as much experience with these devices as s/he does, but had similar ones. I liked the size, screen, keyboard, and instant-on of the N810, but not the the speed or ease of browsing (Google Reader a real pain) nor much of the other software (e.g. handwriting support). I liked many aspects of the O2, but it was just too big and heavy to be really pocketable (front jeans pocket), which is necessary for it to be universally available. I like the design of the iPhone, but I hate AT&T’s 3g network (horrible coverage at multiple locations even in tech-friendly San Francisco bay area).

    So I’m waiting for a tetherable EV-DO smartphone with the UI of the iPhone. In the meantime, I’m sticking with my “ancient” EV-DO Samsung i730 for quick browsing & email access, and usable as tether for my sweet little Fujitsu p1610 (which I got brand new and under warranty from Fujitsu’s own EBay store for $833 USD). The former is always with me, and the latter usually with me. The p1610 lives in a cute little DVD-player bag and serves as toy, computer at home or on the run, note-taking machine, usable while walking, and keyboard quick enough for me. Unless something is truly pocketable, I just don’t see how it can become significantly more mobile to me (if not pocketable, it would need a bag; if I have or don’t mind a bag, my p1610 comes along).

    I might spring for a 5-inch MID at some point, if the iPhone-style alternative looks too far away, but for now, I’ll save some money and stick with two devices rather than add a third…

    So I can sympathize with the suggestion of the SC3, bur I think for a non-pocketable device I do prefer a nine-inch screen and EEE-sized keyboard or larger.

  28. Kevin Neel says:

    P.S. If instead of the p1610, I had to choose between a netbook or a keyboard-less UMPC, I’d probably end up with the netbook. I can still walk and type when needed, so I can get by without the touchscreen, but not having the laptop form factor option will kill most of my use scenarios. I would love a convertible or netbook in which I could remove the screen and easily reattach — but when attached, it should have the laptop feature — the screen stays with the unit, and stays angled where you put it.

  29. ssagg says:

    Your article almost made me happy.
    I felt lost these lasts months. So much that I´ve been cheating you with other pages untill I discovered that everywhere is covered by netbooks news.
    The good news is that I think that you can help with this. Your research and interest in the UMPC segment can increase the public interest in it.
    Give UMPCs more space and people will be more curious about their possibilities. Or I´m being naive?

  30. Cristian says:

    Interesting article and very interesting comments.
    I have been using the Q1 Ultra for a while now and believe the best form factor for UMPCs would be Wibrain B1 size with Q1 Ultra usability and power. The Wibrain is cheap enough and fits in a pocket but the battery does not last as long as on the Q1U and the CPU is also not as fast. Plus it has that stupid camera instead of a more useful card reader.
    Perfect UMPC would be a Q1U with Wibrain keyboard, mousepad and slightly bigger size (say 5″-6″).

  31. Steve Paine says:

    Im torn between the split keyboard style (for its quick access to keyboard) and smaller sliders for thair more compact dimensions and quicker, more comfortable typing.
    Then again, theres the mini clamshell. I really wish we’d see one so i couls test it out.

  32. turn.self.off says:

    especially with devices like the SC3 where, if i understood pocketables right, one can fold the screen so far back that one could in theory use the keyboard as a thumb-board, similar to whats found on the oqo.

    now if that starts showing up more i have a feel we may have found the ultimate design ;)

  33. ecsk2 says:

    @Kevin Neel

    It appears like we are also in the same area :) this would only be natural then that we have certain things in common A) Not much choices for 3G (sorry I exclude non GSM option as I’m a biased European :) though I’ve had an OQO with Sprint 3G) B) You don’t need AT&T to use the iPhone (the 3G edition however you do need AT&T for) I use my iPhone on Tmo with no issues.

    When you say walk and type do you mean walking around home or “around town”? I mean yeah I could walk around dwntwn SF with my EEE typing but even in so ever “accepting SF” I believe people would give you a look then :) not to mention the netbooks aren’t really THAT small either. I am following the updates around the M528 though as that might just be something of interest indeed!

  34. Kevin N says:

    I just bought a PC Card HSDPA modem and extra 3g cell phone on EBay for European trips (in fact, going to northern Italy next week for three weeks). I’ll get Wind SIMs there. But I love my 3g at home, and wouldn’t give it up.

    As for walking and typing: I’m thinking, for instance, using it while shopping (e.g. looking for a camera at Fry’s, something I just may have done while getting ready for our trip :).

    After thinking about it more, I could see use for something just a bit lighter. E.g. while walking about with a camera and maybe tour book (e.g. walking tour of Bologna :); all of that in a bag could start to add up. But carrypad/MID would probably be sufficient for me. I don’t need games or video editing, for instance, so power is not very important. But maybe we will want the laptop form factor, in case my wife wants to work on her blog from a nice pretty square :).


  35. ecsk2 says:


    I assume your HSDPA purchase and “3G at home” are not both GSM (based on your previous AT&T comment)?

    As for Fry’s the closest one to you (afaik) would be just south of me and I frankly have no coverage at all in that one with my Tmo smartphones so I can (again) only assume you’re using some non GSM 3G?

    As for that scenario I don’t really consider that typing, but just surfing with your occasional input on the keyboard, I guess when it comes to mobile computing I difernetiate between occasional input which I do do on the iPhone vs. typing (like this reply) which I avoid to the extent I can on my iPhone and use the Sidekick (LX at this moment) full 5 row qwerty keyboard for that.

    Ok I agree but the NETBOOKS (read Asus EEE) are not really devices one typically carry around in the same way one would/could do with an MID/UMPC (again I only look at UMPCs in the OQO size). There is the Flipstart which could fit in your pocket and at the same time could (almost) work as a laptop but its almost too big for one and too small for the other.

  36. Jordi C. says:

    Anyone knows when the Lenovo Idepad U8 will be released ? Will it be sold in Japan ? How about the price ?

  37. Cristian says:


    Your scenario sounds a bit like my use of the Q1 Ultra.
    This article might be of interest if you haven’t seen it before: http://www.umpcportal.com/2008/05/a-digital-photographer-and-his-umpc/

    The Q1 Ultra and Wibrain work great for exactly this scenario. A HSDPA phone with built in modem and bluetooth and bluetooth on your UMPC and you are ready to surf everywhere you are, edit/upload pictures, read emails and post on your blog.

  38. luke b says:

    Chippy, your interest in UMPCs has me glued to your site. I am waiting for the fine day that a umpc with a 7″ touch screen and enough horse power to run vista adequately (or an equally elegant linux distro) surfaces. I want something small that I can read ebooks and research articles on while circling and underlining. It seemed like the Q1U was the way to go for a while but I keep finding reviews saying that the vista performance is lackluster.

    Your netbook reviews are also helpful to me. I really have my eye on the m912.

    Why not have a separate products section for the umpcs? Most people are netbook crazy (I have the original eee and I must say it rocks) right now but you are a good man to have a haven for us umpc types.

  39. Steve Paine says:

    Thanks for feedback.
    Just wanted to note that you can filter products on the product pages by using the pulldown menu marked ‘category’

  40. Al says:

    I see no surpise at all reading your comments. The reason is that thus far there are no good UMPC’s that have what it take for mainstream users to want to purchase one. The only usable ones are those netbooks which are just cheap laptops to me.

    The bottom line is that thus far all UMPC’s have sold very few units per year as evident from the Forbes 12/07 article citing IDC stating only 350k UMPC’s sold in 07′!

    Here is what is needed to ever change more of the same results:

    – the UMPC must be designed around a jacket pocket, which is the largest pocket most common that can handle a device with a max size of 7.5″ x 4.25″ x 1.5″. That is the max size, the key dimensions are the depth and height. The device can be long say 6.9 to 7.5 and preferably between those lengths in order to incorporate a true touch type keyboard. The ease of mobility for most will be the height, making it as slim as possible and the depth so that it can easily slide into that pocket.

    – the UMPC MUST have a built in touch type keyboard. I repeat NOT a thumb input and forget mentioning any add on external keyboards. How does the world input with full Windows? they use and prefer a touch type keyboard. Yes you tech freaks may think a pen input is cool and dream of voice but lets face it that is NOT what sells nor what mainstream wants.

    The rest is more bell and whistles not key must have for a UMPC to be mainstream. People just want the same experience if input and use of a standard laptop as your posting stated the netbooks are what is selling; people just want a device that is jacket pocket in size that provides that same function. Thus what is needed is some type of clamshell UMPC with a touch type keyboard running full windows that fits easily in a standard jacket pocket. I would still also include out of the box designs like the Samsung sph p9200 tri-fold that never was sold outside of Korea as that provides great touch type input and looks like it would meet the design restrictions around a jacket pocket.

    It seems so obvious that all we need is a pocket laptop and even though we have the technology nobody has made one yet for sale in the US/Europe.

  41. ecsk2 says:


    Well I agree with the exception of the keyboard. As much as I’d love to see (for instance Apple) come out with a MacBook Pocket I prefer a device that has thumb board for the simple reason it can’t be small enough otherwise. I even find myself thumb-boarding on the EEE at times, no not very quickly but yet. On screen keyboard with stylus I hate, an on screen kb as with the iPhone I can handle for say username/password input and an URL and perhaps *A* full sentance but aside from that I don’t like onscreen keyboards at all. I feel that with more and more smartphones (like Treo’s and Nokias) that have qwerty keyboards there are more ppl geting really good at thumb boarding.

    P.S. Typing this on my 5 row qwerty thumb board (Sidekick LX).

  42. Al says:


    I respect your desire for a thumb board, but to me a built in touch type keyboard is key for any UMPC to be successful. A UMPC unlike a an Iphone or PDA is meant to run full Windows OS and software which is NOT very functional without a touch type keyboard. If you want smaller than say a device like the Sharp Wilcom D4 or the basic form factor I am talking about then you are really looking at a PDA not really used to do more than viewing and very little input and most people choose the PDA, windows mobile and other type devices over any existing UMPC for that reason.

    As an example when I use my HP Jornada 720 or devices like the Psion 5mx which were clamshell designs with type of keyboard I am talking about, I can type about 70% of my desktop speed which is about 45-55 words per minute. A thumb input is not meant to type reports, etc. just short replies. That is NOT what full Windows OS computers need.

    For UMPC’s which are full Windows PC’s a touch type keyboard is a must.

  43. ecsk2 says:


    I have to strongly disagree with you, and not on the preference or taste (as that’s not something one car debate about!). Now as for you Jornada 720 comment, if you look through my comments on this blog and elsewhere on the web you might run into posts I’ve done about the Jornadas 680&720 which I’ve owned several of. I feel they were one of the best sized and devices for their time (a time where one did physically hook up to the internet vs. Wirelessly as today) and yes I loved its keyboards, however its not the best device when being mobile as you can’t thumboard on them. Whenever you can’t thumboard you end up needing to put the device down on something to type effeciently. I’m by far no expert (nor 10 finger) typist so one can’t compare with me but I with no doubt type 150~200% faster on this 5 row qwerty keyboard (once again Sidekick LX) vs. any “real” keyboard including desktops and UMPCs/Laptops.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying its for everyone however I am making the claim that a) a mobile device to be used on the go (literally) more or less needs to be thumb board and b) a thumb board CAN be as effective as a normal keyboard its only a matter of getting used to it and also it being the “appropriate/correct” one!

    As for thumb boards I am extremely picky on them. So first off the Jornadas aren’t thumb boards (the HPC Jornadas) then you have the typical Treos and HP (Treo like ones) I have had all those to try them but either the device is just too clumbsy or/and the keys are too small and too far apart or a combination of all those! Then you have the Nokia E90 those keys just as on most HTC made devices are “touching each other” whereby the “touch finding and identifying” becomes a lot harder, however most pre-E90 Nokia Communicators had great keyboard, although the device itself was slightly on the wide side for nice thumb boarding. So then we come to my favorite device by far, and that’s the whole family of Tmobile Sidekicks (aka Danger Hiptop) whereas they are sold as a teenage messaging device they have some very unique features such as all prgs always being on at all times once started up and of course the FIVE ROW full qwerty keyboard, granted the first generations had white keys with black symbols that wore out (did it twice) within 6 weeks of being brand new with my 400+emails/24hours. But seriously if you have any possibility to check one out if just for the keyboard feel/layout you should! Yes its not an UMPC hey its not really even a PDA, and many would argue its not even a “real” smartphone but it does what it can well.

    Now to the UMPC vs smart phone & iPhone statement, yes I very well acknowledge the major difference on the two, and am on here because I’d like an UMPC (have had the OQO 01, 01+ and 02) but as mentioned above none fill my requirements of battery time, instant on and size/weight as of right now.

    Other than that the OQO 02 does meet my requirements for a UMPC when it comes to keyboard however there is more CTRL/SHIFT/ALT combinations needed on the OQO than on my Sidekick LX due to the 4 row vs. 5 row keyboard.

    Point being a thumb board equipped UMPC can do all the things you mention, in fact most of my posts here have been on a thumb board, even the more longer ones!

    P.S. This was all typed on my 5 row sidekick LX keyboard while in my car, in the grocery store etc..

  44. Zeke says:

    The reason why I got into netbooks and in turn this website was the price point for items like the EEE PC and the Everex Cloudbook.

    Having a low cost, light notebook for web browsing and chatting while on the go is extremely alluring when comparing it to a low budget computer. Sure, that low budget computer may do a little more, but you are getting more weight, more bulk, and less portability. I don’t need the power, and thus the netbook is perfect.

    I would love to be interested in getting a UMPC, but the prices of these units are just too high for a college student. The netbook’s price is what allures me.

    Until UMPCs get a budget, low cost line, I’ll gladly sigh wistfully at them and dream. Until then, I’ll at least chug away on my HTC TyTN.

  45. Al says:

    ecsk2, First off I am talking about UMPC’s NOT PDA’s. You are mainly refering to PDA’s such as Treo, Nokia, Sidekick, etc.) Those type of devices do NOT run full Windows OS and softwares. They are ok with a thumb as most just view and only input a limited amount of text.

    UMPC’s are full Windows OS devices. How does the world prefer to input into full Windows OS computers? It is NOT via a thumb input. Yes niche users like you whom are willing to adapt to a thumb input and while you are able to do so most will NOT want to use a thumb input for Full Windows. If the mainstream felt that way the sales numbers would reflect that but in all of 2007 only 350k UMPC’s sold worldwide (Forbes December, 2007). While I commend you on being able to thumb input most would find it slow and highy difficult as touch typing is much easier and I am still talking about Full Windows.

    UMPC’s are Full Windows computers and since the mainstrean prefers a touch type input, the only way they will sell is if a touch type keyboard is integrated into them. Since there are already laptops, the form factor where a UMPC would differentiate is a smaller size as most love laptops but would love a pocket laptop. A pocket laptop does not mean a thumb input device as like the OQO. The OQO only sells approximately 10-15K a year as a recent SF Weekly article disclosed their yearly sales and if you divide by the cost of a OQO it is 15k if you add a couple of typical accessories it can be as low as 10K units sold per year(SF Weekly 2008).

    That is the Bottom line a UMPC to attract mainstream sales needs a touch type keyboard and to be jacket pocket in size. I typed this reply via a touch type keyboard in a few minutes; I wonder how long it would take you to type this amount of text? Most would not enjoy that experience on a regular basis.

    Also I think new form factors like the Sharp Wilcom D4 show a great way to please most people; that device has both slider form factor and clamshell form factor. After about two years of the same old non touch type keyboard UMPC’s with dismal results in sales that should be a clue that people do NOT want thumb input for Full Windows, again I’m talking UMPC’s with Full Windows.

  46. ecsk2 says:


    I’m not looking to start a debate here but I think you’ve missed what I’m trying to say.

    So let me try to explain. First off yes *MOST( of the devices I mentioned are NOT UMPCs but why am I posting about them here on this UMPC site? Well let’s disect this a little? Ok? :)

    First off for me these devices that you’re calling PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) are really being used (in my case that is!) as MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices). I do have a traditional PDA also a Dell x51v but I use it nowdays very seldom, btw the Jornada 720 HPCs you mentioned would also fall into this PDA category.

    As for real UMPCs with full OS’ the OQOs are exactly that. I’m not sure if you’re not familiar with them or not as it seems you overlooked (ignored?) my mentioning of the OQO 01, 01+ and 02, just in case here’s a link http://www.oqo.com :).

    The reason why UMPC haven’t become mainstream (as been covered in this very “thread” over and over again) are things like, too expensive, too bulky, too heavy, too short of a battery time, ironically the lack of 10 finger keyboard or lack of a KB all together doesn’t usually popup as a main reason for most.

    So my *POINT* is that people would indeed (perhaps to the extent of reaching mainstream, maybe not?) find THUMB BOARD UMPCs fully acceptable if devices would be available at a decent price, and battery time and of course as portable/mobile (read pocketable) as possible. This of course would require that thumb board to be a GOOD one, where the OQO 02 one is a good one (not great as the SK LX one) and the OQO 01/01+ is merly acceptable.

    Not to show this point look at the huge amount of various professionals who use BB and Treo every day for emails and the alike.

    So once again the ONLY reason I brought up smartphones (or PDAs as you call them) is that they are the only devices that have decent/real thumb boards currently. Yes the Sharp Willcom D4 is an interesting device, and ALL SHARP qwerty keyboards are typically very good (yes the SK LX as all SKs is Made in Japan by Sharp!). Though the D4 by design/layout doesn’t differ much at all from the OQO’s really including the slideout kb solution. I’m not sure but I believe OQO might have been (one of) the first to have full OS and this type of slideout keyboard.

    So if a company was able to bring out a pocketable UMPC with size compareble to the OQOs but with price/performance/batterytime compareble to the EEE lineup, I believe we would have a winner and no more debates like this again :) yes despite thumb board :)

  47. Al says:


    I am very familiar and have used an OQO UMPC computer. ? Ignore them? I mentioned OQO’s in my previous posting. The OQO which is a thumb based UMPC that is jacket pocket size does not sell well to mainstream; they only sell 10-15,000 units a year(Forbes December 2007). For most people including myself having used one, do not like the OQO and the key reason is the thumb input. Thumb input is fine for non Full Windows but for Full Windows it is not adequate at all.

    Yes UMPC owners want to believe the reason is not the form factor and lack of a touch type keyboard but that is NOT the reality. The people here primarily are the niche tech lovers whom like you are willing to compromise with a thumb input for Full Windows but that is not mainstream. It has nothing to do with price but everything to do with functionality. Again how does the mainstream input and prefer to input into Full Windows? the answer is a touch type keyboard NOT thumbs.

    So you really think people want to try to write a report using their thumbs? Come on get real that is fine for a PDA to view data but I am talking about full Windows computers that are used for operating systems and softwares the same way a desktop and laptop softwares are used.

    To demonstrate that point, look at the facts. The most popular by the numbers for mobile devices are laptops with yearly laptop sales are over 113 million a year. So show me some facts about Full Windows non touch type keyboards generating any big numbers ever? There are none to provide. In all of 2007, the entire UMPC market from OQO to Samsung, etc. every brand and model only amounted to a weak 350,000 units sold!

    The largest numbers of mobile devices are laptops all with touch type keyboards. What people want is NOT a thumb input version but a touch type version that is small enough to carry in a jacket pocket.

    Devices without a touch type keyboard like the OQO have never sold well. The OQO has been around for 8 years and still does not generate big sales.

    Why I mentioned the Sharp Wilcom D4 is that it is the first UMPC that provides a clamshell input form factor yet additionally it does provide a slider for easier stand up use. To me the clamshell ability is really the key to generate mainstream sales.

    The problem with the OQO is that while it has great internal technology the form factor is too small. It should be a bit longer say about 7 inches that will enable a touch type keyboard to be integrated into the design and thus providing enough space to design a good touch type keyboard. Then OQO’s might start selling. If you increased the battery life of an OQO and improved performance to your EEE it still will NOT sell due to the thumb input. Again look at the facts not one UMPC with thumb input has generated any real numbers of sales.

    You are a bit biased to me as you clearly love technology with the amount of computers you have and you enjoy computers but most mainstream users just want a single computer to be their main mobile device. Again the largest by far number wise are laptops all with touch type input. What UMPC’s need to do is provide a pocket size version with a touch type keyboard. The best keyboard design to me in a jacket size form factor would be the Psion 5mx or revo clamshells.

    If UMPC’s made a device small enough to fit in a jacket pocket yet providing the largest keyboard to provide easy touch type input running full windows then you will finally see UMPC’s move out of the niche they are in and start selling to the mainstream.

  48. ecsk2 says:

    I wanted to add to the PDA/MID statement that, if I don’t have internet access I basically don’t use my smartphones either. I never use the calender on a daily/weekly basis at all. I might mark less than 10 dates during the whole year. Hence I don’t look as my devices as Personal Digital Assistants, rather I use them soley as MIDs. The reason I use these types of them now is the LACK of a suitable UMPC, that would have full 5 (ok I could settle for 4) row qwerty keyboard and the price/size/battery time etc mentioned in prev reply!

    So until the appropriate tool comes along one has to settle for what’s out there and if that turns out to be two smartphones and an EEE for now, then be it so.

  49. ecsk2 says:


    It appears you’re more interested in a debate than facts, so I will point out one more time what I’m trying to say on this subject and leave it at that.

    First off I wouldn’t call laptops “mobile device” both from the size and mobility of your average laptop and expecially from the fact that more and more laptops are becoming what’s called desktop replacements, meaning they hardly leave the office/home and if/when they do its mostly only to travel between the two. Secondly the mostly sold mobile devices would be mobile phones and smartphones and the a like just Symbian OS based devices alone have sold in huge numbers.

    Now these “numbers” you ask for don’t exsist since there doesn’t exist a single device to match what people REALLY want and need!

    Have you owned the various OQO models? It sounds like you haven’t you might want to head over to http://www.oqotalk.com and http://www.handtops.com and see what people really want and what kind of professionals use HANDTOP full OS devices each day. As for your “full keyboard” UMPCs Sony had a number of various models that although they were popular they never sold extremely well. Not to mention the Flipstart which would be the closest match currently for what it sounds like you’re looking for? I guess their “success” speaks for itself.

    As for the OQO, it should actually be SMALLER and not larger. Ironic isn’t it that the majority of so called UMPCs don’t have ANY keyboard at all.

    Frankly though yes for full OS UMPCs to really become mainstream, if that even happens, they need to be SMALLER and LIGHTER than the OQO fit in a pocket and last a full day. I have no clue where you’ve gotten the idea that the reason the OQOs have sold in huge numbers would be the keyboard?? The reason rather is price mainly, when you can get anything from 2 to 4 normal laptops for the price of an OQO naturally it will not sell as a mainstream device, nor was it ever intended nor marketed as such. Ever seen an OQO ad on TV? :)

    I personally don’t believe UMPCs as we define them now will EVER become mainstream just because they’ve had ample years to develop them into what they should be already and haven’t.

    Rather I believe the smartphone and MID devices will start to overlap more and more into the field covered by laptops today. For instance its not that many years ago you couldn’t open/view/edit your regular .doc .xls etc etc files with any phone, now even a regular flip phone can do that.

    So with the evolution of high speed internet connections, virtual OS and the alike I believe we will within 5 years have a device in our pocket that has (for todays stds) a large memory capacity and fast constant connection to our main computer/media and your pocket device will act more as a “dummy terminal” if you want of the 80’s thereby not having to actually “run” the full OS on its own, but enableing you to access and do just about everything, just as you’d do with services like LogMeIn etc, but in a lot smoother fashion and more automatically.

    As for the time before that I believe the only devices that will meet your demand will be Netbooks, and not UMPCs. MIDs might get close but again it doesn’t seem like they will have the battery power.

    Now its fine if you know what YOU want but I believe it might not be accurate to make statements as to what the MAJORITY or MAINSTREAM wants. The hype/interest around the iPhone for instance speaks for itself, there is a huge demand for pocketable MID capable devices.

    I have no clue as to your statement “Thumb input is fine for non Full Windows but for Full Windows it is not adequate at all.” It doesn’t make any sense at all nor does it match your other statements, whereas I make the claim that be it full or not OS you don’t and wouldn’t be doing the same more complex tasks ever on the go (literally walking as I am right now btw) as you’d do at a desk on a UMPC/MID or you name it, so you don’t need the same tools, but you DO need all the functionality and symbols a full qwerty has! How a thumb board is suitable for non UMPCs but isn’t for UMPCs beats me :)

    “Yes UMPC owners want to believe the reason is not the form factor and lack of a touch type keyboard but that is NOT the reality.” Well you might take upon yourself to teach all the UMPC and the alike owners what it is they really want, ok? :)

    “The people here primarily are the niche tech lovers whom like you are willing to compromise with a thumb input for Full Windows but that is not mainstream.” I’m not sure who you’re talking about but *ME* I make a living using my thumb board, yes sir I run my whole business from this device now, and spend 10% behind the desktop. As for others on here I believe that there are more of us who NEED vs. WANT these devices and the mobility they can give us. This might be true for the UMPC market as a whole but I don’t think it reflects the indivduals visiting this blog frankly.

    ” It has nothing to do with price but everything to do with functionality.” I think you’d be the first to state that on here, many of us aren’t all too willing to confess to the fact that the buying of our EEEs had a lot to do with the price, but we still say it. But then again maybe I’m wrong you seem to know a lot about all of us including me, that we / I don’t even know :)

    “Again how does the mainstream input and prefer to input into Full Windows?”
    I think you’ve confused “prefer” and “what options do they have”? :)

    “the answer is a touch type keyboard NOT thumbs.” There is no answer at this time as there is no mainstream thumb board UMPC LOL :)

    I don’t know why you believe that just because something sells in large numbers it is what “most people want” since I’m well familiar with the automotive industry I can tell you that “most people” in North America would want a modern Diesel car, they just don’t know it yet, why? Look at Europe and look at the public national outcry now over double the gas price from a few years ago whereas Europeans are still paying double the current price (and no public outcry), but the Diesels haven’t been marketed in NA for 25-30 years as they should’ve and most peoples preception of them match the engines of 25-30 years ago!

    It would be so easy to believe what some survey or number would want you to believe but if you use common sence and a more international perspective of things it might help get a broader view of things. End of debat from my end!

  50. Steve Paine says:

    With discussions like this, who needs forums!
    Great stuff.

  51. Al says:


    OK let me try to be specifc. First of all we are talking about full computers running full Windows OS, we are not talking about phones, pda’s, etc.

    The most popular mobile computer are laptops which sell over 113 million a year. UMPC’s have only sold 350k in all of 2007. Those are facts which I even provided citations yet I see no facts to support anything you have said about mainstream users wanting thumb input over a touch type keyboard. UMPC’s have been around a while now and even with lower prices people are not buying them yet the laptop market keeps increasing.

    This thread was about netbooks being popular and UMPC’s not. Why are netbooks being popular vs UMPC’s it is becuase UMPC do not have a touch type keyboard.

    I used an OQO model 2 for a few weeks and did not find it very good to input. I have never seen any Sony full keyboard UMPC’s the only one I’ve tried and seen was their current Vaio UX UMPC which is a thumb based keyboard and it is too wide to fit in a jacket pocket. The Flipstart is also thumb based and that did so poorly it is a dead product now.

    The OQO has great technology in making a full PC that small but with sales so weak being 10-15k that is not good at all. Not all laptops are cheap there are many that sell the same and more than the OQO and they sell large amount of units not tiny amounts.

    I think you are really missing the point of how the mainstream uses computers. Most people need to compose reports, documents and other business functions where we type a lot of words and sentences so a thumb based device has no ability to do that effectively at all. Most people prefer a touch type keyboard. So your saying most people would want to create a report using thumb input? I do not think that is reality at all. Thumb keyboards were a band aid solution for palm size pda’s not something people were wanting over a touch type keyboard.

    Even if fast speed wireless became cheap and reliable the same problem would exist for UMPC’s if they do not provide an easy prefered way to input data. Thumb input is not what people want. Having fast wireless and enabling devices to have the software on a remote computer does not change the input method mainstream users want.

    Touch type keyboards by far can input more words per minute than any thumb input can. If your using a full windows computer for real computing then you will need to input a lot more words compared to a short reply of a few words or short sentence. Most people feel that way and that is clearly shown with the small amount of total UMPC users. You maybe happy with inputing via your thumbs but most people do not share that opinion that is why most business users use laptops and why the UMPC market has been so weak. Netbooks have the same size and keyboard as laptops and that is the only UMPC gaining acceptance.

    The facts are very clear, UMPC’s including every brand, every model have produced very little interest and sales. What do they share in common they generally have no touch type keyboard, some are pen only input, and most are not small enough to carry in a jacket pocket. If youre going to want a UMPC over a laptop or subnotebook then size is critical. UMPC’s thus far for the most part would require a person to carry one via a “man purse”. Now I can tell you that most men would find a man purse not socially acceptable. Besides being small enough to carry in a jacket pocket the UMPC needs to enable good fast input to write real sentences and reports so thus a touch type keyboard is needed to attract mainstream usres. That is reality.

    If you were correct in your opinion that everyone would be happy trading in their laptop for a thumb based UMPC, we would see a lot of UMPC sales, right? We have yet to see any. Numbers do not lie; the majority of the world uses full windows via a touch type keyboard and without one UMPC’s will be regulated to only meet the needs of a tiny niche group which is the current scenario.

  52. Dave says:

    I think most people can afford any of the UMPC’s but when they comment about price it is becuase their lack of a touch type keyboard make it only a partial computer solution. Thus if you need to also have some other type of computer for more heavy computer input and functions now you are talking a lot of money! I would not buy a UMPC even if it was cheaper but I would buy one if I could replace my laptop but that would require a touch type keyboard.

  53. ecsk2 says:


    As I’ve stated I’m done debating this since there’s no idea in debating about opions and taste. I will post a few term clearifications as you seem to lik “fact&figures”.

    First off:
    “I have never seen any Sony full keyboard UMPC’s the only one I’ve tried and seen was their current Vaio UX UMPC”

    Here the Sony I was refering to, one of the first of its kind (full powered laptop) in this size:
    http://www.amazon.com/Sony-PictureBook-Laptop-Crusoe-TM5800/dp/B00006J3JY its a PCG-C1VE aka “Picturebook” with diehard fans using it still today.

    Yes you’re right in the part that you’ve never seen a touch keyboard UMPC from Sony, nor from anyone else, the simple factual reason for it, they don’t exsist. Its part of the UMPC definition and heritage (closely related to Tablet PC, thereby also closer to PDAs and smartphone than a laptop when it comes to input) please review what a UMPC *IS* and what its not: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-Mobile_PC

    I believe what you’re talking about is Subnotebooks now greatly being replaced by Netbooks. Whereas Netbooks were supposed to be “My first computer” for kids especially in 3rd world countries they caught the attention of geeks to the extent where they are becoming a sales success merly due to price and size, and sometimes due to the added SSD benefits.

    In the UMPC link above you can also find a link to the wiki article about Subnotebooks, such as Toshiba HP (Omnibook 800ct, I still have one of those) Sony and many more have made and still some do.

    As for using thumb boards my *point* which you’ve totally missed (I believe on purpose) is that it’s FEASIBLE to use it quite sucessfully within even the corporate enviroment you describe. In fact I did so for a decade myself being in charge of the quality of two production lines of two of (at the time) the world largest mobile phone producers, I took notes, made spreadsheets and other similair documents on a pocketable device with thumbing on the keyboard.

    Yes numbers can “lie” if what the public wants isn’t there :) the % of passenger cars sold in the US w/diesel engines is a single digit % whereas in Europe its around 50%. This single digit % in the US does NOT indicate the % of buyer who WANT to get a diesel passenger car, for the simple reason there isn’t sufficient supply of them, why one can get 4-5 digit prices for 20~30yr old diesel vehicles in the US. So aside from the possiblity of twisting numbers they can also show a very inaccurate picture!

  54. ecsk2 says:


    One thing confuses me about your statements. It appears to be clear that you want FULL (XP) OS, and full touch type keyboard, and hate thumb boards and PDA/smartphones, correct?

    At the same time you praise the HP Jornada HPCs and comment about them on here and elsewhere on the web, indicating that HP should’ve brought a replacer for this type of device. While I LOVED both the Jornada 680 & 720 when I had them and never thought I’d settle for any other keyboard or non clamshell device after that I’ve moved on and learned to work with what’s available.

    Now though on the Win CE based HPC such as these Jornadas, why do you like these over PDAs and the alike? Is it merly due to the keyboard? The clamshell design? The Win XP *LIKE* feel of the UI vs WMobile? Since it appeared that ONE of your requirements was to be able to run as many applications as possible the WinCE love is confusing, as there’s only a small % of 3rd party sw that is WinCE compatible compared to WM for instance, heck even compared to Symbian the WinCE prgs are very few. Although WM is far from being my favorite OS (its horrible to live with) it does have a huge support out there and you can find just about anything for WM or and PPC.

    Do you have a priority list of what’s important to you and which you’re willing to compromise on and which not?

    For me that list would be something like this (it would obviously be FULL OS as I’m already meeting these without the full OS):

    1. Pocketable and light weight (no compromise)

    2. Wireless wlan and wwan (no compromise, as I have no use for this without wireless internet!)

    3. Battery time with wireless internet use aroud a full days work (no compromise)

    4. Five row full qwerty keyboard (can compromise to four row, even to on screen if other criterias are met or even exceeded?)

    5. Touch screen (can live without, in fact at times on the go a track pad/mouse/roller might be preferred as I def do *NOT* want to use a stylus and anything this small might become hard to use touch screen unless it has a specific UI for it!)

    I think that covers it for me, I think comparing what each other needs are and how we all have “solved” that for the time being might be useful than a childish debate of opinions :)

  55. Al says:


    For me the touch type keyboard clamshell is the key to really do functional computer work not just viewing some files but creating files, etc. The HPC’s of the past were the closest thing to pocket laptops and unfortunately MS dropped the OS to go after the Palm OS market. They dropped that OS right when they had finally got all of the early bugs of Windows Ce fixed. I also used Psion so I am familiar with both. The problem is that while the form factor was great the HPC was the most useful but it was reliant on MS providing the software support.

    I still have to use a laptop as in the business world there are always a number of softwares that everyone uses for their specific industry that is only offered in full windows. Thus while I like the Jornada and Psion for form factor, the best form factor is still only as good as the software. That is why I would rather have a full PC in my pocket shaped like a Psion or Jornada. Yes I would be loosing some battery life and the ultra fast instant on but then I would finally have one device to be the only one needed when mobile. Maybe if MS continued with the HPC OS there would be more third party softwares but I think the reality is that most softwares can not afford to port their software into too many OS types so thus full OS is probably a requirement nowadays.

    for me:

    a device small enough to fit in a jacket pocket yet having the largest possible touch type keyboard

    full windows OS

    it would be great to have dual OS (full windows plus windows mobile)

    USB and CF card slots

    wifi and lan plug

    removable battery – battery life of 2-4 hours minimum

    ability to plug into a projector for powerpoint presentations

  56. Al says:


    To me it sounds like you are almost satisfied with windows mobile but would like the full OS to be complete but full OS is not that crucial in that you probably do not do much inputing but more viewing since you are ok with a thumb input. For me I am the opposite in my input needs and since there are no windows mobile touch type keyboard devices I am more focused on full windows rather than windows mobile.

    Windows mobile while there are third party softwares most business software is NOT availabe in windows mobile nor is it functional in that size screen and thumb input.

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