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.