When Ultra Mobile isn’t quite good enough

Posted on 13 August 2008, Last updated on 13 August 2008 by

Here’s a classic case of the Ultra Mobile category falling short of requirements. The jack-of-all-trades mobile devices I love just won’t be good enough for my work at IDF next week.


Firstly there’s the camera. When I’m out and about the Nokia N82 does a fantastic job of being able to take good photos and Internet-quality videos. Its an ultra mobile multimedia creation device that is largely unmatched in the smartphone world and yet its not good enough. I’ll need a zoom lens, long battery life, easily changeable SD cards, low-light optics, good 30fps video quality and some image stabilisation. The N82 isn’t good enough so I’ll have to take the S2IS in addition to the N82. (more after the jump…)


Then there’s the PC. The SC3 won’t have enough power to run Ustream sessions or Skype video and the keyboard isn’t good enough for long-duration work. Its a great jack of all trades but won’t be able to provide the power for what I need at IDF. I also need basic video editing capability and long battery life. The MSI Wind/Medion Akoya isn’t good enough either but as I don’t have any other choice (I don’t own a notebook PC) I’ll have to take the the Akoya. It won’t be able to do the video editing, it doesn’t have long battery life but it can, I was surprised to find out, do the IMG_6359Ustream and Skype and has a fantastic keyboard and a desktop-proportioned screen. To solve the video editing problem I’ll be using a PC at a friends house and to solve the battery life problem I’ll be using an external battery pack. Not perfect, but do-able. As a back-up PC I’d really like to have an MID but as that’s not possible right now, I’ll take the Wibrain SSD (which should be turning up here this morning.)  I have a nice case and three batteries for that so it should work well for my DivX videos on the flight too.

Finally, there’s the bag. I won’t be able to take my ultra mobile bag (which takes the SC3, a power pack, adaptor and phone) so i’ll be moving up a step to an ultimate addons mobile PC bag which is perfect for the Akoya. I might have to move up to an even bigger solution than that as my camera, headset, Philips SPC900 (great low-light webcam – better than my Logitech Pro 4000), and cables all take up too much space. 

A better computing solution would have been an EeePC 901 with XP. The battery life is far better than on the Akoya Mini with its cheap 3-cell and extended batteries don’t cost 100 Euros either. I hate not having a touchscreen but at 10" and above, the value of a touchscreen drops off anyway. The best solution is probably a P1620 but I don’t have $2K to put down on one of those right now. The S2IS can’t be beaten for all-round photography (great telephoto lens) and video although I’d definitely pay to upgrade if there was an H.264 recording option. Smaller would obviously be better too.

Final kit list:

  • Medion Akoya netbook.
  • Wibrain 32GB SSD, spare battery
  • Multi-voltage battery Pack, 50wh
  • Canon S2IS camera + USB Cable
  • Lightweight tripod
  • Sennheiser headset. PC141
  • Koss ‘The Plug’ earbuds
  • 8xAA batteries.
  • Various SD cards.
  • Nokia N82 + AT&T GoPhone PAYG voice/3G SIM + Spare battery

In total it’s about 4KG in weight which is more than I would like but the tripod and cam take a good proportion of that. The modular, 12 hour, 2.6Ghz, dual-screen, dual-drive, dual-CPU computing solution [Yes, an interesting description. If only I could cluster the two devices easily into one processing unit! I’ll install Synergy though.]  weighs about 2.2KG.

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