Based on the above requirements I’ve picked out two ultra mobile PC devices that would be ideal for occasional PC-reading duties and I’ve highlighted a few more UMPCs based on one or two key features.
The X70 is one of the latest in the recent range of Viliv UMPCs. Its based around a ‘slate’ design and runs Windows XP Home on a 1.3Ghz (1.1Ghz also available) Intel Atom processor. The screen is a 7 inch touch-capable part with 1024×600 resolution. Battery life for the ebook usage scenario (wifi/blutooth off. no other applications running) would be between 6 and 8 hours depending on screen brightness. Storage ranges from a 32GB SSD to 60GB hard drive and there is an option for built-in 3G. You’re getting a great tablet-style ultra mobile PC with web camera, SD card slot, USB transfer port, Wifi, BT, video-out (with optional cable) and a built-in GPS. Clearly this device isn’t designed just for ebook reading but at 660gm this is an exceptional ultra-mobile PC that can be used for ebooks. Prices start at $599.
As of this week, the Archos 9 is available to order from the Archos store. As with the X70 this is a ‘slate’ design running on the 1.1Ghz Intel Atom CPU. The screen is a 9 inch touchscreen with 1024×600 DPI making default font sizes a little larger than on the X70. Battery life is estimated to be 4-5hrs in the ‘ebook’ mode. The Archos 9 runs Windows 7 starter edition and includes Wifi, Bluetooth, 60Gb storage and a web cam. As a ultra mobile PC it’s not expected to be as fast as the X70 EX above but for e-reading and web browsing, this may not come into your equation. The weight is 800gm. Pricing is $499 / $499 Euro.
The ASUS T91 is one of the few convertible touchscreen netbooks on the market and the only one to come in at under 1KG. As an ebook reader it’s not light but this is a device you could use for the whole range of computing activities from desktop to sofa. As with the X70 it’s build on a 1.3Ghz Intel Atom platform. The screen is 8.9 inch with 1024×600 resolution. It includes a touch-layer. Battery life is estimated at 5+ hours in e-reader mode. Storage is split between the 16GB of built-in SSD and a 16GB SD card that is supplied with the device. Weight is 960gm and the price is currently at about $490 / 430 Euros.
At 395gm the Viliv S5 is one of the lightest slate-style UMPCs available. There are others available but none that have the battery life of the Viliv S5. It’s estimated that you’ll get over 6 hours of reading time with a clean Viliv S5. On the downside is a 5 inch screen and a slightly dense feeling despite the light weight. The S5 is available with SSD or standard hard drive, includes GPS, Wifi, Bluetooth and a useful set of controls. The base model comes with the 60GB hard drive and costs $549.
I’ll be the first to admit that none of these are true e-reader devices but if you’re looking to combine a portable PC with web, media, audio, storage, desktop quality web and all the other possibilities that come with a Windows desktop operating system, all four of these devices are worth looking at.
There’s a platform being developed by Intel called Moorestown. It is initially being built for pocketable devices that will run the Intel-sponsored Moblin operating system but in late 2010 we should see a version of this that is Windows capable. The great thing about Moorestown is that it’s optimised for idling which is exactly the scenario an e-book reader finds itself in most of the time. Throw Moorestown together with a next-generation low-power transflective screen technology and you’ll be looking at a device that really could challenge dedicated ebook reader devices out there. 2010 is a long way away though. If Amazon release Kindle for Android tomorrow the tack changes very rapidly and gives ARM-based devices a big head start. Having used the Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android with a couple of reader applications now I’d be quite excited to add the Kindle features to it.
Have you had experience using UMPCs to read books or comics? If so, let us know in the comments below.
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