What would you want in a Microblogging-Pad?

Updated on 11 March 2010 by

Here’s a post I’ve just found in my drafts folder. I wrote it in March and forgot to post it. It’s still relevant now so here it is.

March 2009

I realise that many of you couldn’t give a damn about Twitter and the like. It certainly can be a distraction and I do agree, I don’t really want to know what people are eating for dinner when I’m waking up in the morning but despite that I’ve become a fan and have discovered and connected with many many interesting people in the last months.

As I flew back from SXSW last week though, I couldn’t stop thinking about how consumer MIDs and Microblogging go hand in hand. I’m convinced that the social networks are where the interest will seed for the consumer-focused devices and OEMs need to be careful to consider this opportunity. UMPCs are slightly different in that they focus more on productivity and desktop processes but MIDs, sitting in that gadget space with high-end smartphones, pmp, pnd and e-book readers, have a chance to shine due to their fantastic ability to deliver the best pocketable web experience. Behind most microblogs I see is a link to a full web page so working in 140 characters doesn’t mean that the web requirements are anything less that what we’ve come to expect on our laptops.

As I sat on the flight home with my Fujitsu Loox, I made a few notes about how my ultimate ‘Tweet-Pad’ might look. I’ve looked at existing hardware before but this time I allowed myself to dream a little. It follows much of what my Carrypad idea was and with the experience I’ve gained from the 3 years I’ve had working with ultra mobile devices since then, it was easy to imagine the specs. I’ll list my specs below but I’m more interested to hear yours. If you use microblogging services like Twitter, how would you want to take them mobile?

  • 18 hours battery life (connected, idle, screen off)
  • 4 hours active battery life (connected, screen on, cpu in-use)
  • 3g, WiFi, BT
  • Pocketable, under 250gm
  • Lightweight, multitasking os
  • Tailored client for many protocols. (Flickr, Twitter, Jauku, Blogger)
  • CPU power to support 4-8 concurrent apps (low-end Atom, high-end ARM)
  • Very simple apps store
  • Sliding keyboard
  • 5mp cam, auto focus, flash
  • sd card slot fro transferring images, extra storage
  • 8GB fast SSD storage
  • Sub 10’s turn-on and connect time.
  • SDK for easy app dev
  • fast, full (Ajax, flash) browser with sub-15 second average page load time.
    $299 without contract. Free with $25 per month data-only contract. (5GB limit)\
  • Stylish, branded design. (Brand brings developers, end user confidence)

For me, the device with the most chance of success is going to be stylish, carry a known brand, utilise a simple application development architecture (possibly levering off existing mobile operating systems) and somehow, seed some viral interest within the microblogging community.

I’m interested to hear you views.

Update: Since I wrote this post in March we’ve seen the first Twitter Pad. I wasn’t impressed. I’ve been using a 299 Euro media playing, web browsing, twitter-capable p5 inch pad that stays connected all day so I know this can be done better and combining  media, navigation, web and short, live messaging with a 3G connection, even a low-speed one, still seems the way to got to me.

18 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    New article: What would you want in a Microblogging-Pad? http://bit.ly/1KW2iz

  2. Oettinger says:

    Besides the sliding keyboard and “only” 8 gb ssd:
    Thas exactly that i want as an umpc. Oh, add gps, hdmi and normal usb (we are dreaming, right?) and its perfect to me.

    Right now i am reading, looking, waiting – and as for the price the archos 5 is my favorite, but i am waiting till q1 2010.

    There are a lot of interessting mids announced – sadly announced and in shops/my hands are two different things.

    Do you think we can expect a “dream umpc” in the next 3 months – or at least something close to it?


  3. johnkzin says:

    Since you don’t mention screen size… it seems to me like the N900 would fit that bill (or will, once more apps are available for it — though, it should be able to use the actual/native web pages for those services, and not need dedicated apps).

  4. Chippy says:

    Yup. The N900 is one of the closest. Price is currently an issue for most consumers and applications need to be improved too. I’d argue for a larger screen but that’s just my personal pref.

  5. Frank Barrett says:

    What would you want in a Microblogging-Pad? | UMPCPortal – Ultra … http://bit.ly/3xh2In

  6. Jim Coffey says:

    What would you want in a Microblogging-Pad? | UMPCPortal – Ultra …: For me, the device with the most chance o.. http://tinyurl.com/yf8acyt

  7. Ken E Kaplan says:

    RT @chippy: New article: What would you want in a Microblogging-Pad? http://bit.ly/1KW2iz (looking forward to #sxsw2010 !)

  8. Randy says:

    I would have said the OQO 2+ but with a 5.6 to 6 inch 480×854 screen

  9. Chippy says:

    Apart from price and size perhaps?

  10. Oettinger says:

    Doesn’t look bad, but: the price is a no go.


  11. Patrick says:

    5″-7″ device is not “pocketable” it’s only can be carried for longer time of usage in some kind of bag be it backpack, murse or purse. Everyone does not wear baggy pants 365 days a year.

  12. Vakeros says:

    Disagree, 5.6″i perfectly pocketable with normal trousers or acket. But thekey s the size of bezel and other aspects of the device. Fujitsu U820 has only 5.6″ I believe bt the bezel and battery make it too big. Look at the Vaio P – it has 8″ and fit in a jacket pocket. Take the UMID M1 and reduce the beel nd you ca have a 5.6″ screen within the same externaldims. (and this is 5mm beze al round.)

  13. Patrick says:

    Nah too clunky for my taste, even a brick like N900 will be to big for my needs (power tweeting a lot). I’m moving to subtropical area where having even bigger shorts is too much. Best word that could fit sub 7″ umpc’s is german phrase “handy” that is for mobile phones, they should call them not pocketables but carriables like the books are and mobile phones decade and a half were.

  14. johnkzin says:

    My first instinct was to agree with you: 5″ is not pocketable.

    But, on a lark, I took out my check book to see how big it is. 6.75″ diagonal.
    With the right thickness and not too much bezel, and depending on the aspect ratio … 5″ COULD be barely pocketable. Though, a stiff object the size of my check book wouldn’t really be _comfortable_ in my pocket.

    When you factor in device stiffness, device thickness, bezel/button area, device durability, pocket durability, and comfort, I still think 4.1″ – 4.3″ is the maximum comfortably pocketable screen size (the N800 and N810 being 4.1″ screens). But I can’t deny those who say that 5″, and maybe even 6″, could be pocketable. I just don’t agree with them.

  15. Oettinger says:

    Well, for me (better) “readable” > “pocketable” :)
    If you want something smaller you are in the smartphone categorie, e.g. HTC HD2 or with keyboard the DROID.


  16. johnkzin says:

    That’s why I have two device categories for my ultra-mobile needs:

    1) pocketable (up to a 4.3″-ish screen) — for light thumb typing (quick notes, SMS, quick email) , very light reading (RSS summaries, quick email reading, skimming through a document), audio media playing, maybe light/quick video playing, camera (still, maybe video), and looking up quick reference material on the web (checking train schedules, etc.).

    I’d like it to be as close to “real desktop web browsing” as possible, but only Maemo devices have ever had that. My Android phone doesn’t, and I know that the iPhone/iPod-Touch doesn’t. I care about that for the pocketable more for “access to the data” (so that page rendering and server browser checking don’t get in the way; some pages just don’t render correctly on pocketables, and that prevents access to those information checks), not for aesthetics.

    I say “light/quick”, because the small screen, and thumb keyboard, limit both the presentation and/or input speed, as well as the eye/thumb endurance. In my experience, I couldn’t stick with the pocketable device for several hours. I either need to hook it up to a monitor and full-size keyboard, or move up to a bigger device, when it comes to something like note taking in a meeting, replying to a non-trivial email, participating in a typical IM conversation, or reading a typical document.

    2) mid-range (7″-11″ screen, of which I want a 9″ or 10″ screen) — for tasks that involve a lot more typing, or intensive reading (where I’m going to want a comfortable font size, and still have enough screen area to display something close to a page of that font size), and extended video/picture viewing. Basically, anything I didn’t say for the pocketable. Further, I expect it to have an ACTUAL “true desktop web browsing experience”.

    You’re right that “readable > pocketable”, but pocketable is a device I can/will always carry. Though, I’ll only carry one (thus, it also has to be my phone … and thus the reason I don’t carry my N810 anymore). For “readable”, I don’t expect it to be an extensively large and barely pocketable device (such as a 5″ archos tablet). I expect it to be a mid-range device that I’d only carry in a backpack, messenger bag, gadget bag, murse/purse, or something like that. So, it will only be with me in situations where I’d be carrying my backpack/messenger-bag/gadget-bag.

  17. Morganj says:

    Yea, apart from the current price the n900 ticks off all the above boxes for me,

    I hope it will be the device that really brings out the best in microblogging.

    I can see it being the ideal “one device to rule them all” trade show microblogging device, good cam (still and video), good protocol support (more to follow), battery life is a bit iffy but sure it can be fixed (spare bat), and in what is actually and not just theoreticaly pocketable.

    I for one look foward to seeing how it works out for me.

  18. Oettinger says:

    What about the Motorola DROID?
    Anroid, Keyboard, bigger display, 20€ cheaper, battery life…

    For me its not the umpc that i am dreaming about – but my next cellphone (in a few month when the price goes down a bit) :)


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