Post CES 2012 – Ultra Mobile Computing Solutions Remain Limited

Updated on 03 January 2014 by

ASUS-Transformer-PrimeYou know what you want in an Ultra Mobile Computing solution. You want a rich spectrum of quality desktop applications with security, flexibility and processing power wrapped up into a handheld device. Unfortunately, after a busy CES, your options remain limited.

Computing at CES this year was all about Ultrabooks and Ice Cream Sandwich and while both of these topics are interesting, neither of the sectors produced anything that can be used today as a handheld PC.

Android devices continue to be crippled by low-quality and restricted software despite some amazing hardware solutions. The ASUS transformer Prime shows what can be done but is the same disappointment as the ‘smartbook’ devices I was testing in 2010. Just try using the Web Browser for a suite of web-based apps, try to write an article in the web-based WordPress back-end or try to book a flight. It’s actually quite embarrassing to see how little the software has moved on. Look for an office suite, a set of security tools, audio and video tools and a good quality image library and editing suite. It seems the only thing the Android ecosystem is working on today is gaming and that’s largely because of the attention that Nvidia have managed to drum up for the Tegra platform.

The fact is that the number of Android tablets out there doesn’t translate into any sort of business-case for porting and developing quality apps. Why bother investing $200K in a high-quality application port for a 7 inch or 10 inch screen when the market is an estimated 20 million customers and the average app purchase cost is under $4. The risk is not worth taking.

What the Android market needs is a huge boost in numbers. Fortunately, the Kindle Fire and the newly announced Asus Eee Pad Memo with Android 4.0 operating system and a price of $250 could help. Although the Kindle Fire only runs V2.x Android software the chances are that newer versions of the Amazon product will get an upgrade and boost the ICS customer base. The Eee Pad Memo at $250 speaks for itself. By the end of 2012 I estimate there will be well over 50 million Android tablets in the market and the numbers will be accelerating. At that point it makes sense to sit down with your developers and talk about an Android tablet application, albeit for a 2013 launch.

As I look across the other platforms and operating systems, I don’t see any major solutions rising up. The iPad continues to dominate mobile productivity apps but the form factor and operating system flexibility are limiting. The current Windows/Oaktrail pairing is disappointing too in terms of both battery life and performance.

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Intel held up the next-gen 32nm, re-architected ‘Clover Trail’ Windows tablet platform at CES which could provide the best chance of a quality handheld Windows experience and with Windows 8, this is probably the one to watch out for. Clover Trail is due in the second half of the year.

Cedar Trail netbooks and tablets provide an intermediate solution though and with the EeePC X101CH coming in cheap and light, it might be something to look at more closely but if you’re really looking for a handheld solution, I just can’t give you any news right now.

We’re at Mobile World Congress next month and at CeBIT in March so with Windows 8 looming, there’s a chance that UMPCPortal will come alive again. In the meantime, I can only advise buying a 7 inch Android 4.0 tablet and experimenting as soon as you can. While it can be frustrating for productivity, there’s a whole lot of good stuff that can still be done and I’m still not going anywhere without my Samsung Galaxy Tab. Paired with an Ultrabook, it’s a great solution.

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31 Comments For This Post

  1. reverendo says:

    Chippy,
    atm I’m looking for a solution for a mix of productivity and smartphone attributes. It seems that the Galaxy Note just might fit the bill. OTOH I do miss my Fujitsu P1630 that got stolen last year. Although it’s still rather heavy for now-a-day’s standards I could get things done on the go. Since then I haven’t bought another UMPC surviving (barely, due to ridiculous battery life) with my HTC Desire HD.
    Is there anything in near future that could be Windows 8 operated in a 9′ format, touch, lightweight and with good battery life?
    best regards
    André

  2. Helmuth says:

    The ultimate mobile computing device is still the Nokia N900.

    I wonder which company will ever again build such a small full featured and mobile linux computer :-(

  3. ArchiMark says:

    Well said….. but I’m not holding my breath for anything like that to be released anytime soon with all the Android tablet madness going on….

  4. turn_self_off says:

    Given that they more and more try to placate the content distributors, not likely. This because things like locked bootloaders seems to be there specifically to get approval for bundling media stores with the devices.

  5. Gadgety says:

    Hi Chippy,

    I had hoped for some more CES coverage by you, either here or on Carrypad. Perhaps you did some live stuff, or there just wasn’t enough stuff to report.

    I’ve got a couple of comments: “Why bother investing $200K in a high-quality application port for a 7” or 10” screen when the market is an estimated 20 million customers and the average app purchase cost is under $4. The risk is not worth taking.”

    So let’s see, let’s say you capture the entire market, and that all the 20 million invest 4 dollars each. Well, 200k for a 79.8 million return isn’t bad business. I guess I didn’t understand your calculation.

    I have a second question, what about the viability of remote desktop usage. LTE is spreading quickly and with 40mb/sec downloads, I could see running an Android 7 inch tablet, with Windows 8 on a remote PC or server. Could that work? What kind of obstacles do people see to this scenario?

  6. Gadgety says:

    BTW some apps are $15, rather than $4, and if productivity apps are any good, I would be willing to spend money on them. So that would mean capturing a very small fraction of that 20 million strong customer base to recover the 200k investment.

  7. Chippy says:

    You also have to consider that the IOS and smartphone market will provide bigger returns, easier economics and less risk.

    I would also be willing to spend more on good productivity apps though, I agree.

    @gadgety, you need to be looking at realistic figures. If there’s a 20m potential customer base out there (all tablet owners) you may only appeal to 1% of that market with maybe 10% of that market buying the product. remember costs go beyond initial development too with bug fixing, improvements and support to consider. Plus, the 30% of revenue lost too Google !!!

    Chippy

  8. Gadgety says:

    Sure, it’s only you left some of those assumptions out of your calculation. With the 10% of 1% of 20m and assuming 15$ and 1/33 to Google, that would just break even, and at 4$ of course it’d be a loss.

  9. Gadgety says:

    oops 1/3 to Google

  10. Mobileer says:

    Thanks for this article.

    It is truly sad to see that what after some 5-6 years of coming to this site we STILL don’t have any device that really lives up to the term UMPC as most of us see it.

    Back then I wanted a 5″ x86 with GREAT keyboard and ALL DAY battery time, well this never happened, the OQO 2 came close with it’s nice KB but unreliability, bulk and battery time was a killer for me. Nevertheless I tried all the OQO models ever released and some even after the company went under.

    The we had some light at the end of the tunnel about a year ago with things like the Ocosmos OCS1 and even the later edition without a real KB, and of course the Viliv X70 (2nd version). Both of these had capacitive touch and more modern setups than the “traditional” UMPCs we had seen, but neither saw the light of day! :(

    Now I can live without a physical KB since the mobile OS’ have done major leaps ahead but I am still in need of a real x86 device I can have in my pocket, since I have three programs that need x86, one to look up part numbers of an extensive “product family”, one to order these same products and the last to “interact” with these products through USB, all of these requires a real deal x86 computer with internet and USB connection.

    I wouldn’t mind at this point a 7″ device but I’d love for it to be capacitive touch and thin (not the 25mm/1 inch we’ve seen so far mainly) like the Viliv X70 (with Win7) but it’s just “not happening just yet”.

    So just in the past week I bought one of the “old school” UMPCs I never had, the UMID Mbook SE since as it stands it fills my needs the best for now, while I don’t love the resistive touch and other details, it is for now the most pocketable and decent battery time of all the UMPCs out there and most reliable (I had some issues with the Viliv N5 and S5 I had on reliability :( )

  11. Mobileer says:

    Oh and I almost forgot, Windows 8.

    This Win8 & ARM has had me sitting with my fingers crossed now for months, since Asia is full of ARM based tablets with capacitive touch in a variety of sizes (I’d prefer 7″ thin) and for instance the new Galaxy tab 7.7 with Win8 wow, I would pay a decent amount for that combination!

    But as we learn more about MS’ req and plans for the Win8 on ARM, it becomes well frankly the only word that comes to MY mind is a joke!?

    Who needs/wants a 9-10″ (based on resolution req it will have to be) tablet with ARM that will only run app (prgs) that are specifically made for W8 & ARM (or ported to it) exactly?! If I was one to want that size of a device there’s plenty (no)name tablets out there already running true x86 platforms.

    Surly MS “knows what it’s doing” in the sense of they have their reasons for taking this approach, but if you ask me MS could really make some serious progress into the “blooming” tablet market if they just allowed the Win8 to run on most ARM based tablets (with the obvious performance requirements as you have always had with MS’ Win products).

    So for us UMPC fans it is becoming more and more evident that the emerging mobile OS’ capabilities most likely will meet (or replace?) our demands before anything that we expected and wanted half a decade ago already will hit the market!

    :(

  12. James says:

    Windows 8 for ARM may be limited to just running apps made for Windows 8 and/or specially made to run on ARM, but they’re making it so Windows 8 will basically configure itself for different devices.

    Like the only resolution requirement is for having the full Metro tablet functionality, but you wouldn’t be using all those features on even smaller devices and Windows 8 will still run with those extra features disabled.

    What they’re doing is scaling Windows to work as they see will work best for the different ranges of devices and this goes all the way down to Smart Phones running Windows 8.

    While it should also be remembered HD screens are starting to become the standard. So while a device may be smaller than 9″ doesn’t mean it won’t have the resolution needed to fully use all of Windows 8 features.

    There are other issues that may prove more of a problem. Like the requirement that secure boot can never be disabled on ARM, but the ARM market never did work the same way as x86 and that may ultimately just prove a wakeup call for people to start realizing there are differences.

    On the plus side, next year should be when we can perhaps hold hope out again that we will start seeing a return of UMPC like devices as the first real improvements in available technology finally come out and the industry finally figures out they need something more flexible than just tablets and laptops.

  13. Mobileer says:

    Yeah I don’t have any doubts the smaller mobile devices would “catch up” to the screen resolution requirements by MS (Win8) but it would appear to me that this might be their agenda to hint/tell the industry that this is NOT for smaller devices, or else their whole “new” Windows Phone OS would be(come) pointless?

    Personally I am wondering if we are not really at the top of the hill (or past it) where we just start seeing more and more apps/programs being ported to and developed for ARM based devices ONLY and the whole x86 architecture slowly but surely disappears from the consumer level of things?

    While I hope for UMPCs to re-enter the industry I seriously doubt this will ever happen! I believe the opposite will happen.

    When my UMPC “quest” started some eight or so years ago there was quite a few things I needed/wanted x86 for some 6-8 “operations” or applications.

    Today I can do half of these natively or “semi-natively” (meaning some 3rd party solution exists on my ARM based smartphone to achieve what I need) on my phone. If I include my VNC “solutions” which really 8 years ago was not realistic unless I was on Wifi, I can achieve EVERYTHING I *need* to from my 3.5″ sized smartphone, however I will admit not always at the speed/convenience a native x86 would be able to but the flip side is without bulk expense and multiple-device dilemma of having an x86 with me also.

    So honestly I think the UMPC will never come back, not as we saw them emerging (sorta!) for a while and not in the way we might think of a UMPC today.

    I just literally think WLAN speeds and cloud computing and virtual machines will literally take us to the “next level” where we don’t even want/need a real deal x86 machine any more. I mean personally I wouldn’t have any problem having the x86 needs I have sitting “in the cloud” somewhere if my mobile (pocketable) device can access and process information from there on a close to native speed (I would compare that to say a VNC connection over a “decent” wifi connection)

  14. zeo says:

    @Mobileer – Whether our needs are supplied by the cloud or the hardware on our devices, what matters with UMPC is the form factor and providing a computing device with the most ease of use while still being mobile.

    So I don’t share your doubts about the future of UMPC’s, aside from the possibility that they may just become a usability form factor but we’re still a long way from Cloud computing to be in a position to really replace traditional computing devices and I wouldn’t underestimate where x86 will be in the market a year or two from now.

  15. Mobileer says:

    @Zeo well in cloud computing the only problem is network speed, and that isn’t really a problem in the so called western hemisphere outside NA of course where we are getting ripped off my very greedy INCs who are pocketing ALL the profits and not “pumping” hardly anything back into the networks for upgrading, rather they’ve chosen to throttle and limit the consumers’ bandwidth. Cloud and VM computing has been ready for prime time for a long time otherwise.

    Now naturally this depends upon what one thinks of a cloud computing, as I pointed out ARM based computing has reached the level where most everything can be done on them already but there are instances where it’s not possible like for me where the apps/prgs don’t have any ability to run on ARM architecture at this point.

    So for my personal needs all I want is ability to run certain prgs for accessing info rather than actually “processing” much of anything.

    Personally I am 100% sure than NO UMPC will ever return in the form we thought of UMPCs that is PC as in x86 based. Sure one-offs might pop-up but no UMPC will ever hit mainstream ever, that should be obvious by now.

    However I am convinced also that just about everything we want(ed) to do on our (fantasy) UMPC devices will be possible on the 4.3″-7″ portable devices that surely will only grow the next few years.

    Sure x86 will be around in 1-2 years but quite definitely not in anyone’s pockets, I’d dare to say the VERY FEW of us that *do* carry an x86 in our pocket now, most likely won’t even in 2 years from now!

    This is not only about the focus on tablets vs UMPCs but it’s just a fact that x86 will never achieve the battery times we are seeing on ARM based devices. Ok I can agree that we might not be talking about “x86 vs ARM” and that the “players” might change but there will def be a “desktop” vs “mobile” platform and I have a hunch the mobile platform will “crawl” more and more into every aspect of consumer computing, and that the desktop platform will only survive in a industrial setting.

    But yeah time will show! :)

  16. James says:

    @Mobileer – Actually cloud computing suffers from both a lack of network speed and infrastructure/bandwidth. Mind the maximum capacity of the system is still a long way from being able to support the entire population using the services at the same time.

    While ARM has made great strides but even the next gen offerings are only rivaling the kind of CPU performance that we consider worthy for only something like a netbook. To put things in perspective of where they actually stand.

    The processors for ARM are still limited to 32bit, and they’re still years away from even sample 64bit devices. Some 64bit is being applied towards memory management but it basically boils down to that ARM is still a long way from providing the kind of performance needed to run more powerful programs like Adobe Photoshop, Maya, high end games, etc.

    The main reason we use ARM is because they are better suited for low end usages that don’t require a lot of performance and that allows for lower cost and longer run times. Especially since ARM also is easy to customize and optimize for specific usage.

    While x86 systems are made for high performance and flexible multiple usages, where power efficiency is by and large not a concern.

    However, both ARM and Intel are making progress towards actual overlap and that starts to throw out the limits of their applications.

    Intel getting the Intel ATOM Medfield into actual Smart Phone products by Lenovo and Motorola means they will indeed be in at least some of our pockets. While only a year from now Intel is going 22nm and introducing game changer technology like their Tri-Gate Transistor technology that promises to give them a significant boost in efficiency and then they’re going 14nm in 2014 for another advancement in what they can offer.

    Mind also the possible effect of Windows 8 in allowing the use of desktop apps in a field that has previously been very limited to mainly mobile OS. Meaning if people start using mobile devices more like they would more traditional PC’s means a possible greater impact of x86 becoming available on mobile devices.

    Especially once people start realizing that many of the strengths of ARM can become weaknesses in the traditional PC markets. Like not everyone wants to get a new laptop every single year but ARM devices usually have very rapid end of life cycles. Being highly optimized is good for better power efficiency and lower costs but means less flexibility and often the inability to upgrade as for ARM upgrade typically means replace with something newer. Among other differences.

    All while Windows 8 for ARM may get delayed to as late as mid 2013 and are looking at problems like the lack of legacy support and possibly MS requiring that Secure Boot can’t be disabled on ARM systems with Windows 8 pre-installed.

    ARM still has the power efficiency advantage but Intel starting to get close and their game plan is to keep ahead of ARM manufacturers on reducing manufacturing size that can help make up the remaining difference in efficiency and costs.

    So unless Intel stumbles or ARM comes out with something much better than their roadmap indicates then we are likely to see both ARM and x86 expanding the range of things we use them for over the next few years.

    Though as long as we can do what we want, I don’t think anyone really cares whether it’s a ARM or x86 inside.

  17. Mobileer says:

    @James,

    “Actually cloud computing suffers from both a lack of network speed and infrastructure/bandwidth. Mind the maximum capacity of the system is still a long way from being able to support the entire population using the services at the same time.”

    As I pointed out, this is very true in North America that is YEARS behind both Europe and Japan to mention a few places! Where the network speed is plenty (infrastructure and bandwidth is all part of what I’m including in “network speed”), sounds like you’ve not used WWAN outside the US any time recently?

    “performance that we consider worthy for only something like a netbook. To put things in perspective of where they actually stand.”

    True but don’t forget that these “next generation” mobile apps also are built from the ground up a lot “lighter” without the typical extra “weight” of old school x86 programs

    Photoshop? FYI PS is on both the iTunes & Android app stores currently! Yes naturally they are both early versions but the fact that they ARE there and rather affordable I believe speaks for itself what the future holds, and what exactly what I am trying to point out. As for Maya I’ve never heard of it before nor every used it having now Googled it I am not sure this is something that your average “consumer” uses. As for games, that’s a whole other world and I have no interest nor knowledge about games, aside from the fact that there are a good number of both home and mobile consoles out there as a UMPC fan I envious for years of the level of mobile devices gamers had!

    Yeah and more and more everything we do on a daily basis is being done on an ARM processor, not sure what 3D Maya work you would want to do on a 5″ screen anyway!? :)

    2014? That’s way too far off in the “gadget world” not to mention how it appears Intel is always delaying releases…I wouldn’t expect any mainstream Intel powered smart phone any time soon (unfortunately, I’m all for progress and competition).

    As for Windows 8, have you looked at the requirements MS has set on the ARM based Win8? It basically means that for quite some time no Win8 for ARM will be on anything smaller than an iPad, that’s NOT MOBILITY nor UMPC if you ask me, at that size I’d rather take my 11″ “Ultrabook”!

    You actually touch on another side of things too with most popular ARM based devices now you can get a new device and have all your already purchased apps on it within a few minutes, something your average consumer is not so capable of doing on their x86 devices. Keep in mind I am talking MAINSTREAM CONSUMER products because anything else will be very temporary things at very limited QTY and very high cost!

    NO you’re right the consumer doesn’t even KNOW what ARM and x86 is, but they do know what is battery time, cost, portability and ease of use!

  18. James says:

    @Mobileer – “As I pointed out, this is very true in North America that is YEARS behind both Europe and Japan to mention a few places! Where the network speed is plenty (infrastructure and bandwidth is all part of what I’m including in “network speed”), sounds like you’ve not used WWAN outside the US any time recently?”

    The US may have been traditionally behind wireless broadband development but the US is actually ahead of Europe in 4G broadband roll out.

    Not that it matters any because for true cloud computing for all even combining all the wired with wireless capacity would still fall short. While wireless is still possibly decades away from getting the kinds of speeds possible with wired broadband.

    Perhaps you don’t truly understand just how much capacity is actually needed to make cloud computing anything more than a niche market right now?

    Just look at how hard it is to support something like Youtube, they have dedicated servers nearly everywhere! Check out their infrastructure to get a better idea of what would be needed. Since we’d need that kind of coverage that’s capable of at least terabytes of data flow per day for every cloud service just to even consider it reliable!

    There are well over 2 billion people using the Internet every single day around the world. All using only a fraction of the bandwidth that switching to full cloud computing would require. Never mind all the efforts to get the rest of the world population to join in.

    So it’s pretty safe to say cloud computing won’t be ready to take over from traditional computers any time soon.

    “As for Windows 8, have you looked at the requirements MS has set on the ARM based Win8? It basically means that for quite some time no Win8 for ARM will be on anything smaller than an iPad, that’s NOT MOBILITY nor UMPC if you ask me, at that size I’d rather take my 11″ “Ultrabook”!”

    By the time Windows 8 for ARM actually comes out there will already be smaller ARM devices that will fulfill the requirements. Already they are starting to push 1080P in the 10″ range and we’ll be seeing 1280×800 in the 7″ range pretty soon.

    While devices supporting 3D for example have screens with at least twice the resolution we see available now.

    It will however mean for some time that Windows 8 for ARM won’t be installed on more affordable systems, which means they will likely not be able to fully take advantage of ARM’s general lower parts costs.

    While Intel will be hitting 22nm by then and starting to offer truly competitive pricing and power consumption. Remember, we’re entering the point that ARM and x86 will start overlapping in the range of devices they can support and that’s never happened before.

    Like prior to Medfield no one would have ever thought Intel could get one of their chips into an actual Smart Phone.

    So this basically means the lines between ARM and x86 are starting to blur and it’s the remaining differences that are going to matter and not the traditional differences that has kept them from directly competing up to this point.

    “You actually touch on another side of things too with most popular ARM based devices now you can get a new device and have all your already purchased apps on it within a few minutes, something your average consumer is not so capable of doing on their x86 devices. Keep in mind I am talking MAINSTREAM CONSUMER products because anything else will be very temporary things at very limited QTY and very high cost!”

    You’re not factoring that you can run the same OS’es on x86 as you can on ARM but not vice versa. The previously mentioned Medfield Smart Phones for example will be running Android and thus will have the exact same advantages that Android gives ARM.

    While Windows 8 is not only the first version of Windows being given optimizations to work better on tablets and mobile devices but also will support apps much like iOS and Android for similar benefits once they manage to establish a good size app market, which will also support Windows Phone OS apps and with BlueStack app will also support many Android apps.

    So unless they mess up we should see much better usability for all users.

  19. Mobileer says:

    “James” or should I use the more specific alias “Primaz”? :)

    “The US may have been traditionally behind wireless broadband development but the US is actually ahead of Europe in 4G broadband roll out.”

    Wow I actually thought you would be more informed than this! The only thing that’s ahead of Europe in being rolled out is ignorance! :)

    So first off 4G in the US is just a bunch of marketing tricks, starting with the HSPA+ that was not 4G when launched and someone lobbied someone to have the definition changed later. Secondly 3G speeds in Europe has been years what your average true 4G user gets now in the US. These are things typically not comprehended if one just consumes the theory of text online and usually is only perceived from first hand experiences of residing on both sides of the Atlantic. Secondly the US infrastructure (what really matters beyond your mobile to antenna speed) is decades behind!

    In many European countries optical data connection is a fact already for many years now and counting. Again the greed in the US has hindered true progress for years no for decades, since in the US everything is split up between the ones who “have” and the “have nots”, this for obvious reasons is not the European approach. One would think that the recent events in the US would’ve opened everyone’s eyes to how the INCs in the US operate but I guess not :( sorry to make this political but that’s where the problem is!

    I never spoke about 3D was talking about your “Maya” program! :)

    As for your whole cloud computing, you’ve taken my comments totally out of context and actually reading on, it also appears you have not read my input. We were not talking about cloud computing per se, but having “x86” processing ability “on tap” in the cloud, that’s what I am talking about and I do it successfully every day via VNC as do millions of others around the globe.

    Here is a quote from above:

    “Ok I can agree that we might not be talking about “x86 vs ARM” and that the “players” might change but there will def be a “desktop” vs “mobile” platform”

    P.S. James yes *I* am the fool, you had me fooled for a while, I actually thought your input was from a sincere individual! But now (finally) I realize who you are! BYE!

  20. zeo says:

    @Mobileer – “James” or should I use the more specific alias “Primaz”? :)

    Nope, my only Aliases is either zeo or CyberGusa. I also occasionally write articles for liliputing.com as well.

    “Wow I actually thought you would be more informed than this! The only thing that’s ahead of Europe in being rolled out is ignorance! :)”

    Try checking the actual status right now, you’ll find the US is presently ahead in 4G roll out. Europe is lagging behind in 4G roll out.

    http://www.broadband-expert.co.uk/blog/4g-mobile-broadband/4g-europe-lags-behind-us-when-it-comes-to-4g/7711816

    Doesn’t mean the US isn’t still lagging in other areas but let’s stick to what the reality is now and not bias or what it may have been before.

    “I never spoke about 3D was talking about your “Maya” program! :)”

    When talking about cloud taking over then you have to talk about everything that traditional computing is being used for and it’s not all just web browsing and running toy apps and you were apparently under the impression the limit is only for the US when it’s a world wide problem.

  21. Mobileer says:

    @James

    Unfortunately you can’t compare 3G and 3G just as you can’t compare prices with prices due to how VAT/sales tax is/isn’t included and are of very different % rates in the US and EU, and the list can go on with MPG to MPG(UK) and even to l/100km due to different ways they are calculated.

    So if you can please READ what I states you will see that this 4G roll-out is just a smoke screen since Europe has already for YEARS seen 3G speeds that are in the same category as the “4G” (the few who actually ARE 4G) users are seeing in real life usage in the USA currently! So instead of focusing on “marketing gimmicks” (which most of these terms have turned into in the US!) let’s just stick to facts, and that is REAL LIFE SPEEDS and in that aspect NORTH AMERICA IS about half a decade behind! If you add to that the RIPOFF of LIMITED “unlimited” plans, and the differentiating between a WWAN service for a laptop (or mifi) and a tablet/phone there is NO COMPARISON! In Europe you can get a DATA SIM CARD that is TRULY UNLIMITED (no fine print!) for the “add on” price of data (on top of a voice plan) and use the SIM card in whatever you want with or without voice, on top of this you can get TWO SIM CARDS with the same account and NUMBER enabling you to keep one in your MiFi or laptop or whatever…

    As for CLOUD COMPUTING I was talking about MY needs and as I stated when I started my UMPC quest I needed it for something like 80% of what I wanted/needed to do on the go, now that is down to like 3-4 programs, and there’s hope of that shrinking with one of those (OBD2 for automotive) applications getting a browser based (OS independent) version within the next months.

    So for *ME* cloud computing is a reality and has been already for some years (half a decade in fact) with the help of VNC but I would prefer to “cut out” one of the bottlenecks of that, and that’s the part between my computer and the web, hence having my x86 prgs in the cloud, in some VM machine, havent found a realistic option yet

  22. Gadgety says:

    I agree 100% to your statement “Who needs/wants a 9-10″ (based on resolution req it will have to be) tablet with ARM that will only run app (prgs) that are specifically made for W8 & ARM (or ported to it) exactly?! If I was one to want that size of a device there’s plenty (no)name tablets out there already running true x86 platforms.”

    It just seems a total waste, from a user perspective. Microsoft may have a production view though, as James hints at, in that scaling the same platform to different devices may simplify the programming aspect.

    Personally I would NEVER get a Windows on ARM device if it cannot run the Office suite. Then I might as well go with Android.

  23. Mobileer says:

    If my “x86 needs” were (MS?) Office only I would have nothing to complain about I think? Since unlike in the early days you can create/open/edit the common .DOC .XLS .PPT files now with just about any platform (with the help of a variety of “apps”/programs) including online like Google Docs or/and free versions like Open Office, and both iTunes and Android market has several free options.

    So personally I don’t see that as a problem, and I am pretty use W8 for ARM will support office that should be a no-brainer to me in today’s mobile world.

  24. James says:

    @Mobileer – “Unfortunately you can’t compare 3G and 3G just as you can’t compare prices with prices due to how VAT/sales tax is/isn’t included and are of very different % rates in the US and EU, and the list can go on with MPG to MPG(UK) and even to l/100km due to different ways they are calculated.”

    Nope, you can compare if you actually know how both systems work. Like MPG (US) to KM/L (UK) only requires a MPG to KM/L conversion to either standard to make a direct comparison.

    But again, unless you’re basing this on some bias or something then it doesn’t matter as I pointed out the network infrastructure of the world isn’t ready for cloud to become a major factor for quite some time yet.

    Europe may have been ahead in most cases, but it still hasn’t fully spread it’s networks outside of cities and rates in the country side can still be high. So it’s not like everything is just perfect over in Europe for all to begin with.

    While the only smoke screen is that it doesn’t change that the US 3G, and still existing 2G, networks are still behind Europe’s. Data rates are also still not as affordable as Europe’s, types of plans are still limited in the US as well, and 4G isn’t anywhere as fast as it should be yet, in some cases it’s still actually 3.9G, but it is faster than 3G and it just isn’t fully available everywhere yet.

    Though the US network may soon get a boost with IMT-Advanced for 1 gigabit per second down, while stationary, or 100 megabits per second while in motion (in a car, for instance). Showing a more solid lead if they can start upgrading the networks on time.

    So pointing out the US is ahead in 4G, while it has traditionally been behind in the wireless market, is just to point out you shouldn’t be basing anything on pre-conceptions. The market can always change and being ahead doesn’t mean being ready!

    Really, telecoms watchdog Ofcom already reported Britain won’t be getting a 4G network until 2015. Telekom Austria Group stated many won’t start rolling out 4G until at least 2014. So unless you got some information that official sources don’t have then that’s the way it is…

    http://blog.ctia.org/2012/01/12/lte/

    “So for *ME* cloud computing is a reality and has been already for some years (half a decade in fact) with the help of VNC but I would prefer to “cut out” one of the bottlenecks of that, and that’s the part between my computer and the web, hence having my x86 prgs in the cloud, in some VM machine, havent found a realistic option yet”

    Thinking about just yourself is the problem. When I argue I argue the point that effects everyone. So again, even your limited needs could cripple the system if everyone used the cloud for those needs at the same time.

    Really, just look at every time there is any emergency or major event that causes everyone to go online and in turn causes everything to slow to a crawl and tell me again the network is ready.

    Why do you think even something simple like Apple’s Siri is being limited to just the iPhone 4S when it’s a cloud service? Simply put Apple servers aren’t ready to handle all its user base and those are just Apple users.

    It took years for Youtube to get its infrastructure to where it is now and is one of the few examples of cloud services that can actually service everyone. However, practically no one else is ready…

    Even for Chromebooks, which is one of the first cloud based OS solutions. They’re increasingly using native app processing, with the latest Chromebooks switching from Intel ATOM to slightly more powerful Intel Celerons. So even for a Cloud OS product, device performance still matters.

    So back to our original premise, I don’t think we can give up on UMPC’s just yet.

  25. Mobileer says:

    “Nope, you can compare if you actually know how both systems work. Like MPG (US) to KM/L (UK) only requires a MPG to KM/L conversion to either standard to make a direct comparison.”

    See you have missed the point totally. First off in Europe it is L/100km (KM/L is however used in Mexico) so yeah while knowing “how both systems work” would be helpful indeed :) that is totally besides the point. See life isn’t black and white and these numbers don’t translate. There is a number of factors that play in but unfortunately the biggest factor is political because you can compare Canadian specs of (US spec vehicles as they get) and their numbers are next into identical to the European figures while the US ones are not. The STANDARDS by which these figures are achieved are NOT the same unfortunately!

    The same is true for the 3G and 4G “baloney marketing” in the US. You should read more articles by the site owner it’s indirectly commented on from time to time how he (along with anyone else visiting the US from Europe) have to suffer with ridiculously low real life speeds.

    “Europe may have been ahead in most cases, but it still hasn’t fully spread it’s networks outside of cities and rates in the country side can still be high. So it’s not like everything is just perfect over in Europe for all to begin with.”

    Nothing is perfect anywhere not me nor you nor anything around us! :)

    “Thinking about just yourself is the problem. When I argue I argue the point that effects everyone.”

    OK thank you for pointing out that your agenda is to argue, mine is not! So this will end HERE from my side, you can argue with yourself from here on! :)

    To point out MY agenda, it is to enlighten myself from Steve’s tireless efforts on this site.

    P.S. A piece of advice for you: You seem to be very young still do yourself a BIG favor try to live for a min of a couple years on ANY other continent than the one you were born on, it will help you to see how things are OUTSIDE the US something next into impossible to learn from behind a screen within the US! :)

    BYE! :)

  26. Mobileer says:

    FYI

    “Like MPG (US) to KM/L (UK)”

    US = MPG (with US gallons = 3.78 Liters)
    UK – MPG (with IMPERIAL GALLONS – 4.54 Liters)
    Europe *and* Canada (aside from the UK) = Liters/100km
    Mexico = KM /liters (copying the US way but with metric units!)

  27. Chippy says:

    For what it’s worth I think that cloud computing is still a desk-based activity. 3g, 4g, call them whatever-you-like-networks are still difficult to rely on. Indoor coverage, city congestion and country black-spots are the norm everywhere I’ve been. For the ultra mobile user, relying on the cloud comes with big risks. Plus, I find that cloud usage still requires considerable processing power. Where does that leave us?

  28. James says:

    @Mobileer – Btw, KM/L is not just used in Mexico but is actually prevalent in the Netherlands and in several other Latin American, as well as Asian countries such as Brazil, India and Japan.

  29. Mobileer says:

    “Nope, you can compare if you actually know how both systems work. Like MPG (US) to KM/L (UK) only requires a MPG to KM/L conversion to either standard to make a direct comparison.”

    See you have missed the point totally. First off in Europe it is L/100km (KM/L is however used in Mexico) so yeah while knowing “how both systems work” would be helpful indeed :) that is totally besides the point. See life isn’t black and white and these numbers don’t translate. There is a number of factors that play in but unfortunately the biggest factor is political because you can compare Canadian specs of (US spec vehicles as they get) and their numbers are next into identical to the European figures while the US ones are not. The STANDARDS by which these figures are achieved are NOT the same unfortunately!

    The same is true for the 3G and 4G “baloney marketing” in the US. You should read more articles by the site owner it’s indirectly commented on from time to time how he (along with anyone else visiting the US from Europe) have to suffer with ridiculously low real life speeds.

    “Europe may have been ahead in most cases, but it still hasn’t fully spread it’s networks outside of cities and rates in the country side can still be high. So it’s not like everything is just perfect over in Europe for all to begin with.”

    Nothing is perfect anywhere not me nor you nor anything around us! :)

    “Thinking about just yourself is the problem. When I argue I argue the point that effects everyone.”

    OK thank you for pointing out that your agenda is to argue, mine is not! So this will end HERE from my side, you can argue with yourself from here on! :)

    To point out MY agenda, it is to enlighten myself from Steve’s tireless efforts on this site.

    P.S. A piece of advice for you: You seem to be very young still do yourself a BIG favor try to live for a min of a couple years on ANY other continent than the one you were born on, it will help you to see how things are OUTSIDE the US something next into impossible to learn from behind a screen within the US! :)

    BYE! :)

  30. James says:

    @Mobileer – “See you have missed the point totally. First off in Europe it is L/100km (KM/L is however used in Mexico)”

    Makes no difference, still measuring distance in KM with Liter capacity versus Miles with Gallon capacities. Doesn’t change you can easily convert the measures into the other system and it’s relevant to the point that you’re wrong that we can’t make comparisons when we in fact can.

    What part politics plays is irrelevant, if anyone bothers looking they can still find the accurate figures and get past the spin that practically everyone is doing and not just the US.

    It’s no different than figuring out run times for our computing devices. There’s the advertised run times and there’s the actual run times. Simply not being lazy and actually testing the devices gives us the accurate figures.

    “The same is true for the 3G and 4G “baloney marketing” in the US. You should read more articles by the site owner it’s indirectly commented on from time to time how he (along with anyone else visiting the US from Europe) have to suffer with ridiculously low real life speeds.”

    I do read a lot of articles, but even if I didn’t this changes what? Nothing! All networks have good areas and bad area, no matter what country we are referring.

    Most people visiting the US don’t go to where the good connections are for one thing and like I already pointed out, Europe too has areas where connections are still high priced and slow!

    Besides, I’m the one pointing out the world network isn’t ready. You seem to be just hanged up on trying to portray the US being behind.

    So sorry, but it doesn’t change the points I made.

    “OK thank you for pointing out that your agenda is to argue, mine is not! So this will end HERE from my side, you can argue with yourself from here on! :)”

    Sorry again but what do you think you’ve been doing? Having a discussion with different points of view is a argument!

    “P.S. A piece of advice for you: You seem to be very young still do yourself a BIG favor try to live for a min of a couple years on ANY other continent than the one you were born on, it will help you to see how things are OUTSIDE the US something next into impossible to learn from behind a screen within the US! :)”

    I’d suggest to you to try not to be so condescending or so obviously biased. I’m 37, I was born in South Korea, I have traveled, I’ve given valid points which you have failed to counter, and I wasn’t even the person you accused me of being.

    So if you want enlightenment, then try having a open mind first!

  31. animatio says:

    1) “You know what you want in an Ultra Mobile Computing solution. You want a rich spectrum of quality desktop applications with security, flexibility and processing power wrapped up into a handheld device. Unfortunately, after a busy CES, your options remain limited.”
    2)”For what it’s worth I think that cloud computing is still a desk-based activity. 3g, 4g, call them whatever-you-like-networks are still difficult to rely on. Indoor coverage, city congestion and country black-spots are the norm everywhere I’ve been. For the ultra mobile user, relying on the cloud comes with big risks. Plus, I find that cloud usage still requires considerable processing power. Where does that leave us?”

    i d’say at the time win7/linux netbooks and slates, the former at reasonable prizes (and some limitations) the later at still high prize even when with more powerful processors. in my view that’s it at the time. no signs that this will change in a near future.

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