Tag Archive | "Buyers Guide"

The Ultra Mobile Challenge is Harder Than Ever

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Let’s say you need a UMPC. It’s not as uncommon as some people think. It might not be the consumers cup of tea but in industry, mobility counts for a lot. Logistics, amateur pilots, health industry, blue-light industry, traveling geeks and other situations where full capability, compatibility and flexibility in the smallest package is key. The problem is, if you need a ultra mobile PC today, what the hell are you going to buy?

Lets put down a little wish-list for the sake of the argument.

Sub-1KG, Windows 7 support, 5hrs battery life 5-8.9 inch screen, easy conversion to keyboard/screen device. Price under $1000.

The shortlist I would recommend right now would be the following but they are all ‘last-gen’ UMPCs, at least a year old and going out of stock, and probably entering the end-of-life phase.

  • Fujitsu UH900
  • Sony Vaio P
  • Viliv N5
  • Viliv S7
  • Viliv X70
  • Archos 9 (with SSD, 1.2Ghz)
  • UMID Mbook SE – Thx to Gearsguy for the information on the availability and videos. I’ve included one of the videos below.

If you need a keyboard, the Mbook SE, UH900 and N5 are worth a look. The Archos 9 is good value at under 450 Euro right now and the X70 is a great performer. Isn’t it underwhelming that these devices are all over a year old though.

W100One device I took a second look at was the Toshiba Libretto W100. Originally this device was available for 1100 Euro. Today, it’s under 600 Euro in Europe making it an interesting option because of its CPU – Pentium Dual-Core U5400 with 2x 1.20GHz that comes in at about 130% the processing power of a high-end dual-core Atom part. It also includes 2048MB Ram and a 62GB SSD. This is certainly an ultra mobile workhorse but the design and battery life are going to be issues for some. 3hrs isn’t that exciting.  Interestingly this could make a super ultra-mobile video editing platform.

 

 

This dearth of options in this space is because of two things. Firstly, Menlow is out and Oaktrail isn’t yet in. There isn’t really another platform to think about right now although I’ve got my eye on AMDs Z-01 We’re going to have to wait for a set devices on Oaktrail for another few months. The other issues is the 10 inch tablet craze. It puts designs at around the 1KG mark and limits usability. The Viliv X70 is one to keep an eye out for but based on the silence from Viliv, I’m guessing it’s not close to being available yet.

Widening your choices

Netbooks, starting at about 1.2KG (2.6lb) and large-format Windows tablets (again 1.2KG when a keyboard is added) along with 5~ and 7~ Android tablets and the iPad2 all need consideration. Even the >4 inch Android phones with the latest CPUs. As Meego filters in, keep an eye on that too as it spans mobile and desktop environments. Finally, Honeycomb and WebOS are operating systems to watch. Personally I have high hopes for Honeycomb as one of the more flexible operating systems to cross-over into a productive and flexible environment and that could happen on either ARM or Intel.

Choosing a platform for 2012

Oaktrail – Intel’s Z6xx series. We’ve seen it running Windows, Android and Meego already, it will run Chrome OS and there should be forward compatibility with Windows 8 making it, in my opinion, one of the most interesting ultra-mobile platforms out there right now. Intel builds of Honeycomb and Meego should be able to squeeze more battery life out of it too. There’s a 2X graphics improvement over Menlow (GMA600 vs. GMA500) and even hardware 720p video encoding which could speed up video rendering. At 1.5Ghz, it’s not the most CPU-powerful platform but Intel have already talked about 1.8Ghz versions and I’m sure, if the platform becomes popular, we could see dual-core versions too. Why Oaktrail and not Cedar Trail? Because it’s got power management capabilities that Cedar Trail hasn’t got.

Waiting for Sandy Bridge.

Sandy Bridge in ultra-low-voltage guise is very interesting. I recently tested an AMD-E350 based Lenovo S205. It was good. It’s TDP (CPU+GPU) is 18W and the CPU performance is high-end Atom level. Sandy bridge, on the other had also comes in 17W TDP variants but the CPU performance on these simply blows Atom, E-Series Fusion and even first-gen Core parts out of the water. with around 5x the CPU performance of an Atom CPU along with some good GPU performance. Price is high as we’ve seen with the Samsung Series 9 but that devices comes in at 1.3KG with 6hrs of battery life and serious compute power. It’s a sign that Ultrabooks could push down in to even smaller and lighter designs.

Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook (4)

My plan. What’s yours?

Today I sold my last netbook / laptop. Over the last few months I’ve been having a clear-out and now I’m left completely without any sort of mobile productivity device. It’s a nice position to be in but it’s going to be a tough decision. Right now I’m favouring the Samsung TX100 / Gloria / PC7 Slider on Oaktrail because I’m interested in Oaktrail performance and multi-OS scenarios. I’m worried about the CPU performance though. I’m also looking carefully at that Toshiba W100/W105 show above. I think I can run PowerDirector video editing suite on that and get some usable 720p rendering speeds that should be 2x what the Oaktrail platform can produce. Finally, Samsung have another very interesting product in the Series 9 laptop on Core i5 Sandy Bridge. It’s an expensive item but a real mobile workhorse. And why am I looking at all these laptop-style devices? Because after spending 7 months with the Galaxy Tab I’ve found that there are fewer things I need to do on a laptop now and those things generally involve high-productivity working with Video, Images and multiple windows. The 7 inch tablet has filled a great position but along with my new requirement to product 720p videos, has pushed up my requirements for a laptop.

Weekend Tablet Reading (E-Pub Download)

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I’m flying to San Francisco tomorrow and so you’re unlikely to hear much from me until Intel’s IDF starts on Monday so before then I thought I’d promote a couple of reports and offer them to you as an e-pub so you can read them at your leisure over the weekend. Of course, you can read them online here too.

The two articles are tablet related:

Making a HIT. (Your Checklist for a Quality Handheld Internet Tablet)

Things to Consider when Designing or Buying a Tablet-Style Device

The epub file containing both articles is here and has been tested on Aldiko (Android e-pub reader)

Let me know if you download it and have a great weekend.

Windows 7 Slate Design – *Must-Read* White Paper

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ASUS Eee Pad EP121 12 inch I know there are a lot of designers, manufacturers and resellers that read UMPCPortal so this one is for you. Potential Windows 7 Slate customers should also read this. In fact, as a reviewer, I’m learning from this White Paper too!

Windows 7 Engineering Guidance for Slate PCs.

Windows for Devices have reproduced an extremely useful white paper by Microsoft that gives detailed information about what Windows 7 can bring to slate PCs (note – Microsoft aren’t using the ‘Tablet PC’ term!) and how designers should think about everything from ergonomics and electronics. Windows 7 is one of the only operating systems that provides the Full Internet Experience with a productivity focus and a touch-enabled user interface. It may not be the sexiest but as of today, nothing can touch it for desktop-style productivity.

There are some obvious tips that are useful for designer and buyer…

  • “Provide 2 gigabytes of memory on CPU-constrained and GPU-constrained systems. inch [which applies to Menlow, Pine Trail and Oak Trail designs in my opinion – Chippy]
  • “Slate PCs should use solid-state drives (SSDs) to enable lower power consumption and high reliability in a mobile environment. SSDs also have greater performance than most traditional platter drives. inch
  • Battery life should exceed 4 hours under normal operating conditions.

…and some not-so-obvious tips…

  • To get a Windows 7 hardware logo on a device bigger than 10.2 inch you need to support DirectX 10
  • Ensure handgrip regions are designed away from heat dispersion and venting.
  • Biometric logon — Consider including a fingerprint reader for improved ease of access for logon and security scenarios.

The document is rich with advanced tips and inks and is also a recommended read for anyone considering buying a WIndows 7 ‘slate’. Clearly, with Microsoft pushing Windows 7 into this area, with OakTrail offering a super low-power platform and the general slate/pad/tablet wave of interest we’re seeing at the moment, there will be an increased number of offerings in the late 2010 and 2011 timeframe.

Additional information can be found in my article: Things to Consider when Designing or Buying a Tablet-Style Device

Windows for Devices – WIndows 7 Engineering Guidance for Slate PCs

Ultra Mobile Computing Buyers Guide PDF.

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I had hoped to get a big big updated version of the mobile computing guide out before the end of 2009 but time was definitely not on my side. I’ve done a lot of work on it but it’s going to take many more hours before it’s finished. In the meantime, the late 2008 version is still available as a re-flowable PDF and is still worth reading if you’re thinking about buying a mobile computer, tablet, MID or other mobile computing device this year.

Click on the image to download the free 28-page PDF.

PDF now removed. New version of this book is planned for Q4 2010

If you want to view it online, use the links below.

Part One: What is an Ultra Mobile PC.’ We give you a history of Ultra Mobile computing, show you how the devices break down into segments and show you what each segment is capable of.

Part Two: ‘Details and Choices.’ It covers the form factors, the keyboard, storage, the screen and connectivity elements of an Ultra Mobile PC. You’ll find a good overview and a lot of tips that will help you refine your choice.

Part ThreeDetails and Choices continued‘ continues the details about the components and covers CPU (including a detailed overview of the currently available solutions) GPU, memory, battery, weight and cost.

Part Four: ‘Additional Information and further reading.‘ In this section we cover some of the less commonly found features on Ultra Mobile computers and give you information and links to further reading resources.

If you find the buyers guide useful, think about donating. It all goes back into making UMPCPortal a better place.

Mobile Computing Guide Now Available as Free PDF.

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About 3,000 of you have already downloaded the Ultra Mobile Computing Guide that we published last month and the links have long-gone from the front page so here’s a quick ‘highlight’ article, just in case you missed it.

Update: The guide is now only available online. Use the links below.

Part One: What is an Ultra Mobile PC.’ We give you a history of Ultra Mobile computing, show you how the devices break down into segments and show you what each segment is capable of.

Part Two: ‘Details and Choices.’  It covers the form factors, the keyboard, storage, the screen and connectivity elements of an Ultra Mobile PC. You’ll find a good overview and a lot of tips that will help you refine your choice.

Part ThreeDetails and Choices continued‘ continues the details about the components and covers CPU (including a detailed overview of the currently available solutions) GPU, memory, battery, weight and cost.

Part Four: ‘Additional Information and further reading.‘ In this section we cover some of the less commonly found features on Ultra Mobile computers and give you information and links to further reading resources.

Product Database Expands with ‘Pocketables’ Partnership.

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Most of you will know about Pocketables.net, a well-written and highly-recommended journal of all things ‘gadgety’ and ‘pocketable’ run by Jenn Lee. If you don’t know about it, now is your chance because we’ve teamed up with Pocketables to enhance and share the product database to bring you ‘Pocketables Products.’

pocketablesproducts

Not only does this increase the number of partners now adding, managing and sharing products and links in the database (Liliputing and JKKMobile are already part of the network of sites that contribute) but it brings a whole new category of pocketable devices to the database. We’ve enhanced the database which has allowed Pocketables to add an exclusive range of Digital Audio Player devices to the database. 167 of them when I checked a few minutes ago and this is in addition to the 200+ MIDs, UMPCs and Netbooks. Perfect for Cyber Monday shopping! You’ll find an introduction to the new feature at Pocketables in this article.

The product database, run by Carrypad, the company that runs UMPCPortal, is now 2.5 years old and  contains product details for over 350 devices and includes a continuously updating, hand-reviewed ‘river of links’ out to important news, reviews and resources in other parts of the Internet. The latest partnership with Pocketables highlights how niche product bloggers can unite to provide extra value for both their sites and their customers. Carrypad will continue to look for high-quality product bloggers with a view to expanding the range and improving the quality further. We’ve already started work with two new partners and hope to announce these in the next months so if you run a high-quality blog or website about consumer products and are interested in partnering with us in either a passive or active way, get in touch. We’re also seeking investors for this product so that we can take it to the next level and provide even more features, more reliability, faster results, better support and faster turnaround for partners. Contact us here for further information.

Free PDF Report. Ultra Mobile Computing Buyers Guide.

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freepdfTo all the websites, companies and visitors that I’ve learned so much from in the last few years, here’s something back. The 5-part, 11,000 word, 28-page Ultra Mobile Computing Buyers Guide as a single re-flowable PDF file.

Click the image to download the PDF.  (850kB)

(Right-Click and choose ‘Save Link As’ to save direct to  your PC)

Ultra-Mobile Computing Buyers Guide 2008. Part 4

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buyersguide2008

Welcome to Part 4 of the Ultra Mobile Computing Buyers Guide. The final part is titled ‘Additional Information and further reading’ and ties up the lose ends by going over some of the less commonly found features. We also give you a big reading list.

We feel we’ve done a good job on it and covered a lot of ground and a good level of detail but if you want to see additional content or make corrections, please let us know in the comments below. We’ll consider adding it to the next issue which will be published during the summer of 2009.

If you enjoyed the series, please consider promoting it by linking, digging, sharing or highlighting in some way.

Buyers Guide posts:

  • Introduction
  • Part One: ‘What is Ultra Mobile Computing?’ We give you a history of Ultra Mobile computing, show you how the devices break down into segments and show you what each segment is capable of.
  • Part Two: ‘Details and Choices.’  It covers the form factors, the keyboard, storage, the screen and connectivity elements of an Ultra Mobile PC. You’ll find a good overview and a lot of tips that will help you refine your choice.
  • Part Three continues the details about the components and covers CPU (including a detailed overview of the currently available solutions) GPU, memory, battery, weight and cost.
  • Part Four (below) ‘Additional Information and further reading.’ In this section we cover some of the less commonly found features on Ultra Mobile computers and give you information and links to further reading resources.

The compete series will be published next week as a free PDF or e-book for non-commercial use. If you would like to use it for commercial purposes, please contact us to discuss.

Read on …

Read the full story

Ultra-Mobile Computing Buyers Guide 2008. Part 3

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buyersguide2008 Welcome to Part 3 of the Ultra Mobile Computing Buyers Guide. ‘Details and Choices’ continues today with a look into some options that will be as critical to the buyer as form factor or keyboard. The CPU and GPU options, battery and weight. We also take a look at the cost of an Ultra Mobile computer.

Buyers Guide posts:

  • Introduction
  • Part One: ‘What is Ultra Mobile Computing?’ We give you a history of Ultra Mobile computing, show you how the devices break down into segments and show you what each segment is capable of.
  • Part Two: ‘Details and Choices.’  It covers the form factors, the keyboard, storage, the screen and connectivity elements of an Ultra Mobile PC. You’ll find a good overview and a lot of tips that will help you refine your choice.
  • Part Three (below) continues the details about the components and covers CPU (including a detailed overview of the currently available solutions) GPU, memory, battery, weight and cost.
  • Part Four: ‘Additional Information and further reading.’ In this section we cover some of the less commonly found features on Ultra Mobile computers and give you information and links to further reading resources.

Read on …

Read the full story

Ultra-Mobile Computing Buyers Guide 2008 Part 2

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buyersguide2008 Welcome to Part 2 of the Ultra Mobile Computing Buyers Guide. ‘Details and Choices.’ I this part we get into details about some of the most important parts of the Ultra Mobile Device starting with the form factors and possibly the most important aspect of all, the keyboard.

Buyers Guide posts:

  • Introduction
  • Part One: ‘What is Ultra Mobile Computing?’ We give you a history of Ultra Mobile computing, show you how the devices break down into segments and show you what each segment is capable of.
  • Part Two (below): ‘Details and Choices.’  It covers the form factors, the keyboard, storage, the screen and connectivity elements of an Ultra Mobile PC. You’ll find a good overview and a lot of tips that will help you refine your choice.
  • Part Three continues the details about the components and covers CPU (including a detailed overview of the currently available solutions) GPU, memory, battery, weight and cost.
  • Part Four: ‘Additional Information and further reading.’ In this section we cover some of the less commonly found features on Ultra Mobile computers and give you information and links to further reading resources.

Read on …

Read the full story

Ultra-Mobile Computing Buyers Guide 2008. Part 1

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Welcome to part 1 of the 4 part Ultra Mobile Computing Buyers Guide – What is an Ultra Mobile Computer, a UMPC?

buyersguide2008

This complete series is available a the original PDF. (Subsequent updates will be missing so we advise reading this updated web version.

Introduction

Part One: What is Ultra Mobile Computing?‘ We give you a history of Ultra Mobile computing, show you how the devices break down into segments and show you what each segment is capable of.

Part Two: ‘Details and Choices.‘  It covers the form factors, the keyboard, storage, the screen and connectivity elements of an Ultra Mobile PC. You’ll find a good overview and a lot of tips that will help you refine your choice.

Part ThreeDetails and Choices (contd.)‘ continues the details about the components and covers CPU (including a detailed overview of the currently available solutions) GPU, memory, battery, weight and cost.

Part Four: ‘Additional Information and further reading.‘ In this section we cover some of the less commonly found features on Ultra Mobile computers and give you information and links to further reading resources.

Also available as a single document in PDF format.

Read the full story

Ultra-Mobile Computing Buyers Guide 2008. Introduction.

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In the last two years we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of mobile computing choices. From high-end pro-mobile mini-laptops to tiny, pocketable devices that you can take anywhere. Even the smartphone segment has developed to the point where it crosses-over and now offers real mobile computing possibilities. The number of variants has grown to the point where there is a device for everyone but the downside is that choosing and buying process becomes more and more difficult . The UMPCPortal Ultra-Mobile Computing buyers guide is here to help you make your choice.

buyersguide2008

This guide, now in its third edition, will introduce you to the concepts and the options, go into detail about the technology and ultimately, help you decide if you need a mobile computing device and if so, which type of device you should be looking for. The 2008 guide has been updated with information about MIDs and Netbooks, information on the latest CPUs and technology and includes even more hints and tips about buying an Ultra Mobile Computer. It’s a very long report so we’ve split it up into four parts that will be posted each day this week. In a final post next week, we’ll pull all the pieces together into a PDF or E-book so that you can download it and keep it as a reference.

Part One: What is an Ultra Mobile PC.’ We give you a history of Ultra Mobile computing, show you how the devices break down into segments and show you what each segment is capable of.

Part Two: ‘Details and Choices.’  It covers the form factors, the keyboard, storage, the screen and connectivity elements of an Ultra Mobile PC. You’ll find a good overview and a lot of tips that will help you refine your choice.

Part ThreeDetails and Choices continued‘ continues the details about the components and covers CPU (including a detailed overview of the currently available solutions) GPU, memory, battery, weight and cost.

Part Four: ‘Additional Information and further reading.‘ In this section we cover some of the less commonly found features on Ultra Mobile computers and give you information and links to further reading resources.

We hope you enjoy the guide and that it helps you make informed choices. It will be published under Creative Commons license so feel free to share and reproduce it for non-commercial use.

Creative Commons License


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Germany License.

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