Tag Archive | "mbook"

Viliv N5 vs. UMID BZ. Two Grown-Up Psion 5s Compete for Your Hand

IMG_3790 Two clamshell-style handheld PCs; Both offering great features, good battery life and usability at a price that would have been unheard of a few years ago. For the ultimate in thumb-able PCs, the Viliv N5 and UMID BZ have no competition. Sure, the Fujitsu UH900 and Sony P-Series look the same but these two are in a different sizing category and make a great alternatives to the OQO Model 02+ that never was. These two devices have the same adventurous spirit that the Psion 5 had all those years ago and that says a lot.

I’ve rounded-up my thoughts in a 17-minute video below but if you want the text version, read-on. Feel free to ask questions below. I’ll attend to all of them.

Viliv N5 specifications, images, link, videos.

UMID BZ specifications, images, link, videos.

It’s actually very easy to summarise the difference between the two devices. One uses relatively low-cost components, skimps on memory and is built to a price. The other uses high quality parts both inside and out in order to offer a more rounded computing experience. A better, less stressful computing experience. The Viliv N5 is the latter and really offers more of a multi-tasking experience where you’ll be able to run 5 Firefox tabs, Media-player, Livewriter, Tweetdeck and a background media player without any real hiccups. The UMID BZ isn’t bad though because if you’re  only using one or two apps and can put up with the occasional ‘pause’, the UMID offers excellent value and even some additional features not found on the Viliv N5.

Key Differences:

Style – The Viliv N5 wins hands-down. The UMID BZ looks cheap in comparison. In our experience the UMID build quality is high though.

Screen – The UMID BZ screen is brighter. Noticeably brighter. If you’re looking to use these devices outside, by the window in a train or on the dash of your car, the UMID BZ is the best.

Touchscreen – The UMID has a much lighter touchscreen. I find it easier to use than the slightly heavier weight of the N5 touchscreen.

External Screen – Only the UMID BZ offers you a video-out possibility so if you want to use these devices for presentations or as a low-power, low-end desktop PC (it’s possible) then don’t go for the current Viliv N5. [A pro-model might add this feature at a later date.]

Keyboard – VERY IMPORTANT. The N5 offers a keyboard that can be used for thumbing but is wide enough to allow a good rate of touch-tapping. The UMID offers a better thumbing keyboard (smaller width, less spongy keys) but is much harder to use on a table.

CPU – The 100Mhz speed difference on the CPU is hardly noticeable. On average, you’ll probably get to see a web page 1-second quicker on the Viliv N5.

3G – The N5 is available with 3G for the ultimate in mobility. The UMID BZ will need to be tethered to a mobile phone or connected to a MiFi router which isn’t as easy to set-up or use.

Price – The UMID BZ is $150 cheaper than the entry-level Viliv N5.

Battery Life – In tests so far, the Viliv is lasting between 3 and 3.5 hours in full use. With optimisations (lower screen brightness, good radio control) the Viliv N5 should reach 4 hours. The UMID seems to last for 4 hours without much attention from the user.

Video playback Out of the box, the Viliv provides excellent local file playback capabilities. Up to 1080p (H.264 tested) works better than on any other ultra mobile PC we’ve tested. YouTube HQ (480p) to full-screen size works better on the Viliv N5. (Flash 10.1 and Windows 7 appear to work well together)

Phone features – The Viliv N5 is able to make voice calls through the cellular modem. (Only on the 3G version.)

Operating System – The Viliv N5 runs Windows 7 Home Starter edition. The UMID BZ offers Windows XP Home. The latter uses less memory and disk (the UMID BZ offers over 20GB of space. The Viliv N5 only 11GB. Both have 32GB drives) and neither operating systems offer any sort of special touch or input features.

Update: GPS – Correctly pointed out by a couple of people that sent emails, the Viliv N5 has GPS which makes it usable as a navigation system. There are no Windows-7 compatible (sensor) drivers though, the GPS simply appears on COM1 at 9600 or 4800 bps depending on configuration. First lock (using VisualGPS) took about 2 minutes (for full 3D fix) but the lock was lost indoors next to a window. For people thinking about using this in a car, consider the glossy screen and brightness.

Video Comparison– See the video below for an overview of the differences. For Viliv N5 specific reviews, see this page. For UMID BZ reviews, see this page.

UMID BZ at Dynamism (and in our Database and Gallery.)

IMG_1966 IMG_1941 IMG_1946

UMID BZ details, videos and links to articles and gallery in the Product Database.

There’s a review and video of the UMID BZ coming just as soon as I receive the missing power cable from UMID (due in a few days) but in the meantime, I’ve added it to the database and finished a photo shoot. If that’s enough to tip you over the edge then Dynamism is the place you need to look next.

They’ve got the 16GB SSD model in for just $549 which is a relief considering the early pricing indicators and if you order now, you’ll get the VGA adaptor thrown in for free.

In my hours with the BZ at CES a few weeks ago it was clear that they’ve done a good job improving the casing. It’s sturdy, well finished and opens up much wider than before. The optical mouse isn’t as nice as some I’ve tried as the recess tends to feel awkward but as before, the touchscreen is nice and responsive. You’ll need to optimize Windows XP for that 1024×600 screen but that’s not a major issue.

Expect some videos from me over the next week. So far I don’t see any showstoppers. Oh, and by the way, that competitor, the Viliv N5 won’t be available until March so if you need a 4.8 inch clamshell with XP and lon battery life now, this is your baby.

[Dynamism affiliate links appear in our product database. There are no affiliate links in this post.]

Two 5" Clamshells Go Head-to-Head at CES

On previous MIDMoves adventures you saw me in San Fransisco and Taipei and at each of those events I got hands on with a new 5 inch Intel-based MID. I’m expecting both of these new devices to launch while I’m in Vegas for CES in a few weeks so here’s a quick rundown of what I know so far.

N5-hand-small m2-hand-small

As you can see, both devices have an extremely similar design. On the left, the Viliv N5 that was announced just a short while ago. On the right, the UMID M2 that we’ve already had time with.

Both devices will be based on the Menlow platform, have a 1024×600 touchscreen and an integrated mouse pointer. Wifi and Bluetooth too. Questions remain over the battery life but based on what I’ve seen with the forerunner to the UMID M2, the M1, battery life on the M2 should be good. If Viliv continue their run of high-quality UMPCs, the battery life on the N5 is going to be good too.

XP, Windows 7, 3G and SSD options should be available so the only real difference in basic specifications I can see is the GPS on the N5. That’s not a deal-breaker for most so it really leaves two differentiators; pricing and the all-important hands-on testing!

That’s what we’re planning to do at CES in a few weeks starting on the 6th of Jan so stay tuned for this interesting battle of the 5 inch Clamshells because these two could be great mobile computing options.

(We might get some N5 specs and pics soon so again, stay tuned!)

Long-Awaited UMID M2 UMPC appears as Onkyo BX in Japan.

Akihabara seemed to have missed the fact that the Sotec (Onkyo) BX 407A4 is actually a device that many of us have been waiting for. It’s a rebadged UMID M2. Or Kohjinsha device. Or Inventec device. We’re not sure who the design owner is right now but if Inventec are manufacturing for Onkyo as we suspect then it probably means that the M2 is ready to go. About time!

bx407_le bx407_main bx407_ri bx407_1l bx407_2l bx407_3l bx407_4l bx407_5l

The Onkyo Japan website gives the following information:

  • Intel Atom 1.2Ghz
  • 512MB RAM
  • 32GB SSD
  • 1024×600 screen (touch)
  • Windows XP
  • Wifi b/g
  • BT2.0
  • 1.3MP web cam
  • Optical pointer
  • JEITA operating time (idle) 7 hours.

Clearly there’s a left-right mouse button on the left of the screen frame too. Note that the RAM is only 512MB which is OK for basic Windows XP Home use with three or four apps running but will disappoint the heavy users amongst us.

As for pricing, local Onkyo price is 64800 yen which is about 740 dollars; higher than we would like to see. Availability is unknown.

Onkyo BX websales site. (You’ll find a few other recognizable devices there too.)

We’ve got an email out with UMID to try and clear up the status based on this information.

Thanks for the tip Thomas.

Black UMID in Stock at Dynamism

“…one of the most interesting and attention-grabbing devices we had at SXSW inch [first impressions article.]

After a long wait and more than a little worry that UMID had gone out of business, the black Mbook M1, one of the most impressive of all the UMPCs based on it’s size, performance, speed and capability, is here!


Dynamism are also offering a free leather case (while stocks last)

Over at UMPCPortal, Ben has one on the way and so we’ll be giving it a full test to see how it stacks up against the original white model [full review]. Apparently there are a few updates to the casing design.

UMID product page with external links to reviews and articles.

Black UMID comes to Dynamism

After a long wait and more than a little worry that UMID had gone out of business, the black Mbook M1, one of the most impressive of all the UMPCs based on it’s size, performance, speed and capability, is coming to Dynamism next week for $599.


Dynamism are also offering a free leather case (while stocks last)

The UMID runs XP on the same  1.3Ghz Intel Atom CPU asyou’ll find in the Viliv X5, X70 and Asus T91. It’s a proven CPU now and ideal for high-end mobile work with long battery life. Expect 4hours real-world usage out of the UMID.

The keyboard is good, the touchscreen is good and there’s even a 3G option available. This is the ultimate tool for the pro-twitter user. Tweetdeck and Firefox are a deadly combo!

Things to watch out for are:

USB ports require a dongle to adapt them to a normal sized port. The audio in/out is also on a dongle which is very annoying. There’s also a question about build quality and screen angle. We’ve heard that the casing design and plastics have been updated to eliminate the creakyness found in the earlier versions but we still haven’t had 100% confirmation that the screen angle has been improved. You can see the problem demonstrated in my demo video which gives a good overview of the good and bad points of the UMID

You can read the full review of the UMID M1 here. There’s a huge amount of UMID content here.

The long anticipated compact and cool — world’s smallest PC with refined matte black casing– will be shipping from Dynamism next week. While supplies last, we will also include a free leather case ($50 value) with each order. This UMID M1 is long-awaited and fairly limited, so we expect our shipment to sell out quickly. [ Dynamism]

UMID product page with external links to reviews and articles.

Update on UMID availability, screen issues.

umid1Despite the UMID MBook [details] being a very powerful and very small little computer at a very reasonable price, it has never really gained the traction I thought it deserved [review]. The USB dongles and the screen hinge were two significant issues but despite that, I thought we might have seen more action on blogs and forums than we have. To get a handle on what’s going on I contacted UMID to check that they hadn’t gone the way of OQO and Raon Digital. Here’s what they said.

Chippy: Is it [umid m1] shipping in quantity now? Are the early build quality problems fixed?

UMID: Since there have been LCD shortage, we are not able to supply enough qty, but we are expecting to get delivered enough products beginning of Sep. with Black model also. We have fixed plastic (cabinet) problem..such as no clicking sound when you open it up and easy to control screen angle and etc.

Chippy: What overseas (EU, US) distributors do you have?

UMID: In US market, we have one channel supplier named Dynamism so far, we will extend more a sales channel US in near future. And, we are setting up an exclusive distributor organization for EU market as ODM brand.

Chippy: Do you have plans for an upgraded or new model soon?

UMID: You will see them at IDF SF, and M1 BK model.

So it looks like the Black version is coming at the beginning of September and that there may be a new model shown at IDF although that’s open to interpretation. If the screen folds back further than it did though it removes one of the major issues with the device. It tried to clarify that point because a black version with a better screen angle would really interest me.

Chippy: Does the screen now fold back further or have you just fixed the "click" problem?
Yes, there is modification of controlling screen angle

We’re trying to get images and information but all we managed to get hold of so far are images of the Black (BK) model which looks great.


mbook_black mbook_black03 mbook_black02

Click to see full size versions.

We’ll be at IDF so of course we’ll be checking out the latest version and testing it for screen angle. I hope they don’t mind me stealing it overnight for some testing and videos!

UMID Mbook product details.

UMID mbook M1, Black, 3G expected June

umidblackPocketables is reporting on availability info for the black, 32GB, 3G version of the UMID Mbook M1. A desirable unit but based on current pricing, it will have to sell for over $900. I’d rather take the base version with an unlocked MiFi unit.

32GB black UMID mbook M1 with 3G expected in June.

UMID MBook. Dynamism, MID-June, $599

umidhandsGreat news. Following the Australian reseller, Justek (news) Dynamism have announced that they will be selling the UMID M1 Mbook and that it will be available from the 15th June.

For $599 you get exactly the version we tested. WIndows XP Home + 16GB of SSD. Good value? Yes. The UMID is truly a next-gen ultra mobile PC and, along with the Viliv S5, one of the best ultra mobile PC choices there is right now. It’s got a very fast web browser (we’re talking 3-4x the rendering speed of an iPhone here with full flash capability!) and a good video playback sub-system. From our review:

We’re impressed with the technology in the UMID Mbook, the processing power, the battery life, the screen and the fast SSD. We’re not impressed with the fiddly micro-SD slot, headphone and USB ports though and these, we’re sure, will be major issues for a lot of people. Build quality could also be better. Despite these issues, the UMID is a device that you keep going back to and keep wanting to take with you, even if you don’t have any ‘computing’ activities planned. It’s a very flexible, and fast, pocket companion. One might say, a pocket microblogging rocket!

Our full review of the UMID Mbook M1 is here.

Full product details including videos and links to other UMID news items on the ´net

Dynamism link.

Related articles in the right hand column ->

UMID Mbook M1 Full Review

The UMID Mbook is a groundbreaker. The first pocketable clamshell device to be able to run Windows or Linux-based software on an Intel platform is a great achievement and a huge step forward in technology. It’s also an attention-grabber. People are immediately drawn to the form factor and immediately understand that this could be a fun, productive and flexible device. It first appeared in Nov 2008 and went on sale in Korea in late Feb 2009. After a recall due to build quality issues, it’s now appearing in Ebay channels. Resellers are also getting export retail samples and this is what we’re testing here. The UMID Mbook M1 in export retail finishing sent over by Mobilx.eu

Read the full story

Touchscreens Battle It Out in the Top 5.

There’s an interesting line-up in the top 5 on the product portal today:

This is how the list of top 5 most-viewed devices looks on UMPCPortal today. Two UMPCs/MIDs and three low cost. lightweightm touchscreen notebooks.

The Viliv S5 has been #1 for a long time now and looks like it will stay there if recent reports are anything to go by. jkOnTheRun, Pocketables, JKKMobile, UMPCFever and yours truly have all filed positive reports based on testing experiences. Much the same is true of the UMID too. I’m guessing it would be #1 if you could actually buy one outside the Ebay channels because it seems to fit a more popular ‘microblogging’ niche than the Viliv S5. I could well be wrong on that one though so we’ll have to wait to see what the price is.

Positions 3-5 are interesting though. Over the last year, netbooks have totally dominated the UMPPortal charts with the Aspire One and MSI Wind taking the most viewings. These two both still appear in the top 10 but it’s these three new convertible touchscreen devices that are creating more buzz now.

Of the three, I personally think that the ASUS EeePC T91 is the most interesting for readers here. I was reading an advertising supplement from Stuff Magazine a few days ago and there was a lot of focus on the T91 as a Mobile Computer. They’re calling it the smallest, lightest TabletPC in the world which is actually incorrect but you can see where the marketing people are trying to push it. ‘Up to five hours’ battery life, 32GB SSD, fanless, multi-touch trackpad and GPS, 3G and DVB-T (options) in a very small sub-1kg package and an (expected entry-level) sub-500 Euros price has to be worth looking at.  The same goes for the EeePC T101H although it’s not going to be as portable. Bigger disk, screen, keyboard and CPU will increase the weight, size and price up out of the cheap netbook space. I suspect it might even come in at a higher price than the Gigabyte Touchnote T1028M that I have myself. Both are excellent choices though and if the extra size, weight and price is not a consideration for you, they will be more productive than the T91.

Bubbling under in the mobile convertible space is, to my eyes, an even more interesting mobile produtivity solution though. The Viliv S7 would go head-to-head with the T91. It will weigh even less, come with a range of CPUs up to 1.8 or even 2.0Ghz and have a similar battery life and keyboard. 3G and GPS will also be options. I tested a working model at CeBIT and was impressed.

It’s fair to say that all of these devices are new, all are getting a lot of press and that their appearance on the top 5 may not be long-term but touch is moving into mainstream computing very quickly indeed and it’s good to see sub 1kg options appearing at great prices. I feel sure that these devices will be around in the top 10 for quite a while and that we’re going to see more and more devices taking touch and mobility cues from the ultra mobile PC and Tablet PC world.

UMID MBook M1 in 12 points and 7 minutes.

Here’s my overview and opinion on the UMID MBook M1 in 12 points and a seven minute video. It highlights what I think are the most important things you should be thinking about if you’re looking to buy it.


  • Build quality. Plastics and part fitting is poor. Some creaking and poorly fitted casing components. *1
  • Table or handtop use. Neither are perfect. If the screen folded back further it would be far more comfortable to use in hands. Too light for tabletop touchscreen use.
  • One shift key is awkward in handheld mode. Strange layout for some keyboard characters.
  • Wifi and BT default to off after standby and can not be individually enabled.
  • No direct usb or headphone port
  • (Not in the video) No mouse control other than touchscreen which can be fiddly with Windows XP.


  • Smallest, most powerful notebook style pocketable pc available.
  • Extremely fast to boot, resume and start programs due to fast ssd
  • Good quality touchscreen with stabilisation software/drivers.
  • Powerful enough for Skype video capability out of the box. Good webcam.
  • Excellent battery life. (I’m currently running a full start-to-finish web browsing battery life test as I write this.)
  • While not perfect in every scenario, can be used successfully in every scenario. A flexible device.
  • Silent, cool operation.

Overall it’s one of the best ultra mobile PC devices available on the market and a great step forward for UMPCs but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

More information, links, videos, gallery in the UMID information page.

[*1 I am told that this is a retail UMID Mbook and not a prototype as I mentioned in the video. JKK has a similar problem with the one he bought from Ebay but there’s still a question about whether I have one of the pre-recall versions here.]

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