Ultra Mobile PC Buyer's Guide - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Devices
News
6/29/2008
10:01 PM
50%
50%

Ultra Mobile PC Buyer's Guide

We look at a range of versatile UMPCs and mobile Internet devices (MIDs) from ASUS, Gigabyte, and Samsung, Amtek, OQO, Roan Digital, Vye, and WiBrain.

Pity the ultra mobile personal computer. It's barely a few years old and it's already suffering from multiple personality disorder. It may even soon see a midlife crisis.

The first question to ask is, "What is a UMPC?" Don't be surprised if you don't get the same answer twice.

The product category started life as a Microsoft concept called "Project Origami." (Yes, the art of folding paper.) As you might or might not be aware, Microsoft's success with hardware-based products has not been auspicious. From the broad range of hardware it has proposed or delivered, it was first successful with its mouse and then there was... well, its mouse.

In the original plan, an Origami device would utilize a 4- to 7-inch screen that has a minimum resolution of 800x600. The operating system was Windows XP with the Microsoft Touch Pack and it supported access via touch, pen, and dedicated buttons. There was a footnote in there for keyboards as well. Apparently, big old fingers and a little tiny touch screen are no more a match made in heaven for an Origami, er, UMPC device than they are for the iPhone or iPod Touch.




The ASUS R2H adds an optional USB keyboard to its touchscreen and handwriting recognition input methods.
(click for image gallery)

According to Microsoft, in its latest incarnation (soon to be released), a UMPC should run Windows Vista Home Premium, weigh approximately 2 pounds, have an integrated touch panel, and be both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled. Did someone not say keyboard?

This newest upgrade to the platform, called Origami 2.0, brings some interesting innovations to the user interface. All are prefixed by the word "Origami." One of particular interest is called "Picture Password." According to Microsoft, it lets you, "log on to your computer by tapping a sequence of targets on a picture instead of typing a text password. It's a quick, fun, and highly secure way to unlock and log on to a UMPC." Yes, it sounds funny, but playing Simon has been fun for years.

The one thing to remember is that UMPCs are niche devices. They're trying to be something more than a PDA, but not quite a PC, and they're almost succeeding. Those with keyboards must be cradled in your hands and typed upon with your extremely agile opposable thumbs. It's not comfortable for a prolonged period of time and, in that sense, they're not PCs. The latest additions of Origami productivity software, Central and Now, add better e-mail, calendar, and weather applications and media aggregation to the device, so it's certainly more than a PDA.

Previous
1 of 7
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
IT Success = Storage & Data Center Performance
Balancing legacy infrastructure with emerging technologies requires laying a solid foundation that delivers flexibility, scalability, and efficiency. Learn what the most pressing issues are, how to incorporate advances like software-defined storage, and strategies for streamlining the data center.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll