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Summary:

Microsoft MVP Darryl Burling has posted a prediction that the high-end PDA will disappear in the next few years with the release of the Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC). The UMPC will probably mean that the larger form factor Pocket PC’s will dissapear over time. This of course […]

Microsoft MVP Darryl Burling has posted a prediction that the high-end PDA will disappear in the next few years with the release of the Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC).

The UMPC will probably mean that the larger form factor Pocket PC’s will dissapear over time. This of course makes perfect sense, given that the larger Pocket PC’s fill a niche that would be better served with a UMPC – i.e. something that has a form factor big enough to use comfortably, but powerful enough to do most tasks with. Unfortunately high end Pocket PC’s have largely failed in the latter regard – as they just dont have the power to easily handle applications that you’d want in the larger form factor. Not to mention that most of these devices dont have phone functionality, so they are not even connected all the time.

Darryl may be on to something but it is important to take the form factor into account. The UMPC is much larger than any Pocket PC or PDA and I don’t see a lot of owners of these devices dropping them for a device that is two times the size. While it is true that the full power of the UMPC makes it a much better alternative to the PDA (at least for me) that alone won’t necessarily entice PDA owners to drop them. I think even when UMPCs are released that rival the PDA price-wise there will still be those who prefer a smaller device, especially one that will fit in a pocket. What do you think?

(via UMPC Buzz)

  1. People really like being able to stick a device in their pocket. I personally don’t have large enough pockets for pda sized stuff. I usually keep it in my laptop bag.

    Who knows if we will have a UMPC that is low cost and pda sized. I think it will come.

  2. I agree. Pocketability is important to me (also instant on, flash toughness, long battery life). My walk-around computer is a PDA rather than my U750P, which has evolved to be used like a typical (though very small) laptop. Don’t know if there are enough people like me to be a continuing market, so may be driven to a Treo or similar. Will buy again a UPC when it’s flash and instant on and maybe 6-7″ screen (with technology that eliminates jaggies caused by resting your palm on the screen).

  3. People really like being able to stick a device in their pocket. I personally don’t have large enough pockets for pda sized stuff. I usually keep it in my laptop bag.

    Who knows if we will have a UMPC that is low cost and pda sized. I think it will come.

  4. Burning Orange Monday, March 20, 2006

    I use a pdaphone (Imate JAM) for my PDA+phone needs, and it is small enough to always be on me. I’m a big fan of the PDA, but needed one with a phone. No keyboard and no antenna sticking out (the Treo is a horror).

    My LS800 (essentially a UMPC for me) is my work laptop+media player in one. Bluetooth Activesync between the two, and my PIM are identical on both at all times.

    And with the ORB software running on my home theatre PC, I have wireless access from anywhere to all my media: music in lossless FLAC, movies, videos, photos. Although not TV, because my TV card isn’t recognised.

    If the LS800 had inbuilt GPS and a camera for video-skype (like the upcoming Asus R2H UMPC), and a good battery life, it would be perfect.

    So in all, I think that the UMPC + small PDA(phone) complement each other very well.

  5. Remember, the first generation of the Origami is not exactly what Microsoft invisioned. They wanted it to be smaller and better, and they hope to acheive that in the following generations, so when that’s acheived, the UMPC could take a bite from the PDA market, but i don’t know if it’ll completely eliminate it…

  6. Jeff Singfiel Monday, March 20, 2006

    In addition to what’s been said, that battery life is going to be an issue as well. My Sony CLIE TH55 can go almost a full work-week before it really needs to be charged. I would love to have a UMPC, but until it’s instant-on and has better battery life it won’t fill the PDA niche.

    That said, I’d still love to have one and I think that, in the future, these are going to make PalmOS and Windows Mobile really struggle. If/when the issues we’re talking about are resolved I would be ecstatic to do away with conduits, hotsyncing, etc.

  7. Here was a comment I posted on a thread posing a similar question (will the UMPC be a Palm-killer?) on the Brighthand Palm forums:

    “The UMPC is basically just a half-sized tablet PC with a few more trade-offs, but otherwise with most of the same pros and cons as a full-sized tablet. I don’t see this being a Palm-killer any time soon any more than any other competing “portable” device has been a Palm-killer (and there have been smaller, full-fledged Windows devices for many years, now).

    “While it would be great to be able to carry a full-fledged Windows PC with me everywhere, the UMPC still doesn’t make that much more convenient than any other tablet. In my view, the OQO is closer to my vision of something that could make me give up my Palm TX. But, of course, it’s too expensive and still too big to be pocketable.

    “My Palm TX is an adequate laptop replacement for me, right now. It’s by no means perfect, but it has enough capability that when I’m out and about I can do most of the things I used to use my laptop for when I was travelling — email (with attachments), IM, casual document creation and editing (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), and web surfing. And, I really like the fact that I can slip it in my pocket just as easily as my wallet. I carry it everywhere.”

  8. I think the higher-end PDA (with or without phone capability) is in even more serious trouble with the advent of the UMPC. I’ve used Pocket PCs (PPCs) since before they were PPCs and have chafed every day of that time over their shortcomings. Almost every aspect of the experience has been a compromise at best. Either the applications lacked important features for smooth interoperability with their desktop equivalents (Outlook and Word) or the screen size didn’t permit a viable user experience (web browsing). Phone capabilities and connectivity via wireless carriers just adds more problems than are solved. A PDA needs a good keyboard to be a good phone, and none of the approaches to adding a keyboard to PPCs result in a device that’s both a good PPC and a good phone. Then throw a wireless carrier into the mix, restricting important features to enhance their revenue position. No thank you. For me, the future will be a smartphone device running Windows Mobile for my “always at hand” information needs and a UMPC-like device to replace the notebook that I’ve continued to carry since the PPC was never really enough.

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