Ultra-portable takes to the sky


A few months ago when I saw the Sony press release for the U-50/70 ultra-portable PC (UPC) the first thought that occurred to me was how this little computer could revolutionize my work flow with the Tablet OS installed.  That premonition was fulfilled nicely and the Sony has become the workhorse I envisioned.  Ken Sutton had a similar thought when he first saw the Sony in the news, but his need was much different than mine.

Ken is a pilot who instantly saw the benefits of using a full Windows XP computer in his airplane to handle navigation and weather reports in real-time.  At the time Ken was using an HP iPAQ 5550 to handle this sort of information in the plane but found it couldn’t display instrument approach plates from Jeppesen which are embedded in a Window’s program.  The Sony U70 would be the perfect device to mount in the plane and handle all of his requirements for real-time information while airborne.  (For more photos continue reading the article)


Sony U-70 mounted in a bracket in his plane.  Note the GPS information on the screen.

Ken worked with his aviation software vendor to get a customized solution fitted to his plane that fills all of his needs perfectly.  The Sony U70 is mounted in a removable bracket near the cockpit of the plane and provides full NAV information overlaid with XM radio weather information in real-time.  He is also able to run his Windows based software to display the instrument approach plates.  All of his NAV hardware is Bluetooth based and he uses it with a Socket CF Bluetooth card in the Sony.  He has been kind enough to provide a few photos of his setup:


The Sony’s new home while flying.  He can remove it to take with him when stuck on the ground.


The RAM bracket for mounting the Sony in the plane.


Closeup of the Sony in the plane.

UPCs are extremely versatile and you can easily how useful these small computers can be.  The recently released OQO is the second device with a small footprint and I am sure we will continue to see stories of innovative and productive uses of UPCs.  As always I will continue to bring stories that chronicle such uses as I become aware of them.  If you have a UPC and find it has filled a unique and useful role in your work flow please get in touch with me so I can let the readers see first hand how the UPC works for you.  If you have any specific questions about the setup above just post your questions here and I’ll bet we can sweet talk Ken into giving us the technical details about his arrangment. 

Big thanks to Ken Sutton for sharing this wonderful information about the Sony!



This is cool, Now with the UMPCs things would get much easier if there is a DOCK that comes with it for Automobiles


I have the u750, which is the US model, in my airplane. It works well but the cables are still a bit of a problem. If there were an extension cable, which could connect to the docking station remotely, it would be possible to provide power and all other ports to the U750 with a single small cable. Do you know how I could locate such a cable or find the specs on the connectors to order one?



Where can I get a RAM bracket? how does it mount to the console/dash? Did you have to drill holes? I’d like to use it to mount it to my car.


Comments are closed.