I miss the Sony U, what’s next?

Sony_u71_handheldThe past couple of weeks I’ve been really missing the Sony U71 (don’t worry Ron, I’m not going to ask for it back).  I have spent quite some time trying to figure out why, after all I have no shortage of cool gadgets to play with use productively.  I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing more useful for me than the ability to pick up a device in my hand, head out the door and still have a complete computer to do anything I might need to do while I am running around.  That need was filled very well by the Sony U and I miss that portability.  I find that even UMPCs are too big for that kind of mobility, I really need a handheld device.  Based on my thinking I have been looking around to see what device(s) are out there currently that might work.  Sadly, I haven’t found any.

It is kind of funny that I can’t find the handheld device I want given all the diversity in the mobile PC world right now.  We have UMPCs of all shapes and sizes, from the standard 7-inch screen models down to the diminitive OQO.  The bigger devices are too big for the kind of mobility I am referring to.  I really want a device that will fit in one hand for ease of mobility and use.  Standard sized UMPCs just aren’t mobile enough for me.  After a lot of thinking about this I decided to list what I want in such a device:

  • fit in one hand for usage
  • screen size around 5 inches
  • resolution of at least 800×600 (depends on screen size)
  • full Tablet OS (XP or Vista)
  • good buttons and controls on the front of the device optimized for hand usage
  • rotatable screen
  • at least 1 GB of RAM
  • at least 60 GB hard drive
  • good processor power
  • decent touch screen that works well with inking
  • integrated 3G (EVDO preferable)
  • Bluetooth for use with peripherals (keyboards, etc.)
  • WiFi of course
  • dockable for use on a desktop

I look at this list and it seems to me that this shouldn’t be so hard to find but my investigation proves otherwise.  Every handheld device I’ve examined falls short, sometimes woefully so, in one or more key areas.  Let’s look at the current choices:

Sony UX- I used one of these for a while and I found the integrated keyboard to be near useless.  I also had trouble using the screen with the extended resolution (1024×600) as I found prolonged use to be tiring.  Too bad because it fits nearly all other criteria with the exception of the Tablet bits.

OQO Model 02- the OQO has a nice keyboard but I think the lack of a touch screen would make this handheld less convenient to use.  It’s pretty pricey too, although that’s not on my list.  I have been playing in the handheld realm long enough to realize that you have to pay to play.

Digital Raon Everun- this innovative device comes as close as any to meeting my criteria.  Unfortunately, until a Vista version ships there is no Tablet functionality which is important to me.

Nokia N800- I include the N800 even though it’s not really a PC because it delivers a lot of the functionality on the list.  I do feel I need a real PC so I can do anything that I might need to do on the fly and the N800 just doesn’t deliver.

Fujitsu U1010- this mini-UMPC looks really interesting and might be a good fit.  I think that the keyboard will be too small to be truly useful for someone like me who writes a lot and if that’s the case I’d rather it not be adding weight and bulk to the device.

FlipStart- too heavy and bulky plus the lack of a digitizer screen renders it useless to me.

Sadly, this is pretty much the entire list of available gadgets that I have to choose from, and as you see none of them really hit the mark.  Of all of these devices the OQO comes closest to fulfilling my needs, but I’m not sure it’s close enough.  Having a screen that rotates to portrait orientation is very important to me and I can’t recall anyone mentioning the OQO can do that.

Anybody got any suggestions for me?


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