Blog Post

The UMPC debate rages on but I call it “over”

Sony_uxMicro PC Talk is featuring a great UMPC vs. sub-notebook article that continues the ongoing definition of UMPCs. Using the Sony UX and Kohjinsha SH6 as a point of reference, the argument here is that some manufacturers are just producing crippled notebooks in a small form factor. I’m inclined to concede a few points to that opinion, but the other side of the coin is that not everyone wants a powerful computer that’s pocketable. Actually, let me rephrase that: not everyone can afford a configuration like that, even if they did want it.

I think it’s time to get past the hard definition of a UMPC. Fact is: different people have different computing needs and there’s no need to shoehorn them into a form factor or hardware configuration. There’s simply no way the industry will define this class of device because it’s actually several classes of devices: powerful pocketables like the UX and OQO, capable slates such as the Asus R2H and Samsung Q1-series and lightweight clients like Nokia’s 770 and N800. I’d contend that all of these are "UMPCs" in the broadest sense of the term; heck, you could even call some high-end phones "UMPCs" if you threw in some of the Nokia N-series, new WinMo smartphones or the iPhone. In any case, benz145 (a frequent commenter here with great thoughts) got me thinking about this subject after reading the article. Good stuff!

10 Responses to “The UMPC debate rages on but I call it “over””

  1. Neo, its not that UMPCs are too big to be carried around, its that there are Notebooks that can be carried just as easily, but are much more powerful. What I was trying to point out is that the small UMPCs that are actually very portable are true UMPCs while others with large 7″+ are rather pointless when you could have slightly larger but much more powerful laptop.

  2. NeoTechni

    I disagree with the guy claiming UMPCs are no more portable than tablets. I can’t carry a laptop/tablet, but a UMPC is light enough for me to even hide in my purse. I love being able to carry it around so much. It’s untethered me from my PC, and tethered it to me.

  3. Ultra Mobile PC. Some think it is the touchscreen that is a must have, in my own personal and seemingly isolated opinion it is a full blown PC capable of running most current Windows (or OS of choice) software in a very small & portable package with a variety of wireless communications, decent performance & battery life, and adequate means of input without an external keyboard & mouse. Software, media, & internet. OQO 02 does it all for me with tablet & thumb keyboard/trackstick.

  4. Ultra Mobile PC. Some think it is the touchscreen that is a must have, in my own personal and seemingly isolated opinion it is a full blown PC capable of running most current Windows (or OS of choice) software in a very small & portable package with a variety of wireless communications, decent performance & battery life, and adequate means of input without an external keyboard & mouse. Software, media, & internet. OQO 02 does it all for me with tablet & thumb keyboard/trackstick.

  5. I think Mark got my point very well. What I mean to say is that you’d carry a small tablet UMPC (like the SH6) the same way that you would carry a full fledged tablet PC, so there isn’t really any extra mobility in that sense. And yes at one point, the UX did cost a fairly premium price, however one can easily pick up a brand new UX380 for $1,199 from Amazon, which is an amazing deal IMO. I think manufacturers need to keep making these devices really pocketable, otherwise I’d rather just have the full sized product. Thanks for putting up your thoughts on the topic Kevin.

  6. I think one of the points the author was trying to make was that one of the very real classification boundaries is between “carry everywhere” vs “easily carried but cumbersome”; with the latter category raising the question of

    “If you are going to carry the device everywhere but it is going to be cumbersome why deal with some of the power and battery life concessions that need to be made with umpcs? one could spend a bit more and get a full laptop.” Not an unreasonable question.

    Having used both the q1 (gen1 and ultra), the ux and now the Fuji p1610 I have to agree with him to a certain extent. While one pays a premium for the ux or the OQO, they are both the kind of devices you can easily keep with you all the time. The umpcs and the p1610, while extremely light, are still, at least in my experience, a different experience when trying to keep them with you all the time. Without too much effort one could just as easily carry a more standard laptop. I went the umpc route for a while but find myself coming back to the combination of the p1610 and windows mobile smartphone/pocketpc. The P1610 is with me A LOT, the smartphone is with me all the time.

    To my mind the most important thing is not the definition one uses

    (hey, you want to call it a “umpc”… be my guest… for that matter, you want to call it a “toast”… have at it…)

    but the fact that we now have a wide array of devices in a wide range of prices. Each has its positives and its negatives and people can make choices depending upon their needs and budget.

  7. You bring up a good point. I’d rather pay < $1000 for a Kohjinsha and pimp it out with more memory & bigger hard drive/SSD than pay up to $3000 for a fully configured Sony TZ-90.
    The Sony is really nice, but not that nice.
    Plus, the Kohjinsha does have an advantage over the TZ-90 besides the price.
    + It’s a convertible with a touchscreen
    + It has 3 ways of moving the mouse pointer (touchscreen, nub stick on the screen, touchpad on the keyboard).

    It is a bit hard to label what a UMPC is these days. Maybe there should be sub-categories.
    Kohjinsha’s: UMPC Convertible?
    OQO/Flipstart: UMPC Slider/Handtop?
    Q1U/Asus R2H/TabletKiosk’s etc: UMPC Slates?