What is a UMPC? Mobilitysite says it depends


AdvantageThe term UMPC is too generic, we’ve said that before and we’ll say it again I am sure.  Ultra-mobile PC as a description can be applied to a lot of different types of devices and it often makes for some confusion.  I have always thought it to mean devices that are full PCs, after all PC is part of the acronym but others have a much more liberal take on that point.  Mobilitysite takes a look at the UMPC and decides that the ultimate UMPC is not a UMPC at all.  The author is reviewing the HTC Advantage, a worthy device in my book, and covers point by point why he thinks the Advantage is the best UMPC.  It’s an interesting read and while I agree with the author about the Advantage I’m reluctant to call it a UMPC.  I guess it’s in the eyes of the individual, isn’t it?



I find it hard to agree with the concept that UMPC means it should have a full PC functionality.

UMPC as term was coined to spark and initiate a new class of mobile computing devices which address people’s computing/connectivity needs when they are mobile. However, that term (UMPC)cannot be considered the center from which the device needs to be evaluated.

Origami specs were only guidelines. However, only user needs will have to drive the market. Currently manufacturers are trying to build one dream product that will fit the bill for everyone. UMPC should not be a goal to just miniaturize a PC into a pocket size one. That can be a tech marvel but definitely will not address the selected user specific needs (features & feature prioritization) and how they interact with users (interface). This is one reason why even after 2-3 years into this space we are still waiting for the “prophet” UMPC.

In all probability, on the long run, UMPC and Pocket PC will merge into one mobile segment and Smartphones will form another.

The sucess of HTC Advantage (along with it’s fair critics) teach us one thing. We don’t need full Windows OS to empower a cetain class of market to be Ultra-Mobile. For that market space, Windows Mobile is more than sufficent.


i suspect that one problem here is that PC have become mentally connected to a windows os running ontop a intel cpu, or a wintel solution if you will.

like the people behind kde discovered when they tried to redesign the “menu”, the word alone locked them into a mental cage. a menu had to be a list of items and so on and so on…

only when they stopped calling it a menu did they really start to consider alternate solutions.

so maybe one should steal a page from intel MID and start to refer to these devices as MCD’s? Mobile Computing Device’s?

when one do that, one at the same time throw away the mental image of the cli, the wimp metaphor, the destop, and so on.

instead one focus on what it basically is, a mobile device for doing computing.


Did anyone ever notice how similar the HTC Advantage is to that first mockup Bill Gates showed at WinHEC?


Chris K

I think the problem with Windows Mobile is that it’s still got your typical 90% problem, endemic to most mobile platforms:

Each and every smartphone/PDA OS has 90% of the functionality you want, but they don’t all have the same 90%.

The first thing that the user tends to want is a speedy workflow. Just about every platform has that.

Next up: Mobile email. Some can get by with POP/IMAP, and others need the full blown push-email Exchange experience. (Others need Push from Notes, and I don’t even go near that.)

S60, RIM, Palm, and WinMo can handle push from Exchange. The iPhone can’t, at least not by default, and the official apps aren’t here yet.

Others want PDF capability. RIM sucks for this.

Others want Office compatibility. WinMo’s the best of breed on that side.

Some want a rich media experience. The iPhone wins that one, more or less.

Some want Flash. Back to WinMo.

Some want Citrix/RDP capabilities. This one sucks universally, though there’s a decent third-party option for WinMo, and there’s an AJAX solution on the iPhone side for VNC that’s begging to be adapted to other platforms.

Some want VPN capabilities. This one’s all over the map, depending on what sort of VPN you want to talk to.

Then, to top this all off, there’s the hardware options. Touchscreen? Active digitizer? Thumbboard? Bluetooth/Wifi/3G? Camera? Biometrics? 3″/5″/7″ screen?

Meanwhile, most of this software exists for Mac OS X/Windows XP/Vista, it works, and it works well. If you can find the perfect fit on a non-desktop platform, by all means, go for it. You’ll get better battery life, a smaller size, and better overall storage efficiency.

For some users, I’m sure the Advantage is all the UMPC they’d ever need, and it’s definitely an incredible platform. The problem is, that last 10% is impossible to clearly define.

(I, for one, would love to see an actual Origami device inside the Advantage shell, down to the battery life, but I figure that I might as well ask for a pony at that point.)

Dave P

I have to agree with your distinction – that UMPCs are, first and foremost, PCs.

I run Lotus Notes, Acrobat Pro, and MS Office on my OQO. My company works in the cube, not in the cloud, and while a MID might be interesting for me in my spare time, a one pound sub-laptop is what I was looking for in a UMPC.

The HTC Advantage is, ultimately, a large, connected PDA. It might be able to surf the Internet and even run valuable productivity software but, then again, so can most smart phones.

Let’s keep the UMPC label for true PCs.


That HTC is basically a “pocket pc” which I always thought was an appropriate title for such devices- however microsoft changed it to windows mobile to further confuse the marketplace, sigh.

I recently bought a u810 and frankly there is no way to compare it to the HTC Advantage. My samsung i760 is a better comparison to the HTC to be honest.


What we are seeing is the surfacing of different market segments for what is called as a UMPC. Everybody defines their own UMPC depending on the their needs. It is a good trend coz, we are now at a cusp period where the sub markets will be defined over a period of time. This would be based on everyone’s information needs and activity needs while they are mobile. For a certain sub-market HTC Advantage will suit the bill and for others OQO will be the one or may be HTC Shift.

Sometimes, the problem with the reviews is they try to see if the UMPC will fit for everybody and evaluate features from that perspective. E.g For Casual Information receiver who does very lite activities while they are mobile, a 5-Inch UMPC underpowered on Processer will still be OK. However, for a Information seeker who also performs lots of activity which requires FIE, plus need 24*7 connectivity needs a different beast altogether. It is high time markets are differentiated clearly and products delivered that address those exact scenarios.

However, the greatest challenge is once people start using an UMPC, they will tend to move across the sub-markets as their needs will evolve.

It is an interesting market to watch for. But as of now, whatever suits your needs is the best UMPC for yourself.

Steve Rubel

Ok this might be a hot potato, but with a good array of web apps (and soon real SW ones) I am starting to see the iPhone or iPod Touch as the ultimate mobile PC – at least for now. It accomplishes 90% of what most users need while on the go. Does it need a bigger screen and a bluetooth keyboard? Uh huh. Still it’s tough to beat right now for ease of use.

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