Device of the year- UrbanMax is definitely hot


There is no question that the one single device that has stoked my gadget lust more than any other recently is the UrbanMax.  This is the concept notebook/ slate device that Intel rolled out at the IDF to get OEMs interested in making one of these.  The sliding screen is a great way to convert from notebook configuration to slate mode and it looks to me like Intel put a lot of careful thought into the design.  Gizmodo recently played with one of these and took some really good photos of the UrbanMax and admitted it looks very practical a design and highly mobile.  It sounds like the touch screen is not good for inking, something that if Intel (or someone else) addressed could make this the killer device of the year.




Unfortunately, those of us who follow IDF and other industry-sponsored events far too often develop gadget lust for vaporware (yes, I know that term is normally applied to software, but I use it interchangeably to “conceptual” hardware that may never see the light of day). I believe that this particular product truly falls in the realm of vaporware. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for any OEM to pick up the design. OEM’s are already under pressure to drop the prices of MIDs and UMPCs or lose potential market share to netbooks, which are finally beginning to reach a reasonable price. I don’t think netbooks will kill higher-end laptops. Instead, I think they will kill off UMPCs (and the emergent MID market if OEMs keep the price tag of these devices at current proposed levels–even the announced price of the Gigabyte is about too high).


Kevin, you really need to update your gear profile. I’m seeing stuff on that list that I know you got rid of months ago.

Aside from the Q1 Ultra and the iPhone, what are you using these days?

Daniel Marsh

Psion made a Windows CE device called the Netbook Pro which shut like a clamshell, but when opened the base of the screen would slide forward allowing a highly adjustable viewing angle, without having the screen jutting back from the base footprint of the unit. This was very, very nice on long airplane flights when using it on a tiny airline food tray. I received more curious inquiries about this device than any I’ve ever owned and I wish I had kept it for my “museum.”

Steve Paine

I tend to agree on the exposed screen issue. I don’t know anyone that ever had a problem with an exposed screen.

The form factor here is a dream form factor as proven by the Clio and the HTC Shift which both had incredible popularity on paper. I’d love to see this one minuatuarised to the 8.9″ or 7″ form factor with a good 4+ battery life. It would be the Clio and Shift that everyone wished for.



I think there was a full keyboard CE based device in the mid-90’s that had a wonderful design called the Vadem Clio. They were ultimately sold off to Main St. Networks or something like that and they had ownership of that wonderful design. I hope to see it come back one day, and at first glance, the UrbanMax looked just like it! Of course the Clio allowed the user to flip the screen in complete tablet mode or use it notebook-like fashion, too.

James Kendrick

From all the photos I’ve seen it looks like the form allows the device to be thinner, and it couldn’t be smaller if you look at the keyboard which fills the entire space allocated to it. I think if they get solid inking working that this would be the bomb.

Kevin C. Tofel

I’m not a fan of the “convertible” form factor if it doesn’t protect the screen. I think it’s a nice concept, but nothing overly impressive just yet.


It’s pretty, but I must admit to being confused as to what makes this so exciting. It seems just a twist (or anti-twist) on the convertible design. And it means that the screen is always exposed; you can’t close it to protected mode. Also, when watching movies on the plane, I like to use my p1610 with the keyboard sticking out the back (i.e. just acting as a stand), and I don’t see being able to do that.

Is it expected that this design should be slimmer, making tablet mode nicer? If so, how does the slider make it slimmer than a twister?

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