Samsung Valiantly Tries to Save the UMPC Market

samsung-q1ex-press-mar5After owning three Samsung Q1-series UMPCs, it’s fair to say that I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for the devices. That’s why my next statement may come as a surprise to many: I really don’t see the point of Samsung’s new Q1EX that just ran through the FCC gauntlet. I’m not suggesting that they won’t sell a few models at the expected $775 price. But that’s all they’ll sell: a few.

Why? Sadly, the UMPC market was niche to begin with back in 2006, and it’s more of a niche today. Netbooks and smartphones are all the rage, so investing time, effort, and money into a receding market simply doesn’t add up to me. Having said that, if the device is appealing to you, have at it, and I wish you well. I’m not impressed because I see little that’s new here from my Q1UP that’s more than a year old:

  • The 1.33GHz Intel (s INTL) Core Solo was pulled in favor of a 1.2GHz VIA Nano
  • A SiRF Star GPS receiver was added
  • Battery capacity dropped from a 6-cell 7800mAh battery to a 4-cell 4000mAh power pack.
  • Gone is the split QWERTY keyboard, making for a minimal slate look.

The UMPC still runs Microsoft (s MSFT) Windows XP Tablet Edition and offers nearly all of the same features of the prior model. Again, the die-hards out there might find some appeal here. I don’t, and I consider myself one of those same die-hards. If there were some innovation here I might feel differently.