ARCHOS decided to resurrect the slate UMPC market yesterday with the announcement of its 9pctablet. Essentially, the device offers the guts of a netbook running Windows 7 in a resistive touchscreen tablet. Many have tried this type of device, but from a mainstream perspective, they’ve been relative failures. Bear in mind, I’ve owned three of the devices and they met my needs at the time. To me, these UMPCs weren’t failures; I’m talking instead about the general consumer market.
Perhaps the time is now “right” for such a device. Hardware has matured to the point that a UMPC can perform adequately, based on the netbook market. Windows 7 offers a better touch and ink experience as well. In the above video from ArchosFans, you can get a feel for how the device looks and behaves. It’s thin and light but I’m already leery of the battery life. In the video, they say around three hours. For a tablet or slate that you’d carry around, I’d want to see double that life. Still, this looks like a fairly impressive UMPC to me so far.
The question now (as it generally was before) is: Do folks want to carry a 9-inch UMPC that can run Windows for three hours? As much as I’d like to say yes, since I have a UMPC soft spot, I’m thinking no. Some of us geeks surely will. We have before. But the rising trend I see is ARM finally having its day against x86. I know Intel hopes I’m wrong and I surely could be. But running a full-bore x86 desktop OS on a mobile device comes with too much baggage for some folks — challenging user interfaces, programs that just don’t fit on the small screen and battery challenges. Thoughts?