Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Picking the right UMPC for you...

So you decide a UMPC is for you - or you just want to try it out as a new gadget! It became apparent to me that there weren’t a great deal of sites out there willing to put all the device reviews together to give advice to consumers such as myself in terms of pro’s and con’s of each device option out there. While i’m the sort of person that looks as much he can at all the facts before making a purchase, I still appreciate a nice summary of what options there are out there from opinions of others who’ve taken the plunge. I’ll tackle the devices that grabbed my attention after I go over my requirements and hopefully you’ll see how I came to the conclusion of a device to purchase! This shouldn’t be used as a guide for yourself though realistically as you’e requirements are likely to be different to mine! I’ll put links to the guides I find useful at the bottom.


After using the Tablet PC I realised the following requirements:

Less weight! Holding a tablet PC like a notepad is terrible for arm strain - The C200 a prime example!

Better battery life! Ok this is a tough one for a UMPC as the architecture is shocking for battery life at present. BUT - Why have battery life sucked away driving a power hungry graphics card or CPU that’s powerful but generally gets used for web browsing?

Ink functionality! Nobody can deny the coolness factor of writing on the screen. The problem is that i’d like to do more inking in terms of notes at work, yet moving to a UMPC produces issues because as you’re probably aware - it’s a touch sensitive screen rather than a resistive pen, so leaning on the screen is likely to get ink all over the place - yuck!

Useable performance! While all the above device requirements are really important to me, there’s not much point if it takes 30 seconds to open word or OneNote is there? It’d be nice to watch DivX movies on it too…

Ok so with all the requirements set in place, let’s go over the devices that I have seen satisfactory reviews of:

Samsung Q1 and it’s variants: The Samsung variants did quite alot to confuse me and I found it difficult to find the variant I wanted to purchase on the Internet. The new version is the amusingly named Samsung Q1 Ultra Ultra Mobile PC. While it seems to have better battery life than it’s predecessors due to it’s new A110 processor, some silly bugger decided that an 800MHz CPU was a good idea and therefore this system is unusable for watching films on and will soon reduce most people to tears in the performance stakes. The other (older) variants are the Q1 and Q1P, which were big contenders for my purchasing decisions; and the reasons being that they had acceptable performance, acceptable battery life, good looks and there were plenty about on Ebay to get a decent price! The major problem was though was that the device has a soft screen which might well be a problem for inking alot - not great… Btw there are video’s on YouTube showing this device running FEAR! Let’s stay sceptical about that one for now.

Tabletkiosk eo: One of the first examples of UMPC’s on the market, and it shows! It seems to have ok performance from what many reviewers are saying; yet it suffers from horrendous battery life (I remember 1 hour 39 minutes being a number banded around…) and it looks like it was designed by a blind monkey. None around on the market either except for full price…

Asus R2H: Features a 1.3MP camera, Celeron 900MHz CPU (Oh dear?), and a GPS unit. There seems to be quite a few accessories out there for this device and also it’s fairly popular on Ebay. While the performance of this machine is likely to be pretty slow due to it’s processor, it does have a harder-touch screen, better for inking on. I am not likely to use the GPS function whatsoever, though it is a nice feature…

Amtek T700: Seems like a well rounded device overall, with snappy performance and average battery life. It has good looks too but it does have a soft screen…

Is it worth wating for new UMPC’s to come along? Up and coming devices include:

HTC Shift: Hugo Ortega got suitably excited about this device, and quite rightly so! It’s small, light and has a keyboard tucked tidily away into the small platform! The problems seem to be that it uses that same A110 processor as the new Q1Ultra, and that for me, it’s a little too small.
Amtek T770: Seems to be shaping up to be a well rounded device but doesn’t seem like anything special. The major problem is that I can’t afford £700 (at least) for a new device when at the end of the day it doesn’t get me much more…

So overall considering the features I require and from what i’ve seen in terms of hardware reviews I eventually settled for an Asus R2H for purchase, which is currently on Ebay sporadically or is on for a nice price of £599.99. The reason for choosing this device is that it looks really cool, feels light (Though apparently feels slightly heavier than a Q1), has a harder screen, and seems to be acceptable in terms of performance in all the video’s i’ve seen.

If you don’t want to pay alot for a UMPC then the Samsung Q1 is for you, and available on Ebay for around £450ish with a nice keyboard and foldaway case.

The eo is a bit of a dud really, stay well away!

The Amtek is a serious competitor to the Q1 but availability is scarce - I would guess just due to branding and marketing. Keep your eyes peeled for a cheap one out there!

The places I used for reviews were: - Awesome site for inkshows, just need a phat pipe for downloading the high res videos - Obviously… - Does rather nice reviews of all sorts of devices, and a good excuse for finding ways of spending money.

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