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Will Netbooks Push UMPCs Out?

 

Netbook and UMPC defined:

According to Wiki a netbook is,

“The term netbook was re-introduced by Intel in February 2008[1] to describe a category of small-sized, low-cost, light weight, lean function subnotebooks optimized for Internet access and core computing functions (e.g., word processing) — either directly from applications installed on the netbook itself or indirectly, via cloud computing.[2] More than 50 million Netbooks are expected to be in widespread circulation by 2011.[3] Netbooks (or sub-notebooks as they may be known) typically come with an 7-inch to 10-inch screen [4]

According to Wiki a UMPC is,

“In personal computers, Ultra-Mobile PC (often abbreviated UMPC) is a small form factor (a standard size and shape) for tablet PCs, which was developed as Project Origami. This project is a joint development exercise by Microsoft, Intel, and Samsung, among others. Intel is also responsible for the Mobile Internet Device, a variation on the UMPC concept. Recently, the term has gained a second meaning as a synonym for subnotebook or netbook.”

Read on for more insight:

I have never considered a netbook until I actually saw one at Best Buy.  Holy cow, it was really cool looking.  This model was an Asus EEE, and had a keyboard that you could actually type on, though it was a tad small.  It seemed usable in my informal test.  I found it to be responsive and if not fast, at least adequate.  The price was right too.  It was somewhere in the $400-$500 range.

UMPCs are pretty cool as well, but if I’m going to use one then I prefer a usable keyboard.  That narrows the field down considerably.  I would also like it to cost no more than a netbook.  Now the field is really small.  I like the idea of having a touch screen keyboard to write notes and such, but not enough to pay a premium.  $1500 is triple the price of comparable netbooks like the Asus EEE, MSI Wind, HP Mini Note and Acer Aspire 1.  One could argue that you can connect a keyboard or other accessories to the unit, but then you are carrying two or more items and I want to travel light.

htc-shift-3q Asus EEE

Above: HTC Shift, To Right: Asus EEE

 

Brighthand reviewed the HTC Shift.  Regarding the keyboard they said:

“The keyboard is small and hard to type on, but you get used to it after using it a few times. It is similar to the Eee PC, so if you like to do the “peck style” typing you would have no problems. You definitely can’t type on the Shift like a standard keyboard…”

Further, Brighthand’s testing showed that the Shift and the EEE are fairly comparable in terms of performance:

Notebook

PCMark05 Score

HTC Shift (800 MHz Intel A110) 891 PCMarks

Everex CloudBook (1.2 GHz VIA C7-M ULV) 612 PCMarks

HP 2133 Mini-Note (1.6 GHz VIA C7-M ULV)  801 PCMarks

Asus Eee PC 4G (630 MHz Intel Celeron M ULV)  908 PCMarks

Asus Eee PC 4G (900 MHz Intel Celeron M ULV)  1,132 PCMarks

Sony VAIO TZ (1.20 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600) 2,446 PCMarks

 

Of course, the Shift is but one of many UMPCs, and I don’t mean to single it out, but it seems to be one of the better ones out there.  I’m certainly open minded and if a great UMPC comes along that can provide better value than a netbook then I’d certainly listen.  But if I were to get a netbook it would have to pass an important test.  My 5, 7 and 10 year olds would have to be able to figure out how to use the device on their own.  They’ve mastered laptops and desktops, but I think they’d have trouble with a UMPC.  Why are my kids the test I use?  Besides the fact that we have more kids than computers and they always want to use mine, I want a device that is so easy to use even a 5 year old can use it. 

MSI Wind Specs

CPU type Intel Atom (Diamondville)

CPU speed 1600 Mhz

Graphics Intel GMA 950

OS
Windows XP

Display Size 10″ 1024 X 600

RAM 1024 MB

Hard Disk 80 GB

Keyboard YES

Mouse Pointer YES

Battery capacity 24 (W/hr)

Weight 1200g

Size (w/h/d mm) 260/180/31 mm

HTC Shift Specs

CPU type Intel A110 (Stealey)

CPU speed 800 Mhz

Graphics Intel GMA 950

OS Windows Vista Business

Display Size 7″ 800 X 480

Display Type Soft (Finger) Touch

RAM
1024 MB

Hard Disk
40 GB

Keyboard
YES

Mouse Pointer
YES

Battery capacity
20 (W/hr)

Battery Life (tested) 1.8 – 2.5 hours

Weight 800g

Size (w/h/d mm) 207/129/25 mm

UMPC Portal is reviewing the MSI Wind, aka the Medion Akoya, and they said:

“I’ve already called the Akoya Mini ‘near perfect’ and I haven’t changed my mind. Having played with most of the netbooks its clear that it hits the consumer mark more centrally than any other netbook. Its cheap, stylish, has a keyboard that really shouldn’t be that good for that price and the 10′2″ screen makes for very comfortable tabletopping. In short, if you need a low-cost, small notebook, you really won’t be unhappy with the XP/Hard drive version of the MSI Wind, Medion Akoya Mini, Zen ID, Advent 4211 or any of the variants that are available.”

To me the choice is clear.  Netbooks cost 1/2 to 1/3 the price of UMPCs, offer better keyboards in general, plenty of features and decent performance.  What do you think?

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September 17, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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