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UMPC for the Ultra Mobile User

Updated on January 20, 2010


OQO 02


UMPC is the short name for Ultra Mobile PC. Ultra Mobile users now have devices that are actually small enough to carry around anywhere and everywhere. Not only are these devices convenient, they actually provide true connectivity on the go.

You may ask - what took so long? Well, it could have taken even longer without the Microsoft Origami project. Origami literally stands for the Microsoft Ultra Mobile PC project. There is a small project team made up of a variety of dreamers. Some are developers, some are designers and others are testers.

UMPCs will probably not suffice for a primary PC or Laptop but they can work very well as a traveling companion. Unlike portable devices such as a PDA, a Smartphone or even an Internet tablet a UMPC can run full version software programs. Their operating systems (OS) are also full versions such as Windows XP Tablet PC and Windows Vista. Linux users also have high hopes for UMPCs. Linux lovers had high hopes for the TabletKiosk eo UMPC but was let down by poor battery life.

The very benefits offered in such small packages puts pressure on the manufactures to make the batteries last longer than with their larger counterparts. Users expect to compute, video conference and to be entertained without the need to plug in regularly. So, the race is on to come up with new ideas and new technology that can run these UMPCs longer on less juice. The issue is that even though the devices are smaller - typically weighing as little as 1 pound - they get similar usage as their larger counterparts often while using wireless connectivity.

Early adopters chose from the most popular UMPCs of the time which included the Samsung Q1, the OQO and the Sony Vaio UX series. (I own one of these babies).

Updates to the previously mentioned UMPCs came along within a fairly short period of time. At least it seemed like it to me since mine was updated way too quickly for my taste. An amazing fact is that the later models can be less expensive than the earlier ones.

The Samsung Q1 now has a sibling called the Q2. Similarities include a 7 inch touchscreen, 1 GB RAM and a 60 GB Hard Drive. Improvements includes Microsoft Vista, improved resolution of 1024 x 600 WSVGA, 2 digital cameras, biometric fingerprint security, Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi, HSDPA and WiBro which is a new long range Wi-Fi standard.

The OQO now plays second to the OQO 02. The 02 sports EV-DO (Sprint) which improves productivity especially in many urban areas across the country. There is a better keyboard, a faster processor and the docking station has been improved. Depending on the price you want to pay you can buy a docking station that provides a DVD/CD drive or a DVD burner. The backlit QWERTY keyboard has a better tactile feel than the original. The touchscreen is 5 inches and the overall size is approximately 5.6" x 3.3" x 1" and the weight is barley over a pound. The 60 GB Hard Drive is mounted to withstand shocks such as being dropped. Unfortunately there are no memory card slots and no onboard place to store a stylus.

The Sony Vaio UX series UMPCs have been upgraded to several versions. They offer some bells and whistles that are not found on other UMPCs. Originally they came with a 30 GB Hard Drive (UX180P) but can now be purchased with a 40 GB Hard Drive (VGN-UX380N). There is 3 different levels of shock protection built in incase of a bump or drop.

There is a Sony Memory Stick slot and a USB slot on the body of the Sony UMPC. A docking station is included in the box that provides IEEE 1394, VGA, 3 USB ports, Ethernet, and AV out ports. A dongle is also included that provides AV out, Ethernet and AV out as well.

Another new feature found on the latest Sony UMPC is the32 GB flash based Hard Drive (VGN-UX390N)which is not only faster but has better battery life. It comes loaded with Microsoft Vista Business.

There are 2 digital cameras included and all have biometric fingerprint security. The style is great with the sliding feature that reveals a backlit QWERTY keyboard. The stylus is stored onboard and the screen can be viewed in landscape as well as portrait. There is built in connectivity with the EDGE network.

A UMPC may not be for everyone but they definitely have a future with all of us that carry our computers with us. As they improve with longer battery life, larger hard drives and for my taste - an expanded variety of connections to Wireless High Speed Broadband.

One complaint that I have about my Sony UX180P is the mouse button. It feels rough and the cover comes off easily. I am so used to a touch pad - and I want one - but I really don't know where Sony would have put it. The entire unit is ultra small with a 4.5" widescreen touchscreen.

In case you are wondering - do I use it a lot? NO. In case you are wondering - yes, I LOVE it!


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