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Death of the UMPC?

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the go-not-gently dept.

Intel 127

An anonymous reader writes "Remember the UMPC, that little tablet that Microsoft once called Origami? Well it looks like that Intel has scrapped the idea of promoting the UMPC, in favor of a much smaller (and less capable) Mobile Internet Device (MID). The UMPC is now heading for a market niche, where it may be replacing the tablet PC as a mobile computer for field technicians. The MID takes on the role of the original UMPC concept, but it won't run Vista."

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Another lame MS idea crashes & burns (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18982805)

...but they have the temerity to pooh-pooh the iPhone?

Hey, while we're at it, how's those tablet PC sales, guys?


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983023)

If you don't know what Cmd-Shift-1 and Cmd-Shift-2 are for, GTFO.
If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If the name "Clarus" means nothing to you, GTFO.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real [] Mac [] users [] . Keep your filthy, beige [] PC fingers to yourself.

Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983809)

If you think your Mac is supposed to do anything more practical than looking pretty, GTFO.


Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18985973)

You would think /. would want to filter this (and frosty piss) trash...

Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (2, Interesting)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#18986213)

This must be a Microsoft employee trying to make Mac users look bad.

Re:Another lame MS idea crashes & burns (4, Funny)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983037)

Exactly. Somebody has sat around in a board meeting and said "well, it's not small enough to sit in your pocket, but it's not big enough to be useful as a PC. We need to give up on the PC idea" and sooner or later they'll conclude that:

* It needs to have the full face be a screen and
* It needs to integrate with cellphone data networks and
* While you're at it you might as well make calls on it and
* Put in a web browser and
* Connect via 802.11 to the rest of the world.

Finally they'll make it look like arse and put WinCE on it. It'll come out a year after the iPhone and will suck. Shit, if we're lucky it'll be called Zune UMPC.


Re:Another lame MS idea crashes & burns (3, Funny)

bangenge (514660) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983131)

Shit, if we're lucky it'll be called Zune UMPC

And if we're even more lucky, it's gonna come in BROWN

Re:Another lame MS idea crashes & burns (2, Funny)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983205)

Just so we're clear: are we making fun of the Zune or Ubuntu?

Re:Another lame MS idea crashes & burns (3, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983247)

No not brown. Following Microsoft's style engineers history, it will either be golden-rod yellow or baby poop green.

Re:Another lame MS idea crashes & burns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18986349)

Baby poop is yellow, you non-parent you!! :-P

(Ironically, the captcha for this post is "greens".)

Re:Another lame MS idea crashes & burns (1)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984247)

If we are REALLY lucky... name will be Zune Vista Home Edition

Re:Another lame MS idea crashes & burns (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#18986223)

... And with a "Hello from Seattle" on the back.

Seriously, how can someone live in Seattle and not be embarrassed by this blatant display of total un-coolness?

Re:Another lame MS idea crashes & burns (2, Informative)

Yold (473518) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983399)

I am assuming that you are making a joke since this was modded funny, but microsoft+vendors offer all of those features (including WiFi) in smartphones. The only real advantage that I could ever see for a UMPC was the full version of Internet Explorer. Despite Microsoft's claims to the countrary, WM5 doesn't support AJAX w/o some serious workarounds for the A part of the JAX. It has very limited support for things full-blown browsers have been doing for years, for example streaming media support is non-existant despite the device having Windows Media Player.

    Someone I once met (management doochebag w/ a MIS degree) interned at Microsoft last summer. All he talked about was "Web 2.0", which to Microsoft execs seems to mean internet applications. ABC is streaming their prime-time shows live and free, google and open office seem to think that web-centric applications are the future, and the web will probably become a more mainstream medium for delivering content. It is an upward trend that I think the new Mobile Internet device is hoping to ride.

you mean... like we have had for years? (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984427)

Full-face-screen cell phones with touch screens, web browsers and 802.11 have been around for years. Unlike the iPhone, they're programmable. Some come with slide-out keyboards (yeah!), others use on-screen keyboards. Many have cameras. There are a dozen different finger input methods for them. Even tilt sensors have been around. You even have a choice of several different operating systems.

The real question is why there is all this hoopla over the iPhone; as far as I can see, there is not much that's innovative about the iPhone: it's the same form factor and the same functionality as dozens of devices before it. The iPhone is a nice stylish design, but so is the Prada.

Re:you mean... like we have had for years? (2, Insightful)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18985023)

The real question is why there is all this hoopla over the iPhone

Because the whole "Pocket PC" industry is, at it's core, derived from the Palm Pilot. Which, apart from being a spectacular double entendre, is a non-sexy product. It's not cool, it's not funky, and at no point were there colourful adverts with people dancing around while entering phone numbers into a spectacularly expensive piece of consumer electronics. When they then lost.

The iPhone, on the other hand, extends both the iPod and the "OSX era" mac. Both are funky and cool things. Also both things for a reputation for actually working, unlike Redmond's recent products. Besides, you saw the demos, right? Doesn't WinCE look ... well ... sort of Russian after that? Like how Window 3 and green screen terminals looked next to each other.

My point is, I think, that it has nothing to do with practicality.


Re:you mean... like we have had for years? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18985385)

The real question is why there is all this hoopla over the iPhone

The exact same reason why there's hoopla over Macs, when they're just like regular PCs: it runs Mac OS.

Re:you mean... like we have had for years? (2, Interesting)

BadERA (107121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18986741)

As the owner of a Treo 700W PocketPC, a Cingular 8125 PocketPC and a Cingular 2125 Smartphone (both rebranded HTC models), and a Microsoft MVP nominee for Visual Developer - Device Application Development, I hope that a MID will offer "more." More screen space. More power. "More" keyboard -- I want something on which I can realistically read and answer email, compose a document or spreadsheet, edit and compile code, and 2.2" of screen with a thumbboard, and limited processor and memory, ain't gonna cut it. Sure, I find my devices handy, and as a geek, they also have some fun uses, especially when I deploy my own software.

However, I'd like something smaller than a laptop, with fullblown connectivity across the spectrum, with a decent battery life and a REAL keyboard. SIPs != real keyboards, and they never will. I need some feedback for my touch typing. If they turned out a slim-profile "UMPC" with a REAL keyboard, plus bluetooth, WiFi, and GPRS/EDGE/EVDO/HSPDA/etc. I'd buy it in a minute. I'm curious to see what an "MID" eventually specs out as. Hopefully it doesn't become another "Internet appliance," and fade from memory.

Re:Another lame MS idea crashes & burns (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983087)

While Microsoft says "hey Slashdot how is that desktop linux doing?"

Re:Another lame MS idea crashes & burns (2, Interesting)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984033)

I never understood why they just didn't build on their PocketPC platform. A large, thin PPC would be an ideal e-book reader, and would have good battery life too.

Don't pooh pooh the pooh pooh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18985489)

Otherwise you'll end up in the poo poo.

It can't be all that bad (2, Funny)

Fomies (1043106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982811)

It won't run Vista. What more could you want from a computer?

Re:It can't be all that bad (1)

rolando2424 (1096299) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984737)

That he could make toasts... or coffee.

not vista (1)

cachimaster (127194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982823)

but sure will run linux.

Twofo GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18982853)

Faggots. []

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N800 (4, Informative)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982861)

If you'll notice, the Intel device is very similar to the Nokia N800. It runs Linux, and uses Nokia's Gtk enhancements for touchscreens called "Hildon".

Hildon? (1)

frieko (855745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983285)

Is that what you use to hack Paris Hildon's Blackberry?

Re:N800 (1)

simpl3x (238301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984621)

Although I'm getting rid of my n800, and I had an n770 before that which was short lived as well, it is a nice profile. What people do not gather about the iPhone and such are the possibilities of interaction and actual work. It is far from there, but say in five years, our primary computer will be of this scale.

The UMPC was like the original Newton, not enough, but too much. The screen was too small, and the interaction too minimal. Another lock-in gone awry. I did just purchase a BB 8800 and have to say that the interaction for most sites, as well as the usability sort of sucks. Apple, in spite of Palm's better judgment, is going to walk in, unless somebody comes up with something better and more useful.

The future is work methods and usable thinking, rather than usability per se.

Re:N800 (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18985427)

It is far from there, but say in five years, our primary computer will be of [the n800 or iPhone] scale.

I sure as Hell hope not! I've got a 12" Tablet PC, and that screen's quite small enough for me -- and I went out of my way to get 1400x1050. Any resolution lower than that is too damn small. Now, don't get me wrong: manufacturers can feel free to make the machine paper-thin and light, but it's got to have at least, say, an 8" diagonal screen with 1024x768 to be even slightly useful (and the more pixels, the better).

Re:N800 (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18986859)

Apple, in spite of Palm's better judgment, is going to walk in, unless somebody comes up with something better and more useful.

While I certainly agree that the Apple iPhone UI looks awesome and is probably better than everything else out there, the iPhone won't fly in the enterprise market which has the money for the service plans needed to exploit the full capabilities of these devices. It needs to have an open development platform. The plethora of free and commercial third party apps on palm / WM are what make those devices attractive. For the "just works" crowd, the BB really is hard to beat. Yes, the usability could be better, but it works, is geared towards the enterprise, and has a real keyboard.

If the n800 had a slide out keyboard and cell phone capability....

Re:N800 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18987483)

Personally, I'm excited (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982887)

A MID is basically a way to push the UMPC into the consumer range, at around PDA prices. I see it as a competitor to Nokia's internet tablet, of which I own one, and am quite fond of it. A MID is a device that takes into account the shortcomings of Internet Tablet's and addresses them, while still maintaining the appeal of the form factor. It's not a device for hardcore computing, its a device for laying in bed and surfing the net, maybe while listening to some music, or podcasts. That it is also quite portable, and has the capability to also act as a mobile VOIP phone wirelessly connected to a bluetooth headset, or to be a portable movie/music player as well is just icing on the cake.

Re:Personally, I'm excited (1)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983595)

It's not a device for hardcore computing, its a device for laying in bed and surfing the net

Here, let me fix that for you: It's not a device for computing, its a device for laying in bed and surfing hardcore on the net.

There ya go, good as new.

Re:Personally, I'm excited (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983715)

Sounds like the Palm TX, which I've owned now for over a year.

Re:Personally, I'm excited (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984527)

The difference between the UMPC/Internet Tablet and PDAs is that PDA's have smaller, lower resolution screens, that make surfing much less easy on the eyes.

Large PDA (5, Interesting)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982899)

There is a point in any products design possibilities that when reached makes the product very undesirable. Something that is bigger than a pda but too big to put into a pocket, smaller than a tablet but too small to have a practical screen, something as powerful as a laptop but without the convenience of a full size keyboard. I am one of those relics still addicted to the Palm products, I have a TX and for all intents and purposes it can do everything that I need to do when I need a quick mobile fix, otherwise I fire up the laptop for real work.

why (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18982901)

The MID takes on the role of the original UMPC concept, but it won't run Vista

Because if it did, you'd have to lug a car battery around everywhere.

Hooray (1)

MoOsEb0y (2177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982915)

Now maybe they can get rid of the oft-hyped "VIIV"....

Re:Hooray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983805)

I thought they moved offa that to the "Core 3000 Duo" hype?

Huh? (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982977)

The market niche is already occupied - sounds distinctly like a high-end PDA (some of which run Linux) as well as some of the high-end smartphones (like the Treo, latest Nokia linux phone, etc.).

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

Holmwood (899130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983489)

There's actually very little that occupies the market niche of devices with sufficient resolution to read websites without reformatting them (say a minimum of 800x480) at a reasonable price (say under $500).

The iPhone -- while it will likely be an innovative and fascinating device -- won't have the resolution to comfortably read larger documents or non-reformatted/horizontally scrolled webpages. That's not of course its primary purpose.

There are a very small number of PDA's that are 640x480, but most devices are 320x200 or 320x400. As others have mentioned, the Nokia N800 is one of the few that fits the bill in price and resolution.

Of course, is there need for such devices? It's hard to say. The Nokia internet tablets have been successful, though not wildly so, and are generally held to lack polish and reliability.

Obviously Intel thinks they have a shot at higher resolution low cost devices. They could be right.

Re:Huh? (1)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983669)

There's actually very little that occupies the market niche of devices with sufficient resolution to read websites without reformatting them
That says more about the sad state of "web design" than anything else. "This site is best viewed at AAAxBBB resolution" was declared bad practice from the very start, not that many people paid attention to it. As the web was originally designed, we could all be browsing this discussion with our cellphones (and /. is one of the friendlier sites).

Ah well. My side lost that argument years ago. Mark me -1 redundant, die-hard.

Lack of width (5, Funny)

dj245 (732906) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983847)

There comes
a certain size
point where lack
of width of the
screen really
begins to be a

Great for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18986573)

They're great for posting on Fark now.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18984677)

> There's actually very little that occupies the market niche of devices with sufficient resolution to read websites without reformatting them (say a minimum of 800x480) at a reasonable price (say under $500).

The N800 palmtop has a 800x480 screen, and it's *way* under $500. More like $375. And should appeal to geeks everywhere since it runs a Debian variant with a tablet-ish GUI on top of it.

Re:Huh? (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18986261)

Sharp made a very nice clamshell Zaurus PDA with VGA resolution that runs Linux. (I have a somewhat earlier model). The used QT for the UI and supported both WiFi and Bluetooth. There apparently wasn't a big enough market for the product so it's been discontinued.

Re:Huh? (1)

Askmum (1038780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984635)

Just look at the devices from HTC to see the evolution. They started out as smartphones, became PDA's with phone functionality (which make you look silly holding it to your head) and their latest (the Advantage) doesn't even have a speaker for use of the phone.
It still has a phone for HSDPA/GPRS though, has WiFi, is now uncomfortably large to put in your pocket, has a hard drive, but won't run Vista because that's just to bloated.

But it's the natural way. I expect their next device to have a 7" 800x600 screen.

They just forgot to do the math (2, Insightful)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982995)

I think the UMPC is a great idea, but as with any mobile PC, there is a limited market.

There is a reason why ultra portable laptops are expensive and hard to get. The market is simply too small to become mainstream. If you go for desktop replacements ranging from 19" screens and up, you get the same thing.

Also, when you create a far too big hype around it like Microsoft did, you kind of have to expect something superb as well. If only they had released it without all the fuzz about it, media wouldn't kill it. We would look at it as some semi-gadget and semi-useful tool.

Also, why they pushed it so hard before we could actually catch up with the hardware is beyond me. Yes, first generation products are often crap, but if you combine the words ultra mobility with low battery life, you kind of ask for it.

Re:They just forgot to do the math (4, Insightful)

phaggood (690955) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984277)

> I think the UMPC is a great idea, but as with any mobile PC, there is a limited market.

As soon as I found out about the thing, a $2K PDA, I was reminded of my thoughts when "Ginger" was revealed to be the "Segway". How did Kamen expect to revolutionize transportation when a *real* car can be purchased for the same price? I know what he *said*r about Segway, that it doesn't compete "in the same space" with cars, scooters, bikes or rollerskates, but people with jobs tend to make decisions like that (wheels=transportation/computer=pda|laptop). So even if MS *says* the UMPC wan't competing with a laptop, the masses standing at the counter at BestBuy will look at the device and all think "damn, I can get a that laptop over there for less, or maybe that Treo, or, hell, *both* for less money".

Yes, there *is* a market for $1000 bottles of Crystal, but if I'm trying to break into the wine market, I'm aiming for the larger "screw-top" product space.

OS X for MID (2, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 7 years ago | (#18982999)

Given that MID will be based on the McCaslin platform which will include a dual-core Stealey processor running about 600-800MHz, it should run OS X nicely. Both 10.3 and 10.4 are usable on machines as slow as a 400 MHz G3, so a tuned 10.5 should run acceptably on MID.

Why bother with OS X when it's going to run Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983819)

Realy. You'll get firefox, you'll get Opera. There is already a crapload of applications, development tools, and other such things being developed for touch screen devices. Linux support for this hardware is going to be great and everything will work out of the box. And it should be very fast.

It'll go nice with my Neo1973 when that becomes aviable. The nice thing about this thing over the Nokia Linux tablets (which are very nice in themselves) is that you will have good video acceleration.

With the Nokia tablets they have the hardware _capabilities_ for video acceleration, both 2d and 3d, but they can't use it because the only drivers aviable for acceleration are propriatory Linux kernel modules. Thus they aren't cool and they probably don't work with the kenrel that is used in that device.

But with the Intel stuff they will use a low power version of the Intel 915 which I beleive will have 2d acceleration with some decent 3d performance. This means that this thing should have better media playback performance and actually be usefull for video games. Probably up to Quake2 or even Quake3 complexity.

Why on earth would you want to pay the 'Apple Tax'? It's like a joke.. somebody took a Apple sticker and stuck it on a PC. I laughed that the Apple icon was practically a 200 dollar upgrade all by itself.

That's one of the curious things about this article. It meantions that it won't run Vista, but it doesn't mention that it's designed specificly to run Linux. Maybe they are holding out for Intel to switch to some embedded Windows version?

Re:OS X for MID (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983955)

Unusable? I wouldn't say that. I used Panther on my 400mhz iMac G3 for the better part of a year before upgrading to first an iMac and then a MacBook. Sure, I wouldn't want to use it for anything more than basic web surfing and word processing, but it worked well. WORKS, actually, since the machine lives on, though these days I barely ever touch it and have it running Mac OS 9.

Great. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983011)

And when, exactly, are Intel and Microsoft going to focus on something useful?

Re:Great. (2, Insightful)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18986289)

And when, exactly, are Intel and Microsoft going to focus on something useful?

Exactly. I mean, if they put their minds to it, I bet Microsoft and Intel could come up with a personal computing platform that's used by more people than anything else in the world.

Oh well. Just a pipedream, I guess.

Re:Great. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 7 years ago | (#18986305)

Or they could take that platform and make it stable, efficient and lots of productivity wouldn't be lost. Or they could invest in stuff like UMPCs.

I want a Cellphone running X with a Docking Port (2, Interesting)

jerryasher (151512) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983021)

I want a cellphone running Linux with a docking port. I want to dock it to a better keyboard and a typical desktop display and network, and I want to be able to login to it remotely via ssh and display apps remotely via X, and to get to its storage as a network drive or usb drive.

Seems pretty trivial, when that's available, let me know.

Re:I want a Cellphone running X with a Docking Por (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983523)

Like... an OQO [] ? With Linux installed [] , of course.

Granted, it doesn't do calls per se. But it does have built in EV-DO WWAN. So maybe you could get a data plan and use VOIP?

Re:I want a Cellphone running X with a Docking Por (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18985905)

The OQO is also uncomfortable to use, the mouse/touchscreen is annoying, its too heavy, it gets really hot and the battery life sucks. For most things its going to be used for the processor is overkill and a lower end PDA will do a better job for less money. Whether it runs linux or not its not a nice peice of hardware. About the only thing I can see it doing well is acting as an in car GPS or entertainment system.

I too think we need to get some decent docking features on a PDA so you can just plug in a normal screen and keyboard. The neasrest i've seen is plugging a USB keyboard/mouse and a CF-XGA card into a Sharp zaurus or using VNC to it over wifi.

How could it die? (1)

amplusquem (995096) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983035)

If it never really took off...

Re:How could it die? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983167)

It explodes on the launching pad?

Re:How could it die? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983597)

It didn't really die...
it just folded.

Display (1)

Fengpost (907072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983055)

In a mobile computing device, there 3 parts consumes the most powe: CPU, storage and display.

Looks like Intel is going to solve the CPU power usage issue here. NAND flash pricing and storage capacity is catching up. All we need now is a cheap and low power consumption display. TFT LCD is alright for mobile phone is because the LCD is not on most of the time. However for MIDS, people can browse the web for hours, it would really kill the battery fast.

So, until LCD can significantly reduce power consumption or other technologies (E Ink or OLED) rise to the occasion, there would not be a really viable product.

Re:Display (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983811)

> people can browse the web for hours, it would really kill the battery fast.

On my N800, I've browsed the web for about 4 hours before the battery meter even *moved* (there's about 5 bars, so that'd be ~80% remaining). From my experience with it so far, I recon I could easily browse for 8-10 hours and probably have half my battery life left.

That's with the backlight on low, which is fine for most indoor use. Backlight on high might take the battery down a lot faster.

Re:Display (1)

Fengpost (907072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984441)

Good input.

Nokia had to resort to using a 4.1 inch LCD! Just imagine how much better the browsing experience would be if it a 12 inch LCD, or even a 7 inch LCD, if the battery would last!

Obligatory (0, Flamebait)

hellfire (86129) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983059)

"...but it won't run Vista."

And this is a bad thing?

Re:Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983225)

Thats the best feature they mentioned.

Wow..... (1)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983073)

....I had *completely* forgotten about that thing since the article about its introduction scrolled off the front page of Slashdot.

No one notices (1)

AnimeDTA (963237) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983129)

The UMPC dies. And no one notices.
I own a Sony UX280. I take pride in noone noticing it when I walk about. I wear a wind breaker or jacket which is plenty to cover the belt strap in which it is stored and transported. It looks really dorky when its visible. Its just small enough to hide and to most people that observe me using it they assume its some overly large hand held gaming device like a PSP or a small video player.

Perhaps part of making something popular in the market is its visibility in the public eye. Those iPod white headphones and the iPods themselves are easily spotted and have a cool, trendy image to them.

Where I work nearly everyone has a laptop, regardless of the need to take work home or not. I think people need to feel important and look like they take their work home, either in a briefcase or a laptop. I work downtown and theres lots of suits and the briefcase makes people feel all self important. Its practically part of the "dress for success" motto.

As for its utility vs other devices, I can carry out all tasks in normal usage of windows applications with internet connectivity. I can't type as fast as on a full laptop, but its no less of a performance loss than typing emails on a pda or cell phone.

These devices just don't have the professional or trendy image to make it in the market place. I believe MIDs will go much further than UMPCs.

Not the bang for the buck (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983135)

I remember when I first heard about this thing. It sounded cool, but not cool enough to spend over $1,000 on. That is the death of lots of gadgets. They are cool for $500, wonderful for $250, and you can't live with out them when they are only $100, but at >$1k it is just kind of neat.

Price has nothing to do with it (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983649)

The price of a gadget does not make it more or less indespesible - it just means more or less people might own one. I am happy to pay a lot of money for something that works well, and something that works well generally will come down in price because a lot of people buy them and keep buying them. The original Palm was a great example of this, but they didn't handle product evolution with and when my Palm V died I didn't see a new model I was happy with, so I dropped the line.

Re:Price has nothing to do with it (1)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983729)

Very true. It is more accurate to say that at $50 it is far more likely to become widely adopted because consumers would be willing to put up with it's short comings until it becomes something truly useful. And if it was not truly useful, well at a low enough price it is still a cool toy for hackers. But at the price that they were asking it would need to fill a real need and work right out of the box, and that is something that this little gadget just didn't do.

Sounds like a smartphone (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983147)

I saw one yesterday that ran Mobile Windows, could support MS Office, AIM, a VPN tunnel client, browser, PDA functions, camera, mp3 player, bluetooth, 802.11g WiFi and of course a 3G near broadband speed cell phone. Cingular 8525.

Re:Sounds like a smartphone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18985173)

I saw one yesterday that ran Mobile Windows

I stopped reading here.

Re:Sounds like a smartphone (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#18986303)

That's neither here nor there. That's just a vendor decision. If you could go to your FatPenguin.Com and pick up a device and you could install your favorite flavor or Linux on that hardware, then what would be the difference? After all the UMPC or any other unique small form factor hardware requires a custom built OS kernel and device drivers at some level no matter what it is.

Hum? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983151)

... much smaller (and less capable) ... but it won't run Vista.
So it's more capable, then?

Speaking of UMPCs... (1)

Null Nihils (965047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983201)

OSNews [] just linked an article about the first computer that could fit in this category, from 1981, the Epson HX-20 [] .

Kind of looks like a neat idea for its time, albeit a little limited by the available information processing technology of that era.

I'll take the keyboard! (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983765)

The funny thing is that I bet the HX-20 had a better keyboard than virtually anything they're turning out today. (Although admittedly tough to use one handed, or without setting it down on something.)

That's one of the reasons I've never really gotten into the whole text-messaging/blackberry stuff. I could afford one (and my current phone does do texts) but it just seems obnoxious. I'm not going to sit there and type in a damn message with my thumbs, that's stupid, and probably unhealthy in the long run. (Some of these things -- like the blackberrys -- are big enough to have 2-hand, 4-finger chording keyboards on the back, too, or even miniature QWERTYs broken into two sections on the back for the fingers of each hand, with the spacebars on front for your thumbs. That would be a lot smarter than hunting-and-pecking with two fingers for the whole alphabet.) Obnoxious. When someone can come out with a portable message device that's comfortable to type on, and doesn't look like it was designed for a lobster instead of a ten-fingered human, maybe I'll be more interested.

It really mystifies me -- people are probably spending more hours per day, on average, sitting in front of a computer and typing, than ever before; certainly more than people were in the 1980s. However, as we've gotten to spending more time at computers, the keyboards have gotten crummier and crummier. I know part of the decline is probably because now people use the mouse as an input device a lot, but in terms of the volume of typing done by a person now versus in 1980, it's gotta be higher today with all the email people do. You'd think that people would pay more attention to things like their keyboards, but instead they seem to care less. I don't get it.

Re:I'll take the keyboard! (1)

RR (64484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984195)

The funny thing is that I bet the HX-20 had a better keyboard than virtually anything they're turning out today.

I don't expect so.

I had an Epson PX-8 Geneva, a 1984 descendant of the HX-20. Its keyboard was sort of like the keyboard in my ThinkPad 760: Smooth at first, but gradually harder to press unless you're one of those freaks who press keys straight down. Except that it doesn't flex like the ThinkPad's keyboard.

Eventually, several collections of keys stopped working, and the machine in general became really flaky, so I stopped using it.

Waiting for the N1000 (2, Interesting)

Eloquence (144160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983315)

The Nokia N800 [] is a pretty nifty device, a WLAN-enabled "Internet tablet" with a nice high resolution screen, running the open source Maemo [] platform based on the Linux kernel. Maemo has a very healthy open source developer community, and tons of the best applications have been ported to it. What is missing, however, is a GSM chipset, or indeed any non-WLAN networking capability. Nokia apparently does not want its "Internet tablets" to compete with its smartphones. I am waiting, then, for an "N1000" that combines these capabilities. Perhaps OpenMoko [] will be successful, but it doesn't have the WLAN chipset.

Any device that combines these three factors - open source and full hackability, phone, and regular networking - will be a killer app. Hackability does not mean that it has to be difficult to use: with a Debian-like system for software management, users can experiment with new apps easily. Of course, many of the current economic models around cell phones (ring tone downloads, background images, specialized content portals) are not really sustainable, and so the market may be biased against that innovation. But a smart company will recognize that by maintaining strategic leadership within an open source ecosystem, they will create many more business opportunities for themselves than in a proprietary, locked down market. It's too bad that Apple doesn't appear to be that smart company. I hope that Nokia is.

Re:Waiting for the N1000 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18983775)

I have an N800 now, and it totally rocks for my use. Basically a (non-x86) PC I can carry in my shirt pocket, and Linux software is being ported at a ferocious rate. Unlike cell phones, it's got a screen that's actually useful for web browsing, and also unlike cell phones, I don't have to pay for data access (above my normal ISP fee) and I'm not nickel and dimed to death on every little possible "service". And it's an open, hackable platform. Great stuff!

However, I suspect these open linux-based UMPC devices will never be more than a tiny niche market. Even though you can't really tell it's Linux unless you go out of your way to peek under the GUI, it's just never going to have the mass appeal or advertising dollars behind it that a Windows device will have.

I like mine a lot, but I just can't see them really taking off...

Re:Waiting for the N1000 (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18985029)

It may not have marketing to take off as a full PC replacement, but Nokia has the muscle to sell it as a mobile appliace - i.e. a smartphone alternative without the cellular connectivity, but with a decent screen and proper web browser.

Don't want GSM in my tablet (1)

Paul Crowley (837) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984365)

I'm not sure I do want GSM built into it. I'd rather have a nice small phone which I can comfortably hold to my ear, and a separate tablet. They can talk to each other via Bluetooth.

Correctamundo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18985565)

There are a few places where the N800 could be improved for *some* people's use (however, these could be just as well done by someone else, because it's an extra cost for Nokia to have several runs of different hardware).

1) Bigger screen. A 7" diagonal or better, similar to the DVD players. Makes it more of a light laptop. Not really as comfortably portable, though, so you still want the original N800 form factor
2) Much longer battery. The battery given though is one that is commonly available for other products, so this is understandable. Either a thicker base with two (or more) such batteries in, a higher-density battery for replacing or the ability to add a battery pack with ordinary (AA) batteries as a direct power source
3) Faster boot. If the system suspended to flash after shutting down applications the system would be much faster boot. Though you'd probably want a "restart from fresh" boot which redoes the suspend image. Feed this back to the mainline code and we may have a better suspend-to-disk (you need as much disk space as the plain booted image, not as much as your physical memory, which will also reduce load times for the image)
4) Extra-portable. The Palm is great as a PDA. The TX would be perfect if it were on smaller hardware and therefore cheaper (it's a waste because the OS isn't multi-tasking so cannot get the full benefit of a fast processor and the apps are all pretty small so the built in space is a little unused). The N800 is more powerful but takes longer and is geared for non-PDA internet tasks. Another version that had a smaller screen, cheaper hardware and a PDA suite (and running on cheaper hardware) would be more portable, longer lasting and so would hit the space used by the Palm.

Re:Waiting for the N1000 (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984569)

Why use cellphone wireless when you can do VOIP over WI-FI? I realize there are advantages to cellular, but WI-FI ends up being MUCH cheaper by the byte.

My vision of a MID (4, Interesting)

escay (923320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983319)

Current mini-Tablets, UMPCs, OQOs - any ultra-mobile (read small) PC solution for that matter, have an inherent disadvantage - they try to do too much in too little. miniaturization with full functionality is good but only up to a point - there comes a stage where the purpose of a device has to change, and then change the way people use it (and not necessarily the other way around always). We assume that a PC by it's very name defines the purpose of the device - that it has to store, process and communicate information. The OSs these days run high overheads and demand lot of hardware to support, which might be worthwhile if the system can be fully utilized - but when the goal is portability, the heavy framework becomes more of a burden than a feature. This is where a paradigm shift is needed - and it can be achieved, with the sweeping assumption that Internet is ubiquitous (an assumption that doesn't seem to be so wild these days).

A Mobile Internet Device would be a lean lightweight device that runs a small but not heavy-duty processor, and minimal hardware to support primary functions such as display, input, audio etc. It will not have an OS. Instead, what it will have is a Web Browser , and a basic BIOS type menu for system maintenance. The browser can be (preferably) written hardware specific, so it serves the dual purpose of a very basic OS as well as the browser itself. Of course the browser has to bem ore powerful than our regular ones with all appropriate plugins (Flash, JAVA, pdf etc) installed, but it still is no OS. It may look like this restricts the users to primarily browsing, but browsing is hardly passive these days - you can read, write, speak, draw, design - pretty much do any normal function with today's increasingly effective web apps. For instance - Google Docs & Spreadsheets replace MS/Open Office; there are similar web equivalents for other desktop functions and more are coming. In fact, there are webtops like Goowy and eyeOS which pretty much obviate the need of any local OS for common computing functions. No hard disk is needed because there is no large local storage - solid state memory will suffice. Onboard graphics card is enough, because all the display shows is Web content. The convergence of these hardware and software ideas lead to the perfect MID - not as small as a phone perhaps but small enough to be ultra-mobile, yet capable of replacing your regular desktop and serving as a PC solution for many ordinary users. The only (and reasonably significant) catch is that it needs a constant connection to the Internet to function.

Again, once the device starts to have extra applications other than the browser, it ceases to be a viable solution. The industry fears its product will fail if it doesn't provide the world to the customer, and the customer is often grabbing at more than what he/she will ever use. Only if we accept the design rule that this is this device's specific purpose, and we learn to use it that way (and there is no severe handicap in that for regular users who just like to browse or read mails or play a little solitare - all of which you can do online), will portable PCs really find a mass market.

Re:My vision of a MID (1)

MetroCross (545914) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984391)

This is the first time I ever said this but please mod parent up.

This guy exactly describes the kind of device that I've been looking for since - ever. No overkill with functions that I won't use, no UMD, no performance sacrifices for cramping more stuff in, but just the bare essence of it, which is accessing the web in a clean, efficient way.

If this ever gets produced, I'll be the first to get it.

Re:My vision of a MID (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18985201)

Why not just use emacs?

Re:My vision of a MID (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18985215)

you mean iPhone?

Re:My vision of a MID (1)

robosmurf (33876) | more than 7 years ago | (#18985851)

The only (and reasonably significant) catch is that it needs a constant connection to the Internet to function.

I think that this is actualy a showstopper problem.

The whole point of a ultra-mobile device is that you can use the device anywhere. If it only works when you've got a signal, then it's useless in a lot of situations. For instance, you couldn't use it while travelling at all as you'd potentially keep losing your link.

Similarly, you couldn't rely on it to store information if you are going to a business meeting as you wouldn't know if you would have a signal in the meeting room.

Portable Thin Client (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18987429)

You just described a handheld thin client device, which while nice for some applications is worthless in parts of the world that have limited connectivity. It's worthless for the traveller who wants to be able to work offline, for that matter.

Who said anything about death? (1)

denix0 (949825) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983445)

What a misleading title! First of all, it is a couple-week-old news. And second, nobody is going to kill UMPC, it will not be targeting the consumer market anymore ($500-$1000 and 5"-7" screens), where MID takes its place. UMPC will still appeal to professionals, though, with screens bigger than 7" and pricetags of way above $1000...

Thank god (1)

w_lighter (995939) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983469)

Thank god it wont run vista....

*sigh* Can i just get a PADD already... (1)

Cyno01 (573917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983549)

The iPhone comes pretty damn close, but i still need a bluetooth commbadge.

This reminds me... (2, Interesting)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983637)

... when looking around the Microsoft Vista site for information about a future UMPC purchase, I stumbled across the Origami Experience Pack [] ( WGA validation required before downloading )

It's available for download now, and contains three programs aimed at UMPC use on Vista. It comes with a Sudoku game (?), a "designed for UMPC" shell for movies, music, pictures and programs, and apparently some improved touch-screen functionality. Would be interested to hear feedback from those with UMPC's using this on Vista.

It's about time (5, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983857)

Disclaimer: I own an ultralight notebook, the smallest MP3 player I could find, a tiny car, and a Wii. I should be the target market for these things.

However, they really didn't bother to actually test market these things before putting them out there. For one, the lack of a keyboard really limits usability. Heck, keyboards are becoming standard on phones these days. To not have a keyboard on a laptop replacement is silly.

Two, they don't fit anywhere. They're way too big for a pocket, so you have to put them in a bag or backpack. At that point, you might as well just use a 3 lb Sony Vaio Tx [] , or a 4 lb Lenovo v [] , or a 4.5 lb Dell Xps [] or one of many other ultralight portables out there. And really, that's the key: laptops are losing weight as fast as the balance between performance and price will allow.

But worst of all, they never really had a use. They all take time to boot, so there isn't much use as a dayrunner. They have no keyboard, so word processing is out. And forget photoshop. What, exactly, are you supposed to do with one? Play halo? Web development?

Ultimately, all of the tasks that were supposed to be delegated to the UMPC were actually far better served by high-end phones. Need e-mail, texting, intranet access to a client database, and synching to a desktop? Just get a treo. They're about 1,000 dollars cheaper, and they fit in your pocket.

While I was intrigued by the concept, I won't be shedding a tear for the UMPC. They were far ahead of their time. Which is to say, someone was pushing them early in the hopes of making a quick buck.

Re:It's about time (1)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18983943)

I 'need' a UMPC due to a large amount of time spent travelling via train to and from work, that I could be spending productively. I've currently got a HTC Universal [] PDA mobile phone - allowing me to edit Word docs, Excel, surf the net etc while on the go. However, my phone contract's up in August, and I'm looking for the next ideal purchase - and I think I've found it!

The HTC Shift [] will provide a mobile phone in a Vista UMPC form-factor. apparently "it is about the same size as two DVD cases", yet features include "full QWERTY keyboard, 7" touchscreen, 1Gb of RAM and a 30Gb hard drive" (Source []

I can't wait to have a look at it.

Re:It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18984209)

>For one, the lack of a keyboard really limits usability.

WTF? There are plenty of UMPC models with an integrated keyboard. Do some research next time.

Re:It's about time (1)

trawg (308495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18984839)

But worst of all, they never really had a use. They all take time to boot, so there isn't much use as a dayrunner. They have no keyboard, so word processing is out. And forget photoshop. What, exactly, are you supposed to do with one? Play halo? Web development?

As the device size shrinks, so does the usability. Absence of a keyboard means quick input is effectively not possible, so a small device that you need to do a lot of input on is useless.

I'm looking for a new mobile phone, and I want to get something that runs Windows Mobile that syncs with Outlook and runs a few other apps I've been using on my Ipaq. Unfortunately most of the ones that run Windows Mobile are all stylus-based - and thus very big.

I don't want to do a lot of input on it - it's mostly for reminding me about my appointments. That is, my READ needs are much greater than my WRITE needs. But because they've catered too much for writing, it blows out the size - and thus doesn't make it useful for my needs.

Obviously it's not like I'm spoiled for choice in the mobile phone market, but still I just find it weird that there's so many usability issues with these things.

UM-who? PC? Oriwhatummajig? (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 7 years ago | (#18986445)

Ah, UMPC, we hardly knew you. ... in fact, that's probably one of the things that went wrong.
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