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Old 12-27-2007, 05:50 PM   #1
mobilesalesman
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Question Computer companies can not get the form factor right

UMPC's according to IDC in a recent Forbes article said only 350,000 UMPC's were sold in 07' including all the 7" devices and devices like the OQO. That was due to MS pushing everyone to go with their belief that 7" was the ideal size and their vision in hardware was what everyone would buy and they are not even in the hardware business.

Now Intel has several new chips for mobile umpc's, mid, etc. They are saying it will run windows or any OS but are pushing Linux.

To me even Intel is missing the focus. They sell chips they should be enabling the chips and promoting hardware folks to be creative and design what they think the market wants rather than trying to influence it.

What has been missing since computers were created is a simple pocket laptop with at touch type keyboard that could run all the same applications your desktop could. The UMPC technology has provided the technical abilities to create such a device and Intels new chips further the ability, yet to this day there has never been such a device. There are over 113 million notebooks sold each year with a enormous base of users already whom prefer a touch type keyboard. Many business users would love to buy and own a pocket laptop instead of a bulky laptop or subnotebook but there is nothing to buy.

Will 2008 finally bring us a jacket pocket size lapop? or will hardware companies miss the obvious and desing devices with the wrong form factor?
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Old 12-28-2007, 01:16 PM   #2
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I think the main problem this past year with UMPC's isn't so much one issue but a combination of many things.

1. To begin with, they were all stuck at the 4-5" screen and the 7" display didn't come out until the end of the year (not even really out now yet, but it looks hopeful).

2. Secondly, the availability of the product has been quite limited. The only one you could readily find was the Sony and it was thicker than the average laptop. If Sony would have slimmed it down quite a bit and got rid of the useless dead-space surrounding the screen, it would have been a much better product.

3. The last, and most important, factor I can think of off the top of my head is pricing. Why would someone in their right mind drop $1200-1500 for an UMPC, new pricing, when a much better and faster laptop could be had for half that cost? The whole point of the UMPC was to have a sub-$700 price range to pull people in, but none have come near that figure.

Now that the 7" UMPC's are starting to surface we may see some of those figures shift, but if they stay priced at uber-laptop rates it will be a tough sell. I'm still waiting for the HTC Shift... hope it doesn't disappoint!
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Old 12-28-2007, 04:37 PM   #3
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I think the main problem this past year with UMPC's isn't so much one issue but a combination of many things.

1. To begin with, they were all stuck at the 4-5" screen and the 7" display didn't come out until the end of the year (not even really out now yet, but it looks hopeful).
No? they were out since last fall and most were 7" devices very few have used smaller screens such as 4-5" sizes

2. Secondly, the availability of the product has been quite limited. The only one you could readily find was the Sony and it was thicker than the average laptop. If Sony would have slimmed it down quite a bit and got rid of the useless dead-space surrounding the screen, it would have been a much better product.
They have been available from many companies from Samsung, Asus, Gigabyte, Wibrain, OQO and many others. I've seen them at best buy and other retailers as well. The reality is that mainstream users do not want a pen only input device nor do they want it so large. If your read the Forbes article IDC reported that only 350K total UMPC's sold in 07' that is very weak to say the least. http://www.forbes.com/technology/200...r_1218pcs.html

3. The last, and most important, factor I can think of off the top of my head is pricing. Why would someone in their right mind drop $1200-1500 for an UMPC, new pricing, when a much better and faster laptop could be had for half that cost? The whole point of the UMPC was to have a sub-$700 price range to pull people in, but none have come near that figure.
That is true because they are not jacket pocket size they must be carried in a bag, etc. and thus will get grouped into a comparison of all devices not jacket size.

Now that the 7" UMPC's are starting to surface we may see some of those figures shift, but if they stay priced at uber-laptop rates it will be a tough sell. I'm still waiting for the HTC Shift... hope it doesn't disappoint!
There have been many 7" devices and more are moving now towards the 4-5" size. The shift is a good 7" device that has potential to sell better than the many other 7" pen only devices due to its touch type keyboard, dua OS with a version of windows mobile, built in wireless, etc. and longer battery life.
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Old 12-29-2007, 10:44 AM   #4
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Hmm, guess I was under the impression they all used the 4-5" screens since I own a couple OQO's and have played around with the Sony UX models. I haven't had a hands-on with the Samsung models, but they looked to me to be the same size as the others. I guess the Japanese aren't too interested in any other of the UMPC models, as the only one you can really find is the Sony and it's sales have been super-slow. I've seen a few other small PC's, like the Toshiba mini-Tablet and the Kojinsha, but I'm not overly impressed with the amount of wasted space around the screens on either. I just can't understand why laptop/PC makers ruin a perfectly good laptop by putting in a tiny LCD when a larger one could fit som much better and still maintain the form-factor.

Man, I sure do miss Best Buys, CompUSA, and Circuit City since they carried such a wide range of electronics. Just the same 'ol tired stuff here. Guess it all boils down to cultural preferences.
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Old 12-31-2007, 06:32 PM   #5
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I see two reasons but you won't care. Larger displays cost more and eat up battery power faster.
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Old 01-04-2008, 03:51 PM   #6
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Hmm, guess I was under the impression they all used the 4-5" screens since I own a couple OQO's and have played around with the Sony UX models. I haven't had a hands-on with the Samsung models, but they looked to me to be the same size as the others. I guess the Japanese aren't too interested in any other of the UMPC models, as the only one you can really find is the Sony and it's sales have been super-slow. I've seen a few other small PC's, like the Toshiba mini-Tablet and the Kojinsha, but I'm not overly impressed with the amount of wasted space around the screens on either. I just can't understand why laptop/PC makers ruin a perfectly good laptop by putting in a tiny LCD when a larger one could fit som much better and still maintain the form-factor.

Man, I sure do miss Best Buys, CompUSA, and Circuit City since they carried such a wide range of electronics. Just the same 'ol tired stuff here. Guess it all boils down to cultural preferences.
The majority of the first and second generation UMPC's all have been bulky 7" devices. Only the OQO is jacket pocket size but it has a poor thumb input not a touch type and if you add the add on keyboards, etc. to make is functional it takes up more than one can carry and the price adds up to $2-3000. The Sony is not pocket size at all nor is the Toshiba nor Fujitsu either.

A well thought out small 4-5" device with touch type keyboard is needed. You are right about wasted space, thus far most of the designs have wasted a lot of space. What they should model is after the old Psion 5mx or Revo which had a touch type keyboard easy to use where absolutely zero milimeters was wasted yet it fits easily into a jacket pocket.

The industry realized that pen only input does not sell, nor does devices one can not carry in a pocket. Hopefully the next batch of devices will get it right? A simple pocket touch type keyboard laptop is what would sell and the technology is there to enable it but so far the form factors have been all wrong. A good form factor that focuses on the largest keyboard and easiest to read 4-5" screen can work very well if designed right. The keyboard should not waste a milimeter and be focused for the best touch type input. The screen can be as long as 7" yet narrow like 4" to enable pocket size, like the Psion and Jornada's were.
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Old 01-04-2008, 03:55 PM   #7
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I see two reasons but you won't care. Larger displays cost more and eat up battery power faster.
There already has been many 7" devices with easy to read screens and prior to the UMPC's tablets even had larger screens the same as laptops. All had reasonable battery life. The problem with those are that the majority of users do not want a pen input computer. That is just the facts.

What input method is used for virtually all desktop software/programs? A touch type keyboard. Thus everyone finds it the easiest method and only a small segment as demonstrated by the weak UMPC sales wants a pen only input device. If they just made a jacket pocket laptop, millions would buy them. Not everyone needs a large screen or the fastest computer; millions whom are very mobile would rather go for mobility than size/power. There has never been such a device yet and the market potential is huge!
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Old 01-11-2008, 09:47 AM   #8
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I have a Samsung Q1 and I hardly use it. Why? Because battery life is bad, it gets noticeably warm, and it's heavy and bulky won't easily slip into my purse. Input is tedious using the pen and carrying a keyboard adds more bulk and weight. The only reason I still have it is because I'm determined to find a use for it.
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Old 01-11-2008, 10:32 AM   #9
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Most computer hardware companies today are sheep, blind mice -- following each other in rote. Once upon a time I had an UMPC called a Psion. Its clam shell form fit my jacket pocket and the screen was easy to read. There was even a program for loading ebooks to it. That was over 10 years ago.
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:25 AM   #10
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Most computer hardware companies today are sheep, blind mice -- following each other in rote. Once upon a time I had an UMPC called a Psion. Its clam shell form fit my jacket pocket and the screen was easy to read. There was even a program for loading ebooks to it. That was over 10 years ago.
The Psion "Organiser II", circa 1985, was my first "eBook Reader". The clamshell Psion 3a, which I think is what you're talking about, Wood, was a brilliant device - a clamshell machine with a keyboard that "popped out" when you opened the case, and a decent multitasking operating system. The design was so "iconic" and so good that I've often wondered why nobody's copied it since - I'd love to have a Windows Mobile device with that form factor.

Psion at one time, especially in the UK, were a household name and completely dominated the British PDA industry. Sadly they are no longer involved with PDAs, although the "Symbian" operating system is used by many mobile phones.
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:55 AM   #11
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The Psion "Organiser II", circa 1985, was my first "eBook Reader". The clamshell Psion 3a, which I think is what you're talking about, Wood, was a brilliant device - a clamshell machine with a keyboard that "popped out" when you opened the case, and a decent multitasking operating system. The design was so "iconic" and so good that I've often wondered why nobody's copied it since - I'd love to have a Windows Mobile device with that form factor.
Windows Mobile? <sigh>

Quote:
Psion at one time, especially in the UK, were a household name and completely dominated the British PDA industry. Sadly they are no longer involved with PDAs, although the "Symbian" operating system is used by many mobile phones.
By the vast majority of mobile phones. Symbian is owned by a consortium of phone manufacturers including Ericsson (15.6%), Nokia (47.9%), Panasonic (10.5%), Samsung (4.5%), Siemens (8.4%) and Sony Ericsson (13.1%), and is licensed by Arima, BenQ, Fujitsu Limited, Panasonic, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Mitsubishi Electric Corp, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony Ericsson.

Symbain based phones account for about 3/4 of the total mobile phone shipments world wide.

I've wondered why no one save Psion ever made a handheld based on Symbian that [i]wasn't[i] a phone.
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Old 01-20-2008, 05:34 PM   #12
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the biggest issue I have with these UMPC's and handhelds is they all seem to insist on adding a phone to the device. This puts the devices in a useless configuration for me. It not only affects the power use but also form factor. Also it almost forces a [potential] user to decide if paying extra for functionality they will likely never use is worth the premium.

I simply do not understand why there is not a standard modular slot to allow the user to decide which connectivity they will use. This is especially significant today as data only MBB plans become more widespread. I have fallen in love with my EVDO via an small ISP called Millenicom (the sell Sprint Network access). I get tremendous service and in just two weeks know I would be lost w/o it.

My device is a USB dongle that has all the software on-board of it's USB drive memory. No installation really, a few moments on first connection. It even comes with support for Mac OSX, XP (not sure about Vista) & Ubuntu (Linux). I have read others have found ways to get it working under Linux variants because the EVDO device works/appears as a dial-up device vs. a true network device. So it uses basic AT & AT advanced command sets.

Beyond form factor connectivity options beyond simple wifi are needed. Especially as wifi can be problematic most places. But MBB seems to be almost everywhere. It's not all EVDO RevA but at least there is something almost everywhere.

When the connectivity is hardwired into the system it limits more widespread appeal. Even is they [the connectivity cards] are mini PCI cards, some system flat refuse to work with devices with a different internal device_id other then the brand on the box itself.

I have been looking at UMPC's simply because they offer standard USB host connections. I have yet to find a PDA type device which allows this even if they have a mini-usb port. Or at least I have yet to read that PDA's, even the two new iPaq's (the 110 & 220 series) will actually allow use of a USB dongle. And there are no CF or SD EVDO cards yet that I have run into. BTW, I find that the Franklin CDU680 device I have uses far less power than my built-in wifi...maybe an extra 20-25 minutes work time on battery for my laptop.

Oops...I meandered kinda off topic...sorry...but no the form factors are not right yet nor are the costs near reasonable. Put them in the range of the iPaq 110/220's and we can talk. But until then well, they are beyond my comfort level.
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Old 01-20-2008, 05:37 PM   #13
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btw, a work around one can have to access EVDO from a wifi only device it to buy something like a Cradlepoint USB EVDO routers that is made for use with USB EVDO devices and also has a battery. But that means an extra $200 by the time you are done adding this work around kludge.
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Old 01-20-2008, 07:44 PM   #14
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Engadget recently wrote about Paul Allen's flipstart umpc at flipstart.com. It's the size of a paperback, built-in keyboard, usb ports, Sprint evdo ready. RAM at 512MB isn't great but CPU is 1.1 GHz. It comes with XP or Vista and runs MS compatible apps. Battery life is only 3-6 hours. The price was just halved to 699 USD. I don't know what that might portend. Wikipedia has more info and links to different reviews. This seems to fit the bill for a pocket-portable PC but you'd probably have to carry an extra battery.
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Old 01-21-2008, 12:11 AM   #15
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Engadget recently wrote about Paul Allen's flipstart umpc at flipstart.com. It's the size of a paperback, built-in keyboard, usb ports, Sprint evdo ready. RAM at 512MB isn't great but CPU is 1.1 GHz. It comes with XP or Vista and runs MS compatible apps. Battery life is only 3-6 hours. The price was just halved to 699 USD. I don't know what that might portend. Wikipedia has more info and links to different reviews. This seems to fit the bill for a pocket-portable PC but you'd probably have to carry an extra battery.
Now that is worth a look for sure. Thanks for the mention I am definately give it a look as it seems to fit everything I am looking for...a bit over my price point but that can change after a year.
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