Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Asus R2H

Lets now take a look at the ASUS R2H. This UMPC has not been on the market as long as the Samsung Q1, debuting last fall. It comes in one model so far but RAM can be upgraded and you have a choice of hard drive size.

It becomes obvious after reading a few blogs and watching video reviews that the R2H comes loaded with items. It has a fingerprint reader, GPS receiver, webcam (all integrated) among other items. The minuses include a short battery life (2 hours), slow due to it being loaded with software and some would and have said it is bulky.

Watch these videos for more detailed information:

ASUS on the Road with Matt Faulkner
GottaBeMobile R2H Useability Inkshow
ASUS Hardware Inkshow with Matt Faulkner

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Second Thoughts Already?

I'm thinking about getting a smaller Tablet PC instead of getting a UMPC. I say this because of the following three items.

No attached keyboard: At first I didn't think this would be a problem. I've seen quite a few bloggers use the very portable collapsable bluetooth keyboards and felt that would be more than sufficient. Then I thought about actual usage. If I'm stuck in an airport sitting in a chair at the gate or laying on my couch like I am right now, I would have to prop up the UMPC on my lap and then setup the keyboard. That's two items to balance. A convertable Tablet or any laptop has everything attached so its easy to just open it up and type away. I know some of the newer UMPCs have the slide out keyboards but those appear to be for thumbing text. I'm a decent typist and get alot out of a real keyboard where I can use all five of my fingers.

EVDO: I use Verizon's EVDO and like the fact that I can use it almost anywhere, no hunting for available WIFI connections. I use a modem that fits into my pc card slot on the Acer. UMPCs such as the Samsung don't have the pc card slot. A way around this is to use a phone that is EVDO capable and either connect with a sync cable or with bluetooth. The problem with this is I don't want to have to buy a new phone. At work I use WIFI but away from the office its EVDO.

Vectoring: While I don't take many notes, I don't want to worry about vectoring when inking.

These three items haven't stopped me from still considering a UMPC but a Fujistsu P1610, the small, light weight Tablet that James Kendrick has, is starting to look better and better.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Samsung Q1

So lets take a closer look at the Samsung Q1. There are four models available. The first one that came to market is the Q1. Then came the Q1B and more recently the Q1P. The fourth is the Q1 SSD.

Its interesting the original Q1 was used as the main device for both Hugo Ortega and Kevin Tofel. I say recently because Hugo just received his Q1B and Kevin upgraded to a Q1P after his Q1 died. I mention this because it tells me that these power users obviously found the Q1 to be sufficient enough to meet their needs.

So what did the Q1 have that made it somewhat popular among bloggers. Well, first, as James Kendrick noted, the Q1 was one of the first devices available and most early adapters probably decided not to upgrade until the next generation of devices became available which is starting to happen now. You can check out the specs for yourself at Samsung's site but you can see it was decently loaded with hardware with expandable options. The main drawback that I've read about is the battery life coming in, for most tests, at about 2.5 hours.

The big change with the Q1B is the use of a VIA chip. The advantage here is that the battery life should double but many report the VIA chip is much less powerful than the original Intel chip. For more details about the differences check out this posting by Hugo Ortega.

The Q1P comes with a Pentium processor, hence the P. This is a much more powerful processor. In addition, the battery life is suppose to be close to the Q1Bs battery life. The downside is the extra cost.

Lastly, the Q1 with SSD comes with a hard drive with no moving parts. Helps with battery life as well as the life of the device if dropped. But the downside here is cost and the size of the drive, 32 GB.

To find out more about the Samsung Q1 check out these videos:

Hugo Ortega's Samsung Q1 Story
Kevin Tofel's Samsung Q1 Usage Scenarios
James Kendrick's Q1 SSD In Use
Head to Head Comparison of Q1 and eo i7210 at
Unbeatable's Is it Any Good?

A UMPC Comparison Down Under

Perfect timing! Hugo Ortega just released a video comparing five different UMPCs. He compares a Samsung Q1, Asus R2H and three different Tabletkiosk EOs. These videos are just great for people like me who are considering buying a device but do not have the opportunity to hold each in their own hands and try them out. So thanks Hugo and all the other bloggers who make such great videos.

One thing to note, Hugo does a great job explaining and demoing what vectoring and HID are and what it means to the UMPC user.


I just wanted to say thanks to Kevin and James at jKOnTheRun for mentioning my blog not once but twice! If you haven't already, check out their site, lots of good information on all things mobile.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Which UMPCs do the Bloggers Use?

Here are a few blogs I read and the UMPCs they use or have used. A very unscientific sample but there were 5 Q1 users, 2 R2H users and 2 eos.


Dennis Rice eo i7210
Warner Crocker R2H
Matt Faulkner R2H


James Kendrick used a Q1 SSD but switched to a Fujitsu LifeBook P1610 Tablet PC
Kevin Tofel used a Q1 but recently switched to a Q1P


Hugo Ortega Q1B (update: I should have said Q1 as he had just received the Q1B when I wrote this posting)

Ultramobile PC Tips

CTitanic Q1

Ultramobile Geek

Thoughtfix eo v7110


Mark Q1

Saturday, January 27, 2007

First Pass Comparison

As I mentioned in one of my first posts, battery life, screen size and weight were important for me. So lets compare these items for the UMPCs listed in the last two posts:

Acer C110 (my tablet) 10.4" screen 3 hrs rated battery life 3.3 lbs
Q1 7" 3 - 5 hrs 1.7 lbs
R2H 7" 2 hrs 1.9 lbs
EO 7" 2 hrs 1.8 lbs
Vega 4.3" 5.5 hrs 1.0 lb
Medion 6.5" 4 - 5 hrs 1.6 lbs
OQO 5" 3 hrs 1.0 lb
Sony UX 5" 2.5 - 4.5 hrs 1.2 lb
Switchback 5.6" 2 - 5 hrs 3.0 lbs

A few obviously are smaller than 7" in screen size. I have only seen the Sony and my initial impression was that 5" would be too small of a screen size so while I'm keeping an open mind, the Vega, OQO, Sony and Switchback have been handicapped a bit.

I didn't realize my Acer is 3.3 lbs so all of these are lighter. The only one of concern is the switchback coming in at 3.0 lbs. Combine this with the smaller screen the Switchback is just about off my list.

Battery life is important to me since my Acer gets about 2 hours with my usage even though it is rated for 3 hours. So the Q1 (B and P models), Vega, and Medion get kudos in this area while the R2H and EO are knocked down a notch, being rated only at 2 hours. Of course manufacturer's battery life ratings and real life battery lives are not always the same so I'll be looking for real world usage data for all models. Also, I'll be investigating which models have larger batteries available to replace the standard battery.

Up next a review of what actual users are saying.

Don't Forget These!

There are also the following devices to consider. Some are new UMPCs that were announced just recently and others, like the Sony UX Micro are not true UMPCs but can be and are considered ultramobile PCs by many.

Medion UMPC
Sony's UX Micro
Black Diamond Switchback

Next up, a quick comparison by screen size, battery life, cost and weight.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

So What's Out There?

My search has found that there are quite a few models of UMPCs out there in quite a few different shapes and sizes. Having choices is nice! A good place to look to see what is available is Hugo Ortega's blog. Apparently, Hugo is a big fan of UMPCs and Tablets and over the months has accumulated quite a few, seven in fact. Check out his photo of all seven. The models he has include:

Samsung's Q1
Tablet Kiosk EO
Raon Digital Vega
Amtek T700

At the Origami Project site forum the various UMPCs are listed and compared on a number of different items.

There are a number of other UMPCs that I will list in another post but it appears the ones listed above are the most popular.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

For Those of You Who Can't Wait?

If you can't wait to actually see a UMPC in action, or at least up close in a video, check out this excellent video of a Samsung Q1 created by Hugo Ortega. Hugo is so happy with his UMPC he actually made the switch to use it full time. Just click on the title above and scroll down to the post entitled 'My Samsung Q1 Story (Video)'.

Could You See Yourself in this Microsoft Video?

I thought I'd check out the Microsoft website and see how they envision the UMPC should be used. Interestingly enough they have a video entitled 'See a Day in the Ultra Mobile Life'. All of the people in the video look a bit younger than me but I did see myself using the device as in the video such as browsing while laying down with the UMPC over my head, using the device on a train, watching videos on the device and using it at my desk.

Check out the video for yourself.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Is My Search Misguided?

Perhaps the points Tracy makes should make me rethink considering a UMPC to meet my computing needs. Perhaps I should just look at getting a smaller Tablet such as Motion's LS800.

That may be the case but lets start off by looking closer at what Tracy says in her post.

  1. First she talks about the need for a device to take notes on. I agree with her. If I were a student who takes lots of notes, I would want to have a lot of real estate to write on and to see more than a small snapshot of my notes. For me though, I don't take a lot of notes, not even when I was a student. I really just like to copy meeting minutes or other documents into OneNote and then mark them up. Though that doesn't happen much anyway. Even with paper, I never took many notes. But for those users that want to take a lot of notes and review them, like many students, during class or on site, then a UMPC with only a 7" screen will probably be problematic. She also stresses that the touch screen will interfere with taking notes. I did write on a Samsung Q1 and did not notice a problem but I only used it for a few seconds. I'll definitely will want to look into that concern more.
  2. Tracy mentions that one might buy it as a hand held media device but questions why. My main use for a UMPC would not be as a media device. I have an Ipod Nano to listen to music / podcasts and I don't tend to watch video on the go. However, I could see myself watching video on the train or when traveling so while this wouldn't be a requirement, I can see this as a plus for me.
  3. Again, I wouldn't buy this as an ebook reader as I prefer reading books and magazines in paper format. Just my preference. But I think a 7" screen may be a good size and with the form factor I think I might find myself reading more from a digital screen. She also mentions here the battery life. I agree, 2 hours is not acceptable. I live with that now with the ACER. So buying a UMPC or a replacement Tablet with only 2 hours of battery life is a show stopper for me.
  4. The article continues that many other functions can be met with a Tablet and I agree. If your requirements include having a large screen then get the Tablet but if you are happy with a smaller screen then take advantage of the smaller form factor, get the UMPC and have these other needs, such as web browsing, email etc met with that device.
So, to answer the question in title of this post 'Is my search misguided?' I say 'no'. But I do think that Tracy raises some very good points. The UMPC is not for everyone nor is the tablet or laptop for that matter. So its important to understand what your needs are and then choose the device or devices that best meet those needs.

Up next, the devices!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Why a UMPC?

The main thing pointing me towards a UMPC is its light weight and small form factor. I have only held one UMPC and that was the Samsung Q1. It seems to be one of the larger and heavier ones but it still felt light enough to read while laying down and holding it above me. I could also see myself wanting to pick it up and carry it with me around the office at work. Even though it is only a half pound lighter than my Acer, that half pound coupled with the form factor seems to make all the difference. In addition, looking at my Acer's screen in the portrait mode hurts my eyes so I usually use it in the landscape mode. This is only a problem when trying to hold the Acer with one hand. The extra length and hence weight away from the hand makes it feel heavier than when holding it in portrait mode.

The smaller screen sizes, in the case of the Q1 7" screen, doesn't seem to be too much of an issue. The Acer has a 10" screen which is a problem for me when using multiple windows. There is just not enough real estate. But to solve that problem I think I would need at least a 15" screen or larger. After I bought my tablet, four others at work bought tablets too so I've been able to try out larger tablets than my Acer. While the larger screens are nice, the added size and weight would further discourage me from taking the device with me, even just around the office. So while going to a smaller screen seems counter intuitive, I think the 7" screen will not be much worse for me than the 10" screen but the smaller form factor and weight that a 7" screen gives me are big pluses that outweigh the disadvantages of the smaller screen. Plus when I really need the extra real estate I'm usually at my desk connected to my desktop monitor. As a side note, I have seen the Sony device with the 5" screen and I think that will just be too small for my needs when away from the external monitor.

Of course having bluetooth, a brighter screen and longer battery life are all improvements I should be able to find in a UMPC, I can also find those items in a new Tablet. Which leads me to this article by Tracy Hooten at the Student Tablet PC blog; I Just Don't Get the Point of a UMPC.

I'll talk about the points Tracy makes and why I still will continue my search for a UMPC that will meet my needs in my next post.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

My Current Computing Needs and How I Meet Them

After reading much about UMPCs and being a user of a Tablet PC for 2 1/2 years, I've decided to search for a UMPC that will fit my needs.

I currently use, am in fact using right now, an Acer TravelMate C110. Its a convertible in a very nice form factor, light weight and a very useable keyboard. The drawbacks for me include short battery life (2 hours) and screen brightness.

At work the Acer is connected via a docking station to an external monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse, 100GB USB drive and speakers. At home I have a similar setup but no docking station. I do bring the Acer to meetings at work to take some notes but more to have information readily available. I generally don't take the Acer with me when I walk around the building at work because of its size, weight and the steps I need to take to disconnect it from the docking station. While it doesn't take that long, its enough for me not to always take the Acer with me. When not at my desk, I use the company WiFi connection.

At home I generally use the Acer as a laptop. I am a very good typist and find the use of the TIP unreliable. It doesn't recognize my handwriting enough to make it frustrating. I also find it more comfortable to sit on my couch with the Acer in this mode. When in the slate mode I find I need to prop it up and while it is small and light, it is still not comfortable to hold and position. For connection to the internet I use Verizon EVDO and have for over a year.

I don't travel that much but using it during a conference is difficult due to the battery life. I tend to switch it to standby mode and am always very conscious about the battery running out before break.

The next post will talk about why I think the UMPC will better meet my needs than the Acer.