Print 26 comment(s) - last by akouzmit.. on Jun 16 at 6:25 PM

Sony joins the growing UMPC crowd

Microsoft and Intel announced the new Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) form-factor back in March with the aim to bring full Windows XP (and later Windows Vista) functionality to a handheld, tablet-based devices. Over the past few months, we've seen UMPC devices from Asus, Samsung, ECS, DualCor and TabletKiosk. Today, we can add a new player to the game: Sony.  Here's the real kicker though, Sony claims the whole ultraportable weighs in at just 1.2lbs.

Rather than just enter the fray with a cookie-cutter "been there, done that" design with its new VAIO UX, Sony has decided to spice things up a bit. While all previously displayed UMPCs make do with a stylus for input as well as a somewhat awkward on-screen keyboard, the VAIO UX features a dedicated sliding keyboard for quicker data entry in addition to the traditional stylus. The VAIO UX also comes with a "touch launcher" which gives users quick access to oft used functions like email and music.

On the hardware side of things, the one-pound unit packs an Intel ULV Core Solo processor, 4.5" SVGA (1024x600) touch sensitive LCD with XBRITE technology, three USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, VGA, Firewire, WiFi, Bluetooth and WWAN (compatible with Cingular's EDGE wireless network). And the VAIO UX features not one, but two built-in cameras. The one located on the front of the device is for VOIP communication and video conferencing while the camera on the back of the unit is used to take pictures. Security is handled by an integrated biometric fingerprint scanner and G-Sensor technology is used to protect the VAIO UX's 30GB hard drive in the event of an unfortunate fall.

The UX is built around an Intel Core Solo U1400 processor running at 1.2GHz with 2MB L2 cache.  Sony has managed to cram an Intel 945GMS chipset into the device with 512MB of 400MHz DDR2.  Intel's GMA950 provides all of the graphics, and uses up 128MB of the system memory when needed.  Sony claims the entire devices runs on a mere 41W during normal operation, giving the unit up to 4.5 hours per battery charge.

That's quite a lot of features packed into a pint-sized package and Sony seems to be quite proud of their new baby. “This model is an achievement in ingenious design. With this pocket PC, you can have the same functionality as your office or home PC in a device that fits in the palm of your hand,” said Mike Abary, vice president of VAIO product marketing at Sony Electronics in the U.S.

For those of you intrigued by Sony's new VAIO, the ticket price is $1,800 and the show begins in July of this year.  You can preorder the unit from SonyStyle right now.

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By clementlim on 5/16/2006 6:12:34 AM , Rating: 2
Can an Ultra Mobile PC be used for AutoCAD, Photoshop, 3dsmax and play Oblivion? Guess not. If all it can do is online, word, excel, media player...PDAs are more mobile and cheaper...sigh...

By ET on 5/16/2006 6:42:13 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I play Trackmania Nations on my laptop, which has worse spec. I also played City of Heroes a bit. These two games are better than Oblivion. Sure, I had to turn options down to the minimum, but that didn't make the games less fun.

So yes, there's benefit for a small PC. Not to mention all the other software that's easy to get for the PC. Just being able to run most of what you can on your desktop (even if performance may not be as good) is a real benefit.

Plus you get a screen resolution no PDA gives you and a decent amount of disk space (though not a lot, by PC standards).

Still, I'm waiting to see what Nokia announces today regarding their new pad.

RE: Drool
By clementlim on 5/16/2006 10:41:21 AM , Rating: 1
Erm...the question here is between mobility and usefullness of UMPC vs PDA. What has a notebook/laptop has to do with what I mentioned earlier?

RE: Drool
By TiberiusKane on 5/16/2006 12:59:11 PM , Rating: 2
So yes, there's benefit for a small PC. Not to mention all the other software that's easy to get for the PC. Just being able to run most of what you can on your desktop (even if performance may not be as good) is a real benefit.

He was noting the fact that there are benefits to the UMPC. He said that his laptop can play games, and the specs on the UMPC are higher than his laptop. Why don't you see the relevant comparison he's trying to make? Can a PDA play his games? The UMPC can, and that was his point. I'm not saying that the product is great because I haven't seen it yet, but his points are valid and pretty clear in answering your question.

RE: Drool
By clementlim on 5/16/2006 2:05:40 PM , Rating: 2
He said that his laptop can play games, and the specs on the UMPC are higher than his laptop.

He didn't say that the UMPC has better specs than his laptop.

So yes, there's benefit for a small PC. Not to mention all the other software that's easy to get for the PC.

That doesn't mean his laptop is inferior to the UMPC and if he means his laptop can play games, well, I'm all for laptop. There are good, mobility at work and play. But he didn't say his UMPC can play games now did he?

Anyway, maybe UMPC can play games...maybe better than his laptop. Sure, you can play Quake 4 with only mini-keyboards available on UMPCs, or play Warcraft 3 without the mouse...maybe you can, I don't know. But I sure can't.

Or maybe you can touchup 500MB photoshop presentation files on UMPC, or develop 3D model of a 1000000sq feet mall with 3dsmax, or draw it with AutoCAD. Maybe you can. I know I can't.

Well, all those can be done on a Mac, PC or a laptop. But surely not UMPC. Oh wait, most peple think UMPC is not meant for that. That's right. It is meant for Words, Excels, surfing the net, emailing, VoIP, etc. Small stuffs that PDAs and Smartphones can handle. So...why bother with UMPC? So, if I want to work and play, I get a laptop. If I want to jot down my schedule, email, etc, I get a PDA. Why do I need UMPC? I have no idea.

RE: Drool
By clementlim on 5/16/2006 2:16:52 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, I take it back. He did say he has a laptop with worse specs. Didn't see that. Anyway, my first comment was can the UMPC be used for AutoCAD, Photoshop, 3dsmax and Oblivion. You know, programs that need high resources. As far as I am concern, not really.

Maybe it's too early to say. But whatever UMPC can do, other stuffs can do better. Maybe it is trying to combine PDA and laptop together, but I guess that's just what Nokia nGage did. Combining portable game console and phone. It flopped. Maybe UMPC will succeed in due time... I don't know, I can't see the future. But I can say, not everyone needs it. Just like people preferring PSP + phone or NDS + phone or GBA + phone. Instead of grabbing nGage.

OMFG Expensive! :0
By krull on 5/16/2006 5:35:05 AM , Rating: 2
I think you're like paying 50% for the brand name... (ok ok.. prolly less but anything with sony's brand on it will be highly priced. care to buy a Sony bubblegum? 50USD pls heh.. )

RE: OMFG Expensive! :0
By kextyn on 5/16/2006 1:44:49 PM , Rating: 2
Did you even look at the specs on it? That price is for cramming all that stuff into a 1 pound unit.

RE: OMFG Expensive! :0
By krull on 5/17/2006 9:51:31 AM , Rating: 2
I did and if It had industry standard SDIO instead of some proprietary expansion, I might even consider it. ISO Standards on things such as these is the only way.

Wish when it'll be release that someone stuff linux on it and post a thourough writeup online!

Who is the target market?
By jebo on 5/16/2006 9:53:18 AM , Rating: 2
This is definitely way cool, however I'm not sure the UMPC design makes sense.
I'm a bit confused by who exactly uses one of these things. It doesn't really replace a PDA because I want my contact list or e-mail or calendar to fit into my pocket. A UMPC doesn't quite fit into a pocket.
So now we're talking about something I will put in my bag. Well why wouldn't I get a laptop with a legitimate keyboard and optical drive? Especially with the sleek, attractive 11"-13" models available now. Or if I really need the stylus input I could buy a full tablet.

RE: Who is the target market?
By clementlim on 5/16/2006 10:44:10 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Who is the target market?
By bamacre on 5/16/2006 10:51:40 AM , Rating: 2
For a female, it could be something to put inside a purse. I guess for a businessman or woman, it could be something to stick in your briefcase.

At this point, I personally would rather have a laptop, but I think with increased technology and a lower price, this would be something I would love to have for traveling, as I work online (Ebay). I guess I could go PDA, but I just don't like them.

The one thing that seems potentially odd to me is the 1024x600 resolution on a 4.5in screen. Wouldn't text be kinda small, and/or hard to read?

By plewis00 on 5/16/2006 7:04:09 AM , Rating: 2
I just noticed that there is no data on the amount of RAM or fixed storage this will carry (I say fixed because at 1lb, i.e. just under 1/2kg I don't see them fitting a big hard disk in it unless it's a Microdrive, maybe a 1.8" or flash). What they have packed into this is quite a feat, and yes it's Sony, so yes it's expensive but this is one of the few things they can charge a premium for because it clearly offers a lot more than any other UMPC on the market.

RE: Storage
By ET on 5/16/2006 7:21:54 AM , Rating: 2
The Sony site says 1.2lbs. 512MB RAM and 30GB disk included. Screen resolution is 1024x600.

Gaming UMPCs!
By firewolfsm on 5/16/2006 11:27:53 AM , Rating: 2
A GMA950 should be enough to game close to full settings in newer games, could this be the new portable gaming thing...

RE: Gaming UMPCs!
By firewolfsm on 5/16/2006 11:32:55 AM , Rating: 2
...I mean at those low resolutions

Who is the Target Market?
By KidDoc on 5/16/2006 12:09:28 PM , Rating: 2
I guess I must be the target market - a doctor who needs to have something that will fit in a lab coat pocket that will allow him to access medical records, orders, and radiology/lab results (plus a gadget geek). Anyone want to buy a slightly used OQO 01+ Tablet?

RE: Who is the Target Market?
By akouzmit on 6/16/2006 6:25:23 PM , Rating: 2
I am also considering myself as UMPC user.
One application I'd like to use it is watching my house remotly through IP controlled Tilt/Zoom camera. The current PDA I am using (DELL Axim) has limited capability for web pages with java content and I hope loaded with Windows XP UMPC is a good solution for me.

OQO with a better processor?
By jkresh on 5/16/2006 4:09:17 PM , Rating: 4
From the look and the specs it seems to compete more with the OQO then most other umpc's. Its also priced similarly and has a much better processor (1.2ghz core solo vs 1ghz transmeta). If sony or a competor could get something more like this into the $1000 range I would definitely consider it. At $1800 it still feels to expensive as it realy only seems to replace my pocket pc (and even then there might still be times where the pocket pc is more suitable).

Power usage
By goku on 5/16/2006 6:16:14 PM , Rating: 2
41 watts? HOLY SHIT! My IBM T42 Laptop with a 15" screen, using wifi and in power saving mode uses a mere 10 watts, how could this little device consume so much electricity and have a 4 hour battery life? Well, since it IS sony, the battery life is probably more like an hour, My old sony vaio w/15" according to the PDF claimed a 6 hour battery life with dual batteries, when I put in both batteries and tried to watch a movie, the laptop died 80 minutes into the movie, how sad. That is when I decided I needed a new laptop..

RE: Power usage
By plewis00 on 5/16/2006 7:23:11 PM , Rating: 2
Erm, I think it's probably 4.1W, surely you saw that one...

Can this work with a bluetooth or USB GPS?
By DukeN on 5/16/2006 8:16:31 PM , Rating: 2
If I wish to install, say bloods and crips..I mean Streets and Trips together with a GPS like I could with a stand alone notebook/tablet?

By tonyypy on 5/22/2006 3:22:39 PM , Rating: 2
Yes it can use bluetooth and usb gps, it's in fact, designed for those. In sony japanese web site, it demo the gps feature, sony even sell it's bluetooth gps as accecery for this baby.

Also to answer/comment the previous question about the power... your lovely IBM T42 uses 10W at idle, wow, and it uses 72W when full speed, this sony baby use 41W at full speed and 4W at idle. I don't see why you compare your laptop's idle power comsumption to other's full speed power comsumtion?? It's not even doing anything in idle, i don't see how you can compare using those figures

And... to answer the guy's question about autocad, gaming...
The answer is YES
It's funny that ppl, without thinking or even looking at the spec of computer, complete judge that this umpc can do nothing but internet/ ebook reading?

I have been running autocad and solid work and 3ds max on my Vaio T, with have a P-M 1G processor and intel 855gme, and I can also play warcraft 3 and dungeon siege 2 very smooth. and this umpc 's spec is better than the vaio T i have.

for those who believe that only desktop mechine with P4 and Quardo can do autocad... let me tell you this.... bigger doesn't mean faster, I have see my friend using Graphic station which uses P4 1.8 and quardo NVS to do autocard, which he can do his job fine (as a professional Drafter).

This UMPC, is about the same speed as a P4 2.0, with a Quardo NVS/Geforce FX 5200 (they are the same thing, believe me)

By Knish on 5/16/2006 7:20:11 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, say whatever you want about the price (Sony PC's are ALWAYS expensive), but this thing has the specs to make Anand go ga-ga even. Would I spend $1800 on something like this? Even if I had the money, probably not. But if this is what is going to be the next ubiquitous hardware... and it will if microsoft backs it hard enough... then life is very good.

I personally am hoping Sony will release a few knocked down versions of this bad boy into the $600 range. I don't need a 30GB hard drive or EDGE support, and I wouldn't want to pay for those if i wasn't going to use it anyway.

Here's to progress (B)

For childrens fingers
By lemonadesoda on 5/16/2006 11:36:28 AM , Rating: 2
The screen and keyboard are too small to be practical other than as an "ultra pager".

However the concept could scale. 4.5 inch is so small, it is less than A6. (Take an A4 piece of paper, fold it once, fold it twice).

I think that A6 could work (18cm = 7 inch) and also A5 could actually be practical (25cm = 10 inch). Or somewhere in between. It could still fit inside a handbag. It would also play watchable movies. With very high definition screen, and turned portrait, it could be a mini-ebook or pdf reader. Quite practical.

The one piece design will make it both stronger and lighter than a clamshell equivalent design. Nice.

dead pixels
By IMPoor on 5/16/2006 5:16:02 PM , Rating: 2
How many acceptable dead pixels will it have, eh sony?
Sorry for the inside joke but I bought 2 different laptops with the xbrite screen and both arrive with at least one dead pixel. When I called sony they said it was with the acceptable amount of dead pixels and I can return it or live with it. I heard similiar claims from PSP owners. of course I returned it.

Anyway this looks cool and has good specs. I geuss this equals 3 PS3's. very unaffordable for the average joe.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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