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Samsung Q1 Ultra

Asus T83 -- image courtesy Engadget
Microsoft's UMPC platform is a year old, but how far has it come?

Just over a year ago, Microsoft hailed its UMPC platform as the next step in mobile computing. The premise was sound: provide a full Windows-based operating system in a hand-held form-factor that would slot in between a traditional PDA and a notebook computer.

"We believe that (ultra-mobile PCs) will eventually become as indispensable and ubiquitous as the mobile phone today," said Microsoft VP Bill Mitchell when the platform was first launched.

Despite the initial hype, the first generation UMPCs didn't quite make the splash in the marketplace that Microsoft had once hoped for. Samsung says that its UMPC sales have failed to meet expectations and that it sold less than 100,000 of its Q1 during 2006 -- the company hopes to sell 300,000 units in 2007.

There are a number of key reasons why the platform has floundered thus far: High price of entry, high system weight, meager system/video performance and poor battery life. Until these issues are addressed, sales may never take off for the platform.

Samsung is addressing three of the four above issues with its Q1 Ultra. Samsung has managed to lower the weight of its UMPC from 1.7 pounds for the Q1 to 1.5 pounds for the Q1 Ultra. The Q1 offers an 800MHz Core 2-based processor and Intel's 965 chipset to boost overall system performance. And lastly, battery life has been boosted from roughly 2.5 hours to 3.5 hours (6 hours with the extended battery pack).

Samsung still hasn't addressed the issue of pricing, however. The Q1 Ultra is expected to retail for around $1,200 USD when it is released. That's still a far cry from the low of $599 that Microsoft envisioned when it created the UMPC sector and is roughly the same price as a first generation Q1 with a 1.0GHz Pentium M 723 processor.

Acer is less than optimistic about the current state of affairs with the UMPC platform. As it stands, the company is still taking a "wait and see" approach to the platform.

"If you think about the ultramobile PC, you need first of all battery life that is like a telephone. with a telephone, you have 12 or 15 hours of battery life without a problem," said Acer president Gianfranco Lanci. "We need to wait another 18 months or 24 months before this is ready," he said.

Lanci also points to the subpar graphics available with most UMPCs. "You have very good graphics on the notebooks, but you also need very good graphics on the ultramobile PC."

Finally, Lanci points to the need for inexpensive 3G connectivity options. The Samsung Q1 Ultra throws not only WiFi and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR at the user, but also WiBRO (the mobile version of WiMAX) and HSDPA connectivity. "[3G and WiMAX] must be available, but at an affordable price, otherwise people won't use it."

The next few months should be rather interesting as we are sure to see more second generation devices announced. So far it seems that UMPCs have taken one step forward with the Samsung Q1 Ultra and one step backward with the new Asus T83 UMPC, which looks more like a miniature Tablet PC than a UMPC. The T83 in most respects is not as evolved as its R2H predecessor: Asus managed to launch a device that is larger, heavier, slower and has less features than the device that proceeded it.

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Who uses these??
By alienbibin on 3/21/2007 12:56:17 AM , Rating: 4
He says the UMPC falls in between a laptop and a mobile phone. In my opinion it lacks the qualities of both. As its obvious that it cannot give u the processing power and display of that of a laptop as well as it cant offer the portability of a mobile phone. This maybe the reason why this sector has not flourished!

RE: Who uses these??
By Alaa on 3/21/2007 1:58:37 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly! UMPCs are still somehow big with lesser functionality than a why should I buy this over a laptop?? or even a tablet!!?

RE: Who uses these??
By Chadder007 on 3/21/2007 2:40:45 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Why not just use a Tablet PC?

RE: Who uses these??
By spartan014 on 3/22/2007 5:03:12 AM , Rating: 2
What it needs is more than just a new name for a bloated PDA.

To be appealing, it needs some functionality that would be exclusive to a UMPC. Anyone already owning a laptop and a cellphone can easily chose to not have one of these. Why dish out another 1200 dollars?

Look how the iPhone captured everyone's attention with a single demo six months prior to its launch.. If these UMPC's had at least one innovative feature capable of turning a few heads, they'd sell more..

RE: Who uses these??
By noirsoft on 3/22/2007 12:54:20 PM , Rating: 2
Of course, Steve Jobs could pull a polished turd out of his pocket at a MacWorld and everyone would call it "An innovative new multimedia device with an intuitive interface"

Back on topic, the PocketPC took several revisions before it began to take off against Palm (and it took Palm dropping the ball as well) -- I imagine the UMPC will eventually find its niche and hardware better geared towards that market, assuming enough manufacturers stick it out.

RE: Who uses these??
By Triring on 3/21/2007 2:30:47 AM , Rating: 4
I think this thing is ahead of it's time and needs more tweeking. The back light for the monitor should be changed into white LEDs and apply larger SSD.
When wireless access points becomes more available in public places it can act as a great tool for skype recievers for visual connections.
It also can act as a home automation control terminal like Harmony if companies pitch in and provide infra red keys on the web.
As for gaming if you look at Sony's PSP or Nitendo's DS Lite success I think it has more to offer then those proprietary hardwares.
It works great as a PDA.

RE: Who uses these??
By Lazarus Dark on 3/21/2007 5:44:20 AM , Rating: 2
I was thinking the big thing missing from these is linux. Of course MS wants to sell you another copy of vista but I think linux would work much better, the linux community should start on a new distro specifically for umpc's with full driver support (their are a limited number of umpc's and they are not upgradeable/configurable so it shouldn't be too difficult). Linux would run smoother on the lower speed hardware and most especially I think more uses would open up for umpc's and new applications for them.

But that aside, if the price came to say 600, I would jump on it. I never carry my laptop around because it's too bulky. Phones are too small and awkward for anything other than talking in my opinion. But there are times I wish I had a medium sized device for some quick web browsing or for playing a short vid. A umpc with a 64gb ssd would make a perfect pmp for music and video. Home automation sounds interesting too. New uses like video calls over wifi.

So, I could get a phone, pmp, home automation remote, and tablet pc for a couple thousand OR I could get a umpc for <1000 with all the functionality in one device. Hmmm. Doesn't sound so useless or overpriced in that context, does it?

RE: Who uses these??
By Triring on 3/21/2007 9:36:12 AM , Rating: 2
It may sound cheesy but with a built-in vid cam and mic. on these you can actually use them like those recording devices that comes out on Star Trek.
Record visual logs instead of writing them.

It's just a matter of developing new applications for these devices.

RE: Who uses these??
By cheetah2k on 3/21/2007 11:18:44 PM , Rating: 2
You know, the reason why these aren't popular, is because none of the manufacturers are actually listening to industry and user requirements

Until then, they will be a fraking waste of mulah

RE: Who uses these??
By kibets on 3/21/2007 6:37:13 AM , Rating: 2
I use one, perfect if you spend a lot of time in airports and hotels! Fits perfectly in my carry on bag and is great for browsing the net while waiting in long check in lines. A laptop would be akward and clumsy.

Outside of this, not sure who uses them. I have never seen one besides the one I own. And i will be popoping for the Q1 Ultra even at $1200 it is too sexy!

Sony Should be on this
By Ebbyman on 3/22/2007 9:45:09 AM , Rating: 2
I will note upfront that I am not a Sony fanatic or anything. I just think Sony should use the UMPC as a concept for a PSP like device. When I travel, mostly for business, I carry a laptop and my PSP. My laptop is locked down by the Company and I cannot watch DVDs on it. I know it is pretty sad. However, I use my PSP for the games and movies. I have a bunch of UMDs, but I don't buy anymore because they are limited to only the PSP. So I don't want to commit any more cash to them, even though the quality is nice. I do the ripping and encoding of DVDs, which is less enjoyable and a practice of patience more often than not.

However, despite what other posters have noted, this thing should focus on gaming. Think about it. It takes little processing power to do most Office applications. My wife still uses a 350 pentium 2 laptop for most of her work and uses our wireless router to research on the internet. This is usually while I am playing BF2142 :-) . But, she has no complaints about because it works fine.

I think that if they designed the UMPC to power gaming, the office apps are other stuff are in the bag. This way you are tapping more markets. You have the business traveler who wants the business apps so they can plug this thing to a projector to present something and you have the gamer who can play the latest games with a nicer screen and more powerful. Then you have both like myself. Other markets? College kids. Make a small docking station that can power a keyboard, mouse, a small flat panel screen, and printer. The kid could still watch movies, via UMD (resolution might be an issue but I am brainstorming), play games, hit the internet, e-mail all sorts of stuff. Now, he/she is taking up less space in an already small room and has a light UMPC to trek around. I think Samsungs Q1 is attractive enough to appeal to both business men and gamers. It is a nice looking design. I think the key for manufacturers would be to make one design that is pleasing to almost everybody to save costs.

Cost too high? Get licensing fees for the games. This is what the consoles and portable gaming devices do anyway. Get extra cash from the UMDs. For Sony, license the UMD tech out for these and other applications.

I am sure there are other scenarios, but I think this device has a boatload of potential. I like the concept, but have the same reservations noted in this forum about price and sort of limited use.

RE: Sony Should be on this
By Brandon Hill on 3/22/2007 11:17:21 AM , Rating: 2
You make it appeal to gamers and give it the ability to play decent games on a PC platform and the battery life gets shot all to hell.

RE: Sony Should be on this
By Ebbyman on 3/22/2007 2:32:22 PM , Rating: 2
When I wrote the post, my gaming suggestion baked in improved battery life since it is apparently bad to begin with. I fly coast to coast often and would need at least 5 hours of play time whether movies or games. I wonder if it would be possible for the games to ship with a 2 modes. Maybe a desktop mode when auxiliary power is plugged in and a portable mode. I just think overall that adding the gaming element would increase the possible markets the machine could be targeted to. Heck, I might even buy one at a higher price point.

PS. If Sony or other manufacturers are listening, make sure the darned things plays most video clips. Thank you.

RE: Sony Should be on this
By drex3 on 3/23/2007 7:03:54 AM , Rating: 2

sony ux series??????? i think sony has cornered the market on this...

Lower the damn price
By osalcido on 3/21/2007 12:47:33 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not going to pay MORE money for SLOWER hardware.... i don't care how small it is. These UMPCs have the performance of the lowest end dell laptops right now and should be priced accordingly (650$ish)

RE: Lower the damn price
By Yawgm0th on 3/21/2007 3:47:55 AM , Rating: 2
You pay more for a laptop than a desktop, and laptop hardware is much slower. This is the exact same concept. I'm not saying I plan on getting a UMPC, but your logic is quite flawed.

RE: Lower the damn price
By osalcido on 3/21/2007 3:13:30 PM , Rating: 1
umm no....with a laptop you're paying for the assorted accessories (including expensive battery) and cpus that can run on low-voltage (which have lower yields than desktop cpus), special ram, etc.

the umpcs have all the same components, just slightly smaller and with much crappier performance (they're using older laptop technology such as celeron-M)

Smartphones are killing UMPC
By encryptkeeper on 3/21/2007 9:51:40 AM , Rating: 2
Who the hell wants something less powerful than a laptop (or tablet) and more powerful than a smartphone (but doesn't have the fucking ability to CALL SOMEONE). Companies need to just stop trying to develop UMPCs as it's just going to cost them money. Smartphones really are the way to go. My buddy has one and I'd choose that over a UMPC. Price is another thing killing these things. People would rather spend that 1200 on a laptop that is slightly larger and more powerful than a UMPC.

By Brandon Hill on 3/21/2007 10:05:39 AM , Rating: 2
To be fair, I would fall into this category. I'm one that has a general distaste for smartphones. I prefer my phones small and lightweight so that it fits in my pocket without weighing me down. I can do without the small 3.5" screen and subpar "imitation" Office applications.

I prefer my phone to be a phone...not a do it all device.

As for UMPCs, the form-factor appeals greatly to me, but the price just needs to come down. I currently have a 14" notebook, but it is loud, heavy and hot. It cost me $1,300 and has a 2.0GHz C2D processor, 2GB RAM, 120GB HDD and a Radeon X1700.

I bought it to be "futureproof" for the next year and a half or so, but to tell you the truth, I can do without the extra power. With my daily Windows Vista work load, the processor runs at 1GHz 95% of the time and I don't even game with my Radeon X1700.

Carrying it around to trade shows along with a D-SLR camera can get a bit tiring as well. Having a smaller sub 2-pound device that has full Windows compatibility while being relatively cool, quiet and capable is very appealing.

Now if they could just work on the pricing...

By feelingshorter on 3/21/2007 1:57:13 AM , Rating: 2
Asus managed to launch a device that is larger, heavier, slower and has less features than the device that proceeded it.

That depends on what you want. The device has better battery life and therefore has to be slower. I believe it is a good idea actually. If your on a business trip and don't want to carry around a heavy laptop, then these things would make a great replacement. Even a 5 pound laptop is annoying to carry around in a school, much less traveling far. These devices are a mere ~2 pounds. You can do the basic word/excel/power point, and thats all I would need.

By ksherman on 3/21/2007 8:35:45 AM , Rating: 2
What exactly is going on with WiMAX? Intel seems to be the only one talking about WiMAX. Who is providing service? When is it supposed to be availible? How much?

By sprockkets on 3/21/2007 9:13:56 AM , Rating: 2
Having a 10inch screen portable laptop is small enough for me.

It is nice that they are trying to make a device that fits all and does all, but that will not happen anytime soon.

Niche Markets...
By Danseur on 3/21/2007 11:42:10 AM , Rating: 2
I've used the FlipStart and the Samsung, but what I really need is a UMPC with 1394 available without having to use a power adapter and docking station (Sony). I'd buy 10 this week is someone had it. USB won't do it. If anyone knows of this Holy Grail....

By VooDooAddict on 3/21/2007 5:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
95% of what I do it's far more economical to have a desktop then a high end laptop, esp considering 95% of the time I'm at a desk anyway.

If UMPCs actually hit the $600 price point with good battery life weight and size. I'd stop using my old Treo phone and get a ultra thin Cell phone with the UMPC.

I don't need a power house
By paulsiu on 3/22/2007 6:57:21 AM , Rating: 2
If I wanted portability, I would have stuck with a PDA or one of the smartphones. If I wanted power, I would have gotten a laptop. In general, I think the niche would be a device with enough power to surf the net, email, and word processing. This mean something like a PDA in power, but with a larger screen, a cheap price, and a battery life.

How much? I like it to be under $400 and have a battery life of 10 hours or so. There's already a laptop in development for third world call OLPC with a battery life of 10 hour+, with a manual recharger and a screen with 1280x800 in black and white mode. Why can't we do a variation of that?

Need Blu-ray, Gears of War or something like that
By xuimod on 3/21/07, Rating: -1
By jkresh on 3/21/2007 1:30:48 AM , Rating: 2
what article are your replying to? UMPC is not a console and not meant for gaming (despite the early add with halo on one) its a smaller subnotebook or a large pda capable of running vista, this has nothing to do with the ps3 or xbox360.

By darkpaw on 3/21/2007 8:47:34 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention MS doesn't do anything regarding the hardware or pricing (other then the standard windows fee). Thats completely up to the mfgs just like any other PC.

By MobileZone on 3/22/2007 2:24:20 AM , Rating: 2
Are you on drugs or something?

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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