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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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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.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone
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