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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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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 (blog) 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
uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh??????????????????

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


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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