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Intel MID prototype

User interface

RedFlag MIDINUX Overview
Intel offers up cheaper, simpler mobile platform for consumers

Just over a year ago, Microsoft and Intel announced the Origami platform would lay the foundation for Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs). UMPCs were supposed to retail for between $599 to $999 and were based around the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. "We believe that (ultra-mobile PCs) will eventually become as indispensable and ubiquitous as the mobile phone today," said Microsoft VP Bill Mitchell in March of 2006.

The prices never did quite dip into the $599 USD range and UMPCs never did quite live up to initial sales forecasts (Samsung has sold fewer than 100,000 units of its Q1), but the market is still pushing forward. As manufacturers like Samsung, Asus and HTC are working on second generation UMPC designs which run on Windows Vista, it looks as though Intel is looking to take the "bigger than a Smartphone, smaller than a laptop" sector in a different direction. Intel posted two slides on its website before the IDF Beijing tradeshow, which detail the new Mobile Internet Device (MID) platform.

Intel is targeting the MID platform, codename McCaslin, to appeal more to the consumer market. Most UMPCs are priced out of the typical consumer market -- with prices ranging from around $900 to $1,800 -- and end up being purchased by business professionals instead of the average user who has been spoiled by $500 laptops and carrier-subsidized Smartphones.

In order to reach a lower price point, MIDs will feature a simplified, embedded Linux operating system and smaller 4" to 6" touch screen displays (800x480 to 1024x600). Processing power will come from a Stealey processor running at 600MHz to 800MHz while WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G HSDPA connectivity will also be included.

The footprint for the Linux-based operating system will be around 512MB and will be manageable with just 256MB of main memory. Intel pegs cold boot times at 20 seconds, resume from hibernate at 10 seconds and resume from standby at 5 seconds.

Intel has split the MID platform into three categories: Stay in Touch, Be Entertained and Access Info & Locate. Stay in Touch devices will be optimized for VoIP, email, instant messaging and have the ability to take pictures and record video. Be Entertained devices will feature support for streaming video (with wide codec support), gaming, Mobile TV, music playback and will have optional multimedia docks. Access Info & Locate devices will be targeted more towards mobile GPS navigation, real-time Points of Interest (POI) database along with local search and services.

Intel has not released any targets for battery life, nor has it announced any pricing parameters for MIDs. It's pretty safe to assume, however, that prices should fall well below the $1,000 mark and that battery life should be greatly improved over first generation UMPCs.

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User interface
By Hare on 4/16/2007 12:11:39 PM , Rating: 4
Looks a lot like the interface used in Apples iPhone...

RE: User interface
By Flunk on 4/16/2007 1:58:44 PM , Rating: 2
The shiny icons on a dark backdrop certainly do.

RE: User interface
By Hare on 4/16/2007 4:19:55 PM , Rating: 2
Funny. Someone downrated me. I'm curious, why?

Let go of the anger. Anger leads to the dark side...

RE: User interface
By nerdye on 4/16/2007 8:54:15 PM , Rating: 3
I bumped you back up to 2 point score because I agree with you, it does look similar to the iPhone's interface.

RE: User interface
By TomZ on 4/17/2007 10:56:48 AM , Rating: 2
Why? Because it uses a color LCD, has a touch-screen interface, and colorful icons and background? That's what all current-gen products like this look like.

RE: User interface
By Hare on 4/17/2007 12:25:29 PM , Rating: 2
We were talking about the GUI !

And yes it has a lot in common with the iPhone interface. This thing has a Apple Safari icon (the same used on the iphone). The "taskbar" is pretty much the same and the top of the screen is also the same (including colors, excluding few propriety icons). This must be a mock up GUI.

about time
By Moishe on 4/16/2007 1:08:11 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with the UMPC is that the cost makes it hard to justify for all but the people who have plenty of money and very specific needs.
In order for us to get to a time where most people just own one and do most of their computing on it, it'll need to be in the $100-$400 price range and do all the basic stuff we need.

The fact that Intel has split them up into categories is very smart. Right now if you throw all the features into one package it's extremely expensive. We will get full featured and affordable eventually, but until then we need devices that meet needs without the need to pay for frills. they need to provide the basics for the frugal and the flashy stuff for the people with money to spend.

I'm not sure why pocket/palm PC makers can't just make a "larger" version of their product. This is exactly what we're seeing here, a large palm PC in a slightly different layout. On the other hand, why do people like Sony make amazingly cool tiny laptops that are hugely expensive but they don't make tiny cheap ones (same thing minus the raw power and without the billion expensive features).

RE: about time
By KnightBreed on 4/16/2007 1:55:00 PM , Rating: 2
On the other hand, why do people like Sony make amazingly cool tiny laptops that are hugely expensive but they don't make tiny cheap ones (same thing minus the raw power and without the billion expensive features).

Profit margins, I'd wager.

RE: about time
By Moishe on 4/16/2007 2:13:48 PM , Rating: 2
so... there is more of a market for the expensive ones? I know the market for those has to be niche. You'd think there would be just as much money in a cheap piece of hardware without the frills.

RE: about time
By fic2 on 4/16/2007 7:36:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah. I'd probably buy one for travel if I could browse and watch a dvds, but I don't think I'd spend more than a couple hundred $$. I already have a laptop so don't really see much of a point in buying a smaller, stripped down version.

RE: about time
By fic2 on 4/16/2007 7:39:11 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, also shocked that it doesn't have the MS tax ($$ for the OS, $$ for the larger HD, $$ for the faster cpu, $$ for the more memory, $$ for the upgraded graphics).

By sprockkets on 4/16/2007 3:27:13 PM , Rating: 2
Why not just work with Nokia and their tablets? Seems like that is the market you are focusing on here.

Video-friendly requirement
By flipsu5 on 4/16/2007 11:56:17 PM , Rating: 2
Being video-friendly is a requirement that could constrain how small and light and low-power these can be. How small and dim can a good video screen be? Not much.

It is not going to work.
By pugster on 4/17/2007 3:27:58 PM , Rating: 2
People want an umpc because they want to run windows software on a size of a umpc. Unfortunately, linux os is not going to cut it. Microsoft can't create some kind of stripped down version of windows vista or a modified version of windows 2000 that will run with lower hardware requirement at a lower price.

OSS cell phone?
By Talcite on 4/16/2007 6:53:05 PM , Rating: 1
If you think this resembles the iPhone...

What about the OSS phone coming out soon? This MID system practically copies the phone 0.o.

Cell phone connectivity, Linux kernel, flash memory. I don't see a difference between the two. It's also really cheap like the OSS phone.

By encryptkeeper on 4/17/2007 10:44:30 AM , Rating: 1
Why won't they realize there isn't any room for these devices. Even if they price them to the 2-300 dollar range, people will simply buy smart phones so they can have the ability to use the phone. Stop creating dead horses to beat Intel! i.e., BTX technology, Intel Viiv, Verified by Intel, Vpro technology...Just stick to making PROCESSORS.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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