Friday, March 10, 2006

The Ultra Mobile PC: Is it Needed?

The Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) is a new category of mobile devices optimized for specific on-the-go usage while providing the capability and versatility of a PC. UMPC devices are small enough to carry, a long battery life, have multiple wireless options to be connected anytime, and location aware so they can adapt.

The hope of the UMPC is to allow individuals to access online games, videos, and music with the quality obtained in front of a wired PC. The UMPC also connects people via email, VoIP, instant and text messaging. The UMPC platform is also expected to have GPS capabilities which allow it to recognize its whereabouts and provide local information.

The first of these devices to be marketed under the Microsoft Origami label were finally unveiled at the CeBIT trade show. The show had devices built by Samsung, ASUS, and Founder on display. The technology was also discussed at the Intel Developer's Forum.

The concept is built on top of the Windows XP operating system, has a larger screen than a handheld but smaller than a notebook PC screen. Origami devices won't fit in the pocket but into the smallest of backpacks. The goal is to create a device that could eventually sell for $600 or less and capable of supporting features like GPS, Bluetooth, 3G cellular technology and Wi-Fi. It features small and lightweight hardware designs coupled with the full functionality of a Microsoft Windows-based PC and a choice of input options including touch-screen.

The size of the platform fits in between a tablet PC and a Sony PSP. Functionally, it fits in between a laptop and a high end PDA. The problem with this device right now is that everyone who might buy it already has a device with the basic capabilities that is working just fine.

The challenge to this product will be convincing people that both the devices and the way they are currenting doing things are inferior. Current mobile device users (PSA's, Blackberries) will look at the device and say it is too big since they are looking for a small device that fits in their pocket. Since it does not run the full version of Windows XP, laptop/tablet users will find that it may not have enough processing capability.

It may, however, be a form factor that would be very attractive in some applications, such as a physician making rounds in a hospital. It would have a large enough screen to view radiology images and test results without lugging a tablet around. Sphere: Related Content

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