Dialogue Box 9: Putting the 'Um...' in UMPC

Dialogue Box 9: Putting the 'Um...' in UMPC

Summary: The first ultra-mobile PCs got roundly ridiculed for, well, everything. Now the second generation is out on the street — and in the Dialogue Box studio

TOPICS: After Hours

How fantastic! A full-featured PC squeezed into a hand-held box. Running Vista. With a tiny keyboard. What could possibly go wrong? The Axis of Awesome knows!

Topic: After Hours

Rupert Goodwins

About Rupert Goodwins

Rupert started off as a nerdy lad expecting to be an electronics engineer, but having tried it for a while discovered that journalism was more fun. He ended up on PC Magazine in the early '90s, before that evolved into ZDNet UK - and Rupert evolved with them into an online journalist.


Charles has been in tech publishing since the late 1980s, starting with Reed's Practical Computing, then moving to Ziff-Davis to help launch the UK version of PC Magazine in 1992. ZDNet came looking for a Reviews Editor in 2000, and he's been here ever since.

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  • UMPC Usage

    I thought I would post a quick reply to your video. I have been using a Samsung Q1 for over a year now as a companion device and I find it very useful. I am currently on a trip to Hawaii and here is how I have used my device. My daughter watched three movies on the flight over because my extended battery lasts over 8 hours. My itinerary is in Onenote including maps and screen clippings. I mounted the Q1 in the rental car paired it via bluetooth to my GPS to navigate to our condo. Every morning I use it to terminal into my office computer to check email and manage projects. I have taken it down to the pool and caught up on a few blogs, listened to a few audio books, and read an ebook. If I really need to type a long document or email, I pop open my bluetooth keyboard and bang it out. If you call all of that useless, I do not know what to say. I agree that the UMPC is not for everyone, just like a $3,000 Alienware laptop that weighs 10 pounds is not right for everyone. Finally, I wrote this entire response in a recliner by the beach just using the handwriting recognition in under five minutes.
  • Companion device?

    You mention that you use your Q1 as a 'companion device' -- do you mean that it's a companion to a regular notebook computer? If so, it's an expensive companion! Our comments in the video were based on the assumption that the Q1 (Ultra) is the user's only system. Although we like the Q1's design, we found its utility to be severely curtailed by the lack of a proper keyboard and the fact that it runs Windows Vista, which places far too heavy a burden on the hardware. If you add a Bluetooth keyboard, all you've got is an underpowered and somewhat unwieldy
    Charles McLellan
  • Companion Device


    I would agree that this would not make the best device for someone without a desktop or laptop.Let me clarify companion device.At my office I have a $3,000 Toshiba laptop with a dedicated 128 MB graphics card and gigs of ram. I use that machine for website design, photo manipulation, video editing and running my accounting software. Now, I would never try to run all of those programs on my Samsung Q1, but that is not what it was made for. As wonderful as the power and speed is with the Toshiba, it also has it's shortcomings. With two batteries, I still only get 2 to 2.5 hours of work out of it. It also weighs in over 6 lbs. For me these two factors make it nearly useless as a laptop but make it a great desktop. Now, if I was sitting in front of a desk all day, I would be set. However, as a consultant, I spend the majority of my day going from client to client. I also spend a good portion of my day in executive meetings where I take reams of notes. This is where the Q1 excels. I have a battery that lasts all day and allows me to take my notes in Onenote which is searchable. If I need to tap into the power of the Toshiba I just terminal in and use the processing power when I need it. I am not suggesting that this device is for everyone, because it clearly is not. However, as a companion device I can tap into the power of my more powerful computer without breaking my back carrying the Toshiba around while constantly looking for a plug. As we all know, when the power runs out, all we are left with is a very expensive paperweight. I do not mean to contradict you, I just wanted readers to see that the UMPC devices can be very useful if you apply it to the right needs and scenarios. I would never condemn a Jaguar Sedan for not winning an off-road rally because that is not what it was designed to do, just like a UMPC was not really designed to be a powerful all-inclusive PC. Finally, as far as price, if you look at some of the PDA phones available today they cost nearly as much as the low end UMPCs but do not have near the functionality. I only hope that this helps some of your readers see the value of a UMPC if it will meet their needs like it meets mine. Keep up the great work, I really do enjoy your videos.