Sony VAIO UX devices land in reviewers' hands

The Sony VAIO UX ultra-portable PC packs a lot in a small form factor, but is there a market for these types of full blown Windows machines?
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

James Kendrick and Marc Orchant had a couple of discussions, in March and just a couple days ago on the UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) and now James has the Sony VAIO UX50 under review. The VAIO UX series devices are not actually official UMPC devices because they do not run the Tablet PC OS and some of their specifications do not comply with the Microsoft UMPC standards. James posted a long unboxing video just to whet your appetite for this latest device. My buddy Reggie also picked up a UX50 and posted tons of unboxing pics. Both of these devices were provided by the U.S. import company, Dynamism who is also delivering a Samsung Q1 to me today to check out for a week or so.

The Sony VAIO UX series devices are rather unique micro PCs, Dynamism calls them ultraportable PCs, in that they have a thumb keyboard under a slide-up high resolution 4.5 inch 1024x600 display. The UX180P model will also come with integrated phone functionality for GSM/EDGE connections and should be available in the U.S. in July. The UX series devices run Windows XP (not the Tablet Edition) and contain Intel Core Solo processors, 30GB hard drives, 512MB RAM, and integrated WiFi and Bluetooth radios. The lowest priced model is the UX180P and that one is priced at US$1,799. Other options are a Compact Flash slot and different keyboard configurations. The most expensive one with a CF slot and full English keyboard comes in at US$2,199.

I have been seriously considering a purchase of a UMPC or ultraportable PC and as a previous Sony CLIE UX50 fan the Sony VAIO UX series is intriguing. I want something to run MindManager Pro, Office applications, and my engineering software while out in the field, but the 4.5 inch display on this device may be too small for my needs. The UMPCs have lower native resolution displays (800x480 pixels), but they are larger at 7 inches. UMPCs are also priced at about half the cost of these UX models.

There has been lots of discussion on whether or not the UMPC/ultraportable PC platform fills a need or is a platform looking for somewhere to fit in. I have been able to make a PDA fit most of my mobile needs when I am away from a desktop or laptop, but there has always been compromises made and now with these fully functional Windows machines I think all my needs could be met on the go. If you don't have a need for graphics intensive applications, these devices could serve as your only computer with a good docking solution as well. One danger with a full Windows computer getting this small though is security and theft so it is extremely important that people keep these devices close to them and try to avoid putting information that could cause problems if compromised.

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