Ultra Mobile PCs need better battery life, says Gartner

After ZDNet UK highlighted the short battery life of the first Ultra Mobile PCs, analyst firm Gartner Group has weighed into the debate, saying that Microsoft needs to do better
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) face the same problem as previous tablet PCs in that their battery life is not long enough at the moment for prolonged use, according to analyst house Gartner Group.

The UMPCs, were developed by Microsoft and Intel as part of a project known as Origami. The first examples were displayed at CeBIT this week by manufacturers including Asus, Samsung, and Founder.

"We see it as having promise, but it's still a version one product," said David Mitchell Smith, a Gartner vice-president and fellow. "The Ultra Mobile PC needs to have better battery life to fulfil the vision Microsoft has for it."

Gartner said that power consumption would be brought down with UMPCs using Intel chips, but factors such as the dimensions of the device, heat dissipation and expense conflict with each other, making it hard to estimate how long it would take to make battery life longer.

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"Intel chips will be a factor in bringing power consumption down. I think Intel is moving as fast as it can to do that, but there's always a trade off between form factors, engineering, and price points," said Mitchell.

Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, seems to agree with Gartner. Speaking in April 2005 at the Windows Hardware engineering conference about a similar device, he said: "We want to get down below 2 pounds, as close to 1 pound as we can, get an all-day battery life in this thing. We do believe this is achievable."

Gartner said UMPCs would most likely be used as supplemental devices to people's existing computers.

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