Ultra mobile PCs unveiled at CeBit in Germany

10th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

10 March 2006, HANOVER/SAN FRANCISCO - Three ultra mobile PCs the size of a paperback book were unveiled Thursday at the CeBit technology trade show after weeks of speculation about the new portable computers.

10 March 2006

HANOVER/SAN FRANCISCO - Three ultra mobile PCs the size of a paperback book were unveiled Thursday at the CeBit technology trade show after weeks of speculation about the new portable computers.

Conceived as a cross between a laptop and a portable media player, the devices from Korean manufacturer Samsung and Chinese companies Asus and Founder weigh less than one kilogram, have a touch screen and cost less than 1,000 dollars.

The devices are powered by Intel Celeron and Pentium M chips and run a mobile version of Windows XP. The next version of Windows Vista will be supported.

The first such devices to hit the market will be the Q1 from Samsung. They will allow users to play movies, games and music, surf the Internet, do email and other common applications.

The Q1 has no built in keyboard but software letter keys that appear on the crisp screen and a stylus to manage most operation. The Q1 can be connected to a keyboard or mouse using the two USB ports or the built-in Bluetooth capability.

The device also includes a wifi card and microphone and can be used to conduct Internet telephone calls. The base unit from Samsung will sell for 600 to 1000 dollars when it becomes available in April.

Microsoft and Intel say the new devices are the first models of a new form factor that could develop into the dominant format for portable computing within a few years. Though too big to fit in a jeans pocket, they can easily slide into most carry bags and would allow people to carry computers when laptops are too bulky or heavy.

Pundits agreed that the nifty new gadgets are a powerful sign of the continuing ability of technology companies to pack powerful machines into ever-smaller packages. But reviewers diverge sharply on whether there will be a mass market for ultra-mobile computers.

"Cool product, but where is the market?" asked PC magazine pundit Michael J Miller. "Even if its a great design, I wonder who will buy it, at least in the short run. Who will want to carry this around all the time? It's just too big."

Trendy gadget website Gizmodo was also unconvinced about the first of the new models.

"Yes, it's small and light. Yes, it runs Windows XP. And no, it isn't very impressive," said the Gizmodo correspondent as he fondled the new device on the trade show floor.

But tech analyst Rob Enderle said that Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, had the concept right and would now concentrate on refinements.

"It's going to take a few versions until this can be a world- killing product, but over time, if it's done right, it could certainly be as big as the PC ever was," Enderle said.

"This is a version-one device, so expect this as a story that will evolve over time," agreed Michael Gartenberg, a Jupiter Research analyst. "They need better battery life. They need higher storage capacities. They need to be smaller and cheaper."

These challenges are all being met by rapidly advancing trends. Just look how expensive and clunky cellphones and laptops used to be just a few years ago, say executives at Microsoft and its partners.

"It really opens up new possibilities for PC use," said Bill Mitchell, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Mobile Platforms Division. "Someday it will be as ubiquitous as the mobile phone."

DPA

Subject: German news

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