Right now the systems come with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless and have two USB ports for keyboards, monitors, etc. They run Windows XP.
One of the systems on display at the Intel conference seemed to have given up the ghost, but the others were responding quickly to stylus requests. I think the 3-foot torture test drop off a table would have been fatal, but I dont know for sure. The boxes are PC OEM cool, which means nice in an industrial design sort of way, but not in the Apple league.
Longer battery life, proven ruggedness and lots of connectivity options for an always-on computer experience are going to be required. The pricing seems to be hovering in the $500 and up range, which seems high, as full-featured laptops are starting to skirt that range.
The corporate buyer. So are the UMPCs a consumer product only? Not really, said Graff. He said the UMPC will work well as a companion device for the mobile knowledge worker and in vertical industries, where the touchpad input and smaller form factor are important.
The bet on the UMPC seems to come down to three areas: that the price can be brought down to be appealing as an alternative to laptops, that the software can provide the full computing and browser experience that will stay out of reach of phones and PDAs, and that communication can be upgraded to provide an always-on experience for that full browser experience.
This bet will still require a lot of technical, marketing and application development to pay off.
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Since 1996, Eric Lundquist has been Editor in Chief of eWEEK, which includes domestic, international and online editions. As eWEEK's EIC, Lundquist oversees a staff of nearly 40 editors, reporters and Labs analysts covering product, services and companies in the high-technology community. He is a frequent speaker at industry gatherings and user events and sits on numerous advisory boards. Eric writes the popular weekly column, 'Up Front,' and he is a confidant of eWEEK's Spencer F. Katt gossip columnist.