Elonex who I remember as a manufacturer of high end laptops according to the Times will be releasing a £99 umpc laptop at the Education Show later this month.
…it includes a free word processor and spreadsheet, a free web browser and free e-mail software. It has a 7in screen, a rubbery little keyboard and no CD drive. And it all runs on an ageing chip that was designed before its target audience of seven-year-olds were even born.
Seems I am not the only one enamoured with Asus’ tiny little linux based UMPC.
The Asus EEE PC perched on my knee combines GNU software with a Linux kernel powered by an Intel Celeron Mobile Processor to produce a very extraordinary little laptop. It weighs less than a kilogram, starts up from cold in about 12 seconds and shuts down in five. It has no internal hard disk and no CD drive. It offers 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage and a seven-inch display; wireless, dial-out modem and ethernet adaptors are available for networking and internet connections, three USB ports, mini-jack sockets for headphones and microphone, a VGA out, an SD card slot and a built-in webcam. All for about £200 – less than the price of a show, dinner and taxi for two in London’s West End.
The BBC reporting from CES in Las Vegas after talking to the likes of Intel says
The desktop PC’s days of dominance could be numbered as laptops and ultra-mobile PCs begin to reap the benefit of ever greater, and more efficient, computing power.
Are we going to see the end of the desktop PC?
Given a choice I much prefer a desktop over an ultra mobile PC (umpc) for what I would call working (you know writing blog entries, abstracts, reports, long e-mails, etc…)
However when it comes to browsing, video, audio, I am quite happy with a mobile device.
I do like the Sony VAIO UX1XN as it comes (as standard) with a docking station which allows you to use it both as an umpc on the move, then when back in the office, slide it into the docking station and connected to a keyboard, mouse and (large) monitor I have my desktop.
So is the UMPC (and laptops) the future of computing, from the consumers’ perspective (and thus our learners) I think it certainly is.
So there I was looking at my new Samsung Q1 Ultra and seeing how the graphics were working, working on a document and looking at a few things online, when I got called away. Knew I was only going to be a few minutes to just placed the Q1 on the desk and left.
I came back to find that Windows Vista had decided (in my absence) to update Windows, restart, lose my wireless connection and then admit that it had lost the document I was working on and would I like to create a new one!
I do find this very frustrating, if I wanted the Q1 to run itself I would leave it switched on and never use it, however I want to use the Q1 to do stuff, create stuff, read stuff, reflect on stuff. I don’t want the Q1 to try and be nice and update itself in the middle of me doing stuff. I want to retain my wireless connection so I don’t lose my blog entry, or lose the thread of the online discussion I am involved in.
I don’t want software to continually nag me that I haven’t either set it up or registered it, or run it for a while, and I don’t want the software to do it in the middle of me doing stuff.
I don’t want the Q1 to download huge updates whilst I am trying to do stuff online, downloading will slow my internet connection, download updates while I am doing other non-online stuff such as making a cup of tea.
Please just let me do my stuff, don’t do your stuff and pretend mine isn’t important!
I have been playing about with evaluating a Samsung Q1 Ultra over the last couple of weeks. I was trying out Internet Explorer and was surprised to find that the Q1 was not connected to my wireless network. After some investigation I found out was disappointed to find that Windows Vista decided that the best thing it could do was disable the wireless adapter as it had a found a problem with it.
Initially the problem I was having was that the device failed to connect to my wireless network, which surprised me, as I hadn’t really done very much with the Q1 except switch it on! I hadn’t installed any software (or even uninstalled software).
The wireless was on according to the Samsung software, but as far as Windows Vista was concerned there were no networks to connect to.
Very strange, after checking device manager (something I doubt any general user would do) I found that Vista had disabled the wireless adapter because it had found a problem with it. It didn’t tell me what the problem was, but was willing to go online to find a solution (well I would have gone online, but the wireless wasn’t working was it).
There didn’t seem to be any way of re-enabling the wireless adapter. I could have uninstalled it, but I wondered if Vista would let me reinstall the wireless adapter, I was pretty sure it might have got pretty obnoxious about it.
In the end I went with a system restore, something I do like about XP and Vista and restored the Q1 to this morning’s configuration which I know was working, and is working now.
I wonder if it was a Windows Update that caused the problem, I am not totally sure of the cause.
And a day later…
Windows Vista did it again…
Annoying to say the least. Windows Vista on my Q1 Ultra discovered a (so-called) problem with the wireless adapter on the Q1 and decided (without telling me) to disable the wireless and not allow me to renable it at all (well not easily).
In the end I decided against doing a system restore (like what I did before) as obviously some kind of Windows update was causing the problem. This time I removed the adapter from Device Manager and rebooted the Q1 and let Windows reinstall the drivers, which it did without finding anything wrong!
Then it disabled the adapter once more!
I wouldn’t mind so much, but this is a new Q1 and I haven’t done anything except install updates…
Finally a solution which seems to be working, change the drivers for the wireless adapter, I am using version 184.108.40.206 of the Atheros Communications driver which I believe is different to the supplied Windows Vista driver.
Hopefully this will keep the wireless adapter enabled, the Q1 Ultra connected to the internet and me happy.
One of the key issues with any mobile device is text entry, even if all you are entering is a URL.
People seem to be able to use a mobile phone keypad for SMS messages, but more often then not we are talking about phone numbers (easy) and text speech (u no wot i mn). Using any kind of mobile phone keypad for entering an e-mail address or an internet address (URL) can be fraught with difficulty and complexity.
Using a variety of mobile devices recently I have encountered a variety of interesting solutions to the problem of entering text.
I (and the Guardian) weren’t too enamored with the keypad of the Sony VAIO UX1XN but compared to some it’s lovely and really easy to use.
The split keyboard of the Q1 Ultra is in my opinion almost unuseable in comparison, though the tablet entry is much better than the UX1XN – could that be down to the bigger 7″ screen I wonder? The buttons are very small and it’s easy to hit the wrong key.
One of the problems I have with a lot of UMPC devices is when using Tablet PC text entry and handwriting recognition. Whereas most (full size) tablets use a tablet pen and a screen, the UMPC devices use a stylus touch entry.
What this does mean is that if you touch any other part of the screen as you write with a stylus, then that touch counts as a click and your handwriting goes all over the place. With a tablet pen, the screen only responds to the pen, which is nice until you lose the pen (they can be expensive to replace).
After much usage, I have to say I much prefer to use a tablet pen over a stylus.
Text entry on the PSP is to be brutally honest only something you want to do only on the rare occasion. I find the mobile phone type entry somewhat comple, more so if you need to enter numbers at all.
Using the keyboard on the iPod touch (and I guess the iPhone as well) is an interesting experience. It certainly works much better than the dialkeys available on some UMPCs, but again it is all to easy to hit the wrong key as you type something in.
Overall entering text on any mobile device is fraught with difficulty and complexity and the more you use a device the more familar you get with it, the easier it gets and quicker you become.
However if you are using mobile devices with a group who only use the device rarely, then you should consider alternatives to text entry directly onto the mobile device otherwise you may find that your learners start to hate the device rather than use the device for learning.
Use the device where it has strengths such as audio and video, and use other tools such as pen and paper or a computer with a full size keyboard when you want the learner to create a lot of text.
This means that learning scenarios need to be designed to avoid excessive text entry onto a mobile device, and often that means that traditional learning scenarios will not translate easily and simply to a PSP for example.
Think about replacing text entry with an audio or a video recording – the UX1XN and Q1 Ultra both have cameras and microphones which can be used for that, you can also get a camera and microphone for the PSP as well.
It is not essential or necessary for the learner to complete a learning scenario solely on a mobile device, let them use other tools to complete the learning activity, the mobile device should be just the one component that helps build the activity.
Back in August I mentioned how much cheaper the Sony VAIO UX1XN was getting.
When the Sony VAIO UX1XN was released in the UK it commanded a £2,000 price tag. Last month (July) I noticed my local Sony Centre had reduced the price to £1,600. Still expensive, but 20% off is quite a reduction. On Amazon now you can get the UX1XN for just £1,199 which considering the features of the UX1XN (the cameras, flash hdd) makes the UX1XN seem like a reasonable proposition.
Well there has been another price drop.
Sony are now selling the UX1XN for £999, whilst Amazon(through a third party) have it for £899. This is now cheaper than the Samsung Q1 Ultra (the one with the 32GB SSD Hard Drive).
I suspect there will be new UX VAIO soon, but when I don’t know, in the meantime the UX1XN is now getting to be reasonable value for money.
I do like the UX1XN (well apart from Vista blue screening on my way too often), I find it a very neat useful device at meetings and conferences.
A few reviews of the Fujitsu LifeBook U810 Tablet PC have emerged.
This is another one of those UMPC (ultra mobile personal computer) devices which started arriving last year but are now making waves, especially in the mobile learning world. Unlike traditional PDA devices, these usually run a full version of Windows and with appropriate connections can be used with a “normal” monitor, keyboard and mouse, and used as an UMPC when out and about.
Compared to the Samsung Q1 and the Sony UX1XN (which I have used) the battery life on the U810 is much more impressive, over five hours.
I am slightly sceptical Fujitsu devices, I used a p1510 LifeBook Tablet PC in a previous job and was not overly impressed in the main as it got very very hot (and had a poor battery life).
Certainly we are now seeing a lot more UMPC formats now.
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