Look, it's easy to criticize, and there's plenty of ammunition for that, but instead I've decided to be a little more constructive. So here's the UMPC I wish had been revealed at CeBIT 2006.
And it was,
- Elegant, modern, and shiny. Think Sony or Apple. Small but not too small, and it was all screen -- no real-estate wasted on navigation buttons and joy-sticks. Instead, there were buttons on the side that would trigger onscreen keyboards or softkeys.
- Light and durable. As light as a paperback book, and about as delicate as one. Throw it in a backpack, toss it onto a desk. No problems.
- Whisper quiet while generating almost no heat.
- So energy efficient that its charge lasted just like my phone, at least a day or two of active use, and at least a week if it waited on standby.
- More connected than a Washington insider. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IR, USB 2, GPS -- everything. If there was a signal to get, it got it. And when connected I could of course browse the web and do my emails. Plus of course, a built-in webcam and mike, plus SPDIF, DVI, and TV out.
- Able to play my videos. And my music. And my games.
- WinXP or Vista based, so I could run my applications, and write my own, without having to learn a new language or framework. Hell, I'd even be able to write code on it.
- Chock full of storage and memory. 80Gb hard drive and 1Gb of RAM came standard.
- Fast to load and booted quickly. Very quickly. But of course usually it just went in and out of standby mode -- in less than a second.
- Cheap. Coming in at just under US$500.
The laptop gets saved for activities that need real graphics power, or a real keyboard and mouse setup. The PDA becomes is there when all I'm bringing is what fits in my pocket.
It was, in short, the perfect cross between a PDA and a notebook -- powerful and big enough to do productive work, but small and light enough to carry around with me everywhere.
But this was not to be. Instead we have three machines that won't reduce your laptop dependency one jot, and are destined to be more road-kill than iPod or PSP killer.