Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Ultra-Mobile-PC Goes Mainstream: A Real Change In How We Think About Computers?

The idea has been around forever. Sony, Toshiba, Gateway (2000) and others have been making very small devices that ran the current Microsoft operating system since the early 90's. They go by a few different names (netbook, subnotebook) but UMPC (ultra-mobile PC*) seems to fit and when I say it people know what I mean.

We just got a Dell Mini-9 at work. (http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/laptop-inspiron-9?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19&~oid=us~en~29~laptop-inspiron-9_anav1~~)

For these to have become as popular as they are (what else would put Asus on the map?) I think people have to have actually changed the way they think about computers. The fact that they cost about half as much as a full featured laptop doesn't hurt, but the Newton wasn't expensive either.

My theory is that people are starting to accept that it is neither reasonable nor necessary for a computer to do everything. UMPCs don't do anything like everything but that's OK because they are convenient and efficient for a few things. That's enough, especially at half the cost of a conventional laptop.

*Some sources specify UMPC as being tablet devices and distinct from other subnotebooks and netbooks.

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