budget UMPC roundup

awesome and smallIf you’re following the gadget-themed blogosphere it should be no surprise to you that 2008 will be the year of the budget UMPC. After Asus launched their original Eee late last year and sold out in 10 minutes consumers have shown that the combination of compact size and compact prize is a hit.

Naturally, everyone is looking to get in on the action and in the next couple of months we should be seeing not only Asus’ own updated Eee pc 900, but pretty much all the big actors are wanting a piece of the action. Dell and Acer have both announced that they’ll be releasing their own takes on the budget laptop concept this year.

Several lesser known (to me anyway) entities are also showing promising concepts. For instance the (perhaps mac-inspired) MSI Wind and the G10IL from ECS (which I always read as geil when I see it mentioned). There are a lot more UMPCportal has a nice list of the top ones (scroll down a bit – it’s on the right side).

The tendency is clear from the first iteration of the Eee. The screens are getting bigger and storage size is creeping upwards as well. Judging by my own experience with the Eee (that I blogged about here) this is a good thing. It’s a pain in the ass to fit your stuff into 4GB of storage and even though purists may see it as a fun exercise, I believe most people will se it as just a hassle that they’d rather be without.

HP released their take on the UMPC last week and it shows great promise (great review here). It’s beautiful, has a useable keyboard, has a bigger screen (8.9″), an awesome resolution, has bluetooth and ample storage built-in so you don’t have to resort to bizarre mods to get it doing what it should be doing out of the box.

Based on my reading on various forums it seems that there’s a front forming on whether or not this is an instance of “feature creeping” or if it’s bringing the product up to snuff. Everyone agrees on the crappiness of the Via C7 processor (hint: it’s about 10% slower than the underclocked Celeron in the Eee).

I like the way this is going. I think my personal sweet spot for buying another one of these after my Eee flop is something like the HP mini. Although I would like a 10″ screen and less Vista. That HP is so sweet it’s keeping me up at night though


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