Time to replace my Sony VGN-U50 UMPC…and looking at the options out there

I bought the Sony VGN-U50 UMPC (ultra-mobile PC) in 2004 because it was the smallest and sleekest PC handheld with touch screen back then. The U50 runs on Windows XP Home Edition, has a 900MHz Celeron processor and 256 megs of RAM. The U70 model was also released shortly after and looks the same as the U50, but runs on Windows XP Pro, has a 1GHz Pentium M Centrino processor and 512 megs of RAM.

Sony VGN-U50

But of course the U50 was not available in North America yet, like all the cool Japanese gadgets, so I bought the Japanese version imported from Japan, and I installed the English Windows XP, but it had some bugs in it and now only the Japanese version works. So unless someone can convert my Japanese version to English, I may be tempted to buy a new UMPC soon, since now there are alot more options to choose from, and the most popular ones that I’m eyeing are:

Sony VGN-UX50

This is one of Sony’s latest UMPCs, and it’s smaller than the previous U50/U70 models, and has the same Wifi and Windows XP OS features, yet is also still limited to just the Sony memory cards and not SD cards. But it has these cool new specs:
-Intel Core Solo Ultra Low Voltage 1.0GHz CPU
-30 Gig HDD
-SVGA screen with XBRITE technology for enhance image clarity
-Built-in slide-away blue backlit keyboard,
-Two built-in cameras – one in front for VoIP/video conferencing and one on the back to take pics like a camera.
-optional Bluetooth GPS receiver
-and last but not least – a biometric fingerprint sensor! Very James Bondish!

The Sony VGN-UX50 UMPC is selling for US$1500 and has been out for a while now (so long that a Canadian version, VGN UX380, was also finally released with the same features except for 40 Gig and 1.33 GHz vs. 30Gig HDD and 1.0 GHz of the UX50). But the UX380 costs CDN$2500! The full specs of the UX380 are at the Sony site

But Sony also released upgraded models, the Sony VGN-UX90PS and VGN-UX90S, which have 16 Gig flash-based memory instead of the internal 30Gig HDD of the UX50. Although the Flash versions have less memory, these newer models result in better performance and smoother operation, and can perform some actions 6x faster in Windows applications. Plus, it also the U90 also has built-in mobile TV support. The UX90 launched July 2006 in Japan at US$1800, but there’s no official release in the US yet.

Sony VGN-UX50

Samsung Q1
The US version launched in May 2006, and is the first UMPC developed as part of Microsoft’s Origami Project. It’s selling for around US$900 now, and a few specs are:
-Mobile TV expansion modules
-30 Gig hard drive
-Special software for thumb-typing
-Optional GPS

Check out the full specs at the Samsung site


Samsung though has just announced the Q2, and a preview can already be shown at Engadget

Plus, now that Windows Vista has launched, I’m hoping to test it out on my UMPC first. So I also joined the Microsoft Origami Project community to check out the latest on the improvements being made to the UMPCs, and saw that the Microsoft Origami Experience™ package (a more functional version of the Program Launcher, Vista touch settings, and Sudoku) is now available for a free download (when you upgrade to Vista) for a better UMPC user experience.

Nokia 770 Internet Tablet

I wouldn’t really call this a UMPC, since it doesn’t run on a computer OS such as Windows, but it’s more like a PMP (portable media player), where you can play audio/video files, surf the Net with Wifi, and listen to Internet Radio. So it’s also much cheaper at only US$300 compared to the rest of the UMPCs selling at over US$1000. But i wanted to highlight the Nokia 770 here, since it’s featured as a UMPC on other sites. Plus, Nokia just updated the 770 with the release of the Nokia 800 priced at US$400 with new features like a built-in web camera, microphone for VOIP/video conf. calls, dual memory card slots, stand, and speakers, making for one sleek gadget at US$400, so is worth considering if you don’t need the extra Windows applications on UMPCs.

Nokia 770
(Check out the full specs at the Nokia site)

Nokia 800

I’ll provide a review of the new UMPC or PMP that I may end up getting soon, but since the price tag may ultimately dictate my decison, and that the Samsung Q1 reviews have not been spectacular so far and doesn’t have a built-in keyboard which I prefer for using any Windows applications, I’ll probably be deciding between the Nokia 800 and Sony UX50.


10 Responses to Time to replace my Sony VGN-U50 UMPC…and looking at the options out there

  1. Gadget Girl says:

    I’m thinking of selling my Sony VGN U50. If anyone is interested, let me know.

  2. diptychal says:

    Did you ever end up buying one of these? I’ve had the N800 for less than a year now and it works brilliantly. It’s true that it doesn’t offer everything that UMPC does – but it comes pretty close. There are all sorts of free apps that linux developers have put out for the 770/800/810 and they make a world of a difference.
    It really depends what you want to get out of it – but paired with a bluetooth keyboard, the N800 doesn’t stray far behind a UMPC. The only thing I’d say is a complete let down is the camera. I never use it.

  3. Gadget Girl says:

    I primarily wanted to use my next UMPC or PMP device outside the home, and primarily to surf the web with a bonus of having MS Office apps for work as well, with a slide out keyboard….so really a UMPC rather than a PMP. But have held off for now, since couldn’t really justify it until the price of this category drops or improves with more bells and whistles (such as a full touchscreen interface which seems to be the latest trend in mobile devices) to be really worth the $1800 price level. AFter using the U50, I would prefer to have a built-in keyboard to be truly mobile. But, the latest N810 has one (looks similar to the OQO look now) , so could revisit the PMPs but still have to see if it has enough benefits to make me want to carry this bigger size around when there’s the compact iPod Touch out now, and that I have the LG Viewty for convenient surfing without need for a wifi hotspot.

  4. I’m an origami fan and paper airplanes is one of my favorite forms of the art. It challenges not just your folding skills but also teaches you about aerodynamics. I remember a software called “The Greatest Paper Airplanes”. It teaches how to fold 50 different paper airplanes step by step with instructions and videos. Too bad the software is no longer distributed but there’s a website that teaches how to fold those 50 paper airplanes.

  5. Ryan Tomblin says:

    I hope someone still monitors this. My question is Does anyone still own one of the U50P? I have a U71P, the Japanese version that I have had for years and I downloaded the english drivers for it and it worked and still works great. I finally got it out of the closet and dusted it off and was wanting to sell it but am not sure what I should sell it for. Does anyone have any suggestions or know someone who might be interested? It is in excellent shape as I only used it for about 6 months and then moved on to something else. Any suggestions would be helpful.

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  8. David Velte says:

    I have a brand new with all the accessories Sony VGN-U50 UMPC. It is the Japanesse version and don’t know what to do with it. Suggestions please or maybe a buyer. Thanks.

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