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

March 8, 2007

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
u50-with-keyboard.jpg

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
sony-vgn-ux50.jpg

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

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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 Experienceâ„¢ 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)
770_pro.jpg

Nokia 800
n800.jpg

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.

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My Brando MP4 Watch: It plays videos, photos, music and records audio…and I keep forgetting it also tells the time

January 16, 2007

The Brando MP4 Watch – This is one of my first Christmas holiday gadget purchases…I love the fun and funky orange colour and the portability of this all-in-one media player. I don’t need to carry my ipod with me everywhere I go now to listen to music or watch some video clips on the go…it can also act as a spy device because I can record conversations without anyone knowing 😀

And don’t be swayed by any negative comments you may find on the Net with converting your MP4 files to NXV format or jpeg files to RAW format in order to play your video clips and photos. The conversion software it comes with makes it easy to convert your photo, music, and video files in order to play them on this watch…I didn’t have any problems with the conversion.

The watch comes in either 1 or 2 GB versions, and in black or orange colours. I bought the funky orange 1GB model for just US$100, which is quite cheap for a watch considering it can do so much more than just tell the time. The 2GB version costs US$140, but I thought the 1 GB was good enough for me, as I’ve loaded a couple of videos and photos on the watch so far and still have plenty of space left for loading more media.

The screen size is too small to watch full movies on, so I don’t know why some people have been complaining that the NXV conversion inflates the file size too much to load a movie. It’s not meant for watching movies, but just for sharing some video clips taken with your digital camera. Get a real PMP for watching movies like an Archos media player (I got the 1st generation model, but just use it as an extra hard drive now), or get the iPhone that just came out, or even wait for the rumored full-screen iPod Video to come out soon.

mp4-watch_buddy.jpgmp4-watch-time.jpg


Sony Mylo: My life online…but only when there’s wifi.

November 20, 2006

Move over T-Mobile Sidekick 3…here comes the Sony Mylo, which looks like a sleeker version of the Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable). The Mylo aka “My life online”, released last September, is geared towards the youth market, and competes with T-Mobile’s “Hiptop” or “Sidekick”, and Nokia’s 770. The Mylo allows you to get connected online with friends by using the pre-loaded Instant Messaging and VoIP services: Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, and Skype. You can surf the Net with the Opera Browser via its built in Wifi, and also play your music and videos with its MP3 and MP4 Video features with almost 1 gig of storage space. But it lacks the 1.3 MP camera that the latest Sidekick 3 has, and doesn’t operate with a cell phone plan. So the only way you can make calls is through VoIP using the pre-loaded Skype…yet, that’s only when you can find a wifi hotspot. Well, at least the calls will be free! But then will all this be worth its hefty US$350 price tag? Ahh, if only I lived in Frederickton, New Brunswick with free city-wide wifi!

Still, I think the Mylo is one of the coolest looking devices that I’ve seen from Sony in a while, and hoping that its price will drop soon, because unless you’re living in a predominantly wified city, it will just end up being an overpriced MP3/Video player since you won’t be able to use its main communication features wherever you go.

Sony Mylo-Palm-sized

Sony Mylo White