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UMPC v2 roundup: the dawn of Vistagami


The UMPC is a relative no-show here at CES compared to its viral, CeBIT 2006 origins. Still, we managed to track down and get up close and personal with devices like the Kohjinsha SA1F00A, Samsung PH-P9000, OQO Model 02, and Medion and even checked a preview of the new Origami Experience UI for Vista. HTC's UMPC, which may or not be the Athena, is absent but there's still hope for a formal announcement in March at the CTIA wireless show. In a surreal moment, we even witnessed a visibly shaken Intel exec demonstrating "Yahoo! Go for UMPC" to Yahoo's CFO while a VIA exec (Intel's biggest competition on this platform) quietly snaked through the crowd nearby. Only at CES, friends. We also managed to extract the UMPC v2 reference designs from the recessed bowels of Intel -- displayed almost as an afterthought, not a highlight. The verdict? Vista on these new UMPCs coupled with the new Origami Experience UI is a big step in the right direction. The "Yahoo UMPC" reference design we saw at Intel's IDF felt very solid in the hand, and features a well positioned thumbpad we found easy to use while holding the device two handed -- a design which might have a chance of success if picked up by an OEM. Intel also has a few new reference designs under glass: a chubby, slim-screened slider and another perched in a fat brown media dock with integrated DVD and AV outs. The Medion? Forget it, the keyboard is plain and simply, unusable and the device felt poorly engineered. Word is that Intel will have their new, ultra-low power mobile processor for these v2 UMPCs ready before the end of Q2. That, coupled with Vistagami might finally give the platform a fighting chance this summer. Check the gallery for plenty of UMPC action.

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