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UMID mBook BZ two-fingers on

Joanna Stern

Oh UMID mBook BZ, it's not easy being the unwanted offspring of a netbook and a MID, is it? Well, it sure isn't easy on us either. After spending a bit of time with the hand-sized device, we just don't really see how anyone could use the small clamshell for more than a few minutes at a time. But hit the break for some hands-on impressions and a video of the $549 lilliputian laptop and decide for yourself.

Gallery: UMID mBook BZ | 19 Photos

All our reservations aside, the mBook BZ is insanely cute. It's no bigger than a small Moleskin notepad, and though it's not small enough to quite fit into a pants pocket, you could very well slide it into a jacket pocket. But the frustrations start when you open up the lid. Very much like the first UMID mBook, the BZ has a 1024x600-resolution, 4.8-inch resistive touchscreen, which was quite a strain on the eyes. Oh and on our index finger, since the touchscreen device doesn't come with a stylus, and we had to use the tip of our finger nail to navigate Windows XP. We did appreciate UMID's large icon interface though, which provides easy access to applications. There's also an optical mouse pad on the right screen bezel and the buttons on the left, but all that pales in comparison to how difficult it's to use the tiny matte keyboard. Because of its cramped size, you can't really fit two hands on it, so our best option was to do the hunt-and-peck typing routine.

Packing a 1.2GHz Atom Z515 CPU and 512MB of RAM, the BZ launched programs fairly quickly, and its battery is said to get seven hours of runtime. Basically the UMID BZ is a computer you can put in a pocket, kind of like the VAIO P Series, but way more uncomfortable. The question is why would you want to do that when you can put a smartphone in there or keep a more comfortable netbook in your bag. This could be why we've never really understood MIDs.

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