A year ago, Microsoft and Intel launched the ultramobile PC, a tablet-like computing device best described as a bit south of a PC and north of a PDA.
The UMPC concept hasn't been met with a lot of enthusiasm. The Samsung Q1, which this PC World piece says is one of the most notable UMPCs, sold less than 100,000 units this year. To make matters worse, there are rumblings that the category just isn't ready. Acer president Gianfranco Lanci said that battery life, graphics and wireless connectivity all need to be improved before the UMPC can compete. So, we suppose, the leather cases and AC adapters are good to go.
We were skeptical about the UMPC from the start. It seemed like a narrow product likely to appeal to tech aficionados. Devices have to move beyond early adopters, of course. The reality may be that those who could benefit aren't the types to take a flyer on something new. It also seemed to be too much like other devices to carve out a niche in an already brutally competitive market.
There is a glimmer of hope, however. The PC World piece says that Samsung is releasing the Q1 Ultra. Last summer, VIA Technologies introduced a chipset that cuts power requirements. More efficient chips would go a long way toward meeting one of the category's major challenges.
Despite this, the reality is that the UMPC category will continue to struggle. Just ask the folks at Acer: The company is waiting until it feels the technology is ready for prime time to introduce a unit.