[Nottingham] Re: UMPC recommendations?

Jim Moore jmthelostpacket at googlemail.com
Tue Aug 5 11:04:16 BST 2008

UMPCs are nice, very pretty and in most cases, extremely light, BUT...

They're just not very rugged.

I think the idea of having something that small that can pretty much 
disappear into your pocket would be a bit extravagant (particularly if 
like the EeePC it has no moving parts) if the unit wasn't built to take 
a couple hard knocks - after all, that's what happens to your wallet 
every time you sit on it!

While I've seen and had a play with an early model 4G EeePC, and 
instantly fell in love with the unit in every aspect of its construction 
and design except for the slightly flimsy hinge, I do prefer the 
slightly heavier, slightly better built and slightly more functional 
Panasonic Toughbook CF-M34GPRS, of which I do actually own one specimen. 
While this isn't quite an UMPC, it does have an armoured magnesium case 
and a seven inch 800x600 /touchscreen/, plus an internal GPRS modem. 
Couple that with full-travel micro keyboard (which is comfortable for 
even me to use which is saying something considering I've got hands that 
could span a piano!), fully waterproof design and built in strap eyes 
and ABS carrying handle makes this a very portable subnote. Secondhand 
market has a few of these dotted about, new ones can still be had, but 
they're a bit more expensive than the Asus jobs (to be expected 
considering these things are built for the battlefield!) so s/h is the 
way to go on them, I think. Tag around £50-£600 depending on source and 
condition, new (if one can be found!) around £1400.

For something a little bigger (hence a little more usable at SVGA 
resolution!), you can't really go wrong with a Dell Latitude C400 (I got 
one of these too). Same weight as the Toughbook (shy of 3lb with 
battery), 12.1" screen, all the usual connections (PCMCIA, USB, dock, 
external optical/floppy port), fairly robust and quick at a full-clock 
1.4GHz PIII (earlier models had a 900 or 1000 PIII). Tag on a 
reconditioned one of these is around the £300 mark with new battery, new 
around £600-£700 depending on spec.

For either of these, give me a yell if you'd like to see my samples (not 
for sale, I'm afraid!) so you can get an idea of subnote vs. ruggedised 
UMPC, and I'll bring them to the next Nav meet, hopefully with fully 
charged batteries(!)



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