Most of the Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) have been slab-designs. They’re sort of like PDAs on their side, but bigger and more powerful. Today, ASUS and VIA launched a slightly different twist on the idea, taking the UMPC idea and sticking it into a notebook form factor. ASUS sticks with the UMPC name class with their Eee PC 701 while VIA has whipped up NanoBook Ultra Mobile Device (UMD, ahhh Sony!). In either case, both manufacturers have packed a 7″ wide aspect display into a sub 2lb shell and sporting the all-important internet access through Wi-Fi. VIA’s design goes for their in-house C7-M processor along with 1GB RAM and a 30GB hard drive. ASUS has not detailed the platform that its device is running on. Based on the 512MB DDR2 reference and the fact that it was presented during an Intel keynote, I’d imagine it’s something in the McCaslin family. Battery life is targeted at about 3 hours for the ASUS and over 4 with the VIA. Prices are quite different however. The ASUS is targeted at expanding the number of users connected to the internet and is selling the Eee PC 701 at $199 and $299 price points. VIA’s NanoBook will be around $600.
These two ‘UMPCs’ sort of embody what I was talking about towards the end of a post I wrote about the Palm Foleo. While I still believe the Foleo will be a failure, I also believe there is a market for very small and less powerful laptops in the sub 3lb range mostly used for accessing the internet and word processing. Aside from the relatively small screens on the two devices launched today, they’re just about what I was talking about. The ASUS especially looks enticing. If they work on the platform a bit more and improve battery life and possibly increase the screen size a bit (or more importantly, resolution) I’d definitely be interested. When I’m on the go, I don’t need anything terribly powerful for some internet access and email. These devices fit the bill.