First, if you haven't, go read David's review of the first UMPC.
Now, before it starts. This was something in development for a while. Microsoft has a ton of experience with direct input devices like touch screens. Tablet PCs and my own smartphone show this. Samsung has a ton of experience with making small, functional devices like smartphones.
But the UMPC? David's right, it's just there. It does nothing well. Bad battery life, too heavy, a "virtual thumboard" that obliterates the screen, a too-small hard drive, not enough RAM, and a 900MHz Celeron. Running Windows XP Tablet Edition.
Yeah, just you go find a 900MHz Celeron PC with a 40MB hard drive, 512MB of RAM, and do work on it. You'll have to buy it used, and you won't like the experience. Even worse, it's got a three hour batter life. I get that on my 1.33GHz 17" Powerbook with the screen brightness jacked to the max. I also get usable screen space, and better input for work. You know, that thing you do when you're not watching DVDs.
Speaking of DVDs, which play rather nicely on laptops, there's no way to play them on a UMPC. Samsung didn't even have the sense to license the PSP's mini optical disc format. So how do you watch movies? Download them. On XP on a 900MHz low-end CPU with 512MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive. Have fun with that. Or, you can hook up a portable DVD player. Of course, now you have two devices taking up as much space as a 12" Powerbook, running at 60% of the Powerbook's speed for only about $300 less.
What exactly does this device do well? It's not a useful work tool, as prolonged input on it would be agonizing, and there's absolutely no way to touch-type with your thumbs on a flat, featureless screen. It doesn't work very well in portrait mode, so handwriting recognition is out. You can't easily play movies on it. It's got craptacular battery life. It's slow. It doesn't have any kind of cell phone functionality, (that at least would be SOMETHING). It's overpriced, since it doesn't seem to actually do anything better than well...anything. Every device you buy should do something well. If not better than the competition, it should be solidly competent. The iPod? Music playback. The PSP? Games and movies on the go. The DS? Games, especially networked games. The Xbox360? Baddest console in the land for now. The Gamecube? Solid console with the best selection of kids games, is both small and cheap, and works with Gameboy games.
The only thing that this device appears to do well is give Microsoft yet another way to make money off of OEM licenses. The first example of the UMPC needed to astound people. It needed to be the thing that made people run, not walk, and buy one. Instead, we get a laughingstock. We get a brick that's only going to be cool if you're a technophile who gets IBS if you don't have the latest gadget. The nigh-total failure of this device isn't that surprising, since there's not a lot of focus other than "Bill Gates gets all spazzy when he talks about it" for this thing. Yes, Bill has all the money, but, unlike Steve Jobs, he has no ability whatsoever to relate to the average consumer. None. But this thing reeks of "Let's design it for Bill". It has to be that, because that's the only thing that makes even miniscule sense as a focus.
"Build it, and they will come" only works as a tagline in a Kevin Costner movie. It is not a viable product strategy. Nor, as it turns out is "Bill likes it".
CommentsWarning for Notes users: The commenting system uses HTML.
I know this will be scary for some of you, especially Notes fans. However, open standards, rah-rah.
If you want to use less-than or greater-than signs, or other similar characters that HTML reserves,
you'll simply have to learn to do it the HTML way. Luckily, HTML is kind of popular, no matter what
your re-educators have told you, and you can easily find help on the intertubes.