Asustek Computer will begin selling its first ultra-mobile PC (UMPC), the R2H, worldwide by the end of this month, while Samsung Electronics is readying one that eschews Intel microprocessors in favor of Via Technologies chips.
Asustek’s UMPC is designed with all the functions of a laptop, including a folding typing pad, as well as other devices such as a GPS, so it can sit on the dashboard of a user’s car to map the way home.
The R2H runs Microsoft’s Windows XP Tablet Edition OS on a 900MHz Intel Celeron M microprocessor. It measures 23.4 by 13.3 centimeters, about half the size of a laptop, and weighs 870 grams. The OS allows touch navigation with a stylus on its 7-inch screen, but the models on display Monday at a news conference in Taipei were difficult to use. Company representatives said the display models were for testing only, the reason for the sluggish performance.
Like most UMPCs, the R2H is an Internet device, connecting through 802.11b/g wireless LAN (WLAN), and supports Bluetooth. For security, Asustek added an infrared fingerprint identification system to keep users’ data safe from thieves.
Although the suggested retail price of the R2H bound for the Taiwan market is NT$36,800 (US$1,117), it will come in different configurations users can choose from, so prices will be flexible. Asustek will offer models with different-sized hard drives, ranging from 20GB to 60GB in capacity. The standard edition will also come with just a two-cell battery, for about two hours of use before needing a recharge. Users will be able to select a four-cell battery as well, at an added cost.
The device is Windows Vista compatible.
The company also launched a new tablet PC, the R1F, and expects to produce a total of 3,000 units of the two devices each month, said Benson Lin, head of sales in the Asia Pacific for Asustek, at a news conference in Taipei.
Samsung Electronics, of South Korea, is readying a new UMPC with a 7-inch screen that uses a 1.0GHz Via C7 microprocessor, but hasn’t set a launch date.
The device, dubbed the Q1B, will come with 40GB of storage space, WLAN and Bluetooth, and will weigh 1.7 pounds, according to Samsung’s website.
The Q1B will come with a better battery than does the R2H, a three-cell battery offering up to five hours of life before needing a recharge. Samsung is offering an upgrade to a six-cell battery at an additional charge.
The company is also offering additional peripherals similar to Asustek’s, such as an organizer bag, optical disc drive and typing pad.
-Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service (Taipei Bureau)
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