Monday, April 03, 2006

Wondering What the UMPC's Attraction Is

Varis asks in my post about my ideal Ultra-Mobile PC,"Why do you need a smaller device so badly you are willing to compromise processing power and user interface?"

I had to think a while about my response. I had to try to figure out how to keep it short.

I'm not that willing to compromise. The UMPCs being advertised today are as fast as or almost as fast as my best portables, and I did say in my previous post that my ideal UMPC would be faster than my TabletPC. Due to financial constraints and a spending compulsion, where technology is concerned, I'm used to being a generation or two behind everyone else as far as processor speed; as long as my computers could play the games that were important to me and help me do my job, I dealt with it. Sure, I crave power, but I don't need 3GHz to check and update help desk tickets, search Google and knowledge bases, read email, blog, read tech forums and play Dawn of War (I wonder if I could play that on a UMPC). I won't even consider playing Age of Empires III, since that crawls on my TPC during battles.

Speaking of my job, if you remember that it involves providing technical support to ten sites throughout the city (James Kendrick isn't the only one on the run!), then you'll understand I need to move around a lot, and I often have to tote parts, tools and machines (not just mine) around. I do believe hauling PCs and laser printers all over creation has added strength to my less than statuesque frame, but I still want a device that can provide functionality with a small footprint (there's that mobility thing again!).

Mobility is something my TabletPC does well. 99% of the time, it is with me wherever I go. However, one can call a 12" computer anything but discreet. No matter what bag I slip the Tablet into, it's pretty much obvious something big is resting on my vertically challenged shoulder. I'd be lying if I denied that safety (both personal and equipment-wise) is not an ongoing concern for many in that area. It's no thugfest, but we have our incidents (that's rather unavoidable in a city). For that reason, when the job calls me in late at night, the Tablet stays home. A computer not in the hand, no matter how powerful, simply is no good to me. Give me something I can conceal from those who would steal.

Alright, so I've got to admit, the darned things are just so fracking cool!

Anyway, anyone who knows me knows the UMPC would simply be another addition to my arsenal. With any luck, I'll buy at least 3 or 4 computers this year; the UMPC isn't even remotely likely to be the most powerful, but it probably will be the one I use the most.

And yes, Varis, I was delighted that you asked!