Friday, July 22, 2011

Sad Times for UMPCs

UMPCPortal reports that Viliv may be closing up shop soon.  When considering a new UMPC, I'd contemplated purchasing a Viliv N5.  Its sleek lines and specs made it an alright upgrade.  It's still available on Dynamism, but who knows for how long as they only have one model left.

Having watched company after company bite the dust when it came to UMPCs, this isn't a surprise.  Its predecessors, Vulcan, Raon, and UMID to name a few all collapsed within a model or two.  The pocket clamshells garnish a lot of attention at events, but rarely ever come to fruition, at least in the US, such as the iWatch Q839, or Usmart M1C.  They are often delayed, outdated, and expensive (UMID M1, Vulcan Flipstart, and even the N5 are guilty of this).  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the form factor, but I don't want to pay a premium for size and have it run slower than the current iteration of netbook that I can get for half the price.

I've noticed that companies dedicated to this form factor never really take off in the market, as opposed to major electronics corporations with sizeable R&D departments where part of the development is done, so it's more cost efficient.  Especially now that data phones are becoming more prevalent and tablets are gaining in popularity.  

I fear that my favorite tiny computer, the Nanonote will fall victim to what these other companies have fallen.  Open hardware companies tend to have a difficult time unto themselves and despite having a large community, it's harder than with open-source software.  I've noticed their timelines for their next iterations were extended, which is typically one of the precursors.

I'll always prefer the clamshell over a tablet for the convenience of a keyboard for which I do not have to pay separately, the screen protection, and the miniature factor, but it seems it's not the popular choice.  I wish there were room for both in the market; however, I don't think that is the case.  I truly hope there is a resurgence.

What's been your favorite UMPC throughout the years?

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