After a slow start, the UMPC concept seems to be gaining momentum in recent months. The latest entrant to the field is US arms colossus General Dynamics, which launched its GoBook MR-1 rugged UMPC at the DSEi military tech fair today. The MR-1: is that all you've got? The MR-1 is properly ruggedised, passing the American MIL- …
I don't see someone using that with gloves...
On the other hand, considering how tough I am on equipment, I'd probably go through several standard units in a year, so it would be a bargain.
I've already destroyed a half-dozen Palm PDAs
AGPS has nothing to do with the antenna on the device...
...it's all about the amount of signal processing that needs to be done onboard. AGPS is really intended as a cheap way to get the GPS fix that E911 regulations effectively require these days, not as a navigation aid. There are many phones now which have real GPS receivers in them, and they actually work pretty well even indoors- modern low-noise amplifiers are amazing things.
Who needs a friggin' iphone
Development platform with well known tools and huge codebase, UMTS (sorry Apple), can connect to everything including the kitchen sink, tell you wheren you are, run winamp, videos...
Adding up the prices for PC, UMTS/Edge card, PDA, iPhone and GPS - and not forgetting that it's almost unbreakabke - it seems like a reasonable deal....
...but does it run any REAL operating system ?
Something like xBSD, Linux or Solaris...
...and IP54 is NOT what I call rugged... You need IP66 or IP67if You want to take it out in any weather anywhere in the world.
IMHO the military should look at the OLPC instead... the military version could be called OLPS and would need some camouflage.
The GD Itronix MR-1 is related to the Paul Allen/Vulcan Inc. FlipStart, initially revealed as the MiniPC way back in 2004. I've offered El Reg a review of the FlipStart several times since the system's release, but for some reason they seem disinterested! Perhaps freelance contributions are discouraged, lest Reg hacks not get the chance to lurk about on sun-drenched yacht decks - or perhaps the readers aren't going to be interested in another UMPC, least of all one which costs half the MR-1's pricetag :)
FlipStart is powered by a 1.1GHz Pentium-M, has 512MB RAM and a 30GB HD, but has a very similar appearance and screen. The touchscreen is not implemented; in my own experience this results in a better quality display than most touchscreen-equipped UMPCs, but I haven't seen the GD tech and therefore can't comment on it.
Assuming UK releases go to plan, the FlipStart will offer WiFi, Bluetooth and UMTS/HSDPA (the EVDO module fitted for the US market is a standard unit judging by the FCC filing, and could easily be replaced with an internal 3G card - a SIM socket exists on the PCB already). US retail is $1999, and not as a reviewer but as someone who has had the benefit of using the machine for a couple of months, it's a very nice, clever bit of hardware.
The unique feature for the FlipStart - all the UMPCs outside of Origami have to have one, at least - is a small screen on the reverse of the display. With fast navigation, this is akin to the old Xircom "Rex" or similar in theory of operation - it synchronises with your Outlook data for appointments, email and contacts (the system can be set to wake, collect email and sleep again with one menu option) and these can be viewed even if the rest of the computer is in standby. The navigation control for this also doubles as a rapid-access zoom control, or a scroll wheel.
With clear Psion influences (the packaging, manual design and keyboard design in particular), the device doesn't initially have the Wow! factor that some UMPCs have - the clamshell form factor, slightly chunky dimensions, make for an 'unsexy' package (imagine the MR-1 without the rugged bits), but in actual real-world use it's a class-leading design. It's also very, very small.
El Reg hasn't featured the FlipStart since February 2004, when it was just a twinkle in Paul Allen's eye - and it's been on the market stateside (and internationally through importers like Dynamism) since April this year. I've got 4,500 words, 20 pictures going free here formed from a (smaller) review for a published magazine - come and get it ;)
...does it run any real OS ? something like xBSD, Linux or Solaris ?
...and IP54 is not what I call rugged... for real all-weather operation you need IP66.
...the military should maybe consider OLPC... it would only need some camouflage
Check out the Switchback UMPC...www.switchbackpc.com More rugged and more features, I think a better choice.
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