Imagining the iriver D26 as a UMPC

The newest addition to iriver’s Dicple series of multimedia e-dictionaries is the D26, which bears a striking resemblance to the Atree UD10 that both Steve and jkk have praised for its UMPC-like design.

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I’ve been putting off my review of the D26 for several months now because up until today, I’ve been unable to figure out how best to approach it. Since there’s virtually zero interest in e-dictionaries in the U.S. (they’re wildly popular and well received in Asia), I wanted to come at it from a very specific angle. So while I may eventually write a more straightforward review, what follows is a UMPC-slanted look at a unit that isn’t but perhaps should be a UMPC.

First, a quick unboxing.

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My obsession with cases forces me to offer a closer look at this one.

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Like most e-dictionaries these days, the D26 is capable of doubling as a portable media player.

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It features an MP3 player, FM radio, voice recorder, PIM functions, e-book reader, and photo viewer. So far, it sounds very much like what Intel’s upcoming Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) will be all about (well, except for the Internet part). And if it weren’t for its measly 1.2GB storage capacity, lack of a memory card expansion slot, and all-Korean user interface (UI), the D26 would probably make a killer one.

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Those may sound like major hurdles, but upping the internal storage (look at the new 20GB Sharp RD-CX300 e-dictionary) would eliminate the need for an expansion slot and if you’ve got a brand new hard drive in there, you may as well tweak the UI a bit.

Putting logistics aside for a moment, let’s imagine that the D26 were in fact a MID, UMPC, and/or handtop. What would it be like? (And actually, iriver entering the UMPC market isn’t too far-fetched: remember the 60GB W10 packed with all manners of connectivity?)

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If the iriver D26 were a UMPC, it would . . .

Be incredibly pocketable. Although this would likely change with the addition of a hard drive, the clamshell measures 6.4" x 3.3" x 0.8" and weighs 11.1 ounces.

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Have a usable thumboard. In line with my earlier "10 reasons UMPCs need keyboards" post, the D26 is equipped with a fantastic thumboard. The keys are easy to reach, offer tactile feedback similar to that of a full-sized keyboard, and can be used with your thumbs (when holding the unit between both hands) and with your index and middle fingers (when resting the unit on a flat surface).

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Strike a balance between (limited) productivity and (light) entertainment. The D26 certainly has limitations that wouldn’t be tolerated on a smartphone (e.g., no access to email, no MS Office compatibility, etc.), but  it could still feasibly replace an entry-level PDA. The device is equipped with 8 Asian (Korean, Chinese, Japanese) and 8 English dictionaries with text-to-speech functionality, a notepad, a calendar, an address book, a basic unit converter, a voice recorder, and other features to keep track of appointments and important dates.

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The D26 ships with a program called "iriver D26 Manager," which appears to be a Korean-only application that I assume enables PC access to all of the information input directly into the unit. Without this program, the D26 is a UMS/MSC device that supports basic dragging and dropping of e-books (TXT only), music (MP3, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, ASF), and image (JPG, GIF, BMP) files. This puts a wrench into being able to, say, create/edit documents on the go and then transfer them to a computer for completion, printing, etc., but it makes transferring music and pictures a breeze.

Unlike the Nurian Z1, the D26 isn’t wifi-enabled. It can’t play videos either, so "entertainment" in this case is limited to a few games (everyone’s favorites "Funny Train" and "ZooZoo" come preinstalled), respectable audio codec support with various EQs and SRS sound enhancements, FM radio, and photo viewer. It’s very much like a low-capacity flash player with a 4.3-inch TFT (480 x 272, 260K colors) display.

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Have excellent battery life. I haven’t been able to find any running-time estimates for the non-removable li-polymer battery, but I know for sure that it holds its charge exceptionally well. I’ve had the D26 since February and have only charged it twice. Obviously this is because I don’t use it often or for prolonged periods, but not many devices can hold their charge for months at a time.

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Because of its feature set, though, battery life would obviously surpass that of typical UMPCs even when just playing MP3s. For example, in my Vaio UX180P battery tests, music playback time maxed out at 2 hours and 40 minutes. I’ve looped 192kbps MP3s on the D26 for twice as long without making a significant dent in the battery indicator (yes, yes, the e-dictionary doesn’t have an Intel CPU, full-blown OS, or any other power-hungry PC elements).

Be easy on the eyes. Gadget aesthetics may not be important to some people, but they matter to me. I’ve mentioned before that I choose gadgets based first on their looks and second on their function (ridiculous maybe but to each his own), and I abided by that "rule" when buying the D26. It’s just too cute.

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The iriver D26 is much too basic to be considered even a low-end UMPC, but its design and (imaginary) handtop potential are enough to make me glad that it’s sitting next to me as I write this.

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The D26 is available in black and white and can be purchased directly from iriver Korea for 358,000 won, which is about $386. (I got mine from eBay.)

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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16 thoughts on “Imagining the iriver D26 as a UMPC

  • April 25, 2007 at 9:05 am
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    You’re right — this should be a UMPC! Good review (and speculation).

    Reply
  • April 25, 2007 at 1:54 pm
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    Dicple? That sounds like pimple on my dic*. How do I go about asking for this product at the customer service counter? >;-) It would be nice to have a umpc with a decent keyboard. I don’t text on my phone because I hate thumbing and I can’t see myself using things like the pepper pad or the samsung unit that offers a keyboard split in two for thumbing. I could use something like this product’s form factor to hold the device in one hand and type with the other. My main interest in a umpc or handtop is for remote terminal access (ssh) activities and that requires a comfortable keyboard interface.

    Reply
  • April 25, 2007 at 2:19 pm
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    Yeah — the keyboard is a bit too small (I feel the same way about keyboard size and portable devices, Ngo) — but the design is clean, and I like it doesn’t try to do too many things. Granted, this is a dictionary — but if it were a UMPC, I think a small browser, wireless capability, and ability to run small networking apps would make it a winner.

    Not too put off by the 1.2GB memory capacity — a lightweight UI could make it work!

    Reply
  • June 15, 2007 at 1:28 pm
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    It would be a great umpc! What most people want is a pocket size touch type keyboard computer designed around the parameters of typical suit jacket pockets. Something like the old Psion mx5 or the HP Jornada 728 but running a current OS with a bright color screen would sell like hot cakes. Nobody has ever built such a device running a mainstream OS ever. I’m still waiting for it to arrive

    Reply
  • June 29, 2007 at 4:48 pm
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    Thanks for the great review.

    Check out http://www.compulandus.com to buy a D26 in the US with a 15-day warranty. 15 days is infinitely better than nothing. Also, if you like cute, check out the iriver D25. Finally, I have an iriver H320 and H340. They’re great!

    Reply
  • July 18, 2007 at 11:54 am
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    Hi i got the same device, i want to know if we could convert korean into english…if you know could you show me how

    Reply
  • July 18, 2007 at 5:03 pm
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    From what I’ve been able to find out, there doesn’t seem to be any way to convert the OS into English. I expected there to be one, as most other iriver products come with a simple language-change option, but it looks like the e-dictionaries are exempt.

    Reply
  • August 10, 2007 at 8:19 am
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    Hi~:)I’m glad to find it in USA.
    I live in San Diego in California but I’m staying my friend house in New york now. I’ll be here in AUG. Before I get it, I want to ask to you something. Can I get it in AUG in New York? How long does it take? and How can pay?

    Reply
  • August 10, 2007 at 10:27 pm
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    The D26 is only available in the U.S. through online retailers. Delivery estimates and accepted forms of payment will vary, but I’m sure you could receive the device by the end of the month if you order it soon.

    Reply
  • August 19, 2007 at 7:14 am
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    Hi,
    Thanks for your review, information on this type of devices is hard to get by. I have a few questions, as I’m somewhat tempted by this device. I’m looking for a Psion-5 sized gizmo to take notes while on the move, do you think the D26 could do ? It is about the only item with a similar size and form-factor I’ve come across in years (and I don’t mind the Korean UI).

    The D26 is supposed to have PIM functionnality, but could you tell me if it’s possible to enter English text (if possible with basic formatting), either as a document, note or task, and then have it available on PC through sync or as a file ?

    Also, do you know if the “slightly” more appealing D5 could do the same job ? I know that unlike the D26 it is not advertised as having PIM functionality, but to me no PIM would mean no tasks/calendar or Outlook sync. Common sense tells me that something that can display documents, do voice recording and has a keyboard surely can be used to take a few notes, but really I know nothing about this kind of devices…

    Reply
  • August 19, 2007 at 5:11 pm
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    It is possible to enter English text, but standard punctuation and basic formatting don’t seem to be supported. It could be that the function is there and I just can’t find it because of the Korean UI, though.

    As far as I can tell, there doesn’t seem to be a way to retrieve or even see any of the info you input onto the D26 on a PC. The software CD that accompanies the device is also completely in Korean, so again, the functionality might be there.

    If all you’re looking for is PIM functionality, I wouldn’t really recommend the D26. Maybe something like the Sharp Zaurus would suit you better. They’re not easily found in the U.S., but Conics has a pretty nice selection right now.

    Reply
  • August 21, 2007 at 2:18 am
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    Well I’m most interested in having a note-taking device. That means either a small one with a good thumb-board (like the D5), or a bigger one but with the benefit of a touch-type-friendly keyboard, like the D26 and its 12mm key pitch, or the Atree “can’t find it anywhere fo sale” UD10 (basicly the quite uncommon Psion form factor). The PIM is just a mean for me to know I can edit/export data (since it doesn’t say “also, text editor” on the box). But if you’re telling me it’s not possible (or just easy) to export files from it, then there is no point for me to choose it over my old Psion 5.
    I’ve been eyeing the Zaurus SL-Cxxx series for years too, but it is blocky without having a subnotebook-style keyboard, and it is bigger than a HTC Universal without having bluetooth and wifi. However their prices seem to have been lowered since they’ve been EOL’ed. Ha, if only the D26 had a VGA screen and a SD slot. And Wifi. Or a CF card reader. What were you saying again ?

    (On a side-note, I’ve been looking & asking around about the D5, and it actually does have Outlook Sync like the D26, so it can probably be used like a truly pocketable, basic PDA / Media player in its 4GB version. Just with low-res screen. And no wifi.)

    Reply
  • January 20, 2008 at 3:53 am
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    help!! i forgot my password of d26 iriver. can you pls help me to open it again thanks.

    Reply
  • April 14, 2008 at 4:22 pm
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    I’d like to have an HP 200LX with a bright screen, the same applications, the same keyboard and USB-connection. Replace the PC-Card Slot with a SD-Card.
    I like especially the weight (about 250g) and the battery life (2xAA for weeks if used rarely, a week if used daily) and the instant-on ability.

    Reply
  • February 16, 2010 at 2:10 am
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    nopwe ,you can’t convert it to english.there is no settings for it’s language.

    borres,e.n
    cebu city phils.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm
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    hi. where do you think can i get a charger of D26? pls help. tnx

    Reply

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