UMPC attraction: The lure of miniaturization

Umpcs_08Considering that I’m the anti-mobile or home user of mobile technology, some of you may find it strange that part of my portable gadget collection includes the six UMPCs you see here. Why do I need even one UMPC when I work exclusively from home primarily on my Vaio TZ notebook? It’s a question that pops up every now and then in my inbox, usually from new readers who aren’t familiar with my gadget mania. In my responses, I often mention how my shopping habits are ruled by instant gratification, how I value "want" over "need," or how I’m just an average, run-of-the-mill technophile who refuses to seek help for my addiction.

All of these replies are true, but recently something dawned on me that was even truer. Instead of anything profound or at least useful like I’m sure many of your reasons are for liking/using them (e.g., lightens the load, allows you to work anywhere, etc.), one of the main reasons I’ve been attracted to UMPCs since they were still H/PCs goes back to my childhood.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by and obsessed with miniatures. I don’t know why, but anything in miniature form was just something I was immediately drawn to.


I still have all of my Micro Machines from the late 1980s!


And don’t get me started on my collection of miniature dollhouse foods (or ask me why I have them when I’ve never even had a dollhouse).

My wedding favors were keepsake boxes that looked like miniature silver presents and three-tiered weddings cakes, a handful of mini animal figurines sits on my desk, I just bought a silly finger drum set, I keep mini tubes of lip gloss in my purse . . . and I love mini computers. Plain and simple. Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason to why we like things; we just do.

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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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10 thoughts on “UMPC attraction: The lure of miniaturization

  • It’s too bad they won’t miniaturize the cost of all those UMPCs for you…LOL

  • I also like those small computers. I have a U810, Nokia 800, Macbook Pro, my Crackberry Curve but don’t have near your amount of gear. Oh almost forgot have a iPhone which I’m posting with. I need small gear for my job and thinking of the SC3, SX3, and now the U2010.

  • Hmmm, do you have any Minox cameras? Is it irresponsible to even mention them?

  • I’ve also been pretty fascinated with small things too. I think I’m a bit older than Jen though. :)

    When I was little, I loved playing with my Liddle Kiddle dolls and their playhouse. Anybody else out there remember those?

    I like to collect small doll-size furniture, and I have a collection of the small 8 inch Madam Alexander Dolls.

    And oh I love my P1610!!!

  • Don’t sweat it, I have an unhealthy obsession with small laptops, I have a Vaio TZ myself and really have no use for it, I rarely travel with it, 99% of its usage is in my house.

    Ever since I saw the Toshiba Libretto a few years ago, I’ve fallen in love with small laptops.

  • For me I when I think of UMPC yes I want it small mainly to be the one computer I can take everywhere and actually be more productive than others in my field. That being my motivation I think there is a difference between small based on that type of function and small based on what tech designers think of which are often too small to be practical.

    To me until the recent Sharp D4, which may not be the best but it is at least to me the first UMPC that is small and more functional. I think UMPC’s suffer from often not being small enough like the 7″ slates and other non jacket size devices so they become expensive toys for tech lovers. Then there are devices like the OQO; to me that is too small. To small in that most people do not like nor want to thumb input into a full windows operating system and associated softwares.

    It is much like the wrist TV; so small it is a novelty that is not really very useful. It is great to come up with ways to make things smaller but to me it still has to be focused on making them functional. I think it is often an issue due to the techno geeks designing it might think it cool to have a wrist watch, etc. but you know those are the folks often still wearing pocket pen protectors, have no clue about social interaction that they are a bit out of touch with mainstream people.

    I think that is what has been the problem often in UMPC and the mobile market in general.

  • Avatar of techpest

    I can definitely relate to this topic. I have 5 UMPCs, 6 PDAs and over 10 PMPs/DAPs. They’re all neatly arranged in a cabinet. I only bring my Trinity PPC Phone and Sony DAP to work. I usually watch TV/DVD with a UMPC in hand. Right now I am in the process of slowing down lest I deplete my bank account. Needless to say, I don’t really need any of them as I actually hate working when I’m not in the office. I just play with them, customize, see what I can install or not.

    With each gadget, the thrilling cycle starts with hunting — (e.g. Ebay, Amazon, Dynamism, Expansys, etc), reading forums, reviews, watching youtube demos. Then you purchase. The thrill continues with the anticipation, tracking orders. Then delivery, holding the box in your hands as you go home from work where it was delivered. Then comes one of the greatest thrills — the open box experience, followed by switching the device for the very first time. Whether its a UMPC, PDA, PMP or DAP — the first thing I do is to customize – change the wallpaper, change default settings, test the audio-video capabilities and install applications. As for getting any productive work on them, the answer is no.

    One of my favourite gadgets is the Sharp Zaurus. I had a lot of fun trying out all the ROMs out there that you can flash a Zaurus with. Also enjoyed running DOS programs and Windows 3.1 on the mini-laptop style Imate Jasjar. I wish you can do a lot more with UMPCs. Right now, I’m trying to put KDE on my Nokia n810.

    Yup, that’s my kind of fun. Anyone knows a good shrink?

  • I travel internationally twice a year, for pleasure. I’m a fanatic about the weight and function in my clothes, which are “engineered” for specific performance characteristics- there’s a whole world of ultralight camping products. I recently spent $125 for a 3 ounce Patagonia nylon rain jacket when I have a perfectly fine 9 ounce jacket – but carrying those extra 6 ounces around all day when I’m sightseeing adds up. My down sweater weighs 11 ounces – the two of them pack down to nothing and function fabulously. So it was a non-brainer to buy the Asus 701, which enables me to blog and get on-line anywhere, with a minimal increase in suitcase weight (I can go away for weeks with a carry on) and at a very low cost. Because it is so cheap and so durable, I lend it to friends without a second thought.

    Oh… and I’ve probably got OCD, like everyone else on this thread :-)

  • Avatar of Katie the Mini Maker

    I love miniature items, in fact i have a whole collection of miniature items, they just fascinate me, i do scenes with them and build some scenes, i.e houses, restaurants, bakeries, and ect.

    I just love them for some reason, they fascinate me soo much :)


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