Netbooks succeeding where UMPCs and MIDs failed


That’s the gist of an article over at DeviceGuru, anyway.

Rick Lehrbaum writes in his "UMPC is dead; long live the netbook!" article that UMPCs "collapsed under the weight of unbridled feature creep" and are in the "scrap bin of device history," MIDs "fell victim to Apple’s excellent design and execution of the iPhone," and netbooks "provide all the features mobile connected consumers want in a convenient, easily-transportable package."

I don’t agree with Rick from a personal standpoint, obviously, but I think he’s hit the nail on the head where mainstream consumers are concerned. For them, UMPCs are too cost-prohibitive and MIDs are superfluous because those "who want on-the-go Internet already carry a mobile phone around with them, and perhaps also an iPod. They simply don’t want to lug around yet another device."

His points may also be ringing true for mobile professionals.

It’s no secret that I have no personal interest in netbooks and find them a tad mind-numbing in their sameness, so I won’t be singing their praises here or exploring why they’re "better" PC companion for certain users than UMPCs/MIDs. No, the reason Rick’s article resonates with me is that both Steve Paine of UMPCPortal and Kevin Tofel of jkOnTheRun have recently picked up netbooks by their own volition.

Before jetting off to IDF in San Francisco last month, Steve discussed when ultra-mobile tools aren’t "quite good enough" and ended up sidelining his Kohjinsha SC3 during the event in favor of his Akoya Mini (MSI Wind rebrand), which was "performing like a champ." Now granted, the Samsung Q1 Ultra he probably would’ve used at IDF met an unfortunate demise a few weeks earlier; he also clarified that the Wind was not the best device for his usage scenarios after the show. I’m certainly not suggesting that the owner of UMPCPortal is abandoning the UMPC for the netbook (far from it!), but it’s still interesting that what his UMPC could not do, his netbook could.

Then there’s Kevin, who has been a long time user of the Samsung Q1 series. His latest, the Q1 Ultra Premium, has been the subject of Google+Search&sitesearch=www.jkontherun.com&client=pub-9199975715765483&forid=1&ie=ISO-8859-1&oe=ISO-8859-1&safe=active&flav=0000&sig=06hgV9L5a-lS33ir&cof=GALT%3A%23CC0000%3BGL%3A1%3BDIV%3A%23FFFFFF%3BVLC%3A663399%3BAH%3Acenter%3BBGC%3AFFFFFF%3BLBGC%3AFFCC33%3BALC%3A0000FF%3BLC%3A0000FF%3BT%3A000000%3BGFNT%3A0000FF%3BGIMP%3A0000FF%3BLH%3A50%3BLW%3A390%3BL%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fjkontherun.blogs.com%2Fjkontherun%2Fjk-banner.png%3BS%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2F%3BFORID%3A11&hl=en”>many-an-article

at jkOTR so his heavy usage of the UMPC has been very well documented. Last month, however, he bought (and later returned) an Acer Aspire One and last week he ordered an MSI Wind. There’s obviously no law against UMPC users buying/using/liking netbooks, and his reports on both are always enjoyable and informative. But what’s this? A new article from yesterday with the words "maybe I shouldn’t have bought that $1300 UMPC" in the title! This is said mostly tongue-in-cheek, of course, as he’s really just demonstrating the power of the Wind, but it still surprised me.

UMPCs, like netbooks, aren’t meant to be anyone’s primary computer. They can be, sure, but they’re supposed to be companion devices, just like a smartphone or a Nokia Internet Tablet could be. The reason Steve and Kevin’s netbook acquisitions are the focus of this post, however, is that their UMPCs are/were their primary machines (definitely on the go, possibly at home).

They’re actually the only two bloggers I can think of that use(d) UMPCs for just about everything. I have 5 UMPCs right now and my collective usage of them probably isn’t even half of theirs. So when both of my pals leave behind their UMPCs (even if only temporarily) in favor of netbooks, I can’t help but think of them when reading Rick Lehrbaum’s article.

Are netbooks filling a need that eludes UMPCs and MIDs? Based on a recent poll on what people liked most about netbooks in which 42% of 347 voters said size and 33% said price, there doesn’t really seem to be an answer.

I know that a netbook wouldn’t fit into my life, which is already full of gadgety goodness, but maybe I’m really just speaking for no one but myself now.

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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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