3G black UMID mbook M1 arrives, but not without problems
Few things in the portable tech world are better than the delivery of a mobile computing device that you hoped would've been shipped months earlier. It's funny how the agony of waiting is immediately forgiven and forgotten when FedEx is at the door, isn't it? When I was handed my black UMID mbook M1 equipped with 32GB SSD and built-in 3G this afternoon, my memories of waiting were erased and all I wanted to do was open the box, take a bunch of pictures, and find out once and for all whether the integrated HSPA modem supports US 3G frequency bands.
I did the first two things immediately, but the last one sadly remains out of reach at the moment because Windows either gets caught in an endless UMID splash screen -> XP splash screen -> lsass.exe system error cycle upon first boot or the system says that Windows can't start because WINDOWSsystem32configSYSTEM is missing or corrupt.
I haven't spent much time troubleshooting what's going on yet, but some light googling returns varied results (virus, corrupted registry) with just as varied solutions. Reinstalling the OS is a last resort for me right now because I don't know how easy it will be to find the correct 3G drivers or whether I'll be able to recover the new UI (Thepot Player) that ships with the device. As annoying as it is to receive a new gadget that doesn't work like it's supposed to out of the box, I'm not pulling out my hair over it because 1) I'm confident that the problem is fixable and 2) I already reviewed the original white UMID, which is identical to this new unit apart from the casing, SSD capacity, and WWAN.
So while I try to get the issues sorted out and eventually test the 3G functionality and take the new UI for a spin, here are some photos and my thoughts on the improved hardware.
The black unit is packaged identically to the white one (original unboxing here), but the contents are slightly different. In addition to an XP installation CD, the new UMID comes with a redesigned black pouch, smaller miniUSB adapter, and instructions on how to launch Thepot Player for the first time. The headphone adapter that came with the older UMID isn't included anymore, but the earphones, handstrap, AC adapter (not shown above), and stylus (also not shown above) are still there.
The UMID M1 hardware itself, which has previously been criticized for poor build quality, has been significantly improved. The black plastic is matte, silky smooth, sturdy, and kind of feels like it's been rubberized.
There is no sign of shoddy construction or peeling paint on my new unit; if I wasn't already aware of the quality issues that plagued earlier M1 shipments, I would never have guessed that UMID ever had problems with it in the past.
The screen still doesn't open up beyond a 135-degree angle and the silver trim is still just thin plastic, but the device really doesn't feel cheap or toy-like at all anymore. It looks and feels like a pricey, top quality computer.
Once I can get Windows XP to load completely, I'll be back with a write-up on the 3G functionality and a quick look at the new interface.
The black UMID mbook M1 with built-in 3G can be purchased now from Justek (don't forget that their prices are in Australian dollars).
:: Visit the UMID mbook M1 forum to connect with users and potential buyers, ask questions, and share tips ::
UPDATE 10.04.09: 3G UMID mbook M1 update for US consumers