Monday, August 28, 2006

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Starting to understand why I don't see eye-to-eye with most other gadget junkies. AsusTek officially announced their new UMPC the R2H, and initial reactions seem focused on the basic components, processor and memory. My focus, by contrast, went straight to the nonstandard features.

Since the over-hyped beginning, I have not been a fan of the UMPC. This has nothing to do with the form factor, which incorporates several features I had been looking forward to seeing, but rather the lack of direction. The UMPC is a really cool device standard, but no one ever answered the all-important question: What does it do? Asus, I think, has finally given an answer without locking in to a vertical market.

The R2H offers highly desired functionality to business travelers in the form of GPS, fingerprint access and top-end Bluetooth. This offers Joe Business extra assurances against the travel dangers of getting lost and losing sensitive data, as well as compatibility with peripherals he may already have. And the built-in webcam makes this device a portable video conferencing tool. Overall, the R2H looks like an excellent travel tool for business, but also pleasure. After all, who likes getting lost on a vacation? And how great would this be for recording a video diary?

No offense to TabletKiosk or Samsung, but Asus is doing what should have been done from the start: take Microsoft's basic and intentionally directionless design for the UMPC and build from that a device with purpose, while also keeping it wide open for other uses. This, I believe, is what Microsoft intended and kudos to Asus for getting it done. Now, if they would kindly release a larger model with a Wacom digitizer, I could finally get excited about this.

Asus launches UMPC with purpose


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