WHEN I FIRST saw a Umid MBook M1 MID at CES, it stood out from a very crowded field of marginally differentiated devices. The M1, and the upcoming M2, are probably the best mobile PC or netbook out there.
Umid M1 and M2 prototype
Size is deceiving in this case, the M1 is a mere 6.1 x 3.7 x 0.6 inches, and weighs about two-thirds of a pound. The screen itself is a very crisp and bright 4.8 inch Samsung panel, and has an odd but impressive 1024 * 600 resolution. The CPU is an Atom, Silverthorne variant, running at 1.1GHz or 1.33GHz, 512MB of RAM, and 16GB or 32GB SSDs. There are upcoming models that will have a 2.0GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a 64GB SSD. There are no technical hurdles to doing this, just cost.
Battery life is a claimed 6 hours and given the specs of machine, that seems eminently reasonable. You can get the M1 with either Linux or XP Home, and tie it into almost anything using HSPDA or WiBro for WAN, 802.11b/g for WLAN, and Bluetooth 2.0 for local connections. Add in a MicroSD card slot, 1.3Mp camera, USB ports and a touch screen with stylus, and you have a very complete PC. Should that not be enough, it has a digital TV tuner too.
The upcoming M2 is more or less the same device, just styled differently. The good folk at Umid say the M1 is seen as being styled more for women, and so it tried to make the M2 more masculine. The main difference is that the M1 is more curved than the M2, and in softer colors. Also, the M2 has a more Apple-like hinge attachment point, it looks very different.
Other than that, the two devices are very similar, they share a motherboard, so picking between them is a stylistic exercise, not a functional one. When the upgraded version hits the US market soon, likely bringing HSPDA and other 3G flavors along for the ride, you will have an always connected mini-notebook in your pocket. For those in Europe, Umid just signed Sagem as a distributor, so it should soon be available there also.
Umid seems to have made a very functional PC that can fit in a handbag or pocket while working for most of a day on a single charge. It is small but eminently usable, especially if you don’t expect it to keep up with a quad-core monster packing a HD 5870. If your expectations are reasonable, it could very well stand in for a full laptop during light duty business trips.
Prices start around $600, but that will likely drop as distribution channels increase. In a sea of bland MIDs and netbooks, the Umid M1 really stands out. The company seems to have sweated the details, and that is something you can feel when you pick one of its products up. If you get the chance to play around with one, you will quickly see that it is in a class by itself.S|A