Intel spills beans on UMPC

Not a PDA replacment but a 'PC companion'...

The products are coming on Thursday, 9 March, but Intel is already telling us how we're all going to be using its new ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) platform, now revealed to be "designed to access online media and content on the go".

Intel UMPC concept

Intel is cagey about whether the UMPC is a PDA replacement - it counts too many PDA makers as customers, particularly of its XScale product line, to be so bold - but it's clear that's what the new platform is about. "The UMPC is a great PC companion," it says - the very role claimed by the original Palm Pilot, for example.

As we've note before, Intel may not care much about XScale any longer. It's next-generation architecture has the goal of delivering an sufficiently powerful x86 processor that can run the latest, full version of Windows yet still deliver PDA-standard battery life. If it achieves that, what's it need ARM's architecture for?

"The UMPC is powerful enough to provide a great gaming, music or video experience," chirps the chip giant on the UMPC-dedicated umpc.com website. And yet: "It is not designed to process lots of work or write a college thesis. You have your laptop or desktop for these tasks."

The Intel site confirms what's been assumed the platform will do from leaked promo video that apparently leaked out of Microsoft last month. It's got a range of wireless technologies built in for ubiquitous connectivity, and Intel raises the frightening prospect of UMPC owners being spammed by shops and service providers as they pass by: "Get information on the hottest sales and promotions at the Mall while you drive by."

It's also got GPS for navigation and all the Internet-based communications tools already running on WIndows XP. Pictures show some models will sport integrated keypads. ®

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