Sony has included a recovery partition, so you can easily restore the OS but it does take up 6.5GB - leaving you with only just under 24GB for storage. There's a utility included to burn this data to DVD - although you'll obviously need an external DVD writer; even Sony's extremely talented engineers couldn't squeeze one inside the UX1 - so if you know what you're doing you could reclaim the additional space.
The 4.5in screen while by no means huge fills a large proportion of the front of the unit. There's a joystick mouse in the top right-hand corner, with buttons to zoom the display below and an on/off/hold switch. Over on the other side are left and right mouse buttons, a button that takes the place of the middle mouse button, a quick menu button, and a wireless on/off switch.
The joystick can also be pressed in to make a selection, which can take a bit of getting used to but once you've mastered it it's quicker than constantly reaching for the left mouse click. If you hold down the middle mouse button, you can use the joystick as a kind of 3D scroll wheel so you can move quickly round large documents and web pages.
The screen is touch-sensitive too - there's a stylus hidden in the back or you can just prod at it with your fingers. For text input, you can either use the included Tablet PC handwriting recognition or there's a full keyboard underneath the display - just slide the screen upwards to reveal it.
The keyboard is only really good for thumb typing, but the two bulges at the back of the unit make for a comfortable grip while you're bashing away. It's not suitable for more than the odd note or web address, though. The keys are barely raised and aren't domed, so finding the right one can sometimes be a challenge and mistypes are something you're going to have to get used to. The keys do illuminate in blue when you press them, though, which can make it easier to locate the one you're looking for.
Maybe not now, but soon...
Actually there IS a need for ONE device that can replace a cell phone, PDA, PMP, and Laptop.
One might observe that current UMPC's don't offer cell phone functionality. Until we recall that they DO have 3G or EVDO as well as Bluetooth 2.0. Skype and a bit of software are all that is needed to transform them into mobile phones.
UMPC form factor is prohibitive from a human factors standpoint. But we may well need to see the workplace evolve a bit before these devices come into their own. Imagine a not so distant future when all office desks are no longer equipped with a computer. Rather a keyboard, monitor, and docking station. When you leave the office your computer travels with you, in “portable mode” it serves as a PDA and phone. Aircraft seat back tables would have fold down keyboards with an embedded display and dock.
By making the “guts” of the computer user portable, we eliminate the need to constantly upgrade our workstations. After all, keyboards and displays have pretty much remained the same for decades. If the “guts” are with the employee, they aren’t left alone and unattended in an office. It also eliminates the need to transport data between computers, or between work and home.
And finally it eliminates the plethora of gadgets on belts, in pockets, and briefcases. Of course the loss of such an item could be disastrous, but the same could be said now for the loss of a corporate laptop or PDA/Cell phone.
Until then, they need a “few good peeps” to step up and help finance “the revolution”. Sadly I am a bit short of cash right now…… :-o
What am I doing here?
The poor little UX1 sits dazed and confused in neverland without a real use. The latest Microsoft spin on the UMPC is just all wrong - its sheer novelty. Who in their right mind is going to use a slide out keyboard or an on screen keyboard in that crazy fashion?
Now don't get me wrong, this little UX1 baby is some funky engineering. Its truly amazing, unfortunately just misdirected from a usability standpoint - which started with Microsoft dictating the crazy-ass form factor and then Sony engineers doing what they could with the 'two thumb' requirement.
The reality of 'two mode' or 'three mode' computers when you really examine users in the field is more like 'finger-actions' 'scribble/notebook' and 'compute'. If you look at where the iPhone wows people is very much with this focus on really addressing REAL users with pragmatic usability solutions for one of the modes - not just a novelty. I understand the UMPC is not an iPhone - and that the operating system would need to keep up with the form factor (which the UMPC extensions for Vista DO NOT) but you start to see how two thumbs is just not going to cut it.
The present UMPC incarnation is just not addressing the use of the form factor and the issues the reviewer has had with the UX1 is testament to this. It really seems as if the design of the whole platform just doesn't know where its going yet and until the UMPC can get some clear direction with delineating the 'three-mode' computer experience so that it is compelling enough to fill a DESPERATE NICHE which is craving for simplicity, mobility and usability - it will be destined to sit somewhere in the middle of a product range dazed and confused.
Not so much of a PC ....
But more like a high end challenge to all the Palm Pilots and equivalents out there.
There is a defenite niche for a handheld in this size class. The question is "Has Sony made a viable winner or an also ran?"
At its initial asking price its in the range of a high end notebooks and nowhere near the more cost effective Palms etc...
The weak points, as I see them are as follows
- Price (but we are talking SONY)
- Battery life (rather low and how easy is it to recharge?)
- Media (SD, CF etc would be nice)
- two cameras? Why?
- 160 min run time? (real run time will be less)
- The dock could have had a few more desktop features and ports available
You milage may vary .....