Sony has done its best to fit a usable keyboard into such a small space, but ultimately it's just not big enough for prolonged use. The screen, to some degree, also suffers from the same problem. It would be hard to include anything larger, without increasing the overall size of the unit, but it feels a bit too cramped.
The resolution stretches to an impressive widescreen 1,024 x 600 so you'll need good eyesight if you want a UX1. You can zoom in, but then you'll need to scroll around the screen, which isn't an ideal solution. While the width is adequate, the limited height is a little restrictive. Vista just simply wasn't designed to run in such constrained headroom - you can't display all the Start menu items, for example, and OK buttons are frequently below the task bar on many system dialogs.
The battery life is also a little disappointing at a quoted 160 minutes, for what is essentially a machine you're likely to carry around with you all day. The UX1 also features two cameras - a 0.3-megapixel model in the top of the screen and a 1.3-megapixel job on the back), fingerprint reader, CompactFlash card slot, Memory Stick slot, Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, one USB port, headphone and microphone sockets, and docking station connector. The supplied docking station adds an additional three USB ports, four-pin Firewire, Ethernet, VGA and TV out.
There's no denying the UX1 is an impressive feat of engineering, packing a full Vista PC into such a small space. However, its main limitation is its physical size, restricting its usability. It's great to use on the go, but you'll probably want something else as well for more prolonged use. As it costs the best part of £2,000, it's a luxury only the particularly well off are likely to be able to afford.
Sony Vaio VGN-UX1XN ultra-mobile PC
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 .....