FlipStart halves handheld PC price
Yours for $699 now
FlipStart, the venture backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, has slashed the price of its eponymous handheld Windows PC by more than 50 per cent.
FlipStart's FlipStart PC: now (more than) half price
This week, the FlipStart PC began retailing for $699 - rather less than the $1499 it was priced at when the company launched it in March 2007.
The FlipStart is available with either Windows XP Pro or Windows Vista Business. It's powered by a 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M ultra-low voltage processor and packs in 512MB of DDR 2 memory, a 30GB hard drive and a 5.6in, 1024 x 600 display.
The compact clamshell's lid incorporates a second, external screen: a 1.8in, 200 x 176 panel that provides a PDA-style alert screen for the day's appointments, incoming email and so on. It has a 0.3-megapixel webcam too.
Squeezed out by sleeker, cheaper MacBook Air and Eee PC?
Not only 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 but also EvDO mobile broadband complete the handheld's wireless connectivity options.
FlipStart emerged a couple of years back alongside the likes of Oqo, Bsquare and Tiqit, all out to develop new, Windows-friendly handheld laptop alternatives aimed primarily at big business. But they're now operating in a market where the likes of Asus' Eee PC, Everex's CloudBook, Belinea's s.book and Packard Bell's EasyNote XS20 offer comparable specifications for a fraction of the price. The last two come with Windows pre-installed, and so will the Eee later this year.
And if tiny's not your thing, Toshiba's Portege R500, Sony's Vaio TZ and now Apple's MacBook Air can all do what the FlipStart can with better performance and in a very portable, less-than-laptop form-factor.
One moon, sir. Stick is extra...
Steve, the point about SSD makes sense if you consider the spec "at launch price" - compared to say, Vaio UX1XN or similar (which was also being sold off cheap lately; I've read stories of units being cleared from Sony stores for £699 and even their own site dropped them to £899). But "I'd consider one with (at a guess 32GB) SSD" at £350?
I think you'd be lucky to get a 32GB flash storage device alone for that for the very near future (a quick Google suggests just under $1000 for SATA 32GB Flash SSDs). I mean, I'd consider an Eee, if they had 32GB Flash, 1024 x 600 screen, Bluetooth, 1.1GHz Pentium-M with proper cache...
SSD should have been an option from the start; larger HDs should have been provided as soon as feasible to do so. However, we all know what to assume about a company when great and expensive tech suddenly becomes dirt cheap, especially when that company only has one product and took nearly four years to get it to market.
I don't think the HDD will be ditched, the RAM will be upgraded, or even that the Core 2 Solo CPU in the GD:Itronix ruggedised relative of FlipStart will make it to a consumer-market model - and if it does, it's not going to be a $699 device. In short, I suspect that calling this the V1.0 was possibly too great a temptation for fate ;)
And the website is horrible. It doesn't even work properly half the time.
Actually it sounds quite good...
The specs look good to me, if they'd ditch the HDD and replace it with a solid state disc of similar capacity I'd seriously consider one.
BTW the FlipStart web site isn't exactly inspiring, as it's full of flash, even for things that could just as easily be done with html and css.
Have you used a FlipStart? Have you actually read any in-depth reviews of the system?
It has a lot to offer over an Eee, for a start - it's got 1024 x 600 display, 30GB storage, Bluetooth, a decent CPU, wired ethernet via the port expander (which also provides 2 USB ports), seemingly an easy way to add internal HSDPA (haven't verified this), it's actually considerably smaller.
As for comparing it to the MacBook Air, I swear that is pure search engine hit seeking - what possible relationship is there between an as yet unavailable (give it a month), 13", $1799 Apple laptop and a 5.6", $699 handheld that has been out for a year? They aren't even remotely comparable.
I've used an Eee. It's okay. I think it's inefficient use of screen space, cramped yet unspaced keyboard, and woeful lack of storage makes it little more than a toy or a half-decent electronic Filofax. I still want one because it's so cheap, but the FlipStart does real work - I've used it for Lighroom previews, it runs InDesign CS3 FFS! Slowly, but it runs well enough that I could, if need be, prepare an article on the road and send a PDF. Hooked into an external display and with a bluetooth mouse and keyboard for longer periods of work, it's perfectly functional - whereas the Eee wouldn't stand a chance of handling these tasks even with a larger HD attached.
It's worth a trip to the US to grab one, IMO - unless some miracle happens and the UK pricing follows suit.
Just crossed my mind...
In the great wide world of the internets, only a few tech bloggers in the USA seem to have anything to say about the FlipStart besides me.
Am I the only person who has actually used one of these things for any length of time?! Surely there must be another Register reader with FlipStart experience/with a FlipStart...
It depends on what you would like from it. The Eee feels more... I don't know - chuckable? Like a book compared to a brick, if that makes sense. The FlipStart is far from fragile, it's a very strong little device indeed, but it's not something you'd toss onto a couch.
The 220dpi screen is very sharp, very precise, and delivers enough pixel real estate for most webpages and dialog boxes. It also has a very intuitive zoom function - mouse over a window, hit zoom - the window is expanded, and you can scroll or change zoom amount using the jog wheel.
The InfoPane only works with Office 2003 and is a little limited but does do what it claims to - standby the machine with the right settings and available connectivity, and it will wake, check email, sync the infopane, then sleep again - allowing you to read the emails on the smaller external display.
Some people might focus on the solid/thick construction. It's ironic that the Series 5 is held as an example here - the FlipStart has Psion DNA, visible to the end user as certain fonts and approaches in design and the spaced-out thumboard. Particularly familiar is the 'cupped hands, type with thumbs' feel of it - very similar (although with a lot more bulk) to the Series 3.
Performance is adequate; faster (by some margin) than the OQO Model 2 that I tested, much faster than the Ubiquio 711 (but it's a different class of device to that lump). The HD is 5mm 1.8" CE-ATA from memory; an iPod 80GB model from Toshiba may fit to upgrade it if they release them for sale to end users/builders. RAM is not upgradable; under XP I found this not an issue. It even handled playing Warcraft on it, though I used it mostly for LightRoom (at which it was quite useful, though slow on larger files due to the RAM limitations).
It does fit my jeans pocket with the slimline (optional and short-lived) battery. It is much smaller than an Eee! I had a picture of it beside my XPS M2010, which demonstrated two extremes of Windows laptops nicely...
For £350 it's a bargain, though I don't expect Blazepoint to be updating their pricing in any big rush.