CeBIT premieres UMPCs: the next generation

Like a gangly teenager, UMPCs are in that awkward growing-up phase between childhood promise and becoming mature, well-adjusted gadgets. After the flu

Like a gangly teenager, UMPCs are in that awkward growing-up phase between childhood promise and becoming mature, well-adjusted gadgets. After the flurry of excitement around their CeBIT debut last year, we found the first-gen devices to be a bit pointless. But they’ve multiplied and stormed this year’s show to prove us wrong.You may already be saving up for the Samsung’s Q1 Ultra, but the first of the new UMPCs to hit the UK will be the beautifully named Medion MD96211 (pictured), which is identical to the Gigabyte U60. Not everyone will be overjoyed with the split QWERTY keyboard, but it runs Vista Home, has a 6.5in widescreen, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The hard-drive’s only 30GB, mind.If that 740g beast is a bit much for you, Digital Cube’s i-Station G43 may be of interest. It’s being billed as the ‘world’s smallest UMPC’, which means it’s also got a weeny 4.3in screen rather than the 7in jobs favoured by its brethren. You also won’t be able to stuff it with Vista goodness, as the processor can only handle Windows XP and Linux. But connectivity’s good with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and it’ll be available in 30GB and 60GB guises.

One of the first UMPCs we held was Asus R2H, and it looks to have a new brother called the T83. The R2H’s lack of keyboard irked us no end, but this has a full QWERTY pad and a 7in swivel screen. So it’s a tablet PC, then? Well, if it is, it’s got a fairly uninspiring spec list with only Windows XP tablet and a 30GB hard-disk on offer. Cue manic laughter from Samsung’s Q1 Ultra.  Finally, if you’re a certified penny-pincher, you’ll be pleased to see Amtek’s T770, whose prices will be starting at £600. It’s a weighty 850g number, but packs Windows Vista, a 7in screen, Wi-Fi and, slightly pointlessly, a 1.3MP camera. Choices, choices.Lubricate your eyeballs on our video page with our highlights from CeBIT 2007.

Essentials

Medion MD96211, Digital Cube i-Station G43, Asus T83, Amtek T770 Price: £800, £tba, £tba, from £600 On sale: April, TBA, winter 2007, TBA Related stories: Samsung Q1 UMPC, take two