NY Times Reviews Microsoft’s Ultra Mobile PC

Yesterday David Pogue of the New York Times reviewed Microsoft’s new Ultra Mobile PC, previously known as Origami. This review does a great job at capturing the utter absurdity of this device. Perhaps the Ultra Mobile PC might have been somewhat useful at its original conception of a PC running Windows XP that has a 7-inch touch screen and only weighs two pounds.I remain skeptical, but then again, I’m mostly opposed to these devices designed to keep me wired all the time. The voice in my head is constantly yelling, “Unplug me dammit! Even techie nerds have to rest sometimes”. Pogue starts out by commenting on the devices shortcomings compared to its proposed specs:

At 9 by 5.5 by 1 inches, the resulting machine is either one of the world’s tiniest Windows laptops — so tiny there’s no keyboard, trackpad or CD drive — or a palmtop that’s so huge, you need two hands to operate it.

My thoughts exactly. Pogue goes on to examine the interesting UI problems we seem to run into when dealing with an 800×400 pixel screen (WTF?) with no keyboard or mouse.

Standard screen resolution on the Ultra Mobile PC is an oddball 800 by 480 pixels. Those are such peculiar dimensions, in fact, that many of Windows’s own dialogue boxes don’t fit. Even when they’re up against the top of the screen, they extend past the screen’s bottom edge — so important buttons like OK, Print and Cancel are unclickable. … Microsoft offers a new on-screen keyboard called Dial Keys. It depicts the right and left halves of a split keyboard at the lower corners of the screen, arrayed in concentric arcs that match your thumbs’ reach. It’s a cute conceit. Unfortunately, not only do these huge quarter-circles obscure your document, but of course you can’t feel the keys.

And lastly, for the analogy of the week:

Stylus, cursor-control nubbin, two on-screen keyboards, handwriting recognition, mouse-click button combinations — what a lot of workarounds! And how unnecessary; the mouse and keyboard solved the problems of text input and cursor control decades ago. It’s as though Microsoft invented a car with an opaque windshield — and then devised camera and periscope attachments so you can see where you’re going.

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appointive
appointive
appointive
appointive