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Sneak Peek: Sony's Tiny Windows XP Powered Micro PC

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June 7, 2006 4:35:41 PM

It takes a pretty fantastic piece of mobile computing hardware to get Barry Gerber excited. Sony's soon-to-be-released VAIO UX Micro PC not only gets him genuinely excited, it's already got him checking his checkbook and counting his cash to see when, not if, he will be able to afford one.
June 7, 2006 6:16:53 PM

I did programming work in places like Cambodia on a small notebook and getting Internet from a GSP/GPRS bluetooth cell phone. If I can live anyplace, why not live in Cambodia or Indonesia? I would have loved one of these for those long bus rides in the mountains.
ANYWAY....
I was waiting for one of these to come alone for a long time as well.
This means I can have real computing power and do real work (with at least limited productivity) anytime anyplace.
It costs a lot, but also does a lot more than a $900 UMPC with a touch-screen keyboard. AV-out is killer.
I do development work, so the Win XP Pro actually works better for me than the XP Tablet.
The GMA 950 is minimal, but still a whole lot better than the extreme graphics I've seen before on these other "handtops"
I'm not writing a review here, but I do want to say this thing has everything on my wish-list which is a few year old already.
Built in GPS and a minimal 4 band cell phone will be icing on the cake.. :D 
Will these ever come to the States or do I need to go to Taipei like I usually do?
June 7, 2006 7:23:00 PM

Quote:
It takes a pretty fantastic piece of mobile computing hardware to get Barry Gerber excited. Sony's soon-to-be-released VAIO UX Micro PC not only gets him genuinely excited, it's already got him checking his checkbook and counting his cash to see when, not if, he will be able to afford one.


Will this little guy run Oblivion?
June 7, 2006 8:03:56 PM

Quote:

Will this little guy run Oblivion?


Oblivion? You might get a slide-show with all minimum settings.
You should see at least something because I think the GMA 950 is a full DX9 chip with 4 pipes and shared memory.
You should have better luck with less resource hogging games like Silent Hunter III. Also, DX8 games should be no trouble at all, even big games like GTA 3, (OpenGL) COD 1, or Elder Scrolls 3 should not give this little guy much trouble at 1024x600.
This is just an educated guess.
June 7, 2006 8:19:21 PM

Quote:

Will this little guy run Oblivion?


Oblivion? You might get a slide-show with all minimum settings.
You should see at least something because I think the GMA 950 is a full DX9 chip with 4 pipes and shared memory.
You should have better luck with less resource hogging games like Silent Hunter III. Also, DX8 games should be no trouble at all, even big games like GTA 3, (OpenGL) COD 1, or Elder Scrolls 3 should not give this little guy much trouble at 1024x600.
This is just an educated guess.

I should have put a smiley on my question because I was really just teasing, but I rarely do smileys. I'd have to use a USB CD drive anyway, right? I was laughing to myself about having a monitor, mouse, CD, etc, strapped to this thing and little fingertip points superglued on to be able to hit the tiny keys, etc. The very thing my kids would love to do rather than just use a desktop that would be much more appropriate.

But would this be a good option instead of a PSP?
June 7, 2006 8:52:53 PM

Quote:

But would this be a good option instead of a PSP?


It's hard to tell if you're serious.
But yes, the VAIO UX Micro should be 10x better than the PSP for games. The only hard part might be just controlling the game. I've used PPCs before and the Stylus pen works fairly well at this.
It's also a real PC for doing real PC work.
It would resemble a octopus with many wires hanging out of it.
The UX will be a hell of a generous toy.
A great game for this kind of device is Pharaoh or Empire Earth.

Again, all this is just a guess based on PPCs, 1 Ghz notebooks with 512 meg, and GMA 950s that I've used before.
June 8, 2006 3:02:23 AM

Dang, this is one amazing little wonder. The WWAN is the real winner on this baby - no more pcmcia cards to worry about.

Did they specify the WWAN type? I guess its EVDO if it is using Cingular.

The $1800 price is high, but considering what you're getting, and what you'll be able to do with it compared to a regular pocket pc, this thing will be the perfect little device for certain types looking for something that fits this form factor.

I like it.

Cons: it doesn't have a cell phone built in. So what? It would seem pretty ridiculous holding something the size of a house brick next to your head and talking to it. Buy a RAZR V3, slip it in your upper shirt pocket and your done!

Also, somebody correct me, but is that a fingerprint sensor that I see at the upper left on the LCD front?
June 8, 2006 5:02:46 AM

Quote:
But would this be a good option instead of a PSP?


It's hard to tell if you're serious.

Well, my son who is mowing lawns to save for a PSP would like me to financially bridge the gap to get him a UX. Not much chance of that, even if he'd have the coolest toy in school. But with a larger keyboard, like those for PDAs, this would be a great tool for students and professionals the need to keep the briefcase weight down. I look forward to the day when this kind of device drops way down in price.

Quote:
But yes, the VAIO UX Micro should be 10x better than the PSP for games. The only hard part might be just controlling the game..


I'd think it's just a matter of time before someone makes a compact USB game pad that would do the trick.
June 8, 2006 11:32:44 AM

I would prefer the format of something like the Psion 5mx.
June 8, 2006 12:31:58 PM

Quote:

I'd have to use a USB CD drive anyway, right? I was laughing to myself about having a monitor, mouse, CD, etc, strapped to this thing and little fingertip points superglued on to be able to hit the tiny keys, etc.


just one thing :D  have you heart of Iso files?
I use this for a few of thous games I play often so I dont kill the CDs by having then spinning and heating up all the time.. :p 

well what you do is just to make a copy of your cds content in iso format (could be a game or a DVD-movie) and then u store that file on ur drive.. then you use a mounting tool like deamon tools and then a new drive apears in your "my computer" and you can run your game from that drive! 8)

hehe.. I gues it also saves some battery power.. when you dont have to power a ekstra cd USb drive.. ohh and dont forget that it only got one USB port so you would have to use a USB Hub aswell if you want to use a mouse.. now you dont.. :p 

Quote:

Also, somebody correct me, but is that a fingerprint sensor that I see at the upper left on the LCD front?


Yes sir! ;P check all the fetures here: click here (to sony hp)

ohh btw... dont let you fool by the black interface.. its just a program you can choose to start up in windows just like the mediacenter interface in Windows MCE.. it is windows running behind it.. ;P

regards
June 8, 2006 5:29:29 PM

Quote:
just one thing :D  have you heart of Iso files?
I use this for a few of thous games I play often so I dont kill the CDs by having then spinning and heating up all the time.. :p 

well what you do is just to make a copy of your cds content in iso format (could be a game or a DVD-movie) and then u store that file on ur drive.. then you use a mounting tool like deamon tools and then a new drive apears in your "my computer" and you can run your game from that drive! 8)

hehe.. I gues it also saves some battery power.. when you dont have to power a ekstra cd USb drive.. ohh and dont forget that it only got one USB port so you would have to use a USB Hub aswell if you want to use a mouse.. now you dont.. :p 


I've heard of this but never tried it. Thanks for the advice.
June 9, 2006 2:39:52 AM

Yeah, that would work great on a handheld device with no optical drive, but you might want to upgrade that 30GB 1.8 inch hard drive to something roomier. Once you start amassing those ISO's, especially D9 DVD's, they will literally eat a small hard drive.

I am guessing hard drives in the 1.8 inch form factor currently go to 80GB, but don't quote me on that though. In any event, that should give you enough space to store your most frequently accessed discs, while still leaving headroom to swap images back and forth.

I've been using Paragon CD-ROM Emulator and Alcohol 120% for a long time now and they work great. Recently I have also found a third solution called GameDrive that promises compatibility with all future games as well.
June 9, 2006 12:59:16 PM

yeah.. you are right.. it is a small drive.. and I know that it might not be big enough for many games and programs + ISOs.. and sure it would be wonderfull to be able to switch /hack a bigger drive into that baby. ;P but it will anyways not be huge(GB) games like BF2 or HL2.. ohh or killerAps like Photoshop CS2.. :p 

anyways... im for sure gorna get one of these babys, if my mothly wage will just allow me it. :roll:
June 9, 2006 1:28:14 PM

Quote:
Yeah, that would work great on a handheld device with no optical drive, but you might want to upgrade that 30GB 1.8 inch hard drive to something roomier. Once you start amassing those ISO's, especially D9 DVD's, they will literally eat a small hard drive.

I am guessing hard drives in the 1.8 inch form factor currently go to 80GB, but don't quote me on that though. In any event, that should give you enough space to store your most frequently accessed discs, while still leaving headroom to swap images back and forth.

I've been using Paragon CD-ROM Emulator and Alcohol 120% for a long time now and they work great. Recently I have also found a third solution called GameDrive that promises compatibility with all future games as well.


I don't know the 1.8" HD market, but if nothing else, there are pretty small USB external HDs available. I've got a 120GB WD that is 3.5x5.5x0.75". Slower than adding a larger internal but would work for gameing and general storage just fine.
June 9, 2006 2:30:56 PM

Yes that's a fingerprint sensor. Sony sees this as a business computer as well as something for us fun loving types. :) 
June 9, 2006 2:35:32 PM

wow just check this link out link
its another UMPC which unfortunately have go some bad reviews BUT.. check the upgrade options! HD is going up to 160GB with a 5400RPM drive and 100GB with a 7200RPM drive! yay :p  we might just see some configs like that on the sony HP in the futuere.. atleast I hope so! :D 
June 10, 2006 1:35:22 AM

Quote:
Yeah, that would work great on a handheld device with no optical drive, but you might want to upgrade that 30GB 1.8 inch hard drive to something roomier. Once you start amassing those ISO's, especially D9 DVD's, they will literally eat a small hard drive.

I am guessing hard drives in the 1.8 inch form factor currently go to 80GB, but don't quote me on that though. In any event, that should give you enough space to store your most frequently accessed discs, while still leaving headroom to swap images back and forth.

I've been using Paragon CD-ROM Emulator and Alcohol 120% for a long time now and they work great. Recently I have also found a third solution called GameDrive that promises compatibility with all future games as well.


I don't know the 1.8" HD market, but if nothing else, there are pretty small USB external HDs available. I've got a 120GB WD that is 3.5x5.5x0.75". Slower than adding a larger internal but would work for gameing and general storage just fine.

I'm using that same setup on my laptop - 100GB 7200RPM drive built-in, 160GB 4200RPM drive as USB, attached to the outside using (not so high tech) velcro. 8) It's not quite the same as two drives built-in on RAID 0, but I get a nice compliment of speed/storage, and can still carry it all around. And it doesn't need a separate DC power supply either.

THAT would be an interesting accessory for the Sony, especially when higher capacity 2.5 inch drives hit the market. I hear 200GB is already out (Toshiba).
June 10, 2006 3:25:26 AM

Quote:
THAT would be an interesting accessory for the Sony, especially when higher capacity 2.5 inch drives hit the market. I hear 200GB is already out (Toshiba).


There just has to be an option to that puny 30GB drive or it will cut into their sales.
June 10, 2006 11:34:32 PM

You know, considering the vast amount of accessories the average Joe consumer can get from Sony just on their camcorder line, I would not be surprised if they offer a multitude of gizmos for this.

Speaking of which, one very important accessory that they definitely should offer is a vehicle dashboard mount like those available for in-car GPS devices.

As for the USB hard drive, I can probably make an educated guess that they will offer a "conservative" 100GB model similar to the one you have. The internal 30GB drive should be a no-brainer to switch out.
June 21, 2006 3:25:36 PM

im guessing this is one of sonys more sucessful products, it looks like a much better deal then a lot of the other mobile pcs
June 22, 2006 5:13:18 PM

Finally!!
Barry, PLEEEAAASSE, when you are evaluating this try running Mathematica and MAPLE on it - I want to find out if this is the ultimate mini- scientific / mathematical appliance I have been waiting for.
June 22, 2006 5:17:31 PM

I don't see any trouble running apps for XP - Mathematica, MAPLE, MathCad, or something even more complicated on the tiny Sony.
June 23, 2006 10:37:26 PM

ohh man.. what can I say.. lucky you.. plz tell us about how the feel of it is.. like build quality and stuff like that..
June 28, 2006 2:11:49 PM

I have to agree with this 'cause I still have my 5MX from '98 and 'cept for a few minor keyboard sticks, it still works. No where near as fast is todays stuff but the robustness of the builtin apps is still hard to beat even today.

This Sony looks like a remake of the small UX40-UX50 Palm OS models that Sony abandoned due to MSFT's pressures with WM5.0. Smart idea to embrace WinXP for this form factor and to add BT, Wi-fi and GPRS/EDGE??? Good stuff there!!!

My current mobile solution is the Cingular 8125(I recommended to our CEO and he loves it, I just deployed 5 more). Impressive keyboard and although it's thicker than Palm's, Moto's, and HP's offerings, you can't beat the price with a new contract.

I see these new palmtops as an in-between of PDA/Phone and Laptop. I'd choose this unit as my laptop 'cause:

1. Save my hardcore gaming for my Main PC, graphics on this isn't important.
2. More development tools for coding sessions on the go and better software support for WinXP makes this very attractive.
3. All the built-in radios!!!!
4. College students and those who like to travel light will like this device.

Con's:
1. Price will need to come down, maybe drop the WWAN for a Sub $1500 model.(Street prices may still be lower)
2. Battery life.(3.5hrs as the low end measure would be nice)[/quote]

I'll wait to see more forumz on this as folks pick it up to see if Sony has a winner but on paper, a very compelling unit.

Too bad it's just taking others to do what a '98 Psion 5MX did very well...
!