Many computer enthusiasts have, for a long time, had the dream of keeping desktop-class performance close at hand, wherever they are, whenever they need or want it. That dream began to take shape over the years in the form of small computers that could at least handle most office functions. Meanwhile, we all waited for the day when more would be possible...
The first attempts, limited by the technology available at the time, are best represented by a device like the Psion 5MX.
The next stage was represented by devices with features that were similar to those of a desktop computer, but with a dedicated operating system resident in ROM and incapable of being updated. The Jornada 680/720/728 series is the benchmark for that generation, running Windows CE, the predecessor to Windows Mobile. These devices had a laughable amount of RAM, but they sported serial ports, CompactFlash, PCMCIA (supporting hard disk cards of up to 5GB), infrared, and an internal modem.
Finally, for the devotees of true mobility, Sony created a true computer in a 500-gram (17.6 oz.) package that included a Core Solo, 1GB of RAM, an Edge modem, two cameras (0.3 and 1.3 MPixel), a keyboard, a touchscreen, a fingerprint reader, and the indispensable Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and USB connections. It ran Windows XP or Vista and was the greatly improved successor to the previous-generation devices both in terms of functionality and form factor. Note that the US versions had a WWAN connection using the EDGE standard. They were called UX, starting with the UX17 and ending with the UX490 (released in November 2007), with the 180, 280, 380 and 390 models (in the US) emerging along the way.
Sony dropped the UX platform over a year ago and turned to the Atom (much less powerful, but much more trendy), and the result was the Vaio P, which has no touchscreen.
Infuriated, members of the Micro PC Talk forum decided to continue developing the concept, giving it new functions and technologies, in an attempt to wound Sony’s pride (and also Apple’s) by showing them what could be done, even if they didn’t care to do it.
And that was how the 490 "Anh's Design," also called the MPCT UX590 by some, was born. It’s the world’s most powerful netbook, and/or the world’s smallest notebook.
This computer is capable of achieving a score of 57K in CrystalMark, booting Windows 7 in 15 seconds, running Aero with no problem.
It's able to decode 1080p video without a problem, too.
Believe it or not, this diminutive machine also runs games very well, thank you, provided you avoid the most power-hungry ones (another GPU just wouldn’t fit).
Here we are surfing the Web at 7.2 Mb/s with its built-in 3.5G modem, and making and receiving phone calls over GSM.
...all while remaining the world’s smallest “real” computer (can you find it in this picture?).
It’s is also the only netbook with a Core 2 Duo processor weighing a mere 524 grams (18.5 ounces).
Here’s the way it all came about: a French forum member (Darkerx) collected the most successful mods made by other members of the forum and assembled the various components from around the world. An American student (Anh Nguyen) managed to build the most significant improvements into one device, one of the last new UX490s available, unearthed in Australia for the occasion.
The little computer’s 524g weight includes a Core 2 Duo U7700 (purchased in Hong Kong) that had to be soldered to the motherboard after unsoldering the U2200 (don’t try this at home).