Originally Posted by THT
Well, like has been said, anything else is a tweener device that doesn't seem to have mass market appeal. It either has to be small enough to fit in your hand or big enough to be as usable as a laptop. I went for the smallest possible laptop with a full laptop keyboard idea. If it is UMPC sized, I'm not sure what it would do better than a handheld or a laptop.
Well that is really what we seem to be debating. I just see a need for something larger than the iPod Touch / iPhone that is still very portable. There are a number of things that drive that need. One is movies and other visual media, where a higher pixel density can make a huge difference. It is really a matter of how seriously Apple is going to take on the multimedia market.
The second issue driving demand for a larger iPhone is that it makes for a much more capable device when used as a personal computing device. In either case we aren't talking about a huge increase in size. About a half inch in width and maybe tweaking length is all that is needed to bring a lot more capability to the iPhone. Neither of these devices could really be considered competition for the laptop market. In fact a discussion of laptops in this context really doesn't make sense.
Where it would make sense is in a discussion about a tablet PC that is significantly larger than an iPhone. This again is a different market but in part it wold be a machine designed to replace laptops. It certainly isn't the platform for heavy text entry, but frankly many laptops aren't used in that manner anymore. The market is more consumerish than commercial though I could see the platform getting heavy up take in the industrial sector. As far as what it does better, well that is simple really it delivers a bigger screen than the iPhone type devices! Along with that it offers up a form factor that is much more useful than the traditional clamshell laptop approach for people on the go.
Now, it seems the Nokia N800/810 is popular, so there may be a market now for such a device, but lets wait and see. The market where internet access and a web browser is all that is wanted.
See this is where I see positive evidence that there is demand for something more powerful than the current iPhone. The N8** series is popular even though there are significant hardware trade off in the design. As the software has firmed up on the devices they have been getting more and more interest too.
Frankly I see that market, where internet and web access are wanted, as significant drivers for future hardware. The iPhone in combination with the Nokias are already proving that to be the case. But the machine has to be perceived as a general purpose computing device also. Right now the ability to access cellular networks is very important and frankly one place the Nokias come up short.
Power isn't a big deal. If Apple can cram 5 hours of video life into an 80 GB iPod classic at 0.41" thick, I don't think they'll have a problem with a bigger device. Not sure what you mean by performance.
Well power is always significant in the portable market even if it is a few milliwatts difference. The issue with performance is that many of the disk drives in these media players where not optimized for computing usage but rather media streaming. For some applications Flash would produce a fairly significant boost in performance even though it would lower power usage. granted at the potable level there might not be a huge difference but it is real and any advantage that can be had power free is worth considering.
Well, which device are we talking about? My MacBook thin? That should have a HDD. A UMPC? That should have a HDD. Heck, I think the iPhone should have an HDD version. The only suitable flash only device is nano and shuffle sized devices. Everything above it can accommodate HDD. There really shouldn't be a flash versus HDD battle for Apple, they should just know that both are viable markets.
Well if Apple does do an UMPC, one of the best things they could do for themselves is to leave out any rotating media. It just makes for a more reliable machine. But then again maybe I've not had good luck with laptop harddrives so am biased.
Disk drives will have a 5 to 10x $/GB advantage to flash for the foreseeable future. What would make flash more attractive are users not needing the storage capacity and being happy with <20 GB (number pulled out of the air). It may be true, especially with our broadband kind of stuck at 1 to 3 MBit/s and out wired peripheral connection stuck at <500 MBit/s.
See the thing is when I see people start talking about how much memory a UMPC or even a tablet needs and complain about the lack of space, I realize that we aren't even on the same page as to how the devices would be used. I look at these devices as platforms for people who don't want of need a full blown laptop. In the case of people needing web access and other communications features, it is a consumption model of computing. You don't buy any of these devices to write War & Peace or to program the space shuttle.
It's really too bad Firewire 800 is not common, DVD is DRMed to all heck, and storage write/read speeds have been relatively stagnant, as I can see those issues preventing users from needing more storage, so flash is all that is needed. It appears that for music, <10 MB is all that is needed. The iPod nano has on doubled in storage (from 4 GB mini to 8 GB nano) over the last 4 years. That should tell us something.
DRM sucks and frankly I haven't purchased a DVD, with a commercial movie on it, in years. I don't disagree with your numbers all that much except to say that Apple may change the equation a bit with respect to large files.
But lets face it it never hurts to have more storage. It should be very easy for Apple to put 32GBs into one of these come the start of the new year and possibly much more. For many this would be OK. I think the key here though is expansion through a compact flash slot or similar. You at least need to leave people with the impression that the thing can grow with their needs.
Having all of your music & audio, all of your 5+ MP photos, and all of your videos (home videos, DVDs) in an iPhone, iPod or Intel's Moorestown mockup should be just as convenient and useful as iPods and music. It just seems that the content and infrastructure aren't there yet. So, I guess I argued myself out of it. Sigh...
Actually I believe this is a very big draw for the devices. Maybe not all your media but I'd certainly want all my better pics in the unit. While I'm not into home movies at the moment I could see where that would be attractive too.
Lets put it this way it wouldn't take much to chew up whatever amount of storage Apple throws into one of these devices no matter the technology. The trick is that the storage on these devices needs to be rugged. That is why I support flash so much.
I was just thinking ARM will be in handhelds for a long long while and Intel really doesn't have a chance until 32 nm and a good x86 SoC for handhelds can be made.
If Intel really wanted to they could produce a SOC for the larger devices today. I saw a pic of the latest form Intel and their UMPC chip is extremely small sitting next to one of their production chips. Frankly I'm not sure why they just didn't go whole hog and produce the SOC. Part of that might be customer demand where the ability to hook up alternative I/O may be appealing or the ability to spread heat around the mother boards is useful. Or maybe Intel just isn't feeling real confident about SOC right now
UMPCs will be an interesting battleground. It just seems everyone is assuming that these tweener devices are the next big thing, a market as big as handhelds (including phones here) or PCs. It's not clear to me yet that this is the case, but there is a lot of money going into it alright.
The only thing that is really clear to me is that the market for traditional UMPC's simply isn't there at the price they are charging. Can Apple hit a feature and price point where the units actually sell? Possibly, but I really believe the market is in the so called tweener device that is based on a tablet design. There is simply more opportunity for innovation and getting things right. Calm shell UMPC's are just an attempt to move a concept into a niche where it just doesn't work.