I can’t say I blame the folks at Gizmodo. They are trying to make sense out of the mobile scene this days what with UMPCs, ULCPCs, mini-notebooks, ultraportables, subnotebooks, and netbooks, all floating around out there and no one really sure which is what when it comes to naming and branding. They offer a primer on what they are thinking about the distinctions and most of that makes some sense.
Of course we should all blame Asus for this. The took the market by storm with their triple vowel entry into the mobile space. But then it all went crazy from there. In my opinion, the folks doing the marketing and naming of all these things don’t have a clue either in the great rush to get these things into the market. The attempt to define a class by price with the ULCPC hasn’t proven successful. We’ve seen this latest class of devices still called everything but the kitchen sink. Of course the fun there is watching the price point. Remember HP said that their 2133 Mini-Note was going to be priced so aggressively that you wouldn’t think twice about picking one up. I’m not sure $849 fits that bill. I guess it all depends on your perspective, but 3K Computers recent entry into the space with the $299 Razorbook seems to be closer to that than anything. But I think the race to find a below $500 price is as much about protecting margins on full laptops than it is about low cost mobile devices. Make no mistake, the idea is to create a class of low cost, mobile devices that largely work out of the cloud, and can be used as by mobile professionals as a companion device, underprivileged children in third world countries, and basically anyone that can be sold on these devices.
The UMPC label is still hanging around and the confusion that the ultra-mobile PC concept caused contains more twists and folds than an Origami project. Many of the newer breed of mobiles get lumped into that category primarily because it was the early designation.
So, with tongue occasionally planted firmly in cheek, here’s my primer on what we should expect from these categories and how we should label them.
Subnotebook: This device does its job even when submerged in water.
Ultraportable: The same as a subnotebook, but not submersible.
Mini-Notebook: This device has a keyboard so small that only small children or those with really small hands can use it.
Ultra-Low Cost PC (ULCPC): The cost of this device is under $500. Except when its not.
Netbook: Has a case made out of nylon or hemp netting. Ideal for web computing on the Mesh.
Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC): A mobile PC that you can’t fit in your pocket, requires considerable tweaking to get acceptable performance, and costs more than many laptops on the market.