In this Inkshow, I take a look at the Fujitsu Lifebook U820, a tablet UMPC/MID released at the end of 2008 that employs Intel’s Atom Z530 processor. Besides almost making me blind as I to tried to read the tiny 5.6″ screen supporting 1280×800 pixels upon unboxing, the U820 runs Vista Business on only 1.6GHz of a single core processor utilizing 1GB of RAM. If Microsoft was still running the “Vista Capable” sticker campaign, this device wouldn’t get one. Functionality aside, the U820 is an interesting creature. The hardware is in line with Fujitsu’s reputation for top-notch quality. There are gimmicky inclusions, however. For one, the keyboard light is useless and shines light around the keyboard, rather than on the keys. Secondly, having 1280×800 pixels on a 5.6″ screen size is counterproductive, I think. It takes longer for me to make out what is on the screen at this resolution than it does when I increase font size and scroll around, not to mention the excruciating eye strain that comes along with reading itty bitty text.
Check out the video for a more thorough look at this interesting device:
So what are my conclusions? Honestly, I don’t see how the MID and UMPC market can survive with the advent of the netbook, especially considering how much you have to give up in terms of performance just on the basis of having to run Vista versus XP. On the other hand, having a device that is as minimal in size as this one would do wonders on excursions that do not require, or perhaps do not allow for a larger device. Given the constraints of its dimunitive size and the limitations of the now-standard hardware (i.e., Intel Atom processor and 1GB RAM) for devices in this segment, Fujitsu does a fine job of eeking out functionality. Unfortunately, price is perhaps the U820’s biggest Achilles heel. At $1000 to start, the U820 creeps into the price range of full-sized ultraportable tablets like the T2020, also from Fujitsu. If this is the price point that UMPCs and MIDs will be coming to us, I don’t think it’ll bode well for the market.
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