And Now For A UMPC That's Completely Different - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
1/9/2008
05:31 AM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
Commentary
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And Now For A UMPC That's Completely Different

E-Lead, a Taiwanese maker of automotive "infotainment" systems, showed up at the [email protected]'s event at CES Tuesday with an ultra-mobile PC that doesn't look or work like any PC you've ever seen.

E-Lead, a Taiwanese maker of automotive "infotainment" systems, showed up at the [email protected]'s event at CES Tuesday with an ultra-mobile PC that doesn't look or work like any PC you've ever seen.The device, demonstrated by E-Lead vice-president Mark Su, is the same general size and shape of other UMPCs, a form factor dictated by their almost universal reliance on 7-inch touchscreen displays. But the E-Lead device has a keyboard unlike anything I've ever seen before.

The surface that would normally be covered by individual keys is split between two touch-sensitive pads that function both as touchpads for cursor control and as keys designed to be used most effectively with your thumbs, like a BlackBerry, rather than touchtyped on.




The E-Lead UMPC's keyboard is two touch-sensitive pads screen-printed with a QWERTY-like keyboard layout. They function as both touchpads and flat keys.
Click to Enlarge

It's not a not a standard keyboard, either -- there's no left shift key, for example.

The color screen swivels and folds flat like a tablet PC, and the display includes a mode that ghosts the keyboard over the screen content, so you can operate the device while it is almost completely closed by slipping your thumbs under the slightly open lid -- the touchpads locate your finger positions and display the corresponding key characters.




E-Lead vice president Mark Su demonstrated the use of the UMPC with a neckstrap -- a very compact working arrangement not possible with conventional clamshell notebooks.
Click to Enlarge

Details were scanty. Su said the device runs on a VIA processor and chipset, includes a 30GB hard drive, WiFi and Bluetooth. It weighs about 1 3/4 pounds. Su said his company expects to start producing the device by the beginning of the second quarter.




With the screen rotated and folded the UMPC will balance over a hanger bar, and you can hang it up so it's out of the way while you view video files or consult a recipe.
Click to Enlarge

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