02. 22. 2007
Sony Vaio UX390 at the NYT
Dan Ackerman over at the New York Times has taken a hands on look at the Vaio UX390. The UX series are UMPC's: Ultra Mobile Personal Computers. UMPC's have small screens, but all the features one would expect from a laptop running Windows XP. I'm a big fan of the UMPC form factor, but the "killer app" that convinces the general market to buy them hasn't been found yet.
Most reviewers have concentrated on the different uses for the machine, but Dan's review is much more focused on the usability. The actual pushing of buttons and interacting with the device to accomplish tasks is what I find intriguing. I have personal opinions on how the next generation of handheld machines should be built, and it includes lots of buttons optimized for shortcut tasks and full-size keyboards. The touch screen is a wonderful ancillary device to have in the arsenal, but I don't think that it's up to the task of being my sole interface with the machine.
What's really intriguing here are the benchmarks at the bottom of the review. Dan was testing a Vaio UX with the new 32GB solid state drive; a totally solid state device with no moving parts. The speed boost from the new drive helped the machine stay competitive in things like Photoshop processing and iTunes encoding. Flash RAM storage has long been discussed as a replacement for the traditional mechanical disk hard drive, but prices have always been prohibited. I remember writing about a similar disk five years ago, and prices at the time were upwards of $20,000.