Hardware in the future - increasing the battery life

, posted: 22-Mar-2006 10:35

Yesterday I noted that there were hardware changes that would increase the battery life of devices such as the UMPC, and this morning, I saw a link on Craigs blog to an article on geekzone about exactly what I had in mind...

Solid state disks.  These should dramatically improve battery life in mobile devices - and in the UMPC's in particular.

I suspect we'll see these in the second generation devices - which should start appearing in the Windows Vista timeframe.  Availability now + six(ish) months for integration and testing = firmly a H2 feature.

More on UMPCs replacing high end Pocket PC's

, posted: 22-Mar-2006 00:07

Since my post yesterday, there have been a few people (including JK) who have linked through and some comments both in agreement and not.

I guess I should clarify what I mean by high end Pocket PC.  I agree that the Pocket PC will be around for some time to come.  I think though that devices such as the HP iPAQ 4700, Dell Axim X51V and similar devices will be displaced largely by the UMPC - particularly as the form factor and capabilities of the UMPC evolve.

Depending on who's definition of a PDA you subscribe to (I prefer Gartners) - the market share of non phone PDAs is shrinking right now.  Indeed the non cellular Pocket PC's are being slowly replaced with Pocket PC Phone edition devices or smartphones.  So to consider that whats left of this maket could be soaked up by the UMPC is not an altogether far cry.

There are two key draw cards for buyers of large form factor Pocket PC's - the larger screen size in the portable form factor - both of which the UMPC delivers.

Having said that, there are two primary reservations around this that anyone might legitimately have.

The first is the size - those who have a larger form factor device probably dont want it to get bigger, so in this sense a UMPC might not be really attractive. I think the size limitation will be offset by the presence of qwerty keyboards on Pocket PC's and Smartphones, which will enable easier data entry on those devices, while allowing them to get smaller (again not everyone likes tiny keyboards) - so I think that smaller devices should solve this in part.  In addition the size of UMPC devices should be offset by the additional functionality and improved data entry options - which should solve the other part of this reservation.

The second reervation around the UMPC is that it will have no where near the battery life of a Pocket PC.  However, there are hardware changes coming later this year that will help this problem considerably (although I dont think they are public yet).  So while this will be an issue for the first generation devices, I doubt it will be for future generations.

Sure it wont happen right now, or even this year, but by the end of next year I think larger form factor Pocket PCs will be extremely rare - and part of that will be because of UMPC's. 

We'll have to wait and see if I'm right.

UMPC: The end of High End Pocket PC's

, posted: 20-Mar-2006 22:28

Kevin captured something that had been ticking around in my head for the last week or two, but hadn't quite set yet (like concrete - sometimes I have thoughts that take time to set).

The UMPC will probably mean that the larger form factor Pocket PC's will dissapear over time.  This of course makes perfect sense, given that the larger Pocket PC's fill a niche that would be better served with a UMPC - i.e. something that has a form factor big enough to use comfortably, but powerful enough to do most tasks with.  Unfortunately high end Pocket PC's have largely failed in the latter regard - as they just dont have the power to easily handle applications that you'd want in the larger form factor.  Not to mention that most of these devices dont have phone functionality, so they are not even connected all the time.

I think it will be interesting to see how UMPC devices with 3G capabilities affect the market too.  I dont see these things taking on phone capabilities (except VOIP), but 3G data capabilities holds some VERY interesting possibilities - and its here that I see the biggest changes coming - think bluetooth, IM/VOIP and 3G in the one fairly small bundle with an onscreen touch keyboard...

Just need to get the battery industry to catch up - this will be their biggest weakness... especially in first generation devices.

How practical is the UMPC screen?

, posted: 14-Mar-2006 08:43

I've been thinking about the screen size of the UMPC and wondering how much you'll be able to fit on it. Fortunately - rather than guessing we can download the UMPC screen emulator. You can use this on your standard Windows XP laptop to see how the applications you run will look (see here for a shot of it running). I've got a couple of apps in particular that I want to run on one of these and the ones I've tried look OK. Obvious things that stand out to me is that I'll need to trim toolbars in IE, and the standard display applet from control panel barely fits. If you are interested in getting one of these new devices, you'll want to run this emulator up to see how it will work for you.

UMPC - impressions

, posted: 11-Mar-2006 14:46

I've been looking at the UMPC. I've watched the Channel 9 Video, and had a look at the intel platform page.
The short story is I am going to get one of these. I've got a trip to the US in July, so if I cant get one beforehand, I'll get one then. I've been thinking about getting a Tablet PC for home for ages, and this would fit the bll perfectly and should be cheaper.
One thing I've noticed in the platform is that there is lots of talk about communications, mostly via instant messaging and VOIP. If this is really connected as much as the vision determines it will be, then as these devices are widely adopted, communications may actually change considerably.
Today we communicate largely via phone for 1:1 discussion, increasingly we are using instant messaging, and increasingly instant messaging clients have VOIP clients built in, so a device like this that can accompany us anywhere and stay connected means that we will have more access to each other using IM and VOIP and even video calls. So this could change the way we communicate, which will again mean that mobile operators will need to change to stay in business.
Of course this will take time...
I think this would be great for running many of the apps that I have on my home PC that I'd like to take with me. I'm looking forward to seeing them on the market.

Microsoft unveils the Ultra Mobile PC

, posted: 10-Mar-2006 11:23

Now THIS looks very cool...
The Ultra-Mobile PC is a new kind of computer. It combines the power of Windows XP with mobile-ready technologies that make it easy to access and use your software on the go. With small, lightweight, carry-everywhere hardware designs, you can connect and communicate, accomplish any task anywhere and at any time, and be entertained and informed wherever life takes you.

Square screen smartphones coming soon?

, posted: 10-Mar-2006 10:53

The world continues to get more interesting and the Windows Mobile world continues to evolve and more form factors come out. This morning I opened my mail and read in the latest Handango developer newsletter that developers ought to get ready for square screen Smartphones as they will be released this year. Smartphones with landscape screens have been announced (such as the Motorola Q and Samsung i320). Pocket PC's with square screens have been around for a while - and I personally dont find these compelling, however, I'm interested to see how it works on Smartphones. If you are a developer and you are using .Net CF - my advice is to use .Net CF v2 - this allows you take advantage of Docking and Anchoring, which prevents you having to write lots of code to handle screen resolutions. More on this in a later post.

K-Jam - switch off update

, posted: 8-Mar-2006 21:00

Since my last post on the subject I've found that the five second turn off your K-Jam is not perculiar to AKU2, but seems to have been there from the start.

We tested it today on a collegues K-Jam and it worked there too - pre AKU2.


Windows Mobile Development - What you need to get started

, posted: 8-Mar-2006 00:00

OK. So I have been meaning to write some instructions for getting into developing applications for Windows Mobile devices for some time, and since I have this nice shiny new blog, I guess this is the right time to do it.

Therefore - this will be the first in a series of posts on Windows Mobile .Net Compact Framework development. The idea is to take you on a trip (if it should amount to such) through from day 0 to development of a basic application for the Pocket PC or Smartphone - I haven't decided which yet and the reason will be disclosed in a later post. Along the way there will be other little bits and peices of mobile related thoughts to add variety.

So this entry is really just a pointer - what do you need to get started developing applications for Windows Mobile?

The list is (fortunately) quite small...you really need to get Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition and thats it.

Visual Studio Standard is the lowest of the non free versions of Visual Studio (compare Visual Studio Editions). It includes the project templates to get you started, it also includes SQL Mobile and most importantly Windows Mobile emulators. You should be able to buy Visual Studio 2005 Standard from most software retailers. You can order a trial from here. For New Zealanders, you should watch my work blog, as I'm in the process of setting up a page so you can get a trial of Visual Studio 2005 delivered for free.

Here's a question you see occaisionally... "Why are the tools for Windows Mobile Development not free?". Good question... they used to be. Before VS2005 we had Embedded Visual Basic and Embedded C++ which were freely available. However, when VS2005 was relesed support for these tools was dropped and the Embedded VB Runtime is no longer supported. After Tech Ed 2005 a few of us had dinner with John Case who is a director in the Microsoft Devoper Tools division. I asked him this question, and he told me that they lobbied hard to make them free, but were not allowed to. This might change in the next version of Visual Studio... but we'll have to wait and see.

Having installed Visual Studio 2005 you will need ActiveSync 4.1 (download here). If you have a Windows Mobile Device, you should already have ActiveSync installed, but make sure you have the latest version installed (which is 4.1 at time of writing). Visual Studio 2005 requires version 4.1 or later for mobile development.

The only other thing you will need is required if you are wanting to develop specifically for Windows Mobile 5 - that is the Windows Mobile 5 SDK for the platform you want to develop for (download Pocket PC SDK, download Smartphone). The SDK includes the Visual Studio project templates and emulators for the specific platform.

Next - What Windows Mobile devices should I develop for?

AKU 2 on K-Jam - really turn off your KJam

, posted: 7-Mar-2006 13:53

I really need yet another blog to maintain... but I'll keep this one focused on mobile stuff since its something I love and seems appropriate for Geekzone. I found out yesterday that you can really turn off the iMate K-Jam by holding down the power button for five seconds. When you hold down the power button you now get a prompt telling you that you may lose information, answering yes shuts off the device completely meaning the device will go through a cold boot when it starts up. Interesting. This brings the Pocket PC Power functionality a little closer to that of the smartphone.

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Darryl Burling
New Zealand

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Software on my Pocket PC

Laridian Pocket Bible
SPB AirIslands
Ilium eWallet
Ilium ListPro