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Since the concept was introduced a year ago, Ultra mobile PCs (UMPCs) have been gradually grabbing more and more headlines. Thanks to the UMPC initiative - championed by Microsoft, Intel and Samsung among others - the idea that a fully functioning laptop can fit in your pocket (or at least in an oversized belt pouch) has been slowly gaining currency.
But aside from the obvious shiny, shiny allure of such tiny PCs, we’ve yet to see one arrive at the TrustedReviews offices that we would be happy to replace our trusty laptops with. We loved OQO’s Model 01+ for its sumptuous design, but it was flawed. It ran too hot, the keyboard was fiddly, and the touch screen too inaccurate to be usable. More recently, Samsung launched its Q1 SSD - a great little device, but it was expensive and not really that ‘ultra mobile’ once you took into consideration its add-on keyboard.
Sony is the latest manufacturer hoping to win us over to the UMPC of doing things with its UX1XN. Of course this is not the first time that Sony has tackled the ultra mobile market place. The UX series has been around in Japan for some time now in the shape of the UX50 and UX90. But this is the first UMPC from Sony - or any other manufacturer for that matter - that we've seen running Vista (Business Edition), and it's the first time Sony has marketed the UX series in the UK.
The UX1XN certainly has all the UMPC credentials. It's very compact - at just 150 x 95 x 35mm it's smaller than a medium-sized paperback - and it's very light too at a featherweight 486g. Most impressive, however, is how much has been squeezed into such a petite package.
Driving things forward on the performance front is one of Intel's ultra low voltage Core Solo processors - a 1.33GHz U1500 - and this is backed up by 1GB of memory. That’s enough to meet Vista’s demanding requirements and provides enough power to run the Aero glass effects, and the Flip 3D windows switcher.
It’s also equipped with a USB port, a Memory Stick Pro/Duo slot, wireless networking, a Bluetooth adapter, a fingerprint reader, plus two cameras - three megapixels at the rear for taking stills and 0.3 megapixels at the front for webcam use. You get a clear and sharp 4.5in 1,024 x 600 touchscreen, which slides up to reveal a QWERTY keyboard. On the right hand ‘grip’ there’s a stick pointer for mousing and a couple of buttons for zooming in and out of the screen, while left and right ‘mouse’ buttons are to be found on the left hand grip, along with a button for launching a number of finger-sized touchscreen shortcut buttons.