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Samsung ultra portables out of the blocks

Samsung ultra portables out of the blocks

Ultramobile PCs have often been criticised as falling into a gap between laptops and smartphones, but Samsung Electronics hopes to change that perception with a reduced price and upgraded performance for its Q1 Ultra.

Samsung first exhibited the Q1 Ultra in March at the Cebit trade show in Germany, but did not set a specific price or launch date until this week.

Now the company says it will sell four models of the Q1 Ultra from US$799 to $1499, significantly below the price range of $1300 to $2000 for the original Q1 product. Additional details are online.

The lower price also helps Samsung to pitch its UMPC as a lightweight companion device to a user's desktop or notebook PC, as opposed to a stand-alone computer, and could help it win market share from competitors.

The Q1 Ultra has the same size seven-inch display as its predecessor, the Q1, but adds a new split QWERTY keypad for thumb-texting, offering similar operation to Research in Motion's Blackberry or Palm's Treo smartphones. It also has 802.11 wireless networking and optional high speed downlink packet access cellular connectivity, but Samsung was careful to avoid comparing it to a smartphone.

"A smartphone will always be the ideal platform to be used as a phone. I would never suggest the UMPC as a phone replacement; it's just too big to fit in your pocket," says Bret Berg, senior Samsung product marketing manager for mobile computing.

Instead, Samsung hopes to sell the 1.5-pound product to frequent business travelers and to users in vertical markets like sales force automation, field surveys and education. The Q1 Ultra uses Microsoft's "Origami" interface, offering a touch screen version of Windows XP or Vista that allows users to perform most PC functions, from editing Excel spreadsheets to writing Word documents or answering e-mail, Berg saya.

Samsung will sell an entry-level version of the Q1 Ultra called the Q1U-EL for $799 including a 600Mhz Intel A100 processor, 40GB hard drive and Windows Vista Home Premium. The midrange Q1U-XP version will cost $1149 with an 800MHz A110 chip, 60GB hard drive and Windows Vista Tablet Edition. The similar Q1U-V will cost $1199 with Windows Vista Home Premium. And the Q1U-CMW will cost $1499 with the A110 chip, 80GB hard drive, Windows Vista Home Premium and HSDPA connectivity. Samsung will sell all four models by August.


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