David Pogue knocks Samsung Q1

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David Pogue of the NYT takes the Samsung Q1 and UMPCs in general to task for not going far enough, My summation, not his. You’ll need to fill out a form online at the NYT if you want to read the article. I haven’t seen the Samsung Q1 yet, so it’s difficult to comment on the particulars, so I hope those that have will blog about it.

As Robert Scoble points out, the biggest hurdle here is not simply the First-Generation features of the UMPC. It’s the price. The higher the price, the more attractive full-blown notebooks and even full-blown Tablet PCs become. Wasn’t Averatec selling a brand new, full size Tablet PC at Costco for less than a Q1 last year? Oh, and with prices above $1000, miniature Tablets, such as the Motion LS800, complete with an active digitizer, start looking mighty nice.

Actually, the price isn’t the whole equation. We’ve all seen cases where the next coolest thing can cost a bit more, but seems to pull people in anyway. The iPod is one example. The key here is that there has to be something compelling about the experience or the product itself. I think the UMPC from a hardware perspective is pretty close (Again I’ve only played with pre-production the TabletKiosk eo and the Founder UMPCs). What’s missing are the bundled services. UMPCs could use three months of free movie downloads; and/or three months of Rapsody; and/or bundled EVDO; and/or a Slingbox bundle. This is how OEMs could somewhat sidestep the price issue. Without this, they’re standing primarily on their hardware.

My mantra: Don’t forget the experience.

I don’t know what OEMs will be offering with their UMPCs (I hope some of the above), but even if they don’t I bet there will be some pretty passionate early adopters that show how its done and build up UMPC “experiences” by themselves. They’ll probably be a little clunky and take a few extra steps, but who knows, some might just hit on a sweet spot. That possibility is why I’m an early adopter myself. I like to find new opportunities like this. I have my Slingbox cabled-up and my Streets and Trips with its GPS all unpacked and ready to go. I’m just waiting for a UMPC.

Update: Here’s David Pogue’s video review of the Samsung Q1.

Update #2: Walt Mossberg reviews the Samsung Q1 here too in the Wall Street Journal. I agree with Walt’s assessment that price is important.

1 COMMENT

  1. The iPod is not much more expensive than its competitors. And has never been. If you compare by capacity, the iPod has never been undercut by more than 20%. That plus features most people do not want, show the iPod is at the right prize. The story of Origami is the same of the TabletPC. Hard to understand, expensive product that people do not have a chance to realize if they want it or not.

  2. Alfredo, point is that iPod was able to migrate the price up. I don’t know the actual percentages, but let’s take your 20% number. I’d love to see the OEMs take 20% off the price of the UMPCs. I hope they can do this through a combination of volume production, engineering, and bundling.

    Oh, and a couple more historical references here: The Apple Newton Emate was $700-799 and later the MessagePads were $1K+. Prices sound familiar? I think we’re dealing with some price points that the industry has either found or created because of other market forces.

  3. I think that the price is totally the killer for the current UMPC’s. They seem to be targetting them at the most price sensitive people, students and “home” users.

    With so many people getting smartphones/converged devices and a laptop, how much of a gap is there the the UMPC is supposed to fill?

    Also I have laugh at the “media player” aspect of it. 3 hour life for watching a movie or listening to music? No thanks.

    The UMPC media player
    * Take it wherever you go. Put it in your pocket. (as long as your pockets are the size of a small backpack)
    * Watch movies! (Except Dances with Wolves) (Oh yeah, its also illegal to put dvds on it so you’ll need to rent or buy stuff you might already own all over again)
    * Listen to music (A whole 3-4 albums on a single charge, unless you’re using the device for something else at the same time)

    I know I’m being negative but thats only because I had such high hopes for the idea when it was first announced, with the $500 price point. I think the Tablet PC is a great platform and a convertible is a good choice for just about anyone buying a laptop today. (I use a slate personally but thats just me) But the UMPC as is just doesnt do it.