Who’s Going to Denver?

By “who” here, I mean which electronics – I’ve picked up the developer habit of at least sometimes calling them “he” or “this guy” (yes, of course they’re male. Here’s the official joke).

Any trip of any kind gets at least a cellphone, 1 PDA (just in case I need a quick game while I’m stuck waiting for something) and my mp3 player. More and more, the pedometer comes along – not only do I like to “get credit” for how much I’m walking, it also has a built-in clock, and since I don’t wear a watch (or always carry the cellphone if I’m just walking around for exercise) that’s very handy. And of course if I’m on a business trip, I also bring a laptop for taking notes and checking email, and usually at least 2 PDAs, just because my business trips are PDA related.

But now that we have this UMPC, I’m seriously considering how many other devices it could replace. Certainly I don’t need the UMPC and the laptop, and the UMPC is a lot lighter. It’s not as easy to use, but it’s enough more portable that it would definitely be worth considering. But then Marc mentioned getting a portable DVD drive for it and then it suddenly got much more attractive.

I’d like to be able to watch movies on planes – I can’t read comfortably, and don’t handle just sitting very well at all. We have a portable media player, but between trying to see that small a screen and the hassle of setting it up with anything I’d want to see, I never bothered with it. But if I can plug a DVD drive into the UMPC and just bring some DVDs to watch on the plane, then plug a keyboard into it to take notes in the conference, it becomes a very attractive option.

Then I don’t need a PDA, because I can just as easily whip out the UMPC (screen part only) to play games when I want to. And I don’t need the MP3 player if I can watch DVDs on the plane instead of listening to books.

While a UMPC plus keyboard plus DVD drive probably isn’t quite as light as some – less geeky – people travel, it’s a definite improvement over a laptop plus mp3 player plus PDA. And while right now, I have the luxury of choosing from all the devices we have available for any given trip, I could easily see that if I didn’t, and had to make a choice of what to buy, a UMPC would have a lot going for it. Particularly in a year or so when the battery life is better.

I’m seeing a lot of potential in the UMPCs. I don’t think I’ll take it to Denver this week, but I bet it goes with me on the next trip.

2 thoughts on “Who’s Going to Denver?

  1. Marc

    Now the idea behind the DVD drive is to install software although you could certainly use it to watch movies. Not sure how well the UMPC’s battery would stand up to that (as many folks know the battery life is still a point of frustration for early adopter UMPC folks).

    However, my thought is that what we are moving to is the long promised downloadable movie world. With googlevideo, the MS Video offering, and iVideo, we’re going to see people downloading all sorts of movies and TV shows to their devices. The UMPC is the perfect recipient for these and eliminates the little bag ‘o DVDs the way that MP3s and downloadable music elimiated our little bags ‘o CDs.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t help Ellen with her upcoming conference but maybe next time!

  2. Ellen Post author

    Yes, you’re probably right. The simplicity of just pick up a DVD, watch it, and be done with it appeals to me, but for travel, especially when thinking about battery life, downloading probably makes the most sense. But it’s definitely not as simple. I need to think about the software (either iTunes or some kind of ripping) as well as about the disk space, and the time to download (or rip and convert) whatever I need. I’m trying now to install and use iTunes, and am finding it not entirely straightforward. But I’m sure you’re right about this being the future.

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