Design fantasy: If Sony Ericsson made an ultra-mobile PC...

So I really really liked the way Sony Ericsson cut its new handset, the T700. It resembles high-end portable gadgets from the 70s and 80s, like Philips' pocket voice recorders and Sony's own more expensive walkmans, but without being precious or silly about it. Commenter Clay places it as Gibson-like: "An Ono-Sendai would totally have buttons like that." Since the same era, I've wanted a handheld computer – I think that might be my generation's flying car – so here's my fancy for a Sony Ericcsson UMPC or MID. I'd keep it simple, with modest specs, a tailored OS, day-long battery life, a capable word processor, a decent camera, 3G internet, plentiful storage and a damn good browser. Too much to ask?

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18 Responses to Design fantasy: If Sony Ericsson made an ultra-mobile PC...

  1. grahamk says:

    That’s exactly what I’ve always been searching for… and it boggles my mind that we still don’t have it. We’re finally getting close with UMPCs like the ASUS EEEs and the MSI Wind… traditional laptops have never been portable enough to be truly convenient.

  2. dw_funk says:

    Isn’t battery life the real enemy here? I always get the sense that we have the computing power and tech to do all the cool future things we want to do (portable video chat, always on wireless internet, etc.) but we don’t have the batteries to keep that from being inherently non-mobile. Sorry if I sound terribly obvious, but the only cords I routinely have to plug in now are my power cords.

    Batteries are holding everything back. Plug-in hybrids don’t go far enough yet, laptops are getting more powerful while we’re relying on the same batteries, etc. I think the only part of your proposition that’s “too much to ask” is for day-long battery life. With a good attached keyboard, even an iPhone could do all of those tasks. But only for three hours.

  3. mistercharlie says:

    Nice ‘shop job! I’d totally buy one. I remember getting all excited by programmable calculators back in school (I had mine do quadratic equations for me in maths exams until I got busted), so I agree on this being a generational thing.

    One day, somebody will get it right. Hell, all we really need is a Psion 5 with a 3G radio in it. How hard can it be?

  4. montauk says:

    I love the buttons. They look almost honeycomb-like, which I think would be a great design for a keyboard. Maybe not practical, but who’s counting.

  5. CGI_Joe says:

    It is too much to ask, but it’s worth asking for. Someone will figure out the power issues eventually, I hope.

    In the meantime you can become Michael Arrington’s penpal and send your dream machine mockups to each other.

  6. BrerMatt says:

    Your generation’s flying car?

    You mean, you don’t still want a flying car? I would take one over a handheld computer…

  7. Amplifier says:

    But it’s missing it’s MAX REVERSE button. What are you going to do if you hit the black ice?

  8. TheDude06 says:

    I have one of these. Its called a vaio-UX series.

    stack two of these on top of each other, and thats what it is. same keyboard and everything.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why, it’s right there at the top right edge of the keyobard!

  10. Jamie Sue says:

    Oh… that’s hot. I’d buy that. I’d hang it round my neck like a giant Flava Flav clock.

  11. Patrick Dodds says:

    Surely, though, it would need to be 5 or 6G? I mean, 3G is a con, right? My N95 internet connection is, I swear, quicker when 3G isn’t available and I’m on Thief-Mobile’s vanilla network.

  12. adamrice says:

    Agree with DW_FUNK. On the iPhone at least, the battery is the Achilles’ heel (at least in terms of hardware).

  13. Anonymous says:

    There is something about the feel of flat metal buttons that go click. I miss the tactile feel of 70s era stereo equipment. The slight resistance on volume dials, the cold hard edges of the buttons added a sensory feedback you just don’t get from plastic buttons or touch screens.

  14. cinemajay says:

    Dammit! The photo got me all excited. [Slinks away to mope.]

  15. Halloween Jack says:

    Too much to ask?

    Not literally, no, given that a lot of the criticism of the iPhone 3G boiled down to the fact that it didn’t have the absolute high-end of any and every single feature that a smartphone could possibly have; it seems that everyone is still jonesing for the One True Mother Box, and, of course, still have it be relatively affordable. What I’d find interesting is if someone could figure out how big such a device would have to be.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Sony has already produced a UMPC dubbed the “UX” series. They have about a 5″ screen, a qwerty keyboard, optional 2G wireless and run full versions of XP. They originally sold for about $2500 and now sell for about $1000.

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