If you think you're ready for a portable Internet device, you have some choices now -- and plenty more coming as new portable devices are introduced on the market.
Here are some factors to think about when looking for a portable Internet device:
- Internet range: Consider whether mid-range Wi-Fi or long-range WiMAX would work better for you, and make sure the device you're considering has that range.
- Power capability: Check the expected battery life for the device. Among the comparisons shown at UMPCportal.com, battery life ranges from 2.3 to 3.3 hours, depending on the Internet device.
- Screen size: While many portable Internet devices have a 7-inch screen, some have screens as large as 8.9 inches or as small as 4.8 inches.
- Format: Tablet, slider or notebook: It's your pick.
- Durability: This is hard to gauge because so many of the devices are so new. Check buyer reviews of your chosen Internet device at Amazon or other Web sites to see other users' experience. UMPCportal.com provides links to reviews for some devices in its comparison chart.
- Added functions: How do you plan to use the device? Consider whether Internet access is your primary interest, or if you want to incorporate a multimedia player, cell phone or GPS system.
- Price: Like anything new, most portable Internet devices aren't cheap -- and they vary considerably in price. For example, the Samsung Q1 Ultra retails for about $1,100, the Fujitsu Lifebook U810 for about $1,000 and the Asus eee PC 701 for about $400.
It's important to remember that these portable Internet devices are developing technology. Price and functions may change as these devices evolve. For instance, Intel's Menlow mobile computing platform, introduced in 2008, is slightly larger than a playing card and reduced the power consumed by UMPCs to one-tenth of what it has been. Intel is expected to follow that in 2009 with a platform that will drop power consumption another 10 times.
While portable Internet devices seem poised to fill the gap between smartphones and laptops, they're not without their problems. We'll consider those next.