Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Design series: The Slate UMPC

Going towards 3rd generation of UMPCs a "one fits for all" device designs will need specially targeted sister models. That's why I'll be doing a series of targeted designs, starting with The Slate UMPC.

Continue reading..

These 2 pictures are updates with scroll wheels and volume/brightness wheels

Slate UMPC needs to be thin and light. All design elements have their focus on using it with pen input, landscape and portrait.

My suggestions for base hardware:

1.20GHz Intel® Core™ 2 Solo Processor U2200
120Gb Hd
7 inch 1024 x 600 LED screen with active digitizer and soft touch with auto switch and auto rotation
Wifi and Bluetooth
Dual mode hardware buttons, user programmable, with application recognition
Fingerprint reader
SD slot
Pop-Up accessory base for webcam ( turns 180' ) or GPS
Integrated 2-way stand
Dimensions: 6.77 x 4.33 x 0.62 / 172 mm x 110 mm x 16 mm

Internal mini battery ( 10 minutes ) and hot swappable main battery ( 2+ hours )
Main battery size 100 mm x 60 mm x 10 mm ( easy to carry extra battery(ies))


64Gb SSD
WWAN, integrated EVDO or HSPA or Wimax
Docking Station

Any other must have features?

Related News:


ctitanic said...

Wow, that´s my dream machine! Where I can get that beside your photoshop?!

Anonymous said...

I did not see a webcam.

Anonymous said...

forgo the dock, instead include a built in stand and bluetooth, so that one can use a bluetooth based keyboard and/or mouse with it ;)

JKK said...

yep, build-in stand ( 2-way ) and bluetooth + wifi are there...

.. just didn't list them as i think they are "standard" features

JKK said...

Is webcam a must?

I have heard that most users don't actually use webcams..

I thought it would be good too but when i got my first umpc with webcam i never used it...

Anonymous said...

external dimensions?

Anonymous said...

I'm a hard core slate user and have been on the lookout to replace my HP tc1100 tablet. I use it w/o the keyboard as a slate and the size is very easy for onehanded use. Your design looks like the perfect successor. Snap-on keyboard/stand like the 1100 would be a good travel choice. Dock is important, the 1100 is 3lbs and comfortable. Wouldn't want to go over it. I tried a Fujitsu 4210 and went back to the 1100 because I'm a slate fan.

Unknown said...

jkk, it looks wonderful. What I would add is an additional extendable antenna for hsdpa (oqo style), a dpad or preferably a scroll wheel or ball (like apple mighty mouse) which would make navigation easier (i hate pgup/dwn buttons, and fingerprint reader scrolling) . Also the hd doesnt need to be that big... it would have to be 1.8inch to fit everything in there tho i think... Is it physically possible to cram all the components in there?

As for the cam, Front facing 1.3 megapixel and back 5 megapixel (with flash) wouldn't hurt.. as long as its good quality, and not some cheap crap. Also, stereo mics and good stereo speakers.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, one more comment. Thickness is a big issue for comfort. The 1100 is .8 thick. the Fujitsu 4210 was 1.4 and too thick for comfort. The width is important for one-handed comfort also as the wider it is the harder to hold for long periods. The 1100 is 10.8x8.3x.8 and 3.1 lbs and very comfortable

JKK said...

As it's UMPC with 7 inch screen, the dimensions would be around 172mm x 110 mm x 16 mm

JKK said...

I would normally add d-pad, mouse and scroller but as this is a pure slate design, it is normally used on one hand with stylus on other..

.. so i wouldn't add those to this design.

Any tablet user opinions on that?

JKK said...

Dimensions in inches: 6.77 x 4.33 x 0.62

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info about wifi and bluetooth, jkk. im of the mindset that if its not in the specs, it does not exist...

still, this is a fantasy product, so...

Unknown said...

slate users love scorllers. at least from what i heard.

Anonymous said...

If the JKK01 existed, its features would make it a clear choice not just in the 7" market but in the larger slate market as well. I think one of the reasons Motion hasn't upgraded the LS800 is because they realize it would kill the LE1700.

As far as features, the one must have is automatic screen orientation (also Bluetooth but I would guess that was assumed).

I agree that if I have a stand, I don't really need a docking station but I would pay extra for a docking station that locked (with a real keyed lock) the slate into it so I don't have to deal with my cable lock at my desk at work.

I am assuming one of the holes is a dock for the Wacom pen - if not it should be. If you could figure out how to stick a real ink cartridge in the top of a Wacom pen (instead of the eraser), I'd pay extra for that too.

All in all, a great design. If I hadn't just gotten my OQO, I'd put down a deposit.

ctitanic said...

JKK, just do not forget to put the exhaust holes in the top of the unit, do not put them in the place where you put your hand to hold the unit. Do not the same thing like Amtek.

Unknown said...

jkk, you know people... talk to amtek, get it produced ;) I would buy it.

JKK said...

Frank, you can see the "grill" on the top center...

other minor detail: VGA port has screw holes so cable stays there when you are doing presentations and want to keep it on your hands...

Anonymous said...

why creating different designs?
just do one good design hardware and display wise and then options for the back of the unit.
1.flat unit for a slate design
2.slide out keyboard for the keyboard people.
Also slice disc drive and batt´s like the HP 2710p would be nice options, of course all customer configurable.
I would also like to see a screen flush with the casing.

JKK said...

i added wifi etc. to specs

ctitanic said...

A detachable keyboard wont be a bad idea.

JKK said...

EiN, a modular design is good in many cases, but not on this kind of small, higly interated device.

Remember, this device is smaller than cd, so adding a cd/dvd drive wouldn't be that good...

JKK said...

Frank, yep, I was thinking of screen cover keyboard combo, but as it would be so small and as many tablet users have said, they rather handwrite than use small keyboard..

So would people actually still want a small add on / bluetooth keyboard with it?

ctitanic said...

I can type with all my fingers in the Jornada 720 keyboard and that's less than 17,2 cms wide. So a detachable keyboard for this device could be viable and usable. Just put your 8 fingers in that distance and you will see that they fit just fine.

ctitanic said...

In fact, it could be used like some kind of screen cover held with magnets and connected via BT.

Unknown said...

Great! IMHO the design misses a tiny bump for integrated high-gain diversity antenna (you know, those wire-like internal antennas that fit inside UMPC's own chassis are pretty weak).

There probably should also be a smaller design version (Minislate? ;-) ), this design seems quite significantly larger than Everun ( http://www.sizeasy.com/page/size_comparison/7157-OQO2-vs-Credit-Card-vs-Slate-vs-Raon-Everun-vs-Slate ) and is not quite pocketable. I could live with a smaller screen and/or thicker chassis if that means pocketability potential (I know that a UMPC that fits into a shirt pocket is too much of a dream, but it should at the very least fit into my jacket pocket, just like Everun perfectly does!)

It also absolutely MUST have a battery life of no less than 5 hrs standard, 12+ extended battery, but that is not exactly a design problem :-)

JKK said...

as for battery life..

with that cpu etc. on such a small frame, it would only be 2 to 2.5 hours... but..

I have been thinking of dual battery solution:

add one small internal battery giving only 10 minutes of juice so you could have 1 or 2 extra batteries with you and you could swap them while using it.

those batteries would be smaller than cigaret box, giving 5 hours with one extra batt and 7 with 2..

how does that sound?

so to get 5 hours you would need to carry this slate umpc and 1 small battery.

Anonymous said...

package it with a foldable bluetooth keyboard that when folded can be attached like a screen cover ;)

as in, to use keyboard, detach it from the device, put the device down with stand extended, unfold keyboard, start typing.

btw, make the keyboard lockable in unfolded position, so that it can be used while over the lap or similar. a simple slide on the top of the hinge should do imo. as long as it can take the force of someone pounding onto the keyboard where its not supported by anything.

as for the battery swap, sounds interesting. a calculator i had used the same solution to keep the memory alive while swapping the main ones.

could this be done by using AA's? as in, put the device to sleep, unpop the main battery, insert new one, continue working. or do they not deliver enough juice to keep the device in sleep mode that long?

JKK said...

I'll do some keyboard/cover designs...

.. as for te battery idea, you would not need to put it to standby, you could just swap it while fully running...

Anonymous said...

now that would really depend on the workload of the device at the moment...

JKK said...

screen cover/bluetooth keyboard designs:





With that hinge design it could be wider than just with the cover...

..complicated but possible..

ctitanic said...


JKK said...

..and integrated 2-way stand pix:



just basic 1mm metal plates..

Aquafit said...

I want one ASAP please. This machine looks just about perfect. A few comments:

1) I like the 8.4" size of my LS800 and I think I would prefer it to 7"

2) Scroll key: Yes please. I use the scroll all the time on my Motion LS800. I would miss it.

3) Perhaps this goes without saying, but could the screen be backlit LED please?

4) No Keyboard! I don't want to carry a keyboard I will never use. If I wanted a keyboard (I have used one once to reformat my hard drive & for nothing else since I purchased my LS800) I would get a a convertible tablet or a bluetooth keyboard.

Thanks for taking the time to do this. I will look forward to your product launch.

Anonymous said...

got to say, thats a weird looking foldable keyboard ;)

but i think it can be done, if one can make the hinge strong enough to withstand all the forces. that, and getting the wiring across...

hmm, 7 inch screen. that would make the hight and width of the whole thing what? and in cm please ;)

anyways, with that hinge design the width of the keyboard would be 2x the height of the device, and the height of the keyboard 1/2 the width of the device.

i wonder how useful that really is.

i think i would prefer a more traditional folding design. even if it would add thickness to the whole setup when assembled.

JKK said...


yep, I let my mind fly...

.. I personally think that tight fit case with strong cover on screen side would protect the screen best
..and bluetooth keyboards are already available and ok so maybe it would not need one..

Logan said...

I would say a built in slide out thumb keyboard or an external attachable one. It could even have a little synaptics pointer/ or touchpad/ or thing on the everun. For those times when you need to be super mobile, but inking doesn't cover it.

Anonymous said...

I like two things about your design. First is the look. Minimalist is the new look in industrial design. Second is the base/optical drive combo. It might seem similar to the OQO 02 base but I think it's fantastic. It make the whole setup look portable, Like I could take the whole thing with me. But where's the webcam, HSDPA, Wifi/Wimax, Bluetooth? The new direction of UMPCs includes all of these and more by default. If Intel Moorestown seems too hard to reach then perhaps VIA's Mobile-ITX is the way to go. I anticipate that at it's release in 2009 it will be available to the general public just as VIA's other motherboards have been. Have you read the initial specs? 1GHz VIA C7M processor, up to 512MB RAM (currently), CDMA baseband chip. I was able to download VIA CEO Wenchi Chen's presentaion for VTF 2007 and it's loaded. At launch in 2009 the Movile-ITX (currently 75mmx45mm) is projected to be about 65mmx45mm with the inclusion of GPS, BT, WiFi, DX9 compatibilty, 8-16GB SDD all on a board way smaller than a credit card. Also reading about the emergence of WiMax and it's inclusion in the upcoming Mtube device I'd say Wimax is a must for the Mobile-ITX. Watching the Mobile-ITX based device on youtube one can deduct that it runs on a 3-cell 24WHr lithium battery pack. That's 3 3.7v 2200mAh cells (probably 18650 size) connected in parallel to give about 24.42WHr. If you do the math you realize what that means is the Mobile ITX runs on 3.7v (one lithium cell like a cell phone). A UMPC based on the Mobile ITX platform with a 7inch LCD should be able to run for about 3.5-5hours hours on a 5000mAh single lithium polymer cell (lithium polymer cells can be thinner). Toshiba and Samsung 1.8" HDDs currently peak out at 160GB. Toshiba's 80GB version is 54x71x5mm while the 160GB version is 54x71x8mm. All you'll have to add to the Mobile ITX board is a hard drive (if you want extra space besides the 8-16GB on-board SSD), LCD and battery. My opinion based on the Mobile ITX;

Sliding keyboard
GPS and all the wireless extras
80GB-160GB HDD
7-8hours battery life
No thicker than 18mm

UMPC with 4.8" WSVGA LCD
Same specs as above
6-7hours battery life
No thicker than 20mm

What do you guys think??

*I don't think the battery life sounds too far fetched. There are 8Ah and 5Ah single cell Lithium Polymer batteries only 8mm and 5mm thick respectively.

ctitanic said...

yeah, I second that, a mouse it's needed.

JKK said...

Thanks Xemone!

HSDPA, Wifi/Wimax, Bluetooth are on the specs...

There is on going talk about the need for cams and a point that devices with cams can't be used in some business areas.
Cams will be added if there is demand.

As I like and been waiting for VIA Mobile ITX, this is not the design for it.

This design is build around tablet users needs, Vista and handwriting in mind. They have clearly stated that they need the performance and I agree to that when Vista, handwriting and multitasking is needed. 1Ghz VIA is just not on that level. And it looks like Moorestown is not either. That's why I have choosen 1.20GHz Intel® Core™ 2 Solo U2200, same platform that is used in new Sony UX series.

I have 3 different VIA based UMPCs so I know what I'm saying.

I will try to be one of the first to get the Mobile ITX and build a device around it.. and not just with CAD...

There will be next series of designs too, but this one is for Tablet Guys.

Unknown said...

Most built-in cans free the wrong way, IMHO. Why the heck would I want to record me? Instead, I'd like a cam that could be used to record stills and video of things in front of me directly onto the machine, where I could edit and post without having to work out some sort of transfer, be it by Bluetooth, internet, USB cable or swapping cards. It could even be adjustable, should I ever feel the dark circles under my eyes haven't been immortalized enough.

I love using my R2H's trackstick and mouse buttons when browsing, so I'd say it would be nice to have options other than just the pen/finger.

JKK said...

I like track sticks too.

Adding it to the right frame would need 15 to 20 mm more frame...

Could active digitizer users give opinions about making it bigger to get the track stick mouse there?

Anonymous said...

What 3D software did you use to create this?

SteveNYC said...

Great design JKK. At first glance, I thought... "what about a mouse?" then I thought about the dual mode screen you mentioned. You're right. It doesn't need one.

As for the camera, I can't help but agree with you. I have it on my Q1 Ultra and don't use it. Yet I don't like it's absence. Odd, but true. Actually, I always like the idea they used in the Nokia N800 where the camera can swivel. That might be a nice design touch.

As for the battery, I have seen one manufacturer's mock-ups lately where they are using two batteries. Obviously for swapping. They sit on the back of the UMPC. That might be a nice idea. Also, they should be flat and with different thicknesses. In this way, if a person wanted extra battery life, it would come at the cost of bulk and weight. But at least they would have a choice. It could take up the whole back and no would mind (except for maybe a docking connector).

Oh yeah, don't forget the array microphone. If this thing is that portable, voice notes become a nice option.

Anonymous said...

Great design. I read a lot about keyboards. I'm no fan of them on a mobile pc. When at home/work I just want to use a normal sized usb or bluetooth version. When on the go i'd prefer the slate design as you suggested, along with the swivel cam stevenyc suggested. But to still be able to enter larger amounts of text in a reasonable amount of time I would prefer a chording keyboard at the back of the machine, lets say 2 rows of 4 keys each side. When you hold the machine in two hands (landscape) the fingers should be positioned above the keys. As for useability: well, I learnt texting, chording can't be THAT hard. Could you make an image with the a setup like this?

Unknown said...

I'd buy it. Looks like the perfect machine.

Anonymous said...

While I don't use a keyboard, for those who do I would think your idea of a keyboard/cover is the best design. You might check out Motion's version (although it is for a full size slate) at http://www.motioncomputing.com/resources/LE_convert_key_pics.pdf

I really like the dual battery idea. Having to power down to replace a battery is a pain. I would much rather carry six small one hour batteries than one large six hour battery and a hot swap would make that much more doable.

I think the dual mode screen would eliminate the need for a track ball but you might consider the kind of sliders that OQO puts into their frame. Just please, please, please don't put them in the lower right corner where right handed people rest their palm (I had to disable mine because of this). I would suggest the upper right corner.

Do you have a tentative ship date?

In reality, looking at the current crop of designs, this looks like a realistic next gen version of the LS800. On can only hope.

Anonymous said...

nice link there dave :D

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts, FWIW.

Can the web cam be put into the movable antennae?

I vote for one design with additional available features, such as web cam or no web cam choice,
the screen cover can have a fold-able keyboard embedded in it or not, etc.

That way one overall design and chassis could be used for a "minimalist" (no web cam, no keyboard, just give me a slate!) version at a minimalist price. If one wanted to pay extra for the web cam/ keyboard, etc. one could, and it would be built in with convenient design, not something one needed to buy extra that would be an additional piece of equipment to keep track of.

You will need to make sure the design and materials will not be plagued with EM problems with wandering cursors, etc., especially with higher powered components that I assume use more energy/make more heat.

About pen design. A wacom pen with an ink pen on one end instead of an eraser was mentioned.
A different idea- I have used many an inexpensive ballpoint pen that had a nub on one side of the orifice where the ballpoint exited. With the ink pen in you could use it very nicely as a PDA stylus, then click it to write with "wet ink". Similar could be done with the wacom digitizer stylus slightly off center that would be used with ink pen retracted. Extending the ink pen would effectively put the wacom tip "out of reach". As some wacom pens are quite thin (such as the insertable pen for the NEC LitePad) it could be done.

Anonymous said...

This isn't so much a comment about _this_ design (which has been spec'd out for high-end users) but I'd very much like this form factor (or maybe even the 8.4in screen as mentioned) with components like the 1GHz via, 512MB memory, smaller disc, no integrated webcam (running Linux the specs shouldn't be a problem). My reasoning is that (i) I don't _actually_ do more than reading documents and text editing on the move and (ii) by using the UMPC "ultra-mobile-ly" it's in circumstances where there's an increased risk of damage/theft. I've budgeted for an average of 1 years use on a device(I'm on my first UMPC). I reckon in a years time with reasonable volumes that'd sell for around 700 GBP (I imagine), but that's too high for me to spend for 1 year. If that brings it to 400-ish GBP then I'd buy it. That's actually more than I'd pay for a laptop because I know the lightness costs. But I wouldn't buy an expensive machine with a high-spec that I wouldn't use to capacity

Anonymous said...

Jk - I'm new to this - but what you have spec'd is exactly what I have been looking for for years. I used to have an 1st gen XDA and have been looking for something like it with a 7" or larger screen for years. As for your spec's - Bluetooth, Wifi, GPRS/HSDPA, Touch Screen, Camera all fit - as for the OS or chip set I'm not too fussed but ARM and Windows CE or Pocket PC does the trick. Bigger OS's need bigger chips and more power.

It must support standard apps - one key one is handwriting recognition (ie microsoft transcriber)

There are one or two ther bits I would add to make it an all in one - so if you ever get it beyond the specification stage give me a shout as these are killers that no-one has done before (as such not posting here)


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