UMPC's Hit the Philippines

Friday, April 11, 2008

On my way home I bought a copy of the latest PC Buyer's Guide. It's a month old, but as things go this magazine's always late to arrive on store shelves. Anyway, I was gladly surprised that local brands have been eagerly tailgaiting the success of the Asus Eee PC. They've come out with their own UMPCs.

I have been writing a lot about UMPCs lately because of my personal interest in low-power devices. I've always envied geeks in the US, specifically because new products frequently grace their shores earlier than Asian countries. The Asus Eee PC started a different trend, launching first in Taiwan, where Asus is considered as superstar computer company. And so it's success in the Philippines has opened the doors wide for other brands to get in on the UMPC bandwagon.

Two of these brands are Redfox and Astone. I've known Redfox for years. I started seeing motherboards under that brand as early as my freshman year in college. It was only after I built my first PC some 5 years ago that I realized that Redfox was actually a brand that went to ODMs and OEMs for the actual manufacture of their products. I've since used 2 Redfox motherboards and 1 Redfox ATX case to build machines. My current machine uses what's called the Biostar NF61S Micro in other countries. Astone is another brand that has successfully made a good break in the local PC and gadget market. I currently have an ATX case that's sold under their brand.

Now back to UMPCs. Redfox has 2 entries to the Philippine UMPC segment. The Wizbook 800 and the Wizbook. The specs are as follows:

WizBook 800
  • Processor: AMD Geode LX700 L1 & L2 cache 128kb, 400Mhz
  • Memory: 256 MB
  • Hard Drive: 20GB Nandflash
  • Display: 8" WXGA TFT Screen
  • Lan: RJ-45
  • Modem: 802.11b/g wireless PCMCIA slot
  • Battery: 2200mAh
  • Weight: Under 1.2 Kg
  • Other : SD/MMC/MS CARD reader, DC in 12V, 2xUSB slot, microphone input

WizBook
  • Processor: AMD Geode LX800 L1 & L2 cache 128kb, 500Mhz
  • Memory: 512 MB
  • Hard Drive: 60GB Nandflash
  • Display: 10.2" WXGA TFT Screen
  • Lan: RJ-45
  • Modem: 802.11b/g wireless PCMCIA slot
  • Battery: 2200mAh
  • Weight: Under 1.2 Kg
  • Other : SD/MMC/MS CARD reader, DC in 12V, 2xUSB slot, microphone input
Astone's entry is interestingly an ODM version of the Everex Cloudbook. They've chosen to call it the using a rather boring misnomer "Astone UMPC". Feature for feature, it's relatively the same as the Cloudbook except for one minor detail -- Astone's UMPC has a touchscreen. That feature was omitted from the Cloudbook even if that was a feature in the reference design that Via had from the ODM (more about the differences in a previous post).
  • Processor: VIA C7-M ULV 1.2Ghz (FSB400) on-board
  • Chipset: VX700
  • Graphics: integrated VX700
  • Audio: VT1708A, with 2 internal 1.5W built-in speaker
  • Memory: 1GB DDR 667
  • HDD: 30GB (1.8" HDD)
  • Monitor: 7" LCD Touch Screen with Handwriting capability, WVGA 800x400
  • LAN: 10 Base-T/100 Base TX LAN
  • Bluetooth: Yes, USB interface
  • Modem: none
  • Wireless LAN: Yes, IEEE 802.11b/g, USB 2.0 mini card
  • Battery: 4-cell 2200mAh
  • I/O: DVi-I, USB 2x, mic-in/Array Mic 1x, Headphone out/Line-out 1x, RJ45 1x
  • Webcam: Yes, built-in 0.3MP Camera
  • Card Reader: Yes, 4-in-1 (for SD, MMC, MS, MS Pro)
  • Dimension: 9.1" x 6.7" x 1.16" (230x171x29.4mm)
  • Weight: 0.97kg
The Wizbook 800 is priced at Php 17,000 on the street. The 10.2" Wizbook foes for about Php 3,000 more. Now the Astone UMPC is priced a bit more heftier at Php 24,000. All do not ship with an OS, which in the Philippines translates to something like, "humiram ka ng CD sa kaibigan mo". Now some may interpret that as illegal, unless what you're talking about is getting an Ubuntu CD. Go get Ubuntu if your planning on getting one of these babies. And do me a favor and hint me in on how they run on Linux! :-)

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