Hands on With Fujitsu's Pocket-Size Convertible UMPC

Fujitsu Ltd. unveiled an ultramobile PC that's small enough to fit in a jacket pocket.

The machine will first be promoted to corporate users as a secondary PC, suitable for people who need a small, lightweight machine for when they are out of the office. At the Fujitsu Forum event in Tokyo I got a chance to try out the machine, which Fujitsu said is the smallest such PC in its class.

First impressions are of a small, lightweight machine that should be able to handle most demands of its target users but which is missing a few features, such as Bluetooth or a second shift key, that might cause a hassle for some.

The FMV-U8240 is based on Intel Corp.'s "McCaslin" ultramobile PC platform that was launched at last month's Intel Developer Forum in Beijing and will be available in three versions. All are based on the "Stealey" microprocessor running at 800MHz and come with a 20G-byte hard-disk drive (a 40G-byte drive is available as an option). The base version runs Windows XP Professional and has 512M-bytes of memory, the second version packs 1G-byte of memory and the high-end version combines 1G-byte of memory with Windows Vista Business.

The 5.6-inch display panel has a touchscreen that can be operated by a stylus or finger, and there's a 56-key keyboard with 14-millimeter key pitch (the distance from one key to the center of the next). The keyboard can be operated with thumbs while the user holds each edge of the machine, so its possible to type while standing. However there's only one shift key so it might be difficult to enter some letters.

A potentially useful touch is two lights situated just above the keyboard that can provide some illumination in low light.

A mouse pointer is located just below the hinge on the right-hand side of the lower half of the computer and the mouse buttons lie opposite on the left-hand side. I found the mouse quite sensitive and the cursor frequently overshot its intended position but that is something that users will likely get used to in a short time.

The machine comes with a wireless LAN adapter but no Bluetooth support. That means you'll be left messing around with a cable should you need to make a connection via a cell phone. There is an SD card slot and a Compact Flash slot, which can be used for a plug-in cellular modem, Fujitsu said.

Other features include a fingerprint sensor that can be tied in with the computer's authentication system, both for access to the BIOS and Windows. The machine also ships with "Portshutter V2" software, which can be used to disable the USB port or restrict it to approved devices.

It weighs 580 grams and measures 171 millimeters by 133 millimeters by 32 millimeters thick. Using the standard battery the machine will run 4 hours on Windows XP and 3.5 hours on Windows Vista.

The Windows XP versions of the machine will be available in Japan from mid-June and the Windows Vista version will follow in early July. Overseas sales will begin at the same time from Asia and then spread worldwide, Fujitsu said. Prices in Japan will be ¥144,000 (US$1,197) for the base version and ¥164,000 for the two other machines.

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