ASUS’ R50A UMPC goes legit – Engadget

Post on Engadget about the new ASUS UMPC. It is interesting that the main complaint they have (and many of the comments agree) is the “lack of a QWERTY keyboard”.

When are people going to grasp that the whole point of this form factor is to not have a keyboard? Of course, people predicted doom for the iPhone because it did not have a keypad, but Apple was smart enough to point out that that was the idea. People are so locked into one way of interacting with their hardware that they cannot think beyond it. I went through the same thing when I got my first slate Tablet PC. At first, everything I tried to do seemed extremely cumbersome and awkward. I was constantly hooking up a keyboard and mouse to create eMail and documents. Then I got rid of all my other computers, and my keyboard, and my mouse, and tried to work entirely within the Tablet paradigm for a couple of months. What happened is that I discovered that how I did things on a laptop did not work well on a pure tablet. In addition, there are things that a pure tablet is good for, and there are things it is not. For example, I find the Tablet extremely useful for:

  1. Taking notes and leaving them in hand-written form (using OneNote)
  2. Brainstorming with tools like MindManager
  3. Reviewing and marking up documents in ink (using Word, or PDF Annotator)
  4. Reading eMail, and responding, if I want to send a written response (anything more than a few lines is inconvenient to do with the TIP)
  5. Web browsing for research (and sending results to OneNote)
  6. Reading eBooks
  7. Watching video contents
  8. Dictating documents (if you have good microphones, and enough processing power)
  9. Delivering Presentations (with the ability to annotate slides on the fly, save the annotations, and distribute the marked-up slides)

Things it is not great for:

  1. Creating long documents or eMail in text format.
  2. Creating presentations without dictating
  3. Anything which would normally be done with a lot of typing – again, any amount of text input using the TIP is a pain.

What it comes down to is that Tablets and UMPCs are very useful without keyboards, but not for everything. That does not mean that they should have built in keyboards – it means they should be used for what they are good for.


I have been working in the world of technology for 25-odd years. I am an entrepreneur and consultant, focused on software solutions, social networking, and innovation processes. Currently, I am a Principal Consultant with T4G Limited, specializing in Portal Technologies (including SharePoint), software/systems development, service oriented architectures, and many other things which I will probably not remember until I need to use them. Prior to that, I was VP of Technology at Whitehill Technologies, Inc., where I spent almost 9 years helping to grow the company from a start-up to one of the most successful private software companies in Canada. Prior to that I worked on internet conferencing using early VoIP, and on large military communications projects. Before even that, I worked in satellite control, and remote sensing. Going way back to university, my focus was on theoretical physics and astrophysics. Currently my interests revolve around most aspects of software development, from technologies to management, and in the area of defining sustainable, repeatable processes for innovation within technology organizations. I also have a particular interest in Tablet PC technologies – I have been using one for several years, and I love it. On the personal side, I still have a strong interest in all aspects of science, especially physical sciences, as well as philosophy and comparative religion. In addition, I am into music, playing guitar (badly, I am sorry to say), and reading almost anything I can lay my hands on. I am also a member of the IEEE/IEEE Computer Society, and of the Association for Computing Machinery.

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One comment on “ASUS’ R50A UMPC goes legit – Engadget
  1. Stephen Weyman says:

    Personally, I think that these types of devices should have laser keyboards that can be projected on a desk. Not always useful, but works for when you need it and doesn’t take up a lot of space.

    Also, a bluetooth connection to hook up a keyboard also works. I’m still waiting for something that meets the following:

    1) Is a phone
    2) Is a camera (as good as a digicam)
    3) Is a GPS (outdoor + driving + marine)
    4) Is a PDA (mp3, office apps, games, movies, etc)
    5) Has an expandable screen or built in projector for large scale web browsing or doing tasks that are more akin to a regular computer (this is to preserve small size)
    6) Has a laser keyboard (+ maybe a really good touch one on the screen)
    7) Has good processing power
    8 ) Still fits in your pocket and is thin, not bulky

    Think it will happen? We’re getting close to the first 4 … and I’ll probably settle for that 🙂

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Please keep in mind that any opinions, points-of-view, comments, or other content which I post to this site are mine and mine alone. They in no way reflect the views of my employer, my country, my dog, my cat, or anyone else you can think of. To paraphrase Monty Python, "That is the theory that I have and which is mine, and what it is, too."

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