Darius Chang over at Crave mentions that HP maybe readying an UltraMobile PC (UMPC) for later this spring and that it would be competitively priced, to the point where buying one won’t be much of an internal debate.
James Kendrick happens to believe this to be true and I believe it as well.
HP has been headed this way for a while. Whether you believe the Asus Eee PC was a brilliant piece of marketing or was simply Asus simply giving the market what it wanted, it opened the eyes of a lot of people to the potential of such devices.
HP knows that ultraportable/ultramobile devices are doing well (even if they got off to a sluggish start). They know people are coming around, and it helps that Tablet PC/Convertibles have come way down in price, as well as devices such as the iPhone have got people thinking about touchscreen devices.
I don’t think they are looking to replace traditional laptops or Tablet PCs, such as their HP Compaq 2710p or the HP Pavilion tx200z. It’s just that there are times and places where those aren’t the best tool. Speaking of which, HP has a huge amount of experience with producing low-cost, well-made Tablet PC/Convertible laptops. They aren’t going to reinvent the wheel, they are just going to make a smaller version of it.
Now you can step back and say “if you start accumulating all of these device, you’ll end up with a lot out of sync stuff, and a lot of stuff that could be lost.
Guess what, they already have a product that could tie a theoretical UMPC and laptops and desktops together – the HP EX470 MediaSmart Home Server (Amazon) running Microsoft Windows Home Server, which is exactly what it sounds like – a server for your home – it backs up these other devices, can you help you keep in sync, recover from problems, serve up media, etc. The thing can hold a couple of terabytes of data if you add the appropriate drives, and it has some data protection built-in (data is copies onto multiple drives, so that if one goes bad, you won’t loose anything if you have it setup properly).
HP has impressed a lot of people with the HP EX470 MediaSmart server – they were one of the first big-league PC manufacturers to roll out a device based on Windows Home Server, and it wasn’t just thrown together – it’s very well designed, very simple to setup, and HP was on top of the Windows Home Server market and produced a device that hit the right price point while still retaining a nice design as well as being very expandable. It was very clear that HP was paying attention to what early adapters and developers were doing with WHS, as well as paying attention to Microsoft and what they wanted a WHS server to be.
I think the same thing could happen here. HP will come out with a UMPC that is like the HP EX470 – a solid design at the right price point to pull in people that may not have been ready to buy such a device before now.