Samsung’s Q1 Ultra Gives UMPC One More Try

Last year, the new computing category of ultra-mobile PCs—UMPCs—was all the rage, defining a new, fully capable platform in the space between traditional notebook computers and, say, PDAs or smartphones. South Korea’s Samsung was the first out the door with its Q1 in mid-2006, but even Samsung admits sales and consumer response to the UMPC category has failed to live up to expectations, with Samsung failing to meet its target sales of 100,000 units in the first year. Other companies’ UMPC offers have met with similar response.

However, Samsung isn’t willing to give up on the UMPC category just yet, at CeBIT today announcing an upgraded version of the Q1 under the moniker Q1 Ultra. The Q1 Ultra is both lighter and slimmer than its predecessor, and sports a 7-inch 1,024 by 600-pixel LCD touchscreen, up from the 800 by 400-pixel screen offered in the original Q1. Instead of relying on a touch-screen keyboard for data entry, the Q1 Ultra sports hardware keypards, with keys split between the left and right sides of he device for quick thumb action whil holding the device in two hands.

Specs on the Q1 Ultra are a little scarce—and Samsung’s horrid CeBIT site revealing more about their marketing department’s addled mental state than the company’s products—but reports have Samsung looking to make the Q1 Ultra more affordable by increasing the range of processor options available in the unit. The original Q1 sported a 1 GHz Intel processor; the Q1 Ultra will reportedly start out with an 800 MHz chip, with higher speeds available in more-expensive models. The Q1 Ultra will also pack 1 GB of RAM, support external USB devices (like keyboards and pointing devices), and adds support for mobile broadband via HSDPA and WiBro (a mobile WiMAX implementation) as well as 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless networking. Additional options in the Q1 Ultra will include a biometric fingerprint reader, dual digital cameras (for photography and lower-res video chat use), and a GPS-enabled navigation pack. Like the recently-announced Q1P, the Q1 Ultra will win Windows Vista Home Premium.

Samsung hasn’t revealed any pricing or availability information for the Q1 Ultra, but industry speculation has the products getting to market in May with the mainstream Q1 Ultras being priced at about the same point as the current Q1s, which start at $1,200. Samsung has indicated some interest in introducing lower-cost UMPCs, and envisions increasing UMPC sales to as much as 300,000 units by mid-2008.

Along the same lines, Samsung is also releasing a solid-state UMPC in the 4th quarter of 2007.  Check out the video of the the solid state Q1 here.