Taiwanese tech firm E-Lead Electronic Co. has announced the launch of the Noahpad ultra-mobile PC, giving Eee PC lovers a thrilling sense of deja vu.
The device does look remarkably similar to an Eee PC at first glance, being small and white and possessed of a tiny 7" display. There are one or two things that make this contender stand out as something other than a knock-off clone, however. The display can be folded right back on itself to form a rather expensive photo-frame (and, according to the marketing pictures, to hang up whilst you cook an egg), and the keyboard is split into two.
Then the keyboard - if there's one thing a mobile device needs it's a good keyboard. A decent keyboard is the reason I'm writing this on an ancient laptop and not on my Nokia Internet Tablet: the tablet might be easier on the pocket, but text entry is a pain. So, E-Lead has gone for a standard tactile keyboard beloved of laptop users everywhere, right? Wrong. The rather odd split keyboard featured on the Noahpad is a touch-based system reminiscent of the keypad on the Razr
'phone series. I can't see such a 'dead-wood' feeling keyboard being much use for anything other than basic text entry, but I'll keep an open mind.
The specs are nothing to write home about: powered by a 1GHz VIA Eden CPU and with 512MB RAM in the standard configuration it's not going to be playing Crysis any time soon. Something that will interest Eee owners feeling restricted by the 4GB SSD is that the device will ship with a 30GB mechanical drive; less robust, but with a lot more storage room.
For the operating system the device will run a fairly standard Ubuntu 7.10
install, although the company has announced that drivers will be available should you want to run Windows XP instead.
The UMPC will be officially launched at CES
this January, although how long it'll take to be in the shops in a decent quantity I'm not sure: after all, the Eee is still
sold out everywhere you look.
Tempted by an ultra-portable, or do you need more power when you're on the road? Let us know your thoughts over in the forums