Hands on with the Viliv S5, UMID mbook M1 and Other MIDs

I used to associate MIDs as ultra-pricey luxury gadgets for super rich geeks, but after getting a hands on with some of them at Intel’s headquarters, I was surprised to see how many new MIDs are coming out that are actually affordable and still worthy of a good amount of gadget lust.

This is a concept MID device from Intel. We don’t know much about it other than it runs on a spiffy futuristic, Linux-based interface and it has a camera.

If you thought netbooks were small, the UMID mbook M1 is even smaller. While netbooks can be easily carried in a bag, this little guy is almost small enough to be carried in your pocket. The UMID mbook M1 weighs just .69 lbs and packs in a 4.8 inch LCD screen with a 1,024×600 resolution, it has a web cam, it’s powered by an Atom 1.33mhz processor, it’s running Windows XP home, has a micro SD slot, and a 32GB SSD drive. The $599 price tag is actually a lot cheaper than I would have expected it to be, considering how tiny it is. It’s adorable to hold in your hand, but the keyboard feels a bit too cramped for my own taste. Fortunately the screen is also a touchscreen and there is a stylus slot built in to the device, which helps when navigating the system.

We’ve read much about the Classmate PC but this was our first time actually holding it in our hands, specifically the newer Convertible Classmate PC with Windows XP Home. The design is sleeker than the original Classmate PC and also boasts tablet functionality. But aside from its tablet functionality, we also appreciated the special Linux-like UI that it has overlaid over Windows XP. The UI makes navigating programs a cinch, especially when you are using the computer in tablet mode. Compared to other netbooks out there, the tablet functionality combined with its rugged exterior plus handle makes the convertible classmate PC definitely more suited for younger children. And we imagine that kids will end up using the tablet + stylus for lots of creative projects.

The Viliv S5 has been getting a lot of press recently because it is kind of a unique hybrid MID / GPS navigation device for your car. The system has got a 4.8″ touchscreen display, 60GB hard drive and like the UMID mbook M1, it is also running on the Atom 1.33mhz processor. However it does not have a dedicated keyboard, instead it features haptic feedback which is pretty cool to use. Also, Because it has built in GPS and is compatible with most GPS software, it has the potential to be a great all-in-one multimedia device for the car. The Viliv S5 also retails for just $599.

The Clarion MiND Mobile Internet Navigation Device also has built in GPS like the The Viliv S5, but it seems to be a GPS device first and a computing device second. The system comes preloaded with Navteq navigation software and it provides turn by turn directions as well as plenty of POIs for both the US and Canada. On the multimedia side, it has got a neat touchscreen interface which lets you scroll through items, in a sort of iPhone’esque manner. Unfortunately the device only has 4GB of memory, though it is expandable via MicroSD cards. The Clarion MiND Mobile Internet Navigation Device retails for around $499, and comes in a choice of black, red or white.

Remember the OQO models? They were amongst the very first UMPCs, but the company ultimately failed because their devices too pricey at almost 2 grand a pop. The model on the right hand side from Compal is very similar in design to the original OQO, but it has a better keyboard and a better price tag because it’s running on an Atom processor. It also packs in HSDPA for sppedy web surfing. This device was actually my favorite device from everything I got to play with. When a display is under 6 inches inches, it turns out that a slide-out form factor works better ergonomically than a clamshell form-factor. Unfortunately this device is currently only available in France from a local wireless provider, but I hope it comes here soon in one form another, since I think I’d trade in my netbook to carry this one in my purse.

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