"A generally usable Windows ultraportable, but only for those who really need the functionality."on by fbbbb
Pros Function, features, runtime (with extended batt), build quality.
Cons Usability issues, crappy Sony-specific apps, massive bloat.
Summary First of all, shinklee - a few reviews down - makes some excellent and very valid comments, and I draw your attention to his views for some of the compromises that you have to make with a machine like this, since many of his points are well observed.
I cast around, and decided to get myself a UX390 as the best of a mediocre bunch of devices in this category. Why? Because I do not always wish to lug a laptop around, but I've found after buying so many devices that anything other than a full Windows machine is a compromise I'm unwilling to make. While I also own ultraportable laptops such as the Sony G11, for some uses such as when I'm out all day, they're still too bulky.
I now operate with three UX390's at each of the locations I spend a lot of time at. I use Office 2007 and especially Outlook 2007 heavily (connecting to my own Exchange Server cluster over an SSL VPN) and instead of the EDGE modem which I'm not even sure works over here I use a bluetooth link to a mobile for Internet. I only use the extended batteries - I haven't even taken the standard batteries out of the original packaging on any of the UX's.
I'll start with the negatives: My own issues with the device mirrors that of shinklee's to a certain extent. Every 'ain't that cool' peripheral hung off the device, from the fingerprint reader to the camera, doesn't actually work all that well always, a problem mainly down to the response of the applications which those peripherals need. It seems to take an inordinate amount to launch the camera application, and you have to wait around 20 seconds after the unit wakes from sleep to get a 'one-hit' fingerprint recognition. The wireless switching app in particular just only serves to get in your way, is less stable and is less elegant in use than what's shipped in other non-Cingular'd VAIO's I use. I'm used to Sony not being able to write software to save their lives, and also outsourcing some of their software to equally clueless developers, but I'd say the apps on the UX seem particularly compromised given the relative lack of power of this machine. I couldn't go as far as to say it's unusable, but the lack of immediacy and reliability of many of the key pieces of Sony-provided software on the UX significantly cramps the user's style.
Talking about cramped, Sony's insistence of burdening the flash SSD with a full complement of Bloatware, AND putting the Bloatware-infested recovery partition on the SSD as well means that you have 7Gb or so free out of the box, which is truly moronic. I wasted a lot of time figuring out what I could remove safely. Also, neither the main unit or the docking station's USB ports seem to provide enough current for some peripherals such as bus-powered HDD's to work. Some work and others don't, which means that I had to pick up an AC-powered USB hub to hang off one of the docking station's ports. The maximum (really?) 1Gb RAM also seems to be a hobble factor for me, and maybe there's some additional power management / CPU throttling in there as it seems to be notably slower than my Sony G11VN/T (also a Core Solo 1.33 but with 2Gb RAM) in everyday use. Also, depending on your eyesight the screen really is tiny and long periods of staring at it will make you go cross-eyed. This is not a machine even to compose documents on, but rather for (brief) review and edit.
So you see, compromises abound. It's not quite a full laptop in an ultracompact body and there are certain issues which come with the territory.
Now the positives. First, it's a freakin' cool device. I'm jaded as anyone can be without being a full-time reviewer, but the UX pressed all my geek-joy buttons. It is also one of the smallest full Windows machines out there and if you need to run Windows apps on an ultraportable, all said this is a very good way to go. Vista runs acceptably on the device even with Aero enabled, and regular office-type apps are tackled with aplomb, although perceptibly slower than (as I remarked above) the Sony G11, which shares the same processor. Battery life given the size of the unit is fair. 5 hours or so of general use out of the extended battery is not bad, and at any time I am carrying a spare. The docking station is pretty usable, and the UX is capable of acting as a desktop computer -albeit a slow one - if you plug in a display, keyboard and mouse and wire it up to the LAN.
And the Sony software issues aside, almost everything does actually work - in some cases as mentioned, eventually. As for the Vista issue, drivers seem to be stable and the only app which gives me regular problems is the wireless switching applet that I mentioned above. Sleep is more solid on Vista computers than XP, and I've not yet had a situation where I've had to reboot from after a sleep because various things are not working properly. And zero BSOD's to date.
Once calibrated the touchscreen is accurate, and the keyboard is not as unusable as I'd feared, although the slight curl upwards at each end of the keyboard is, and continues to be, immensely annoying, especially with the added bulk of the extended battery which increases the reach requirement of the right-hand thumb when typing. The stylus is a two-piece expanding tiny wand of the type to be found on many smartphones, and is as generally slightly as annoying as any of this ilk. I carry a bluetooth mouse with me.
In closing, I'll say that the device has spectacular geek-cred, but in use it's somewhat less than the sum of it's parts. Rather than a device I find a straightforward pleasure to use, the UX does occasionally get in my way. But on the other hand, the way that I want to work and be entertained on the move, I find that I'm relatively crippled with anything less than a 'full' Windows machine - and this is one of the most portable and (relatively) usable ways to do work the way I want to.
Pros Powerful enough to be your main computer. Small enough to go anywhere.
Cons No separate battery charger. Keyboard only for short entries.
Summary The target audience of UMPCs like the Sony UX may be relatively small, but they know what they want: They want a device which will run the same applications (not stripped-down, semi-compatible, sort of work-alikes) as a laptop or desktop system and they want it in a package you can take nearly anywhere.
The Sony UX-390 is at the top of the UMPC heap in terms of processing power and capabilities. It's smaller than nearly all other UMPCs and just a bit larger than the OQO Model 02. However, it performs significantly better in number-crunching and graphics applications than the others, with the exception of hefty Vulcan FlipStart. The UX-390 comes with Vista Business installed and, yes, you can actually run the Aero Glass GUI on it if you so desire. Like most laptops, the UX-390 comes with a "docking cradle" which allows you to attach it to an external monitor and USB devices, including mice and keyboards. It also has Bluetooth capabilities which allows wireless connection to peripherals and WiFi a/b/g for wireless network connections. In fact, the UX-90 is powerful enough that, depending on your needs, it could be your main computer. Yet it's small enough that you can easily carry it wherever you want to go. You can also use it in-hand, without a flat surface, unlike a laptop.
Instead of a conventional hard-drive, Sony put a 32GB Solid State Drive into the UX-390. The SSD allows for much better battery life than with a conventional hard-drive. In addition, because there is no phyisical movement needed to read or write data, they are not subject to damage from shocks, they read and write faster, and they don't require defragmentation like conventional drives.
The small size does lend itself to a few compromises, though: The UX keyboard is a great boon for being able to make short entries without the recognition difficulties of handwriting or frustration of popping up an onscreen keyboard which also covers part of the screen. For longer entries, you'll find you want to add a full-sized keyboard. The screen is small enough that some people may find it necessary to bump up the font sizes, but it's also crisp, clear, and readable in most lighting conditions.
Small size also means smaller battery. The standard battery on the UX delivers about 3 hours of life; less if you use WiFi considerably. That's a short enough time that you'll probably want to carry a spare, charged battery with you. They're small enough that you can, but there isn't an external charger. You'll have to charge them with the UX itself. Sony should correct this oversight quickly. The UX is on its third generation and this accessory still isn't available.
All told, the Sony UX-390 isn't for everyone. It's for that select group of people who need or want a very powerful, ultra-portable, fully-functional PC with them wherever they go. For people whose work takes them out of the office on a regular basis, a UMPC should at least be part of the considerations.
"Best of the bunch"on by t.est_1
Pros Size, quality, functionality and reliability
Cons cost and battery life
Summary Great for portable computing for instance the new Holiday Inn Express (Cass Hotel) in Chicago will have direct connect flat screens and free wifi. u can just jack in yet still have an almost pda sized device. You can plug USB devices into it (flash drives, keyboards etc.) a real pc in a small form factor.
I love it!
Pros Fast, great size
Cons Keyboard, but this is not for heavy word processing