IT intelligence: PC design

Robin Fisk continues his series on new technology with a look at PC design.

The technology industry is masterful at creating abbreviations, and my column this week features several of its new additions to the lexicon.

UMPCs are ultra-mobile PCs that are smaller than laptops but bigger than hand-held computers. A result of collaboration between Microsoft and Intel, they use styluses, touch screens, joysticks and function buttons, although they have USB ports that allow the use of more traditional controllers such as keyboards. Their screens are typically between four and a half and seven inches wide.

Will they catch on for charities? The screens are slightly larger than those on hand-held computers and charities needing 'field' devices may find them easier to use. Furthermore, the battery life is better than most laptops. The price, however, can act as a deterrent. The market has conditioned consumers to buy either laptops, media players or hand-held computers, and users might not be convinced that the UMPC has brought together the benefits of all three. Users may prefer laptops.

OLEDs/LEPs are Organic Light-Emitting Diodes and Light-Emitting Polymers, which are set to revolutionise the PC monitor industry. In recent years, liquid crystal display monitors have largely replaced cathode ray tubes, and have obvious benefits - they use less space and less power and show better pictures. As LCD displays come to the end of their life cycles, OLED/LEP replacements should provide better performance for the same or lower cost. They will offer even lower power consumption and higher contrast, and will be slimmer and lighter. OLEDs can also be used in flexible displays, so the roll-out monitor may be imminent. For now, you will already see OLED displays on portable media devices, in cars and on domestic appliances. OLED/LEP monitors should begin to appear on our desks in 2008.

- Robin Fisk is managing director of software company Fisk Brett.

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