Let's Call It a UVPC

Technically, the Noahpad from E-Lead Electronic is a Linux-based UMPC, or an Ultra-Mobile PC. Generally speaking, a UMPC is smaller than a notepad and bigger than a Mobile Internet Device (MID). But, in fact, the Noahpad is so versatile and odd, it may deserve another category entirely.

The E-Lead Noahpad UMPC (ultra-mobile PC) runs on Linux.

Let's start with the keyboard. Its two springy squares are divided into what you might call a bingo grid (5x5) of keys, all printed on the square and separated by raised dark lines. These serve to keep your fingers on the “keys”—an alternative to the conventional approach, which orients touch via spaces between keys and convex bowls for your fingertips. Thus, the Noahpad has just two (barely) moving “keyboard” parts, even though the two squares also add 50 function keys to the usual QWERTY lineup.

But, that's not the half of it. Both squares are touchpads—big ones. You can go from typing to pointing without leaving the two pads. Navigation is also novel. For example, you can use the touchpad to move around the window view, expanding the perimeter of the screen desktop beyond the borders of the screen itself.

Speaking of which, the 7" backlit 1040x768 display also is a touchscreen, and it can pivot and flip around both sides of the base to become a writing pad, a display or...you decide. E-Lead suggests many possible Noahpad uses: a car GPS (with a larger screen than just about every standard built-in or aftermarket GPS), a “hangable” multimedia player, a digital photo frame and even a jogging companion. “Classmate, roommate, travelmate”, the slogan goes.

Tech details: 1GHz VIA Eden CPU, 512MB of RAM, 30GB HD, 300k pixel cam, Bluetooth, “Ethernet 10m/100M USB to RJ45 dongle”, 802.11b/g, external 3.5g compatibility, Wi-Fi and Ubuntu 7.10. For more information, visit www.noahpad.com.

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