More Asus R2H UMPC Questions and Answers

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I’ve gotten some more questions about the Asus R2H Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) that I’ve answered via email, and I’m going to continue posting them here, for anyone who’s interested.

Can you remap the buttons on the front to do other things?

Not that I’ve been able to find. There are custom Asus applications that have to be running in order for the buttons to even work. It’s probably possible, but would require an app that could impersonate/intercept the communication between the buttons, and remap them to something else. Luckily, the buttons are quite useful, and I don’t really find myself wishing for more functionality from them. But customization is always a nice option.

I want to try and run graphics apps on it, have you tried Photoshop or any OpenGL apps like games or 3d software?

I haven’t run any 3d apps, other than Google Earth, which performs acceptably in DirectX mode. I was kind of surprised it worked as well as it does. In the end, though, remember it’s basically a 900MHz system with Intel 910 Integrated Graphics, so 3d performance isn’t going to be stellar. But the apps should at least run. I’m going to try Second Life on it, because it would be awesome to use a UMPC as a little Second Life terminal, but I don’t have high hopes, because Second Life chugs on even my X41 Tablet PC.

What is the pen like, solid plastic? Any buttons on it?

The pen (stylus) is actually metal, and very substantial feeling. However, since the R2H uses a touch screen, and not an active digitizer like other Tablet PCs, there are no buttons or any special functionality. It’s simply something pointy to use on the screen. It’s better than any other PDA or UMPC stylus I’ve used, though. Feel free to substitute a nice stylus/pen combo as a replacement, if you’re the pen-carrying type (I’m not).

Have you tried out the GPS?

Yes, it works great. You have to enabled it every time using the “GPS_SWITCH.exe” application, but that’s not a big deal. It takes a while to get an initial fix, but that’s common to most GPS units. I’ve used it with Streets and Trips 2006, and with 3rd party navigation software (iGuidance). It simply shows up as a standard NMEA GPS device on COM 2 at 4800 baud/bps.

Does 2 pounds seem heavy? I want to carry it around with me. It won’t fit in a pocket will it?

It would fit in a large pocket (like a big coat pocket or similar). I have some cargo pants with huge pockets on the leg where it would probably fit, but I haven’t tried it yet, mainly because I can envision my pants falling down at inopportune times because of the weight. I already carry enough gadgets in my cargo pants to make that a real danger. 🙂 It does feel kind of heavy, for what it is, but I was surprised to find out that it feels about the same, if not a little lighter, than the Samsung Q1. It’s more square (less rounded) than the Q1, which makes it feel a little bulkier, but it’s not too bad at all.

In your demo the processor speed seems adequate. Are you happy with the speed?

Yes, quite. It’s a zippy little machine. 🙂 Don’t expect a powerhouse, but it’s very snappy and responsive for every day use. Even under Windows Vista (which felt a little faster than Windows XP, believe it or not).

What about the slow hard drive? Is that an issue?

You won’t really notice the slow hard drive unless you’re doing something really disk intensive, like editing audio files. This is where I had problems with slowness on my X41 Tablet, which has the same type of 1.8″ 4200 RPM hard drive (the same tiny drive used in the iPod). I haven’t actually experienced any slow hard drive issues on the R2H, but that’s mostly because I know not to attempt heavy duty stuff like video editing, etc. The disk is plenty fast for running basic apps (office, Firefox, etc.), listening to music or playing video, etc.

How hot does it get? If I sat there on the train trying to draw pictures and make art on it would it be burning my fingers or uncomfortable?

According to Notebook Hardware Control, the temperature during normal use is about 150 Fahrenheit. It gets warm to the touch, but not hot. Think typical warm laptop feel. It won’t burn your fingers. 🙂 I think the metal chassis, body, and face help to dissipate the heat better than a plastic enclosure would.

What kind of battery life are you getting from it?

I haven’t done formal tests yet, but I get about 3.5 to 4 hours with the 4-cell 6800mAH extended battery.

Also I think it would be fun to record music on it. Can you turn the screen off while the machine is still active? Do you think it would power a non powered mic?

There’s no switch/command to turn the screen off, but you can set the Power Management settings to turn off the display after a period of time. You could lower this to something like 1 minute, and use it for audio recording, etc. The integrated mic on the front sounds OK, but not spectacular. I’m pretty sure the mic input jack doesn’t supply power to a non-powered mic (very uncommon in laptops, or even desktop computers), so you’ll need a pre-amp or mixer to power a mic that requires it.

Hope that’s helpful – keep the questions coming! I’ll do my best to get them answered. The more I use the R2H, the more I like it. It’s become a big part of my daily gadget usage. I’m planning some more video reviews, too – general software and usage, GPS navigation demo, etc., so keep an eye out for those.


ProPortable getting a shipment of Asus R2H UMPCs – order now if you want one

Just got a note from Justin at (affiliate link) that they’re getting a shipment of Asus R2H Ultra Mobile PCs in soon:

We’re getting a big shipment of R2’s in here on Monday.  Our current backorders come to maybe 20-25 units because people have simply been waiting for them to get back into stock.  I figured I’d give you a chance to tell people more are coming in and if they got orders in by the weekend, they’ll get one from this next shipment.  Otherwise, they typically don’t last long from the minute we put them back in stock.

These always go very quickly, so if you have been wanting one of these, get your order in soon. I can’t recommend the folks at ProPortable highly enough – they’ve been awesome in every way.

Good luck! 🙂

Update from Justin:

ProPortable got 75 R2H units in, and have about 45 of them left after filling pre-orders. They’re available to order now, and Justin expects them to last about a week. This will be the last shipment of the R2H they get until mid-January, so act now if you want to get your hands on one.


Traveling to Santa Clara with only a UMPC

I’m down at the Intel mothership in Santa Clara, CA today, for some meetings. I’m actually sitting in the lobby of the Robert Noyce Building, which is super swank – I’ll post some photos soon. This is actually the first time I’ve been to Intel in Santa Clara, and I decided to make this day trip an experiment in the feasibility of traveling and working with only an Ultra Mobile PC – my Asus R2H.

So far, it’s been great. I only had to carry one small bag – a little lumbar bag that I’ve been using to carry the R2H and its accessories (power brick, ThinkOutside Bluetooth keyboard, wireless mouse, etc.). No worries about luggage or even stowing a carryon. I didn’t get to the PDX airport in time to enjoy the free WiFi, but if I had, I would have been able to do some browsing/feed reading before my flight.

When I landed in San Jose and got my rental car, I used the GPS capability of the R2H (along with an app called iGuidance that I’m trying out) to do navigation, and get directions to Intel (though I confess I used my Windows Mobile phone to look up the address on Google Mobile – it’s just quicker to use that device, which is always connected, than to futz around with trying to get online on the UMPC where there’s no WiFi). My rental car also had a NeverLost GPS, which I’ve never used before, so I ran both at the same time, listening to both sets of directions. They both gave the same directions, and got me here with no problems.

Now, I’m here in the lobby, with my little mobile gadget spread. No one has stopped to ask about it (a common occurrence when I take a new gadget out in public :-)), but then, this is Intel, so maybe they’re not surprised.

I’m going to post this, maybe upload a couple of pictures, check email, and then head off to check out the Intel Museum Store before my meeting.

So far, so good on traveling light with only a UMPC – no need for a bulky laptop bag, and there’s nothing I feel like I’m “missing”, in terms of what kind of work I could get done with this setup (compared to a laptop). I love the Ultra Mobile lifestyle! 🙂


Christmas Tree by UMPC

Testing YouTube’s new integrated recorder – record and upload a video right in your browser. I did this with the integrated camera on the front of my Asus R2H UMPC, so the video quality isn’t that great (but the audio sounds surprisingly good!).

Not impressive by itself, but this basically means that I can point my UMPC at something and record and upload a video in one very easy step, no additional hardware or software required. Very cool. 🙂


ProPortable has the Asus R2H Extended Battery with integrated stand

As several people pointed out to me recently, newer shipments of the Asus R2H Ultra Mobile PC have a feature on the extended battery that mine was missing – an integrated stand on the back:

Blowfish just dropped word that ProPortable, the go-to guys for all your R2H needs, now have the battery available (in stock, too, as of now) for $149 (affiliate link).

I’m going to try to get my hands on one of these – the integrated stand was one nice feature the Samsung Q1 has that I miss on my R2H.



Moonlight, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

Snapped this photo outside of Intel’s Jones Farm 3 building tonight, waiting for Rachel to pick me up. The full moon looked cool, and the bare trees were lit up by the parking lot light posts (which I tried to artfully crop out). The image is otherwise unedited.


Gabe, 3 months

Gabe, 3 months, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

My boy is growing so fast! 🙂 He’s to the point where he smiles, grins, and makes cute little baby noises in response to us. I love it!

More photos here and here, and of course, in the Gabriel Joshua Bancroft photoset on Flickr.