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Exclusive: 23 minutes of hands-on with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices

OK, so I’m a couple days late, and I know I’ve been teasing you with photos and videoappetizers“, but I hope the quality/content of these videos makes up for it. While I was in Shanghai, China last week for the Spring 2008 Intel Developer Forum, I stayed a few extra days to work with the Intel Software Network China team, with the hope that I might be able to score some hands-on time with some of the Mobile Internet Devices that were shown for the first time at IDF.

There are only about 20 MIDs in the world today, all prototypes, and they were pretty much all at IDF. As you can imagine, access to them is jealously guarded, and they were pretty busy being shown off, participating in photo shoots, etc. My access to them got postponed, rescheduled, and moved around a lot, until one afternoon, we got the call. “You can come play with the MIDs if you can be here by 5:30pm.” It was 5:00pm, and Welles and I jumped in a taxi right away, headed for the Intel Software group’s Mobility Enabling Lab. I didn’t have time to go back and get my “big boy” professional video gear, so these videos were shot on my pocket Aiptek Go-HD camera, secured by a GorillaPod. I think they turned out pretty well.

Big disclaimer: the Linux-based software for both the Lenovo and Aigo devices I used is NOT final – there are some features that aren’t implemented, and performance optimizations that haven’t occurred. This is NOT how they’re going to be when they’re released commercially. There are crashes, slowness, and missing features in these videos. Think of this as a preview of the foundations of the software – what it’s capable of in general. Then squint your eyes a little and imagine the final version, a little more polished, sitting happily in your pocket. :-)

First up, here’s a 13 minute video of the Lenovo Ideapad U8 Mobile Internet Device (MID). It’s one of the more unique hardware designs, with it’s flared end, special limited edition Beijing 2008 Olympic color scheme, and hardware number pad, for T9 text entry. In the video, I take a detailed look at the hardware (Intel Atom processor, two cameras – the rear one is 2.0 megapixels, SD slot, GPS, USB ports, etc.), and spend some time poking around with the software/user interface:


You can download the high quality (640×360) MP4 version here – the file is about 153 MB. You can also embed/share the video on your own blog or site by grabbing the Show Player code from the video’s page on blip.tv or by clicking “Embed” in the show player above.

Next up is 10 minutes of video with the MID from Aigo. I cover pretty much the same aspects of this device in the video as I did with the Lenovo Ideapad – hardware (sliding QWERTY keyboard, two cameras – the rear one is 3.0 megapixels, MicroSD slot, USB ports, “Smart Key”, etc.) and software and user interface. The Aigo device looks very similar to the Gigabyte MID, which has been floating around, making appearances. So much so that I suspect they’re manufactured by the same OEM, but I didn’t get any concrete information on this, so I’m just speculating. Here’s the video:


You can download the high quality (640×360) MP4 version of this video (117 MB) here, and get the embed code to share the video on your own site/blog on the video’s page on blip.tv, or by clicking “Embed” in the show player above.

Now that you’ve seen the videos, I hope some of your questions have been answered. And, no doubt, you have new questions. I’ll do my very best to get answers for you, so post your thoughts and questions in the comments below. Thanks for being patient while I got these videos ready. I have a TON more video content that I shot at IDF, and that will be coming out as it gets processed/edited. But this is the juicy stuff, so enjoy! :-)

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14 thoughts on “Exclusive: 23 minutes of hands-on with the Lenovo and Aigo Mobile Internet Devices

  1. Pingback: ????

  2. Awesome video, Josh! You’re quite the hand model. :)

    As a smallish geek girl I am always concerned about weight. I currently have the Asus EEE that I carry around. How do these compare?

    The lenovo looks sweet but heavy and bulky. Was it?

  3. Francine Delouche says:

    These devices are too chunky. It’s also a shame to see the Olympics being used commercially in this way.

  4. @mightysquid – Heh. I hate seeing my hands on video. Chewed fingernails, sausage fingers, etc. But enough about my self-image. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    The devices are actually pretty small and light, compared to previous generation UMPCs. The Lenovo is absolutely tiny compared to the Samsung Q1, and it’s about on par in size and weight with, say, a PSP.

    It felt really good in my hands (I preferred it to the Aigo device), and fit in my cargo pants pocket just fine. I think it would fit in a purse/day bag without any trouble, and without needing a HUGE bag. :-)

    It’s definitely smaller and lighter than the Eee PC, and, besides a smaller screen (I think it’s 4.8″) and lack of keyboard, has about the same specs and capabilities, so you’d be able to do the exact same kinds of things with it.

    Now that I think of it, a good comparison between the MIDs and the Eee PC would be very instructive. If I ever manage to get my hands on both of them at the same time, I’ll do a comparison video. :-)

  5. @Francine – too chunky compared to what? I’m not disagreeing (I’d love one the same size and weight as my iPhone), but I’m curious about your frame of reference.

    Also, to me it seems the Olympics have always been exploited commercially – merchandising, advertising tie-ins, etc. It’s never been above commercialism before, why start now? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. this sounds intriguing now i’m reading your review. i will check the video later when I have time. Been following the tweets all week but did not think much of it until I see what the big deal is now.

    So how would you compare them to iPhone/iTouch or N95 or similar smart phone? Do these take PDA/smart phone to a WHOLE new level. Is this a category of device you think we will see a lot of in the coming months?

    Cant wait to watch these later….

  7. The Dark Free Soul says:

    Hey Josh! You allready answered to my question about BenQ mid am I’m gratefull to you but this is a great goodmorning for me :) (yep, here it’s 9:45 am).
    Wow !! Great work man!

  8. The Dark Free Soul says:

    Hi there :) I’ve an other question: what do you think about a mid without any kind of hardware keyboard? I mean, do you think that an on screen keyboard is usable? Ok, of course i don’t plan to write office documents on it…
    I also know that devices keyboardless like HTC Touch implement 3 or 4 kind of software keyboards, including solutions like a full QWERTY with one key per symbol, a QWERTY with 2/3 symbols per key and also a standard cellphone keypad with T9. Do you know if MIDs will include features like this?
    I ask beacause I read on the web that some people consider mids without a keyboard like an expencive toy… any consideration is wellcome :)
    Thanks again! and best regards :)

    A

  9. Hey Josh, thanks for answering my queries on twitter. One last question, how open are these devices likely to be, as far as being able to install your own software? Will it be possible to install software from outside package repositories? That’s my big gripe with devices like the iPhone and Nintendo DS, that the manufacturers are trying to lock out people who are trying to make the devices they purchased fit the needs of themselves and others.

  10. @The Dark Free Soul – both of the MIDs I saw had soft keyboards and a stylus, so I don’t think it’s going to be a huge issue. Some people prefer a hardware keyboard on a device like this, and some will have it. Besides, the iPhone doesn’t have a hardware keyboard. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @smb As far as I know, they’re wide open. They’re all going to be built on various linux distributions (Midinux, Ubuntu Mobile, Xandros, etc.), so, since it’s Linux, you should be able to do just about anything you want with them. No lockdown at all.

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  13. Jordi C. says:

    I am thinking about buying the Lenovo or Aigo IMD. Currently I am living in Tokyo and I am thinking about buying the Lenovo Ideapad in Akihabara or the Aigo IMD. My major concern is, how the internet browsing is handled. If I understand it well, it uses the 3G network, the same as the iPhone or any mobile phones nowadays use (well, yes, the Willcom device uses a different network or different technology). Can I tell the shop to take my “phone card” from my cell phone (Softbank) to the Lenovo or Aigo IMD and browse the internet normally ? Or will I need to go to the Softbank shop and make another contract ? Thanks for the help !

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