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ASUS R50a UMPC reviewed: underpowered for Vista?

ASUS R50a UMPC reviewed: underpowered for Vista?

ASUS' R50a UMPC was always taking on a serious challenge: Windows Vista on a 1.33GHz Atom Z520 processor with 1GB of RAM is asking either for nth-degree fine-tuning or just plain trouble.  Initial reports seemed vaguely promising, but Ben over at UMPC Portal has found things less impressive.  Chief criticism - aside from the bloatware, cramped writing area and difficult form-factor - is the sluggish performance.

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ASUS R50a UMPC versus HTC Shift

ASUS R50a UMPC versus HTC Shift

Now that the price of the ASUS R50a UMPC has come down, even if only a little, it's brought the touchscreen handheld into the consideration of a few more buyers.  While we already know that the $1,399 UMPC performs well, its time to see how it shapes up to a stalwart of the segment, HTC's Shift.  The ASUS has a faster CPU - Intel’s 1.33GHz Z520 Silverthorne - than the Shift, so as expected it's a step up in performance at least.

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ASUS R50a UMPC available for $1,399: still too expensive

ASUS R50a UMPC available for $1,399: still too expensive

If the $1,839 price tag of the ASUS R50a UMPC was dissuading you from buying it - and we can't really say we blame you - then we've got good news.  Importer Dynamism have the 5.8-inch touchscreen device for $1,399: that gets you a 1.3GHz Intel Z520 processor, 1GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD for storage, together with WiFi b/g, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, integrated GPS and an integrated 3.5G WWAN module.

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ASUS R50a UMPC shipping now

ASUS R50a UMPC shipping now

The ASUS R50a UMPC has begun shipping, in Europe at least, from retailer Informatic.  The 5.8-inch touchscreen device has a 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, a 32GB SSD for storage and runs Vista.  There's also integrated 3G HSDPA, WiFi, Bluetooth and a massive price: €1,475 ($1,839).

Unboxing video of the ASUS R50a UMPC after the cut

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URC Digital R50 universal remote with on-device programming

URC Digital R50 universal remote with on-device programming

Universal Remote Control have announced a new remote, the Digital R50, capable of controlling up to 18 different components through preprogrammed and learnt IR commands.  Unlike rival remotes, which require a computer connection or professional help to setup, the R50 can be completely programmed via the integrated 2-inch LED backlit display, including custom labels, logos and more. 

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