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Pocketables reader Arthur has recently picked up the Asus R50A UMPC that had been awaiting his return from a weeklong business trip, which whisked him away on the very day the Atom-based slate was due to arrive at his home. We’ve been exchanging emails for several weeks (he placed his order before Thanksgiving), so when photos of the freshly unboxed R50A appeared in my inbox yesterday, it felt like the next best thing to having the UMPC arrive at my own doorstep.

Arthur snapped the pictures with his iPhone and even had the R50A cozy up next to his HTC Shift (one of my personal favorites) for a few shots. Since seeing gadgets helping gadgets is in keeping with the holiday spirit and I’ll make up any excuse to shine the spotlight on the Shift, I asked Arthur if I could share the images here. His answer is clear below.

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Compared to the Shift, Arthur says the R50A feels much faster and more responsive. Although he expected this to be the case because of the better processor, he still thinks "it’s nice to see the device actually perform as expected." Unlike the Shift, which sometimes has trouble playing videos in iTunes, the Asus R50A has had no trouble playing his favorite video podcasts so far. In short, he is "very optimistic" about the UMPC.

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What surprises me most about seeing the R50A next to the Shift is how similar in size they are. Yes, the Shift is about an inch taller (it has a 7-inch screen, after all), but I didn’t expect the R50A to be so long.

Up next on Arthur’s agenda is to test the built-in HSPDA, confirm the battery life (after a full charge, the battery meter shows only 2.5 hours), look for some on-screen keyboard software, and install Slingbox. Look for his continued thoughts on the device in the Pocketables Forum.

Full specifications and more details on the Asus R50A in Pocketables Products.

Thanks, Arthur!