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EKING, the Chinese manufacturer well known for MIDs and UMPCs such as the S515 and i1, has been relatively quiet for a while in the face of the Android tablet invasion. Then again, the same can be said for many UMPC manufacturers with a few minor exceptions; this is partially linked to the current stagnated state of UMPC hardware, with the Menlow (Atom Z-series) platform holding the fort while we wait for the next generation Oak Trail platform to hit the market early next year.

Luckily, as you can see from the renders in this post, the company is not sitting on its hands in the meantime. Barely any confirmed details are known about the device including its name, but the UMPC is said to use an Intel Atom processor and run Windows 7 (contrary to the XP desktop shown above), with all the trimmings of a full-fledged miniature computer like its S515 predecessor.

In addition to an impressive, stylish new design using a similar sliding form-factor with full QWERTY keyboard, a tilting screen, and a webcam, the display itself is said to be a high quality, 5-inch WSVGA (1024×600) multitouch LCD from Sharp of Japan. Connectivity features are rumored to include WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G data and voice, giving the UMPC the ability to make calls and send/receive SMS messages. Although I presume the device is a UMPC first with phone features playing a secondary role, compared to a device like the xpPhone. Apart from that, nothing else is known about the unit.

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I'm impressed with EKING's new design and some of the features sound great, but the key questions for me are the identity/speed of the processor, the battery life, weight, availability, and price. It would be cool if this is EKING's next generation product slated to use Oak Trail, but with the new platform more than half a year away, this is probably unlikely, so the new UMPC is likely to use the current Atom Z-series and Menlow platform.

Still, the combination of a stylish design and form factor, impressive multitouch display, comprehensive connectivity, and hopefully good final specs form a product definitely worth keeping an eye out for in the weeks and months to come. What do you think of EKING's latest?

[midbbs]