PDAs and smartphones with GPS modules are lifesavers for a traveling guide when in unfamiliar territory. While these handy devices are small and compact, the connectivity options and computing functions they carry are limited compared to a notebook or a desktop PC. On the road and with strong intentions to remain connected to your home or office via the Internet, it would be ideal to have both devices but that's not the most convenient where mobility and luggage capacity are concerned. Thankfully, ASUS has just the product that combines GPS, PC functions, portability and other useful feature into one extremely manageable handheld. The brand new ASUS R2H is an UMPC (Ultra Mobile Personal Computer) that's designed with travelers in mind and you'll soon find yourself impressed by the amount of kit it packs.
An UMPC is basically a smaller Tablet PC except it doesn’t incorporate a digitizer for input. On the R2H, digitizer is substituted by a 7-inch wide format touch screen that's just like those you find in PDAs where you can simply write and doodle on the screen using a stylus or even your fingers.
To keep the R2H as compact as possible, a conventional keyboard has been completely done away. Instead, input is done via either the use of Tablet PC Input Panel (ala PPC's Transcriber) that converts what you write into text or Dialkeys that shows two halved "QWERTY" keyboards at the corners of the touch screen. The former has handwriting recognition capability to accurately translate what you write into electronic text while the latter is to facilitate fast input using your thumbs while you have the R2H firmly in your grasp.
On the road, the R2H's combination of a large screen and integrated GPS makes it a visually pleasing electronic guide for all drivers. The big screen means directions on the screen can be easily followed, thereby easing the stress from driving in an unknown location. Regrettably, the R2H doesn't come with any GPS navigation software.
With a 1.3-megapixel camera onboard, the R2H is capable of snapping pictures and videos, albeit at much lower resolutions than possible with dedicated digital cameras. For those who like to snap a lot of photos, the SD slot on the R2H means it can also be used as a digital vault for photos – provided your camera uses SD memory card. Like all notebook computers sold these days, integrated Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g) module is standard in the R2H and with this, the robust yet lightweight handheld is a sweet information portal for web browsing, instant messaging, blogging and even video conferencing. Furthermore, with built-in Bluetooth, the R2H is essentially just as competent as a notebook in handling Internet related activities and applications.
With a VGA-out connection, the R2H is also one of the smallest presentation units around for road warriors. Despite its diminutive size, data security is not ignored. A biometric fingerprint scanner at the top left side of the device prevents unsolicited usage of the R2H and also rogue entry to your files. The only disappointment is its somewhat short battery life.
At US$1472, the ASUS R2H is great value; it's smaller and more portable than most notebooks with hardly any compromise on modern PC technologies and it will be Windows Vista ready. What's more, the retail package comes bundled with a Targus mouse and a foldable keyboard.