GPD Pocket – Clever Clamshell

From today, we’re adjusting the categories a bit, and in place of CrowdWatch we will have Mobfund Monday, the first edition of which will cover the GPD Pocket that has just started its campaign on IndieGoGo.

So, how small is too small?  For a proper mobile computer tu remain functional, where do you draw the line between pocketably compact and uselessly tiny?

Back in the golden age of the UMPC a few years back, when compact clamshells were the form factor of choice of many such devices, two of these stood out from the rest: The Viliv N5 and the Vaio P. They were both tiny clamshells with 6-7 inch screens and while they were never runaway sellers, they were solid examples of these mini-clamshell PCs and sold quite well despite them both being such niche products.

With the current proliferation Surface-like 2-in-1 PCs though, the 7-inch clamshell form factor seem to have fallen out of fashion. It was as if their very reason of existence (their tiny size) became the reason for their downfall as 2-in-1s had nearly all the mobility of these UMPCs without that tiny screen.

However, one company still thinks there’s a market for the compact class hell UMPC. GPD, flush from the success of their previous compact “gaming” UMPC, the GPD Win, seem to have noticed a lack of products serving the “serious” UMPC market. So they quickly came up with what can only be considered as he “modern” reincarnation of the Viliv N5 or the Vaio P.

This new product was subsequently named the “GPD Pocket”, and it combines a top of the line Atom processor with 8GBs of RAM (initially 4GB) and a 128GB eMMC in a tiny 7-inch clamshell chassis that is even more compact than its two UMPC spiritual predecessors.

A marvel of miniaturisation, the GPD Pocket leverages the full performance potential of the Atom processor by giving it active ventilation rather than the passive solutions that most manufacturers give the Atom.

Additionally, the GPD Pocket will even come with a choice OS-wise, as it will be sent to backers loaded with their choice of OS – Windows 10 or Ubuntu – fully adapted to the hardware provided, which should please supporters from both sides of the OS camp.

That said, looking at it from a pure productivity viewpoint, one can make a case of how that 7-incher screen can be a bit tiny for “real” work, and that the Atom processor – while much improved over the Atoms of yesteryear – are still the at the very bottom of the Intel processor hierarchy so you can pretty much rule the machine out for anything more than “clerical-level” work.

Plus, the diminutive dimensions of the GPD Pocket prevents the use of full sized keyboard and touchpad combo – with a trifecta of a very compact keyboard, a touch-point and the 7-inch touchscreen taking their place.  This is a design choice that might not suit productivity purists who might be too well-adjusted to the more traditional touchpad.

Finally, concerns are being voiced on the Pocket’s future build quality and GPD’s support, based on certain issues that have plagued the current GPD Win such as overheating and other general QC inconsistencies.

Even with all these considered, however, it’s pretty hard to even imagine another fully mobile PC with this spec, in this size, with that price – so unfortunately Tech Nomads interested in adding something like this into their arsenal don’t really have anywhere else to go.

As for me personally, I’m pretty excited. Having the option to carry a full Windows machine in my man bag at all times is pretty tempting, as it means that I can pretty much work anywhere I need to, with a whole less load to carry as well.

Even if I already have a pretty mobile workstation in my recently acquired Lenovo Miix 510… which will still probably be my primary On-the-Go workstation simply due to the it’s sheer power to size ratio.

Furthermore, the caveats and potential issues mentioned earlier still hold, and I’m gonna take the cautious route of observing until the very last viable minute before committing for one myself over from Indiegogo.

But, yes, I’m probably gonna pledge for one. I mean, it’s a 7-inch laptop for God’s sake.

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