Hands On With the UrbanMax, Intel's Concept Tablet Notebook... Thing

This year's Intel Developer Forum is all about different form-factors, with walls of nearly identical MIDs, way too many netbooks and this strange creature, the Intel UrbanMax concept. The prototype is running a Core 2 Duo (at least for now) crammed into a thin, quasi-tablet case, with an 11 inch N-trig DuoSense capacative multitouch screen and provisions for a WiMax connection built in. The UrbanMax form-factor is a novel take on the old tablet concept, and possibly a superior one.

The design is striking and at first pretty weird, but there's virtually no learning curve to folding or using the UrbanMax. Typing on the roomy keyboard feels like using a desktop, as there is no hand rest to perch the heels of your hand on. There's a unique static mouse button, which is like a high-tech hybrid between a touchpad and the venerable IBM/Lenovo nipple. It takes a minute to get the hang of and I think it could use a little calibration, but sweeping your fingertip across the sensor yields predictable, accurate control over the mouse.

Intel says that the UrbanMax is intended primarily as a touch device (which I guess means they designed it for people who don't, you know ever write words, or something). It's got two or three apps with rudimentary multitouch control, but as with most touch solutions that run atop XP or Vista they feel like an afterthought. The actual touch hardware is very sensitive and among the most responsive I have used on screens this size. Intel says they are hoping that a hardware manufacturer will pick this design up and run with it, so expect a few fresh takes on the UrbanMax concept in the near future. [Giz at IDF]

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