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Best Ultra-Mobile Device is a Netbook PC

From a virtual standing start of just 10 million units in 2008, shipments of ultra-mobile devices (UMD) -- the umbrella term for ultra-mobile PCs, netbooks and mobile Internet devices -- are expected to exceed 200 million in 2013.

According to ABI Research principal analyst Philip Solis, "The UMD market will still be small compared to the wireless handset market, but with a forecast revenue of nearly $27 billion in 2013, it will certainly be significant."

While netbooks account for about 90 percent of today's UMD market, they will fall to a distant second place by 2013, while Mobile Internet Device (MID) shipments surge ahead to take nearly 68 percent of the market, with Ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs) remaining a niche category.

To put the UMD market forecasts into perspective, the 2013 estimate of 200 million shipped devices is roughly the anticipated size of the worldwide laptop PC market.

"As this market enters its rapid growth phase and starts to evolve," Solis continues, "we will see considerable experimentation with different distribution channels."

Some will apparently sell direct from the manufacturer, some via retail outlets, and some through mobile operators who will subsidize them to encourage new mobile data service plan subscriptions.

The Dell Mini was one new device that caught my attention. The base model is powered by Ubuntu Linux, and priced at $349. That said, consumer reviewer comments about the glossy screen's effect on contrast and some keyboard layout related issues are of concern.

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