Thursday, March 29, 2007

New UMPC Blogger

A member of Microsoft's UMPC team, Vikram Madan has started blogging and in this post he does a good job in making a case for the UMPC. Enjoy.

Excellent UMPC Info Source

If you are looking to buy a UMPC like I was when I started this blog, I hope you have found my postings helpful. Since I chose the Q1P my postings have mainly been about my experiences with the Q1P. But if you want to know what else is out there I highly recommend the UMPC Portal's comparison list. Steve keeps this list updated on a regular basis.

Monday, March 26, 2007

One Month Q1P Usage Review - Part 1

I have had my Samsung Q1P for a little over a month now and I want to share with you my thoughts on how well it is meeting my needs. My first post outlined my computing needs and how I was meeting them with my Acer C110 tablet. The second post stated why I thought a UMPC would work better.

To summarize, I basically used my tablet as my sole computer, using it at the office and at home. I rarely travel, but when I do I would take my tablet with me. I mostly use the device to check email, keep track of meetings, surf the internet and use various Microsoft Office programs such as Excel, Word and One Note. I'm not a heavy note taker but I do like having the ability to take handwritten notes when I need to. I also like to spend time in the work space and like having the ability to easily take my computer with me so as to have information readily available. The Acer was working well for me but I wanted better battery life, a device I was more willing to take with me around the office and a better, brighter screen.

Those first three desires have mainly been met. Battery life with the 3 cell battery is only a little bit better than the Acer (2.5 hours) but the 6 cell battery only adds .3 pounds while doubling the life to 5 hours. Having this extra battery life is such a luxury that I don't bring home my charger at night as having the two batteries is more than enough to last me until I return to work the next day. Because of its lighter weight and smaller form factor I do find myself taking it with me more than I did with the Acer, however, I still find myself leaving it in my office more than I thought I would. The three main reasons is that it is not pocketable, I still need to disconnect (and later reconnect) three cables (VGA, power, USB) and I need to manually switch the display from desktop to UMPC. A docking station and display autodetect would be nice.

A few posts later, after quite a bit of research, I listed nine criteria that I would compare the various UMPCs I was considering. Based on my research the Q1P seemed to be the best but lets look at each now that I have had a month of usage with my Q1P.

  1. The first item of the nine focused on the fact that I would be using the device as my primary computer and that I wanted to have enough processing power. For what I use it for, I haven't noticed any difference between the Q1P and my Acer. However, the Q1 had rev g WIFI while the Acer only had rev b and the increased speed is very noticable and very nice.
  2. The second item had to do with being mobile. As I mentioned above the Q1 has some drawbacks in size (not pocketable) and in a lack of a docking station (obstacle to taking it with me more). But the Q1 is an improvement over the Acer in this category.
  3. I thought vectoring when notetaking would be a problem but it really hasn't been. When taking notes I tend to leave my palms on the bevel around the screen and don't really give it much thought. However, I'm a light note taker and for someone else it may be more of an issue.
  4. I thought not having an integrated mouse wouldn't be an issue, but after using the device for a month it would be nice to have one. Many programs I use weren't designed for use with a UMPC, specifically various buttons or icons are small and difficult to click with a finger so I tend to use the pen quite a bit. When laying down its more comfortable to hold the device with two hands but when using the pen you have to hold it with only one so you can use the pen with the other. This is not always the most comfortable especially when in landscape orientation. An integrated mouse would take care of that problem.
  5. The fifth consideration was having a built in cam and gps. While it would be nice to have these built in features the lack of these has not been an issue as I don't really do any video conferencing or take on the spot snapshots nor have I ever used GPS except in a rental car many years ago.
  6. Item six had to do with screen size and that a 5" screen would be too small. The 7" screen has been fine as I've demonstrated with various videos. However, the benefit of the 5" screen would be that the device could be pocketable.
  7. Item seven covered port replicators. Not having one has not been a big deal but it does require me to remove two more connections. However, I am thinking of getting a bluetooth keyboard and mouse so that I would only need to connect the VGA cable and power cable.
  8. Not having an integrated keyboard has not been a big issue. When at home I tend to use the iGo foldable bluetooth keyboard even when sitting on the couch and its worked fine. Not as nice as the Acer with its integrated keyboard but worth having the smaller and lighter form factor of the Q1.
  9. Using EVDO has been an issue. The Q1 does not have a PC card slot so my Verizon card will not work. I bought the Sprint USB device but it sticks out too much from the device and most times, for a better connection, I would connect it with a USB cable. This setup just makes moving around difficult. So I actually just returned the Sprint card today. Perhaps a bluetooth connection to a EVDO phone would be better but having EVDO integrated into the device would be much better.
I will continue this one month usage review in upcoming posts.

Real Word Usage Reviews

I have had my Q1P for over a month and am compiling my thoughts and notes so a review will be coming forth shortly. In the mean time, here are two real world usage reviews. One is from Tracy Hooten a student who talks about using her Q1P at school and Mark from Ultranauts who took his Q1 to a business conference.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Surprise in my Inbox

Every Friday morning I get an email from the NY Times titled UrbanEye Weekend. It gives a listing of things to do in New York City for the weekend. One part is about shopping and usually it lists sample sales for designer clothing. To my surprise this week listed the Q1. Here is what they had to say.

Here is the link to a short but positive review.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Tracy Hooten Converted?

One of my first posts commented on a blog posting by Tracy Hooten from the StudentTabletPC site. She listed a number of reasons why she thought the UMPC was not a good choice for students. Well it turns out that Microsoft gave their Tablet MVPs (including Tracy) a Samsung Q1 and she now has good things to say about the device. I'm looking forward to hearing more about her impressions of the device as she uses it more.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Power and Connectivity

I've been using a Novatel Wireless Ovation U720 broadband USB modem with Sprint's rev A EVDO service with my Q1P. I had been using a PC card with Verizon's rev 0 EVDO service with my Acer. The rev A is much faster and I have clocked download speeds over 1 MBps. However, the device is bulky compared to the Q1 and the USB physical connection is strained under the weight of the modem. To also counter RF interference I usually connect it with a USB cable. This setup is not ideal as I can't just walk around with the device without holding the modem. So I will most likely return the modem and look to get a phone that I can use along with bluetooth to connect to the EVDO service.

Just yesterday I received the 6 cell battery. This battery gives me over 4.5 hours and the cell gives me over 2.5 hours for a combined 7 hours. This allows me to not have to connect to the AC adaptor everytime I'm at my desk. So now I only have two connections when I'm at my desk, USB and the monitor. In addition, with all of this battery time, I don't need to lug my AC adaptor with me. When I leave work I just make sure I have both batteries charged and I know that in almost all cases, the 7 hours of battery life will more than get me through the evening at home.

I also weighed both batteries. The 3 cell weighs only .38 pounds and the 6 cell is almost double at .71. That puts the device with the extended battery at just over 2 pounds, still very light.

NY Times Reader Service Will No Longer Be Free

I am planning to make a video showing the usage of the NY Times Reader on my Q1P. Right now its a free service but not for much longer. I just received this email:

Dear Times Reader Beta Testers,

We want to thank you for your input during this free beta period. You and your fellow beta testers have been a great help in the development of Times Reader.

This note is to let you know that the beta period will be ending in two weeks. Times Reader will launch as a subscription service on March 27. It will cost $14.95 a month or $165 a year and will include access to TimesSelect and Premium Crosswords. Times Reader will be free to home delivery subscribers.

When we launch Times Reader, we will include many of your recommendations -- such as improvements to navigation, more keyboard shortcuts, and a 7-day archive. To thank you for your participation in the beta period, we are extending a special offer to you. Sign up before March 27 and receive 14 months for the price of 12.

Thank you again for participating in the beta period. We will continue to improve the Times Reader experience and welcome your feedback. If you'd like to receive updates about Times Reader, we invite you to sign up for the Times Reader e-mail newsletter.

Rob Larson

Vice President, Product Management and Development

Cool New York Times Web Site Feature

Just saw this on the New York Times web site. This is really cool. Just double click on a word and a definition will pop up. A bit off topic but very cool.


To find reference information about the words used in this article, double-click on any word, phrase or name. A new window will open with a dictionary definition or encyclopedia entry.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

GPS on a Q1P or a Standalone Device?

CTitanic has posted a good review of three different navigation software programs and recommends iGuidance as the best for a UMPC. After reading the review I thought about buying the software and a separate GPS receiver as the Q1 does not have a built in GPS reciever. With the software costing $99 and a receiver such as the GlobalSat BT-338 costing $85 that would set me back $184. A TomTom One can be had for $299, only $115 more. So I'm wondering if in fact going with a dedicated unit would be the better value. What do you think?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Is a 7" Screen Big Enough? Part 2 - Zinio Reader

Here is a look at running Zinio Reader on my Samsung Q1P.