Thursday, April 19, 2007

Samsung, Microsoft Patent Deal

 From the New York Times. Hopefully good news for UMPC development.

April 19, 2007

Samsung, Microsoft Strike Patent Deal


Filed at 6:09 p.m. ET

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Samsung Electronics Co. and Microsoft Corp. said Thursday they have entered into a patent licensing agreement focused on the technology companies' consumer electronics lines.

Samsung and Microsoft said the deal gives them access to the other's patents for existing and future inventions in categories including computers, televisions, digital video recorders and digital media players.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the companies said in a joint news release that both will receive payments for past and future inventions. Microsoft and Samsung said the pact will speed up product development.

The Samsung agreement and other recent deals show how the world's largest software company has become more open to sharing technology and intellectual property in recent years, said David Kaefer, a Microsoft general manager for intellectual property licensing at Microsoft.

Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung is the world's largest memory chip maker and a leading producer of consumer electronics such as flat-screen televisions, mobile phones, MP3 players and laptop computers.

On the Road - Day 1

I arrived safely in Boston last night. But, as it tends to be the case when I travel, a quality issue arose. Actually it was a reoccurrence of an issue that also occurred last fall.  So when I got to my hotel room I hooked up my BT keyboard  and started going through old emails related to this issue. I was easily able to cut and paste pertinent sections from about 10 emails and 2 attached files into a new word document and then email it to my colleagues back at the office. This should enable the group to make decisions based on fact instead of memory.  Ever without a mouse and with the 7" Q1P screen it was not difficult to do at all.

Prior to going to bed I was going to attach my extended battery, to let it charge overnight.  I had been using it during the 3+ hour train ride without ever giving a thought to using the AC power supply! But I couldn't find it anywhere. I think I left it on the train.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

122 MPH

I am on the train headed to Boston. I have always wondered how fast these trains go. So I powered up my Global Sat BT GPS receiver, made the connection and opened up RoadNav. Just south of Providence RI we hit 122 mph! And this isn't even the fast Acela train.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Q1P Usage Review - Part 2: A Day at Work

I got rid of 'One Month' from the title since I have had the Q1P for almost two months now.  Time flies! 

In this posting I want to describe a typical day and how I use the Q1P.  Typically I first use the Q1P when I get to work at about 8 pm.  Thanks to Hugo Ortega, I try to shut down the device each night to save electricity (every bit helps!).  So I boot up the device which doesn't take much time. 

The first thing I like to do is check email and Google reader.  I can do both things easily using the device without the external monitor so about half the time I kick back, feet up on the desk, and use the device this way. 

For reading in Google reader its very nice.  The articles are well formatted for the screen.  Outlook 2007 works fine for reading email and sending quick responses but as I noted in my vlog its not ideal, specifically for accessing the to do bar in portrait mode.  For responding to email I find myself mostly using the TIP.  I like the handwriting mode which converts to text but there are many cases where it won't convert correctly so I find myself using the TIP keyboard.  All of this is done using the stylus.   I never use the dial keys, probably just that I am very used to using a pen with my tablet.  I also like using ink and with Outlook 2007 its very easy, just hit the ink button and ink away. 

I still do the above in my office but will try to do this in the work place.  I am our company's VP of manufacturing and we follow the Toyota Production System where one of the principles is to go to the workplace and see for yourself to truly understand the situation.  All of the above can easily be done with the Q1P while standing in the factory.

To review  documents or spreadsheets, I tend to connect the Q1P to a keyboard and external monitor.  Currently I can do this with only three connections (VGA, power, USB) which makes connecting and disconnecting the device not too difficult.  I won't say easy, since I first need to switch the display to the Q1P and then disconnect the three cables. Not too much work but enough to sometime make me think twice about taking the Q1P with me.

When I'm out in the work place I tend to use Sticky Notes.  Its easy to boot up and write down short notes that I don't necessarily need to retain for the long term.  For meetings where I want to keep a copy of my notes I'll use OneNote 2007.  Talking about meetings, its nice to have the device to check email or access the Internet as some meetings don't require my full attention all of the time.

On Friday's I have a lunch meeting with my managers and we listen to management related podcasts.  I was hoping the speakers would be loud enough but unfortunately I have to connect the device to external speakers.

So you can see that I'm not really doing anything earth shattering.  These are the things most people do on a regular basis using either laptops or desktops.  The key here is that this device gives the user the ability to do these things in many more places.  Taking the power and advantages of the PC to almost anywhere you want or need to be.

The next review will cover my usage of the Q1P outside of the office as I will be at training on Thursday and Friday in Boston and then vacation the week after.  Though I'm not sure if I will take the device with me on vacation.

Real Life User Reviews

One of my goals with this blog is to focus on actual usage of UMPCs and how well these devices meet various needs. Specifications and features are important, and there are many sites where that information can be found, but how do those features and specifications translate into real life usage is what I like to focus on here. So I wanted to reprint this posting entered recently in the Origami Project forum by user spudley112.

First off, let me say that I do not put much stock in many of the Q1 reviews out there. It made me nervous to see all the negative reviews when I first bought my Q1. I was waiting for it to arrive and I kept seeing many of the negative reviews in major PC magazines, and it honestly made me wonder of I had made the right choice. I did, however, notice that many reviews from individual users were very positive. After using the Q1 for a few weeks I can see why users like it so much.

Last week I went to Lean Six Sigma (LSS) certification training, to finish my certification requirements. Lean Six Sigma is the adoption of two business theorys that center on 1. reduction of waste and 2. reduction of variation (mistakes) in a process. It is a pretty intense training course and the classes have many requirements that make a computer a very handy device to have. Since the course was off-site, and there were several large books that were needed for the class, the UMPC is a perfect choice for this training.

in LSS training one must take copious notes. There is a great deal of formulaic data that is used in the LSS business philosophy, so having detailed notes is a must to pass the course. I had purchased the Q1 organizer and keyboard from CDW before the course and I am glad I did. I can certainly type faster than I can handwrite and the decent sized Q1 keyboard was very useful. I worried that the pointing stick, nestled between the G,H, and B keys, would get in the way from time to time (I have had this problem with laptops in the past) but I never even felt the thing while I was typing. I have noticed that many compact keyboards are a challenge to type on when you are not looking at the board itself, but I found this keyboard did very well and I had no problem typing while watching the presentation slides go by.

If I had needed, I could have used the touchscreen to take notes. As a test I did take notes on Windows Journal during one of the last sessions and found it quite easy to do. I will admit that it takes some getting used to as most of us are used to the physical feedback from putting pen to paper. The touch screen is so smooth that it doesn't feel the same at all. But one quickly finds that this only makes writing faster, and once you are used to using the touchscreen, it is a breeze.

During the course, we also have to do many calculations. I found that OpenOffice Calculator was a perfecct spreadsheet program for these calculations. Many people in the class simply used a calculator, but I was much faster since I could simply put the formula in a cell then just type in the parameters in the appropriate cells. This saves a ton of time that most used up when they had to redo the entire calculation on their handlheld calculators.

We had several graphs and charts that we needed to make during the class and the touchscreen capability was perfect for this task. A few people had laptops in class, and they used them to set up their charts, but I noticed it took much longer to do compared to the touchscreen.

One of the things that is a requirement for passing the class is a presentation to demonstrate our understanding of key LSS concepts. I was able to put my presentation together during the class instead of waiting to do it on my time each evening. When it came time to conduct my presentation I was able to simply unplug the Q1 keyboard and take the Q1 itself up to the front to plug into the projector. Most who had to do presentations found it necessary to load it on a USB drive so that they could load it onto the instructors PC. The touchscreen was great for writing out the formulas, circling important points and demonstrating the concepts I was trying to present. It seems that the Q1 ended up getting more attention than the presentation, but I was more than happy to show off my new "toy."

Many of the negative Samsung Q1 reviews seem to result from reviewers who try to compare it to a full blown desktop or laptop PC. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who want to compare it to a Pocket PC. Sure, in either of these comparisons the Q1 is going to loose. It does not have the latest super mega-monster processor, so it may not run 15 major tasks as well as the latest laptop design that hit the market. It is a bit large for pocket carry, so it looks too big in comparison to my iPAQ hx2795.

What the reviewers fail to notices is that the UMPC sits nestled right between these two types of devices. It occupies its own niche, therefor it deserves to be reviewed and compared in that niche. If I were to write a review on my CBR600F4i and compare its cargo carry options to a Ford pickup, it would not do well. If I compared its fuel efficiency to my Cannondale bicycle it wold also do poorly. But for what it is, it is a great motorcycle. The Q1 is like that, it does well within its own category.

Since buying the Q1 I have added a CD-rw drive by LaCie. I know many have complained about the lack of CD drive on the Q1, but that addition would defeat part of the mobility purpose of such a device. Sure, there are all kinds of extras I could add to a UMPC to give it more usable features, but then I might not be able to carry it in a coat pocket like I can with the Q1.

Since buying the Q1 I have become a total UMPC fanatic. I am interested in the OQO model 02 and the new Q1 Ultra, and would love to have either one. However, I cannot say that I am disappointed in the Samsung Q1's performance. If you have a need for mobility and you are looking for a decent device to use for business, I highly recommend the Samsung Q1.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Extensive UMPC Articles at PC Today

Thanks to Thoughtfix for blogging about these two articles. PC Today does a nice job of identifying, in depth, the pros and cons of UMPCs and listing the various models, acccessories and software.

But beware, April 18 is looking to be date for a few announcement about more next generation devices. So if you are thinking about buying a UMPC you may want to wait another 9 days.

Monday, April 02, 2007

HID: Human Interface Device

If you are looking to buy a UMPC its important to understand what a HID is and what it means to your use of a UMPC. Hugo Ortega has done a nice job explaining these nuances.

Check it out here.