Samsung Q1 Ultra-V
At a Glance
Samsung Q1 Ultra-V ultra mobile PC
This full-featured UMPC has a big, bright screen; but slow performance and an awkward keyboard mar its usability.
A sentence I typed on the integrated split-QWERTY keypad on Samsung's new Q1 Ultra-V ultramobile PC (UMPC) came out like this: "The quuck browm focx jumprd o er the gence." Awkward lilliputian keys, slow processing, and a mediocre screen resolution make this $1199 mini-PC hard to use.
Fingers larger than chopstick tips will struggle with the tiny keys, so Samsung offers numerous alternative input methods--a stylus, a touch screen, an on-screen keyboard, and a handwriting-recognizing tablet. In addition, you can connect a USB mouse, which I preferred to using the "Mouse" toggle with my left thumb.
Designed to supplement--not replace--a notebook or desktop PC, the Q1 Ultra-V combines the functionality of a PDA with that of a notebook, according to Samsung. It packs a 60GB hard drive, measures just 9 by 5.5 by 1.25 inches, and weighs only 1.5 pounds. Unfortunately, it is inappropriately saddled with Windows Vista Home Premium Edition, which seems to plunge every function into a molasses bath. Samsung claims that its AVStation Now software can run movies, music, or photos without performing a full Windows boot; but I found that it booted Windows and took more than 3 minutes to load--2 minutes longer than a normal Windows boot. A dedicated AV button on the Q1 Ultra-V's side launches this multimedia package.
The crisp, 7-inch-wide WSVGA LCD touch screen with a native resolution of 1024 by 600 is bright enough for indoor or outdoor use, but the type was so small that I tried to put on my reading glasses so I could see better--except that I already had them on.
The device delivers long battery life as promised (4.5 hours in my informal test) on the 800-MHz Intel Ultra Mobile CPU, even with the power-hungry, integrated 802.11b/g and Bluetooth 2.0 running. But what good is long battery life if a product's design defeats most of what you try to do on it? While $1199 isn't expensive for a UMPC, this "companion" fails to deliver on the productivity enhancement it promises. And when will it prove worthwhile? Maybe by the time "The quick brown fox jumps over the fence."
Michael S. Lasky