which UMPC to get? marketing of these devices sucks. none of them are available in my local computer stores, alot of my techno friends arent even aware of them, and its not particularly easy to find trusted info about them. looking at the form factors for the upcoming models, i wanted something slate, and not convertible. so i was looking at the Samsung Q1 Ultra and the Everun. the HTC Shift also looked interesting. Samsung had the last-gen winner and it was available, so that was my pick.
the name should have been changed to Q2. it was difficult to find reviews for the newer model because search results would return the older reviews. and it was also difficult to trust retailer specs. i.e. had to get the specs for the different versions from a blog post. if i did find the specs on retailers with the same model #, chances were the specs would have conflicts ... that's crap. there were 2 versions available. i chose the more expensive of the 2 to get an SD card slot, 2 cameras, 20 more gigs, and VGA out. it's lacking a fingerprint reader and 802.11N, which would be nice to have ... but wouldn't motivate me to go for the upsell.
the initial setup was easy. the main problem is it created a 10 gig partition to create a restore point. it did this without even prompting me. fuck that! its only 55 usable gigs, and then it jacks 10 gigs ... Samsung needs to release a utility to reclaim that space without having to format. and the install script needs to be changed so a user will be prompted and have the choice to opt out. if i cant get PartitionMagic to reclaim that space, then i'm going to wipe it and start over. doesnt seem to be loaded with too much crap-ware, but the first thing i did was uninstall McAffee. got 45 megs of Vista updates, turned off Aero, and turned off UAC. these devices aren't the greatest for user input, so there's no way i'm going to tolerate UAC on it.
the screen looks great! it's also awesome that it has a mic array, although i'm skeptical that it has enough horsepower to keep Vista's speech reco running? this device definitely needs a tap-and-talk button for speech reco. the thumbboard is just barely usable. there are so many devices with good (and bad) thumbboards, i'm really surprised Samsung screwed this up. regardless, the split thumbboard concept is excellent, i hope their next model nails it. also, the power cord plugs into the side of the right half of the thumbboard ... exactly where your hand would go. they should move that, or at least provide a flush L-adapter to get it out of the way. the joystick and mouse buttons work ok, but might take me a bit of time to get use to. also dont like that the stylus is at the bottom, granted i dont want to have to use the stylus in the first place. it has touch sensitive buttons for volume controls and a setting menu up top, which are highly annoying because i keep hitting them on accident. those should be made into tactile buttons so i can avoid hitting them. battery life seems decent and they have an extended battery which sounds real good. i really like that it has a kick-stand, but i'm not sure its sturdy enough to survive my hardware curse.
an issue with mobile devices is always 'user input'. this device provides alot of options ... and they all have varying degrees of suck. i should start out saying that MS nailed active digitizer Tablet PCs with Vista ... it's excellent. the problem is these devices do not have active digitizers ... they are touch. touch screen devices need more UI changes before MS gets it right. first, as i said earlier, the thumbboard has the most potential and i cant believe they screwed it up. using the thumbboard in combination with touch and/or the joystick and mouse controls would be my preferred method of input for these devices. for that to really work, the next version would have to fix the keyboard and MS would have to make the OS more touch-friendly. second, the joystick and mouse combo is decent. i'm not very accurate with the joystick righ now though, so i'm hoping i get better with it. third option is the stylus. the stylus is ok, but i really miss having the active digitizer. also the resolution is high enough that it makes it a bit difficult to hit some of the buttons, scroll bars, etc... also holding a stylus doesnt let you easily switch to using the thumbboard or mouse controls. anyway, future versions need to get the thumbboard right ... or they need to get an active digitizer. fourth, is 'dial keys'. this is the soft thumbboard that pops up on the screen. no tactile response sucks and real buttons kick ass ... so i hate the dial keys.
the part that shines is the Origami Experience. it shows the real potential for the UMPC as a touch screen device. my hope is that MS would further extend Origami and Windows to better support touch screen usage. also that full Tablet devices would concentrate on active digitizer usage and UMPCs would concentrate on touch and ditch the stylus. maybe the iPhone popularity will help spur this on? oh yeah, why the hell does the Origami experience not run in portrait mode ... that needs to be fixed.
usage-wise, i really see UMPCs being useful in-car and living-room. i'll definitely be getting the GPS car dock when it comes out. for living-room use it will live on the coffee room table with the kick stand acting as glorified digital picture frame. cant wait to try it out as an e-book reader too ...