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05/10/06 01:35 AM
Samsung Q1 UMPC Day 1 First Impressions and Photos

Samsung Q1 UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) First Impressions: Day 1

Since there's so much to cover with a new kind of device with a long laundry list of features and possible usage scenarios, I'll be posting daily observations on the Samsung Q1 Ultra Mobile PC each day this week, blog style. We'll wrap up with a full review in the end, have no fear. But this device is a lifestyle device as well as a Windows computer, and befitting of that, I'll post how I've used it each day (work, DVD watching on the plane, gaming, GPS-ing my way around town and more) to give you all and idea of how it fares and what it excels as well as where it falls short.

The Samsung Q1 comes in a really lovely looking box reminiscent of Sony's high end product packaging. Remove the outer sleeve to reveal a gift box which holds the UMPC, battery, charger, 2 software CDs, a neoprene carry case (sleeve style) and a wrist strap (at 1.7 lbs. you'd need a pretty robust wrist ).

The unit's piano black gloss finish is beautiful but shows fingerprints, making us thankful for the included cleaning cloth which you can use on the screen and casing. Honestly, I've reviewed and/or played with pretty much every hot mobile device, from Pocket PC Phones to the Treo 650 and Treo 700w, to the Pepper Pad to the Linux-based Sharp Zaurus handhelds. Not to mention the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, OQO model 01 and quite a few slate and convertible Windows XP Tablets. But the Q1 is a mind-bending experience: one minute it feels like an oversized PDA or Pepper Pad, the next I'm easily doing something notebook-like such as plugging in USB keyboards and mice, accessing a flash drive, running *sigh* Windows Update and Norton AV update and editing a photo using Photoshop. Though the UMPC has its drawbacks, the possible usage scenarios are rich and worthwhile depending on your mobile needs.

Here's everything that comes in the box.

The device has a USB 2.0 port on each side, a proprietary connection for the yet to appear optional optical drive, a wired 10/100 Ethernet port under a door, a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, a VGA port under another door (yes you can dock this thing at your desk and plug it into a keyboard, mouse, monitor and DVD drive no problemo). I put a few videos on a CF card and a microdrive for playback on the Q1 (why clutter the hard drive), which made me feel like I was using a Pocket PC! This is the same thing I did with my VGA iPAQ 4700 and Dell Axim X51v, but the playback performance and widescreen resolution on the Q1 rock.

Top view of the Samsung Q1

Right side

Left side

Though some have complained about Samsung Q1's specs, namely the 900MHz Celeron, the machine has so far handled Office 2003 applications, Photoshop (working with image files under 10 megs), Dreamweaver with no problems. It is certainly faster than the 2x more expensive OQO and invaluable if you need to run Windows apps on the go but don't want to haul a full-sized notebook. The thoroughly modern Intel 915GM motherboard and chipset with its 400MHz FSB is no slouch, and the 512 megs of DDR2 RAM keep the unit buzzing along nicely.

The screen, which I first saw at the Samsung Q1 Launch event last week truly was and still is beyond my expectations. Tablets don't always have the best of displays (that's the current nature of digitizer technology), but the Q1's is very bright, extremely color saturated and has a viewing angle comparable to traditional notebooks (much better than the Fujitsu P1510D we just reviewed, which also uses a passive digitizer touch screen). The included stylus is small and cheesy- get a nice convertible PDA/pen one to replace it. Or use your finger when not doing fine work such as placing the cursor in a document or working with images. Movies look fantastic!
The screen really washes out in direct sunlight so don't expect to bring it along for a Geocaching on a sunny day and really see those maps.

The built in speakers with SRS surround sound are incredibly loud and decent in terms of sound quality.

We'll get into usability in our next installment. Suffice to say that Microsoft isn't known for getting user interfaces right the first time. Though the device runs the now relatively mature Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005, somehow no one at MS who came up with the suggested 800 x 480 base resolution noticed that the OK, Cancel and other buttons in interactive dialog boxes sometimes fall off the screen. Fortunately the resolution quick switcher button comes to the rescue, but really-- should we be in need of rescue after shelling out the bucks for such a nifty device?

Continue on and Read our Samsung Q1 UMPC Day 2: Use as a Notebook and Benchmarks here.

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