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Review: Samsung's Q1 ultramobile has unrealized potential

It's a useful Web and e-mail tool, but underpowered and overpriced

By David Haskin
July 2, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Samsung's Q1 Ultra is a well-designed ultramobile PC (UMPC) that is full of potential. The problem, however, is that much of its potential is unrealized.

The first generation of UMPCs was released last year by Samsung and a handful of other vendors. These devices are "tweeners," sized between laptops and smaller mobile devices like PDAs. They run Windows but, like smaller mobile devices, UMPCs have touch screens.

First-generation UMPCs generally were not positively reviewed, with complaints focusing on display quality and price. Samsung's second-generation Q1 Ultra shores up some of those initial shortcomings, but not enough of them to make the world sit up and take notice.

<br></br >The Samsung Q1 Ultra

The Samsung Q1 Ultra

Initial impressions

Almost 9 in. long by about 4.7 in. wide and an inch thick, the Q1 Ultra is marginally smaller than the first version of the device. It weighs 1.5 lb.

The first thing noticed after switching it on is its 1,024-by-600-pixel, 7-in. display, which is sharp, bright and extremely viewable for basic tasks. Handily, you can switch the display from its default landscape mode to portrait mode by pressing a button on the device and, from the menu that appears, selecting the option to rotate the display.

A quick look around the Q1 Ultra found an impressive amount of storage and I/O capabilities. In particular, our $1,099 review unit had a 50GB hard drive, a SecureDisk memory card slot, two USB slots, an Ethernet slot and video input for standard monitors. The Q1 Ultra comes nicely loaded with other features, such as a built-in 1.3 megapixel camera, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, which connected quickly and without hassle.

Browsing the Web using Internet Explorer was a satisfying experience with the sharp display. The ability to switch to portrait mode was particularly helpful for Web browsing.

However, it didn't take long to become frustrated by the slowness of the Q1 Ultra. The test device with an 800-MHz processor and 1GB of RAM was flat-out underpowered, with applications taking an annoyingly long time to load. A $799 version is available with an even slower 600-MHz processor.

Copious input

The first generation of UMPC devices drew criticism from some reviewers because they didn't have a keypad. This updated Q1 has a keypad with keys about the same size as you'd find on a smart phone, but Samsung shouldn't have bothered.

Strangely, the keypad is split in two, with one half to the left of the display and one half to the right. The split nature of the keypad made typing any but the shortest messages even more annoying than thumb typing on a smart phone. Let's see ... is the "B" key to the left of the screen or to the right? Samsung could have either made the device smaller or the display larger by not including the keypad.

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