By February 5, 2007

UMPC Group Test (Part 2) Samsung Q1 review

This week I have been trying out the Samsung Q1 which is the first device in our UMPC group test.

Samsung Q1

The Samsung Q1 was one of the first true UMPC devices to come to market. It has been around for a while and there is a new 32Gb solid state disk version coming out soon.

The design of the Q1 is pretty neat and I quite like the gloss black finish. I lost count how many times people at work and even strangers on the train said to me ‘That looks cool, what is it?’.

The main reason for me wanting to try a UMPC type device is that I want something that I can use hand-held as I often end up standing for at least part of my journey to work and using a laptop while standing is virtually impossible. I thought that a UMPC might offer the solution.

The first disappointment about the Q1 was the control of the mouse. I thought that the control on the left of the screen was some kind of analogue stick and that would control the pointer. However, it does not! Despite it having an analogue feel it’s actually a digital control that acts like keyboard cursor keys. This is quite frustrating and I am obviously not alone in making this assumption as everyone that tried the device out all tried to move the pointer with this control.

Samsung Q1 Controls

You are therefore forced to use the touchscreen for pointer control. This is ok as the device is easy to hold with one hand while using the stylus with the other. General navigation is pretty easy with this method.

Test input in the Samsung Q1 is via one of two methods, there is an on-screen keyboard for use with the stylus or there are ‘Dial Keys’. ‘Dial Keys’ are displayed on screen on the left and right and allow you to use your thumbs to type whilst holding the device with two hands. They take a lot of getting used to but I’m sure with time they could be quite an efficient input method. However I did find that the native resolution (800 x 480) of the Q1 limited the usefulness of the Dial Keys.

Q1 on-screen keyboard

Q1 Dial Keys

While on the subject of the screen I am quite impressed with the quality of the LCD. It is sharp and clear and is bright and evenly lit. But still I do not think it’s native resolution is high enough.

Q1 USB Keyboard

The Q1 ships with an organiser pack and a USB keyboard. The organiser is a leather and suede pouch in which you can mount the Q1 and the keyboard. This seems like a decent idea but all this does is effectively turn the Q1 in to a laptop device which seems to me to defeat the object, especially when you consider that this also puts the weight up to about the same amount as an ultraportable laptop. It does however give you another way of using the device.

Q1 Organiser

One thing that I did think was a bit silly about the keyboard fitting in the organiser pack was that the USB plug was too big and stuck out of the side of the case which means that you have to unplug it each time you want to put the thing away. Fitting a slimmer USB connector would have solved this problem.

Keyboard Plug Keyboard Cable Sticks Out

Samsung claim that the battery life of the Q1, with the standard battery, is 3.5 hours. In reality I have been getting between 1.5 and two hours of use out of the Q1 with the power saving settings set to maximum. I initially thought that the battery was faulty but despite this being replaced by Samsung for a new one the battery life remains the same. This is a long way short of the claimed battery life.

There are two speakers on the front of the Q1 and the audio playback is pretty decent. The audio is enhanced by SRS; the setting for which can be altered through software controls.

Q1 Right Speaker

One of the other things that I must have on a device is the ability to connect to the internet on the go. With the Q1 I simply set up a Bluetooth partnership with my phone and used that to get online. The Q1, unlike the other two devices on test, has a Compact Flash card slot on the top. Once CF 3G cards become readily available this with be a much better solution.

Q1 CF Slot

I struggled with the WiFi on the Q1. Despite the Q1 connecting to my 802.11g wireless router I found the performance quite poor, the range quite limited and it would also occasionally stop working all together. Luckily the Q1 has an RJ45 Ethernet socket so I was able to use this at home and work but this isn’t practical in a mobile scenario.

Another thing that I really liked about the Q1 was the stand that is built in to the unit. Whilst working at home I was able to stand the Q1 next to my laptop and watch videos playback while I was working.

Q1 Stand

Yesterday I went to visit family that I haven’t seen in quite some time so before I went I loaded all of our photos on the Q1 and I then set up a slide show and passed the device around. This is so much cooler than taking your photo album with you!

The built in VGA socket adds to the usefulness of the device. I can imagine that there are a lot of people out there that would want to take this device with them for presentations. You just need a standard VGA cable to hook the Q1 up to a larger monitor. This is something that I did earlier this week too! The VGA Socket is also hidden behind a flap which keeps the unit looking neat when you aren’t using it.

Q1 VGA Socket

Overall the Samsung isn’t a bad device. With practice I’m sure that I would get used to the other input methods and become more productive. I used the Q1 while walking around the office and it was quite useful to be able to still have proper PC apps. running on the device, which is something you just cant do with a Pocket PC.

Come back next week to see how the Samsung Q1 compares to the other devices on test. We’ll also have a summary in a few weeks time!


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Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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