Yesterday I was out giving the Samsung Q1 a whirl as a possible Mobile Blogging Tool.
Then I decided to stop by RCS. I’d meant to go there earlier in the week, but time pressures got in the way.
I enter the store and notice they’ve rearranged things yet again. They like to screw up my head, always smashing the template stored from my last visit.
I see a glass case and go over to it. There’s the OQO Model 01 under glass. Not available to fondle without disturbing one of the disturbing salesdroids — just like last time. And no Model 02 in the case, either.
Disappointed, I was about to leave but I let my eyes sweep the entrance area one more time.
And what was that?
Holy shit! An OQO Model 02 out and turned on!
Wrapped tightly in one of those damned vise-like weighty metal stands, its screen calling calling calling to me, is the new OQO Model 02, which is apparently the rarest bloody device around!
The screen is over the keyboard, so I slide it up. There’s a big Uh-Oh immediately. The screen wobbles! I mean, really, really wobbles! Since this is a demo unit, perhaps it’s taken some abuse, but that wobble really frightens me. Will that eventually happen to everyone’s unit after a few days, or weeks, or months of use? I don’t recall any such wobble on the Model 01.
The screen is bright. The framing around it is very slick, like a PSP. Yecch. Smudge City.
That keyboard! My God! It looks gorgeous to begin with. And the feel is just marvelous. OQO got the keyboard right. The keys have great feedback, the spacing is just right, and they feel like they’re made of metal. No cheap feel at all, no wobble of the keys in their sockets. The trackstick also has a great feel. It’s fast and responsive.
The unit has Windows XP on it. I open WordPad to test the keyboard. Thumb typing goes very well. But what I’m seeing on the screen troubles me. I think OQO messed with the fonts. I start out in Arial by default and Select-All then switch to Times Roman (New Times Roman? Whichever frikkin Times is there by default!). This confirms my suspicion: Plain text looks bold. And somewhat blurry. Bold text looks Extra Bold. And blurrier. What’s strange about this is that the text in the menus and dialog boxes isn’t that way at all.
At the bottom left of the keyboard are separate Plus and Minus Magnification buttons. I enlarge the screen to look at the text. Still blurry! I don’t know what OQO did to the fonts, but I don’t like it. If I owned this, I’d want a way of de-bolding (and hence de-blurring) typed text. From what I can recall, the fonts on the Sony UX did not look like this at all. I’m sure OQO messed with the fonts.
The mag buttons work very well. I didn’t note the percentage of enlargement. I did hit the Plus button twice while in WordPad. The view was very large. One weird thing about the Minus mag button: when I tried shrinking the normal screen, the screen just went totally black, as if the OQO was off. I don’t know what’s up with that.
Another thing about mag. I had WordPad enlarged while I typed in text. The screen did not horizontally scroll with the new text. All new text that went past the edge of the screen was blocked from view until I used the trackstick pointer to manually move the screen (actually, it’s automatic — as the pointer moves to the edge of the screen, the screen pans; I believe this is the same behavior as the Model 01).
I didn’t notice any backlighting on the keyboard, by the way. Perhaps it was turned off by default? When I accidentally locked the Shift key, I noticed a very bright blue light next to the key.
One thing about the keyboard I noticed is that several keys have double-duty when combined with the FN key. One of these is a Rotate key! I still had WordPad open, so I did FN-Rotate. The top of WordPad rotates so that it now appears on the right of the screen, meaning the left side of the OQO now becomes the bottom. I’d hoped for 360-degree rotation, but it wasn’t there. Perhaps there is a Control Panel setting? I didn’t think the screen was as sharp when rotated. But I really didn’t study it very closely. The text I had typed was still blurry, however.
I called up Control Panel to see what’s cooking in System. It reports VIA Esther, 1500 MHz, and a weird 968 or 986MB of RAM.
I see on the Desktop the icon for Internet Explorer. I figure, OK, this has a touchscreen, right? Double-tap to launch. Hmmmm… the screen has a hard glass-like surface. And my tapping isn’t being recognized. OK, I used the trackstick to launch IE. ARGH!! It can’t find the Home Page: which is set to Google! And no matter what URLs I enter or use from History, I can’t try the Net on it. The WiFi icon in the Status Bar indicates a strong connection too. This is not the first time this shit has happened to me. I really hate WiFi for that.
What I could see of the unit itself: top has a large screened airvent. Right side has a large screened airvent (will it be blocked by any hand holding the OQO?). A lit power button on the lower left side. That’s about all I can recall. The bottom is mostly blocked by the vise-like stand, as is the back. I could not see where any stylus is stored or could be stored.
The size of the Model 02 is exactly the same as a Nokia 770 when it’s in its slipcover. The only difference is front-to-back thickness, with the Model 02 easily being twice as thick as an uncovered 770. I’m sure I could carry this in the same pockets I’ve been using for the 770.
Although I wasn’t able to try WiFi, I did come away with a great consolation prize: An actual-size brochure for the Model 02!! Run to RCS and snag one before they’re all gone!! (I took two, so there!)
No price was listed for the Model 02. And I wasn’t about to boot up the salivary glands of a salesdroid by inquiring.
It wasn’t until after I’d left RCS and looked through the brochure that I was hit with my eejitcy. I’d noticed a set of arrows on the screen’s frame. I didn’t know what they did and didn’t bother to touch them. Dammit, I should have. According to the brochure, those are capacitive TouchScrollers. I believe that running a finger along them will scroll the screen while the keyboard is hidden (for all I know, they might work while the keyboard is exposed too). I would have liked to have tried that.
So what’s my verdict? I’d earlier fondled the Sony UX several times (but never blogged about it). Between the UX and the Model 02, I’d take the Model 02. But I’m not going by specs or price. I’m making this judgment solely based on each unit’s size and keyboard. The Model 02 is more pocketable and its keyboard just makes the UX’s keyboard a bigger laughingstock than it already is.
Now, if you want to go by screen, I think the UX beats the Model 02. The UX has a true touchscreen. If I’m understanding the OQO brochure correctly, the Model 02 still requires a Tablet PC-like special stylus. That prohibits using a fingertip to quickly tap an icon on the Model 02’s screen (as I found out when trying to launch IE!).
Now, would I personally buy a Model 02? I’m not sure I’m in the market for it. Having been trapped on the wee screen of the 770, my eyes are demanding fonts that I can read without further eyestrain. If I was rich and wanted to guarantee I’d always have a PC with me, I’d get the Model 02 over the UX despite the lack of touchscreen; the keyboard and size outweigh the screen for me.
So, that’s my report of my fondle time on the OQO. Keep in mind this is not a review — it is a fondle. Come to NYC to RCS and try it for yourself, if you really really must know about it now.