Samsung Q1 First Impressions

I'm going through a gadget frenzy at the moment. Only a few days after my first tiny PC (the Motion LS 800) arrived, now I have a second one to play with. This time it is a Samsung Q1. I must say I'm impressed. The Motion machine is very neat, made of aluminium alloy and has a screen that is visible in bright sunlight (and looks pretty amazing in the office). The Samsung is shiny black plastic, and is a proper realisation of the "Ultra Mobile PC" (UMPC), an evolution of the Tablet PC idea.

The Motion machine costs around twice the Samsung, and so you would think it was better. Well, it is and it isn't. It has the advantage of a proper touch screen, using a wireless stylus which lets you rest your hand on the screen as you write. The Samsung has the cheaper touch sensitive screen, which renders it is all but useless as a note taking device. The Motion also has a slightly higher resolution and physically larger display. But I don't like it as much as the Samsung, because of two things it hasn't got.

Firstly it has no fan. All the cooling is done by convection. Therefore it gets warm, very warm. So warm that if you give it something hard to do (charge the battery whilst installing Microsoft Office for example) it first complains it is too busy, and then it shuts down completely.  Using the wonderful Speedfan program I can watch the processor get hotter and hotter until things go pear shaped. I'd be very nervous about performing development work or playing with images on this device.  The Samsumg has a tiny fan which pumps warm air out of a vent in the back. Consequently I can be much more relaxed about giving it demanding things to do.

Secondly the Motion machine has no kickstand. This is a terrible omission. The Samsung has two, one which angles the machine slightly, and another which stands the machine at 80 degrees, the perfect angle for using it or watching DVDs. You can stand it up and use it, which is as it should be. For the Motion I had to buy a Bookchair (these are great by the way) so that I can use it on the desk.

The Samsung will be going with me to the Imagine Cup Finals in India as my main machine. I'm going to use it for photo processing, blogging, listening to music, watching movies and a bit of software development. I'm pretty sure that it will more than do the business.  The screen is  a bit tiny, but it has this amazing "Auto Scaler" button which squeezes down a 1024x600 screen onto the display with surprisingly useable results. It also works very well with an external monitor/dual desktop configuration. I'm writing this on a 1280x1024 monitor full screen, while the Samsumg shows me Outlook alongside on its smaller screen. Very nice.

I'll have a full report about life on the road with a Q1, and the usefulness of the UMPC in general, when I get back.