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OQO Model 02 – My biggest "Wow" in a while!



Well, we’ve been talking on for a while about the “Wow” factor being low to people in the Tablet PC arena.  Rob isn’t being wowed enough to keep him happy, Warner seems to think marketing is a big issue, and for me?  Well, I still love the feeling of opening any new box that contains electronics I have not seen before.

 Last week I received a shipment.  Yes — it was ANOTHER piece of electronics to review (yippee!).  The device in question?  AN OQO Model 02.  I had seen the device ever so briefly at CES this year, and we had our request in way back then for an eval unit, but to be honest, I was not jumping up and down in anticipation.  I had spent some time with the small Sony UX models, and was not impressed.  My experiences thus far with UMPC’s has been somewhat lackluster, so I have to admit my expectation levels were indeed somewhat low.  The Model 02 changed that.

Capital “W”, capital “O”, Capital “W” again.  WOW.  I felt it when I opened the box and pulled this tiny 5″ screen device out.  Here is my quick “I Like” list:

  • It was not the heavy, big bulky thing the UX was.  One pound?  YES!  I like it.  Fits in that pocket nicely.
  • It had an ACTIVE digitizer (yes, yes, yes!!).  The inking experience was quite nice, although screen real estate is obviously an issue with a screen this size.  No touch?  THANK YOU VERY MUCH OQO.  I don’t want it.
  • The slideout keyboard was comfortable and useable with my thumbs (note that if you have not previously had experience with a thumb keyboard, you may not agree here, but I have used Treo’s and my MotoQ for a long time now).  The “SmartLock” keys were awesome.  Being able to lock shift-alt-ctrl-func keys and know they are locked with indicator lights is a great usabiulity thing.  Nice job there.
  • The Wide VGA LCD screen was bright, crisp and clear.  The magnification buttons work really well.  800×480 native, all the way to 1200×720 interpolated.  Works for me (although I did need my old man glasses at highest res)!  In addition you can magnify even eyond that if needed and scroll and pan.
  • The on screen “capacitive scrollers” scrolling controls (both vertical and horizontal) were great!  Note to OEM’s: I want those on all my devices from now on.
  • It had Windows Vista Ultimate installed, and it ran really well.  It was a 1.0 on Vista Experience, but I really didn’t care.
  • It had Sprint WWAN installed and even though I have Sprint connection issues in my area, it worked really well.  I’d like to see Verizon performance, which is an option also.
  • The dock with the slot loading DVD was very sexy and functional.  It has HDMI also!  The small footprint on the desk is awesome to still get so much functionality.  Besides the dock, the included VGA/Ethernet adapter is an added plus.  I like it being separate, since those are only needed on occasion.
  • Slipping it into my pocket was such a cool experience.  I got a lot of looks when I pulled it out to use it.
  • This thing felt SOLID.  It looks good, feels good, and I believe that this all indicates a quality engineering job.  Didn’t do any drop tests, but I bet it would be fine.  Note to GBM team:  Whoever has it last, do the drop test.  Just kidding.


Just for balance, here are my “Not like so much things”:

  • The price.  I know, I know, it is a compact, heavily engineered marvel, so carries a nice price tag.  But just think if you could get these things for $1,000 or less!  It would be an OQO world (ala iPod)!
  • No pen included?  When I got it, I immediately started looking for the pen garage.  Hmmm, where is tha darn thing?  It’s gotta be here somewhere!  Nope — it’s not there.  Huh?  Whassup with that?  Active digitizer means I need a pen.  What, not included?  Tsk-tsk-tsk.  Not good.  A pen is included with XP Tablet SKU, but not with Vista?  Need to change that one OQO.
  • While inking (with my X60 pen), I had some problems with the “capacitive scrollers” moving the screen around on me a bit when my hand hit them, but it was not a huge issue.  When you are hovering, I think they turn off, but outside that range, you can accidentally move the screen around.
  • It got a little warm.  Note I did not say, “HOT”, I said “warm”.  It’s to be expected, but overall it looks like they have engineered the heat dissapation pretty well.
  • When you magnify outside the resolution capability of the screen, you of course get a scrolling and panning screen (which is nice, but…).  When it passed resolution capability though, the pen got out of synch with the screen, forcing me to the joystick pointer.  Seemed kinda glitchy to me there.
  • No stand.  There were a few times I wanted to stand it up outside the dock where I could see the screen, but there is no kickstand.  I had to lay it flat, forcing me to pick it up or prop it up each time to see an incoming email, etc.  Seems like a pretty easy thing to add, and it is needed.

As you will notice I am referring to this thing in the past tense! I had to give it up to the next GBM teamie, Eddie VanDerbeck (darn it, I hate to share!).  I really wanted to keep this one.  I see no problem integrating this thing into my daily work life.  I did not get a chance to plug it into a full size desktop montior and keyboard, but I see no issues using it as a full time PC.

Well, that is about all for now.  I am in the somewhat enviable position of getting to use a LOT of cool toys like this, but this one was special.  As you can see I loved it, and I do not make statements that strong very often.  If it was up to me, OQO would be having a hard time getting this one back.  Our thanks to Bob Rosin and the folks at OQO for a chance to use this device for a bit.  You’ve done a great job here. 

UPDATE:  I got in a lot of trouble after I originally posted this for not including Splotch’s comments.  So Splotch old buddy, what did you think about the OQO Model 02?

  ” Hmph.  I don’t get no respect around here.  All you big organic dudes think we little blue guys have nothing to offer, but you’re wrong, we are great judges of little things.  The OQO Model 02 is incredible.  Trust me, being little can be tough, and this thing does little REALLY well.  It has all the right pieces, in all the right places.  Everyone needs to quit comparing this one to that one and just find one that works for them.  THis one will work for you Dennis.  I will be glad to share your pocket with this thing.  Go for it.”

Well said Splotch.

(Now where is that credit card my wife doesn’t know about?)

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