Several of my fellow GBM Team cohorts have fallen in love with the OQO Model 02 and I can see why. (I just hope no divorces are imminent.) There is a lot to love about this little mobile computer. I finally got my hands on the evaluation unit we’ve been passing around the team and although I’m very impressed with what the OQO has to offer, it is not the device for me. Before I tell you why, let me point you to several of the posts that Rob, Dennis, and Hugo have blogged. (Links to those entries below.) You’ll find their reasons for adopting the OQO Model 02 there, (along with some suggestions for improvement) and I can’t disagree with any of their findings, pro or con, about the device. That said, here’s why I won’t be including this device in my mobile arsenal.
In the office
All of my reactions to the device are related to how I work and play. Unlike Hugo, I’m not going to set this device up when I’m at my desk, although that is certainly possible. When I need to do some heavy lifting I need something with a little more oomph and don’t prefer the modular path (separate keyboard, hooking up to a monitor, etc…) A part of my office is in the rehearsal space taking notes. I found that to be an exercise in frustration as I spent more time scrolling the page on the small screen than I did Inking. When I did use Inking to take notes, the size of the screen, whether in landscape or portrait, just doesn’t feel natural in my hands while using a stylus. The device also gets too warm for me to hold in rehearsal.
As a companion device
I’ve been alternating between a Samsung Q1P and the Asus R2H UMPC as a companion device. Neither completely serves my needs. The OQO Model 02 does not either. A part of that companionship is viewing media. The screen, (though beautiful) is just too small for me to do that successfully. Without a kickstand, it just doesn’t fill that bill. I’m not going to hook up the docking solution for media viewing, that just defeats the purpose. Again, the device also gets quite warm in my hands. While, like Matt, I found DVD playback when docked to be fine, trying to play .wmv files (some of our InkShows) was laggy and unacceptable, both on battery and with AC plugged in. (That could be this eval unit, as I have seen no one else mention this.)
On the road
I don’t travel all year long but during the 1st quarter of the year when I do travel quite a bit, I need a device that I can do all my work with. I’m sure if this size of device works for you, you could do that, but I found (see above) that taking notes on this small screen wasn’t my cup of tea. I was surprised that the keyboard worked as well as it did for me. I anticipated my clumsy thumbs fumbling over multiple keys, but that wasn’t the case at all. (Other OEMs searching for a small device keyboard solution would be well served to study OQO’s design here.) That said, without a pen garage, I found myself using the keyboard more than I wanted to. It is summer here, and I’m wearing shirts without pockets and carrying a stylus around separately to jot down a quick note just doesn’t work for me this time of year. Several times in the rehearsal room, I found myself leaving the stylus on the production table and had to go back to get it to take a note. Frustrating. And I’m not going to change my wardrobe to use a device like this. (We’ve had quite few fashion debates around here about this device.) I can see this being a problem on the road as well, when I am in non-familiar surroundings.
A UMPC is going to be nothing more than a companion device for me. I’ll never see myself using it as my main workhorse. That’s me. I’m not going to drop $2000 on a companion device. That’s just not going to happen. On a quick weekend trip I want to carry a companion device instead of my full Tablet PC kit. But I just can’t justify that price point in my case for that kind of companion usage.
I agree with the cons (and pros) cited by my teammates. All are well founded suggestions for improvements. Here are some other niggles:
- No disk activity light. (For some reason I need this.)
- More a Vista and software issue than a hardware issue, but come on folks, if we are going to do small screens, let’s figure out a way to scale windows so we can hit the OK button. This is getting tiresome. And yes, it is a software issue, but if you’re an OEM with a small screen, it makes your work look half baked.
- I like the keyboard, but I wish there was a shift key on both sides of the keyboard. While locking the keys is a nice solution, this really slows me down.
The OQO Model 02 points up just how much your mileage may vary when it comes to choosing a mobile device. Design, functionality, features, price, all play a significant part when it comes to discerning whether a device will fit your work flow. The OQO Model 02 is an excellent small mobile Tablet PC, and I compliment OQO on their effort. It just doesn’t work for me. Obviously my mates see ways to integrate it into their scenarios and good for them. I hope it has been good for our readers that we’ve gotten the opportunity to really explore this device and state our impressions and opinions. I’m sure there will be more written about this device in the future here on the digital pages of GBM.
Links to GBM OQO posts:
- Hugo’s Top 5 Pros and Cons of the OQO (make sure you read the comments on this post.)