I've been using the Q1 in public the last couple of days, and it's been getting some very envious looks. The conductor on my train on Friday was particularly impressed. (This was on a GNER service with onboard wifi – a brilliant idea hamstrung by the grand British tradition of cocking up the railways. I managed to send one email, and my girlfriend downloaded an attachment only after prowling the corridors for 10 minutes in search of decent reception. Rubbish.)
But the most interesting reactions were from non-techy people. A designer technophobe friend was emphatuated. Touchscreen was, he said, totally unintimidating, and he was able to quickly draw an excellent picture in the terminally rubbish MS Paint in 2 minutes flat. He wants one. My mum loved the handwriting
recognition, and my dad was impressed with One Note.
Hopefully the UMPC can break the massmarket in the same
way as the Nintendo DS – by drawing in a whole new
This afternoon I had a meeting arranged but woke up with a god-awful migraine. Thanks to my umpc l was able to cancel without leaving my sickbed – versus the 2 or 3 minute wait with my bloated, non-hibernating desktop. Of course, such is the tragic scale of my internet addiction that l then spent several minutes checking emails, blogs and share prices – no doubt setting back my recovery. The UMPC then: force for good and ill.
I have a million bits of paper (approx) with various recipes scrawled on them. Since One Note 2007 beta came out I've been trying to consolidate them into one place as I cook them – since I don't have a scanner this means transcribing, something I can't do for long without dying of boredom.
Now that I have a umpc I can cook with the recipes to hand, rather than having to sprint between the stove and the monitor, or resorting to a printout. Tonight I cooked a chorizo stew thing, scribbling the steps into one note as I went.
It was pretty fun: the kitchen of tomorrow…TODAY! etc etc. Nice to be able to listen to streaming radio at the same time. The only drawback vs real recipe books is that I like them to get quite messy, as a badge of honour type thing. I'm less enthusiastic about covering the Q1 with grease and stray chicken carcass – I had it safely propped on the microwave during the messy bits. My handwriting did get pretty rough though – maybe this rather than sauce stains will be my new 'real chef' status symbol?
The four extra buttons the Q1 offers are really
not enough- having some on the back of the
device might be a good idea.
Management of the existing buttons could also be
better. At the very least the profiles should be
switchable on the taskbar. Even better would
be dynamic switching of the button mappings.
Clearly l have different needs for different programs
and it would be good to let the OS take care of
the switching once my preferences had been set.
Even better (but a distant hope) would be switching button functions based on what website I was on. Gmail and google reader have good keyboard shortcuts but these are very different from those I find useful during more general browsing.
The single biggest factor in me shelling out for a UMPC so early was this: I can't use a conventional PC for any length of time without causing pain in my upper back. But I still do it even though the pain will be horrible later. Stupid, but so much of my life depends on a PC that I can't really get by without it.
Enter origami, and it's working: not to wean me off the internet but to detach it from a hunched over, sedentary lifestyle.
Today, for example was a beautiful day in London so me and my girlfriend spent the day on the balcony, listening to my favourite radio show on the Q1. Very nice in itself but we then decided to see a movie in the evening.
Pre-umpc this would have involved me going inside, sitting down at my desk, looking up film times and then getting sucked into something else: an hour later and I'll have stored up enough pain to spoil the movie later.
But now I don't have to go to information, information is just there with me – and I can move past the while-I'm-here mentality that welds me to my desk and thence to painkillers. So our film research took only a couple of minutes and we were soon back to relaxing.
Brick, by the way, is a wonderful movie!
First off, I must say that the handwriting recognition works better than l thought possible. I moved from baby block printing to doctor style scrawl within a day – with no discernible drop in recognition rates. Its helped by the fact that l can't really do joined up writing but is impressive none the less! It still has trouble with my Ks but then people have trouble with my Ks or, as Journal would have it, my £5.
The problem is with a general lack of polish. On journal, no easy, one-button method to convert writing to text. When the input panel is full there is no automatic scroll to give you more room – and if you just choose to insert there is no space character straight after. Context sensitive behaviour could fix this. I have yet to make a 'return' gesture work.
I have other problems but I don't want to whinge too much – I think I'm going to love this machine, and when the UMPC concept has had some time to bed down it will change the way we work, live and all sorts of other wild hyperbolic claims.
Well, I now own a UMPC – a Samsung Q1 to be exact, unboxed with great fanfare and no disappointment whatsoever. It's a beauty, smaller than I expected. Lighter too. As others have said, the box is almost as nice and probably as heavy as the device itself. Its nice to hold but a bit too weighty to comfortably hold in one hand and take notes with the other: you really need something to lean on. Overall, though, first impressions are very positive.