OQO model e2 review: OQO model e2

Typical Price: £1,151.00
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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Decent keyboard; good size and weight.

The Bad Screen isn't very usable outdoors.

The Bottom Line It's only a marginal improvement on its predecessor, but the OQO model e2 is still one of the best UMPC-style devices on the market today. We just wish it was more feature-rich and wasn't so pricey

6.5 Overall

The model e2 is the third iteration of OQO's acclaimed ultra mobile PC-style device. It sports several enhancements over its predecessor including a faster CPU, Windows Vista as standard. It can be bought from eXpansys.com for £1,151.

The model e2 looks exactly the same as the model 2, which is not a bad thing. We reckon it's way more attractive than the alternatives from Sony, Samsung and Asus, but you may feel differently -- beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

As before, the 127mm (5-inch) screen takes up the vast majority of the front. This has 'active' touch sensitivity, which means it'll respond to inputs from an optional stylus, but it'll completely ignore all other pointers, including your fingers. Some may balk at this system, but it reduces the chances of the screen being covered in fingerprint smudges.

There's plenty of reason to touch the screen, though. It uses finger-sensitive strips at the bottom right corner of the device, used for scrolling vertically and horizontally through documents and Web pages. It's a nice touch, but it can be a little too sensitive at times.

The e2's screen slides upwards to reveal the Qwerty keyboard beneath. The action on the sliding mechanism is smooth and satisfying, but the keys beneath are just as small as ever. They're not as difficult to use as the buttons on just about every other UMPC, but you'll find it tricky to type if your hands are either very small or very large.

The most frustrating thing about the keyboard is the fact that almost every key has a dual purpose. The backspace key is also the 'del' key, the L button doubles as the volume up button and though it has a dedicated numerical keypad, each number key is also a function key. To activate the secondary function of each button you'll need to press the Fn, CTL or ALT button first, which can become frustrating.

Our favourite thing about the e2 is the mouse input system. It has a trackpoint-style mouse nipple between the Qwerty and numerical keypads and selector buttons on the far left. The system takes a little getting used to but soon becomes second nature.

The processor choices have changed slightly from model 2 to model e2. The 1.5GHz VIA C7M ultra-low voltage CPU is still an option, as is a new 1.6GHZ ULV part, but gone is the 1.2GHz model. The lack of a slower CPU is concerning because higher clock speeds tend not to promote long battery life. On the flipside, a fast 1.6GHz chip means the e2 can use Windows Vista Ultimate edition as standard. RAM stays at 1GB as before, and it's not possible to add any more.

Like the model 2, the e2 comes with an HDMI port so you can connect it to an external display or a TV. You can thererfore use it as a really small Media Center PC thanks to its maximum external resolution of 1,920x1,200 pixels. The onboard 127mm (5-inch) display has a native resolution of 800x480 pixels. Don't even think about using it outside, though -- it's so glossy it's nearly impossible to see anything but your own reflection.

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