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OQO model e2 review: OQO model e2

The OQO model e2 sports several enhancements over its predecessor, the ultra mobile PC-style device OQO model 2. With its screen sliding upwards to reveal a Qwerty keyboard and a trackpoint-style mouse nipple, it's great for on-the-go use. An upgraded processor means better performance, too

Rory Reid
5 min read

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.

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6.5

OQO model e2

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

Design
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.

Features
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.


As with the model 2, the model e2 ships with an optional 32GB solid state hard drive. The 60GB 46mm laptop hard drive option is still available, as is a new 120GB drive, which LimeWire addicts will appreciate. As before, it is 'shock-mounted' (padded) and has drop-detection technology. This theoretically parks the drive heads in the event of a fall to prevent damage, but we never once saw the drive go into protective mode -- even after bouts of violent shaking. The jury's still out on this feature.

The e2's wireless capabilities are par for the course. It comes with 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so you can get online at local hotspots or wirelessly synchronise your mobile phone. There is a sore lack of 3G/HSDPA Internet access, but you can add your own 3G module via the single USB port at the bottom right of the device. The integrated cellular datacard from the model 2 has been removed entirely.

OQO had the opportunity to incorporate a few extra features in the e2, but it has chosen not to. There's no fingerprint reader, no memory card reader, no camera and the microphone is in no way as good as the array mic on the Samsung Q1, so it isn't as good for voice recognition. The optional docking station provides HDMI and VGA ports, a couple of USB ports, Ethernet and audio connections and an integrated DVD or CD optical drive. The model e2 comes with a standard one-year return-to-base warranty.

Performance
We likened the model 2's performance to that of a Ford Mondeo, and the e2 is no different. It may use a 1.6GHz CPU instead of the 1.5GHz chip, but its use of Windows Vista erodes any advantage the extra 100MHz may provide. It scored 728 in PCMark 2005, which is basically the same as the model 2's tally of 719.

The most frustrating aspect of its performance is the fact it takes literally a couple of minutes to boot up, so you may want to get the version with a solid state hard drive if you're very impatient. 3D performance on the model e2 is nearly non-existent -- the only games you'll be playing on it are Solitaire and the rest of the 2D Windows games.

Though the CPU is a tad faster, the battery life on the e2 is even better. It lasted a full four hours in our Battery Eater test, which is which is exemplary for a machine of this type.

Conclusion
If you own the model 2, there's no reason to bother with the model e2. If you're looking for a new UMPC however, it's arguably one of the best solutions. It's more expensive than the Samsung Q1 Ultra and Asus R2H, but it has better battery life, is more compact, more stylish and its keys are comparatively easy to use.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday

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