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Photos: Hands on with the Samsung Q1 Ultra

We had the pleasure of fondling a Samsung Q1 Ultra UMPC this morning -- come see the pictures and read our impressions...

The Samsung Q1 Ultra was the world's worst-kept secret. Everybody and their nan has known about it for days, and we've just spent the morning fiddling with one in the flesh.

We never thought we'd say this about a UMPC, but it's really rather good. It's thinner (29.9mm), lighter (690g) and more attractive (phwoar!) than the original Q1 and has bags more features.

Most important is the Qwerty keyboard, which is split across either side of the screen, but feels surprisingly good to type on. We used it to enter Web addresses and send an email, and though we made the odd mistake, we think it's miles better than the keyboard on the Sony Vaio VGN-UX1XN.

The Q1 Ultra has 802.11b/g Wi-Fi as you might expect, but better still, it has a built-in HSDPA SIM card that lets you surf at broadband speeds wherever there's a compatible cellular network. Korean models will come with a built-in DMB digital TV tuner, but we doubt Samsung will bother to fit the DVB-T tuners we use in the UK for Freeview.

We were pretty stoked to hear the Q1 Ultra will have an optional 'worldwide' GPS sat-nav package. We were less keen, however, on the 3.5-hour battery life. Samsung said the Q1 Ultra lasts longer than its predecessor, but the Q1 we reviewed had a claimed battery life of 3.5 hours too.

The resolution on the Q1 Ultra's 7-inch screen has been boosted from 800x480 pixels to 1,024x600 pixels, and it's now a third brighter at 300cd/m2. It's still touch-sensitive, but it's now even better due to a new and improved 'Touch Pack' mobile interface in Windows Vista. You also get a pair of cameras -- a VGA lens on the front for video conferencing, and a 1.3-megapixel lens on the back for taking snaps.

Samsung wouldn't reveal the core specification, but the device will probably use an ultra-low voltage Intel processor codenamed 'McArthur'. It should also have 1GB of RAM and a 1.8-inch hard drive measuring anywhere between 60GB and 80GB. Versions with hybrid and solid-state hard drives are in development.

The Q1 Ultra will arrive in or around May this year for a price not too far removed from the Q1 (about £799). Click through for more sexy pictures.

Here's the right half of the keyboard in all its glory. The keys are a tad fiddly to begin with, but we achieved a pretty accurate 30 words per minute (-ish) after some practice. Below the keyboard you can see the enter key and four shortcut buttons, and at the bottom, left and right mouse selector buttons.

The left half of the keyboard is flanked by a thin speaker grille and some pretty status lights. Bizarrely, the mouse 'joystick' is on the left side of the device -- possibly suggesting the Q1 Ultra was designed by a leftie.

If the 690g chassis starts to wear you down, the Q1 Ultra has a foldaway stand at the rear. Flip it down and you can position the device on a table top, or if you're a real geek you can tuck the stand into your shirt pocket and wear the Q1 Ultra instead of a hanky.

Samsung showed off a number of accessories including this USB keyboard. That's right, it's a keyboard for a UMPC with a keyboard -- not exactly a vote of confidence in the design. There's an integrated TrackPoint-style mouse 'nipple' in the centre and selector keys towards the front edge.

The final accessory was this USB optical drive. We're not sure of the exact specs, but we know it definitely writes to both CD and DVD discs. And it's shiny.

A PR photo showing the Q1 Ultra in all its skinny glory. We reckon it's far sexier than the original Q1, but what do you think? Leave your thoughts in our Comments section below.