Ultramobile PCs are rubbish, aren't they? Sure the Asus R2H are funky-looking and, to an extent, desirable gadgets but theyre pretty flippin' useless.and
So we can be forgiven for yawning wilfully when the tech stork dropped an OQO Model 2 through the chimney. Sure it looks amazing, and sure its 5-inch display slides up to reveal a Qwerty keyboard, but so did the 4.5-inch-- and that was pre-worn pants.
But hold the phone! We're jotting this very blog entry with the model 2, and it's changing our opinions of UMPCs with each keystroke. It's not technically a UMPC in the strictest Intel sense of the word, but it runs Windows XP or Vista and it's hella mobile -- maybe they can call it an HMPC. Plus it's really rather good.
On paper, it should be terrible. It uses a relatively pedestrian (and old-lady-sounding) VIA Esther 1.5GHz CPU and 1GB of RAM. Plus the 5-inch display only pumps 800x480 pixels (the Vaio UX1XN's 4.5-incher pushes 1,024x600 pixels. And the 60GB hard drive is a regular 1.8-inch laptop drive -- not the faster, safer, solid-state variety.
So why is it so good? Because it's usable! The keyboard feels great to type on, and it even has a dedicated numerical keypad. We wouldn't have sat here typing for this long on the UX1XN's keyboard -- it's an RSI nightmare waiting to happen.
Obviously, it's has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, plus there's a little aerial at the top right of the unit that lets you connect to the Net via a 3G phone network. It only seems to work for US users at the moment, but perhaps your favourite UK mobile network will jump on the bandwagon soon.
Watch for a full UK review in the coming days, or if you can't wait that long, visit eXpansys and hand over the required £1,100. –Rory Reid