26 May 2007

OQO 02 - first impressions

I ordered an OQO 02 (world's smallest Vista computer) in March after trying a preproduction model at OQO's headquarters in San Francisco (thanks to JH for setting that up). Yesterday, the much in demand handheld, a "Best / Vista Ultimate / Verizon" arrived straight from the factory in Singapore.

Day one impressions

The design of the OQO, from the box it comes in, to the device itself, is cool, modern, and black. I could see Darth Vader putting one on his belt clip.

The OS is straight Microsoft (Vista, with XP also an option), but with small yet significant OQO touches. For one, the computer comes with Firefox. Very nice choice. The OQO helper apps - for screen brightness, wireless, CPU/fan performance, are also well done - both stylish and functional. The latter app is a particular good example. Fan speed vs CPU speed is always a tough tradeoff - the faster the CPU runs, the snappier the performance. But this means the fan has to work harder (and louder) to keep the machine cool. The OQO's app features a slider with two extremes, cooler and quieter. With these two words, both ends of the spectrum sound good - this is a small a bit of design I really appreciate.

Another example of a careful design is the keyboard. On most ultra-portable computers, companies either skip the keyboard (most UMPC have none), or they put on a keyboard that feels like as much of an afterthought as rear seats on a Porsche.

The OQO has a thumb keyboard, and it may be the best of its kind I've ever used. It feels as good as a Blackberry; each key provides tactile feedback and has just enough of separation from its neighbors, that I typed this entire post on it without cramping up or getting frustrated. What's more, the OQO's ambient light sensor turns on the keyboard's bright backlight when you're clicking away in the dark, making it easy to type in situations which would otherwise be challenging (non-backlit thumb keyboards - why does any company think these are good ideas?).

Day one with the OQO 02? A definite success. More on this tiny computer at the one week mark.

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