Samsung Q1 Ultra review
When we saw the first UK sample of the Q1 Ultra back in June (web ID: 114332), we were by turns both pleased and disappointed. The evolution of the hardware interface together with Vista’s greater touch-friendliness was encouraging, but simply not enough to convince that the Origami project was ready for the big time. While the shift into production hasn’t brought about any revolutionary changes, it has clarified how the Q1 Ultra will ship, as well as some of Samsung’s future plans for it.
There have been some minor tweaks: the fingerprint reader is gone and both UK models – identical save for the choice of XP Tablet/Vista Home Premium – will now come with two batteries. Samsung claims these should give around ten hours of life – a reasonable claim given that the Q1 returned light-use times of 3hrs 8mins for the four-cell battery and 6hrs 44mins for the six-cell unit. Intense use reduced this to 1hr 40mins and 3hrs 50mins respectively.
The “mouse” button on the left now switches the centre-mounted joystick between a trackpoint and a cursor-style selector (to skip through desktop objects sequentially). You can also use your finger or the stylus, with Vista’s software graphical “mouse” appearing under the pointer, complete with a left and right button. You can also touch-and-hold to simulate a right-click. To the right of the screen, the directional keypad can launch applications of your choice, and left and right mouse buttons sit below.
There’s a hardware key to toggle the DialKeys software keyboard on and off, which is a huge time-saver. This brings up a QWERTY keyboard, split into two opaque arcs at the lower corners of the screen. While it’s one of the best touchscreen keyboards we’ve used, it certainly isn’t perfect. That’s tacitly acknowledged by the inclusion of a hardware keyboard split across the top – not quite a BlackBerry when it comes to speed (many will also find it rather small), but reasonably usable. Then there’s Vista’s fantastic handwriting recognition but, again, it isn’t without compromises: you’ll need both hands to use the stylus, and the input box often obscures the already crowded screen.
The 7in TFT itself remains a highlight: bright and clear, if a touch grainy. 1,024 x 600 pixels is fine for most applications, and the stylus slides across it smoothly and accurately – it’s even pretty resilient to the inevitable fingerprints.
Internally, the Q1 Ultra is unchanged from the prototype; based around the dourly named Intel Ultra Mobile Platform 2007, with an A110 processor running at 800MHz and an Intel 945 chipset. There’s 1GB of RAM, and enough power in the GMA 950 graphics to run Aero. Performance is modest, managing an overall score of 0.22 in our benchmarks, but given the applications suited to that small screen, we’ve no complaints.
There are less successful elements: a desk-bound Q1 quickly becomes a tangle of cables and, although you can rest the unit jauntily on its stand, it’s disappointing there’s no actual docking option. The lack of an optical drive is less of an issue, though, with Samsung bundling a USB transfer cable and software to remotely install apps.
The broader story is mixed. Aside from the 802.11b/g and Bluetooth, the good news is that both HSDPA and GPS are “coming soon”. The bad news is that the former is still vague: planned for “later in the year” and with pricing that “will reflect the technology embedded”. As for GPS, that’s another £225 (inc VAT) for the Navigation Pack, including car kit, receiver and Navigon software. Again, not entirely compelling.