We’re going to look at yet another Samsung product. I’m excited! If you’re also a Samsung fan like myself check out the previous Samsung product review here.
This sample product has been kindly supplied by VIA Technologies Inc. Using VIA’s ultra mobile platform many manufactures are turning towards VIA for their stab at the ultra mobile market.
Tablet PCs have been around for a while now but for some reason they still haven’t really replaced laptops despite their portability and flexibility. Now we already have ultra mobile PCs. Does anyone really need an ultra mobile PC? Read on to find out.
The Samsung Q1B certainly sounds impressive when you hear what’s under the hood.
- OS: Genuine Windows ® XP tablet
- Processor: Via C7 ULV 1.0 GHz
- Chipset & Graphics: VX7000 Integrated
- Memory: 512 MB DDR2
- Display: 7″ WVGA Touch Screen(280 nits, 800 X 480)
- Audio: One Mono speaker (2W total), H/P out, and SRS Sound
- Storage: 40GB Hard Drive
- Connectivity: 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth® v2.0
- Multimedia: AVS Now, (Multimedia Instant on)
- I/O Port: 2 USB (USB 2.0), H/P Jack, VGA, DC-In
- User Interface: Button: 8 Way Joystick, User Defined Key(4 positions), Auto Scale/Enter Button, Quick Menu Button, Hold, Voume Up/Down, Power/AVS Now, Ctrl/Alt/Delete Button
- Battery: Li-Ion Battery, Standard:3 cell Battery (up to 5 hrs.)
- Dimension: 9.0″(w) x 5.5″(H) x 1.0″(D)
- Weight: 1.7 Lbs. (W/O Optical Disk Drive)
Ok so let’s break it down. You get a 1GHZ processor! More than adequate enough to run Windows XP Tablet Edition. It’s nice to have such a powerful processor in such a small device, thanks to this it means you can enjoy high quality video and audio smoothly without interruptions. The VIA C7 ULV is fabricated on a 90nm technology by IBM and consumes only 3.5 to 7 watts of power (certainly not power hungry then). In fact when compared to similar processors the VIA C7 uses much less power to the watt in comparison to other x86 chips.
You also get 512MB of DDR2 RAM which is nice. Speedy RAM is a good thing and it will be needed especially since the Q1B comes with Windows XP Tablet Edition but it also eases things a little more because the VIA processor only carries 128KB of L1 and L2 cache.
The native display resolution which the Q1B runs at is 800 x 480 which offers very crisp and sharp images as to be expected of Samsung screens no matter what the device. You can also select 800 x 600 or even 1024 x 600 scaled modes which means you get that extra space but at a compromise as all images are stretched. The best thing about the display is that it’s 7” which is quite large on an “ultra mobile” device.
40GB of data storage capacity is very large. And you can expect to enjoy the benefits of the large hard drive when using the Q1B. Not a bad idea if you have lots of music, videos or pictures (and of course very important documents).
The Q1B is also known to have a remarkable battery life and I guess all that has to do with the components being used and their low power consumption. We will see for ourselves in this review just how well the power side of things go.
You can see from the above pictures the Q1B is very aesthetically pleasing and also sports a very sleek look as the buttons are non intrusive and are elegantly part of the design. Even the speaker holes are very ‘incorporated’ if you like. There are numerous connectivity options available too. You can hook the Q1B up to a projector or larger monitor thanks to the VGA connection located on the side of the device. There is also a headphone and microphone port located on the other side along with a ‘hold’ switch which basically stops accidental button presses. The pen is also very nicely tucked away in the body of the Q1B and forms an integral part of the design.
Holding the Q1B in one hand isn’t that hard but the weight soon makes your forearm a little tired so you will most likely be resting it on your lap after a while or some other surface.
You’ll be pleased to know the Q1B does have a rear pull out stand which keeps the device upright on a comfortable working angle. There are venting holes along the top of the device so that the heat can escape. The way the air is ported out is actually very good too considering most people will probably be resting the device on their lap or something so there isn’t any need to worry about the Q1B overheating like some laptops as air is forced through the top.
Let’s take a look at what you actually get in the package then.
You are provided with a very nice soft case for the Q1B with an elastic property as well as a cleaning cloth for the screen. You are also provided with software CD-Roms however, for the purpose of this review the CD-Roms are pointless since the Q1B doesn’t have an optical drive. That said there is an optional drive available which plugs straight into the Q1B. Instruction manuals are also provided with reference to the supplied software, you also get a wrist strap to attach to the Q1B so it’s secured. The battery supplied snaps onto the Q1B very easily and quite securely too.
Upon switching the device on you will notice that it is almost completely silent, it doesn’t take long to boot into Windows either. The default resolution of 800 x 480 isn’t that bad either although from time to time you might notice that certain dialogue boxes that pop up onscreen won’t fit which can be annoying. The screen is incredibly bright and very crisp with colours being rendered very vividly. You do of course get to adjust screen brightness.
Before I started using the Q1B properly I went ahead with the calibration tool to get the pen to work accurately on the screen. With the software provided you can do a 9 or 29 point calibration with the latter being more accurate. You can also choose how biased you want the cursor to be when moving to the edge of the screen.
One of the major downsides noticed upon first using the Q1B is that the pen and screen don’t work together like other tablet PCs of graphics tablets which support the hover detection. You cannot hover your pen over the screen and expect the device to recognize it, instead to move the cursor you need to lightly press and drag the pen around, slightly bizarre I know but I assure you it’s the only way to get about. Another annoying thing is the way you right click since the device doesn’t function like other tablet devices you have the option of treating a long press as a right click. For example holding the pen down on the screen for 1 second or custom will trigger a right click. The only down side to this is when you want to drag and drop a file you can fail miserably if you hold the pen down for the same amount of time you declared for the right click trigger. Upon taking a look at the device manager the hardware for the touchscreen is classed as a standard USB input device. Fortunately the Q1B makes up for this due to its 4 programmable buttons on the right of the device. You can actually customize the function of each button to perform basic things like delete, right click, cut, copy, past and so on and so forth.
The great thing about using VIA’s ultra mobile platform is that it makes the devices a lot more interactive. Wireless internet as well as superb audio and video performance is to be expected with this platform and the great thing about it is it is very easy to integrate into any other device design module. The Q1B’s wireless receiver is automatically activated upon switching it on making sure you’re always connected and ready to go. This to some may seem like a bad idea however and for the real paranoid, there is no wireless control button on the device at all. If you don’t want the wireless on automatically you have to set that option through the bios but then you’ll be disabling the wireless functionality completely. Fortunately though the Samsung quick menu which is accessed by pressing the menu button on the right of the device brings up a list of options and one of them does have a wireless toggle option.
The quick menu allows access to the useful settings which you may want to frequently access from time to time. Screen brightness can be adjusted, you can toggle the wireless function, mute the sound, turn off the screen backlight (probably only useful when connecting to external displays), choose to have etiquette mode enabled or even rotate the screen so that everything is in portrait mode thus giving you much more vertical space for those who work on documents.
This menu is a great addition especially since the device itself doesn’t have any buttons that allow you to directly access these settings apart from screen brightness which can be adjusted even while the boot screen is displayed by holding down the quick menu button and pressing either volume up or volume down.
Can it handle Windows Vista?
I suppose many of you who are reading this are probably wondering if it’s possible to get Microsoft’s latest operating system to function on this device. I can tell you with confidence that it is certainly possible. I performed a clean installation of Windows Vista Ultimate Edition in hope to see it working on such a small device. It seems many of the onboard controllers are already supported by Vista however I still downloaded the latest VIA chipset drivers to ensure I come across no problems. Vista actually has a great deal of support for mobile devices and this is showcased through the number of wizards and tools that the operating system contains to get you up and running. One of the most interesting and cool features of Vista with regards to tablet PC support is the new pen flicks feature which allow you to perform certain pen gestures to make navigating a lot easier. For example scrolling down a long document or webpage can also be done by just flicking your pen in a downward motion. Keep in mind though as I stated earlier the Q1B doesn’t have the ability to recognize the stylus hovering above the panel, as a result the pen flicks feature is useless on the Q1B.
The device certainly doesn’t get hot. I have tried to watch high resolution videos and listen to music in an attempt to raise the temperature of the device enough for me to call uncomfortable but failed. This is quite stunning for such a tightly packed device and all comes down to VIA’s ultra mobile platform. The device is also quite quick for a 1GHZ processor especially when operating under Windows Vista it’s quite impressive. Working with frequent documents is a breeze thanks to the “StepAhead Advanced Branch Prediction” which is neighboured by the fetching and decoding unit on the C7 processor.
Battery life is fantastic with the average charge giving just over 3 hours of use. I managed to squeeze almost 4 hours of use out of the Q1B of course reducing the screen’s brightness level makes a big difference and so does the wireless functionality.
Well I have to say I am extremely impressed by the Q1B’s performance for such a small form factor. Despite its size it still houses some excellent technologies. Technologies which I am sure will further lead to even smaller, thinner, less power consuming and more performance packing devices. After spending a good few hours with the Q1B I can now understand why VIA’s ultra mobile platform is a good goer. Everything just seems so integrated and to have something that does everything such as net access, audio and video right out of the box is wonderful. No need for hunting for masses of drivers. Vista has already showed support for the device so that’s a good sign. I am amazed at how much less power this platform uses too in comparison to other similar devices. The battery life is very good and temperatures are kept cool. The 1GHZ C7 VIA processor is definitely a neat addition to the device and it’s nice to walk around with such a small thing yet knowing you can use it as a normal PC since it has the power to do so. VIA’s ultra mobile platform is definitely something manufacturers should consider if they also want to take a shot at the ultra mobile market. Already, many consumers have shown interest in devices powered by this platform and if you keep up to date with consumer trade shows such COMPUTEX you will find that many of the devices will be utilizing the VIA platform. A quick hop over to VIA’s website will show a list of devices already using VIA’s ultra mobile platform. As for the Q1B as an ultra mobile pc it is definitely up to the task. It has plenty of features and it is very easy to use. A very convenient little travel partner which will give you wireless internet access on the move. It’s certainly better than carrying a laptop around and because you have handwriting recognition with Windows you can use it to scribble notes with ease.
I would like to thanks VIA Technologies Inc. for making this review possible. Please visit their website for more exciting news and products at http://www.via.com.tw.
||VIA Ultra Mobile Platform