The purpose of this blog is not to do another extensive review of the OQO 02 since I feel that nothing can beat this great review by NEIL BALTHASER. In fact it was his review that finally made me decide to buy the OQO. Besides, I have had the OQO barely a week to do a detailed review.
My intention for writing this blog is just to highlight, based on my hands on experience, what I feel are the real strengths and weaknesses of the OQO. Here they are:
Digital Ink. Inking is my primary reason for buying the OQO. With it, I have gained back the productivity in meetings that I have sorely missed since I switched to the Macbook 4 months ago. This is by no means a Mac OS X vs. Windows issue but merely the lack of inking capability in the Mac. My blog here explains in great lengths what I have been missing before the OQO.
Factory Installed Vista. The problems I encountered when upgrading to Vista a few months back is another reason why I decided to switch to the Mac. Even then, I have friends running factory installed Vista who could swear that it is one, if not the, most stable OS they have ever used. I can say that with the few days with the OQO, the experience has been nothing short of superb. I will hold my final say about Vista after a month with the OQO.
iPhone-like Screen Rotation. Yes, by simply installing this application found in OQO talk, I can get the OQO to rotate every which way I want. I find this especially useful when inking in OneNote where I want the Touch scrollers to be out of the way. It is also useful for when I am plugged in and in laptop mode (wireless keyboard and mouse attached).
Speech recognition. With very minimal voice training, I am getting very good accuracy with Vista's built in voice recognition. Using Plantronics DSP 400 USB headset and the OQO's processor set at around 60% seem to give me some very good results. In fact, I am getting pretty much the same accuracy as when I am using Dragon Naturally Speaking 9. Well, almost but not really as accurate as DNS 9. I attribute this mainly to the extensive speech training I have undergone with DNS 9. My guess is that Vista's accuracy is going to improve over time. But even with this very minimal training, the results I have been getting are very impressive.
Battery life. With Bluetooth and wifi always on, processor speed set at 60%, and brightness level set at 1 bar, I managed to get 2 hours and 35 minutes and close to 5 hours from the standard and the extended batteries, respectively. Seven hours of juice is more than good enough for my daily computing needs. My standard practice is for the OQO to go on sleep every time I press the power button. I find that keeping the OQO in sleep mode for 8 hours straight only results to a 15 percent battery loss.
Working in bed or on the couch. I find that nothing could beat the OQO when doing this type of 'work or play.' Its ergonomics makes it very comfortable when used purely handheld. What makes it even more useful are the horizontal and vertical touch scrollers found at the bottom right corner of the OQO. These allow for easy scrolling just with the flick of my right thumb. Something that brings a smile to the face while browsing in bed. Yes, even while lying in bed. With the keyboard extended, I can rest the OQO on my chest and still do some very serious browsing. The scrollers make this activity especially enjoyable. Since I received the OQO, I now look forward to some last minute browsing just before day's end. This is something that I have not been able to do much of even with the old tablet PC's.
Laptop Replacement. The OQO is very usable with the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse paired up. During the rare times when I need to type up a report, I know that the OQO is extremely capable. In fact, this portion of the blog was typed at the confines of a Starbucks coffee shop. If not for the stares and the over the shoulder look that I keep getting, I would say that using the OQO in this configuration is very liberating indeed. I just set the OQO in its native resolution and move WORD 2007's magnification to 120%, and I have a fully configured 'laptop'. I find that leaving the OQO keyboard fully extended allows for a better angle when typing this way. However, when I need to be plugged in, I have no choice but to have the keyboard closed and the OQO turned upside down. That's because the power connector of the OQO is at the bottom. See the picture below.
Figure 1. Note that the OQO is upside down when plugged-in.
The Dreaded Fan noise. Yes, I have heard it myself quite a few times but only while multitasking at an extremely quiet environment and only for very short spurts. When I have the CPU running only at 60%, I don't think the fan is even running. This may be annoying to some especially if they are running at full CPU power. Provided however that you have made the slight adjustments in power, I do not even see this becoming an issue.
Cursor Drifting. On my second day, I experienced the dreaded cursor drifting where the cursor seems to have a mind of its own. I have experienced this before in other devices and have since found a cure. Go to Control Panel/Hardware and Sound/Mouse Properties/Pointer Options/ - and under Motion, uncheck Enhance pointer precision.
The weight, the weight. I really can't seem to get the smirk off of my face every time I grab the gadget bag with the OQO, the TUMI. My Sammy grab bag for the Macbook and all my gear weighs a hefty 13 lbs. The TUMI weighs a measly 5.5 lbs with everything I need for a day.
Desktop Replacement. Maybe, but that would be stretching the OQO to its limits. The OQO's 1.5 GHz VIA processor is a tad slower than that found in SONY UX. But browsing, downloading email, and typing in Word all the same time has never been a problem for me. Mobility and not multitasking is what the OQO is really designed for, IMHO.
The Verdict. The OQO Model 02 is not just a novelty gadget but an actual workhorse worthy to even be a laptop replacement. In fact, I find that I now bring it with me more often than the Macbook. However, as near perfect as the OQO 02 may be, it is not without problems. More in my next blog.