Ask Kevin: Why did you pick the Q1 over other UMPCs?


Todd, a jkOTR reader, shot me a note with a great question earlier today and he was kind enough to let me post it, along with my answer. I’d almost always prefer to answer a question like this publicly, especially if I believe the public-at-large could benefit from the response. Then again, maybe people don’t care what I think and that’s OK too. ; ) For those that do: here’s Todd’s note:

"I’ve been reading your posts and watching your videos regarding your Samsung Q1, and I haven’t seen is a reason *why* you chose it over the Asus or one of the other UMPCs out there. If you’ve posted about it, I’m sorry i missed it, but I’d really like to hear  – or see as the case may be – your thoughts on why the Q1 over another model."

Now that Todd mentions it, I have done my fair share of posts and videos with Sammy. ;) Some of the answer is simple and some of the answer underlies a point I’ve often tried to make (and will continue to do so) when it comes to "personal" computers….

Right off the bat, part of my decision was timing. When the Samsung Q1 was made available in late May of this year, other Origami devices weren’t available. I ordered my Q1 on-line via BestBuy right after we discussed the device on a MobileTechRoundup podcast. Three days later, I had my UMPC while other folks were on pre-order lists for an Amtek-based unit or were holding out for an Asus R2H based on the known specs at that time. The fact is: if you wait for the "perfect device", I think you’ll eternally be waiting. My thought process was that the Q1 would provide enough computing functionality for my workday while also enhancing my mobility. If that proved wrong, I figured I could eBay the unit; possibly at a loss, but I certainly wouldn’t lose my entire $1,099 investment.

I just alluded to something there that needs more explanation as well. There’s a reason in my mind we call these devices Personal Computers and that reason is the word "Personal". I can’t say this enough: a device that works for me may well not work for you. Any device choice should always encompass your personal needs. Let’s take this a step further:

If I was looking for a device to do audio / video mixing for podcasts and review videos, the Q1 would have been crossed off the list right away. In fact, it would have never made it to the list simply because it’s not the right tool for the task. My opinion: always start your device decisions with the personal or business needs you want it to fulfill. I can guarantee you that if you solely look at the "cool factor" or focus on "the buzz" of a device without looking at your computing requirements, you won’t be happy with your purchase. It’s really that simple.

I’ve mentioned my daily computing needs prior, but I think they bear repeating in order to illustrate how I ended up with the Q1. At any given time, 7 days a week, I use a computer to:

  • Read my RSS feeds
  • Blog mobile tech stories and product reviews
  • Check and respond to e-mail via my hosted Exchange Server
  • Communicate with folks via Skype
  • Simple editing of pictures for the blog
  • Take notes in meetings
  • Brainstorm / mind-map story ideas and research
  • Listen to music on iTunes andor stream music with Pandora
  • Read eBooks with eReader or read magazines with Zinio

There are other tasks that I like to do, but not that I need to do, so the list above is a fair representation. Note that:

  • I don’t have heavy computing or processor intensive needs
  • I don’t have high video capability needs
  • I don’t need GPS as I have a touchscreen nav system in my Toyota Highlander Hybrid
  • I don’t have high local storage needs, pending how much digital audio content I want to carry
  • I don’t have a need to use a joystick type pointer (which I admit is lacking on the Q1)

Based on the needs I have, the Q1 fits the bill on all of them. In fact, it’s powerful and capable enough for me to run Vista on it full time. Now that there are other UMPC models out, I suppose I could upgrade or switch, but there’s no compelling reason for me to do so. GPS is not necessary, while a fingerprint reader would be nice; still there’s no reason for me to go to an ASUS R2H when I can add a USB fingerprint reader. I did upgrade the RAM in my Q1 to enhance performance so again, no need to change to another UMPC that might have 1 or 1.25 GB of RAM. You get the point; the Q1 meets all of my current needs. Does that mean I’ll have it as my primary mobile computing device forever? Of course not….in fact, here’s some of what it would take to get me to move to a different device:

  • It still has to meet all of my primary needs listed above
  • Integrated WWAN / 3G connectivity; not a must because I have a 3G phone
  • I’d like to see a native 1024 x 600 screen in the same 7-inch size
  • Double the battery life using a standard battery
  • Better palm rejection technology to reduce vectoring; not a problem for me but a "nice to have"
  • I don’t want an integrated keyboard; I prefer the flexibility of using my full size, folding Bluetooth keyboard
  • Increased video performance (another nice to have)
  • Increased processing speed (a final nice to have

There are some current small computing devices that come close to adding these functions, but they can cost up to two or three times my Q1 investment and well….I don’t need the functionality THAT much! :)

If I could impress one thought, it would be to reiterate the evaluation of your needs when choosing a device. I’ve always tried to do that and I can’t remember being unhappy with any of my many device choices. Really! Lastly, the one question I receive more than any other is some derivation of "What device should I buy? Should I get X or Y?" Nobody can truly answer that question for you except you, which is why my typical response to the question is "Well, what do you plan to do with the device?" Your answer to that question might point you to the ASUS, a TabletKiosk eo, a Fujitsu P1610D or something else entirely different. That’s exactly what the answer to that question should do and it’s the reason why I (or anyone else) can’t answer it for you.

Todd, I hope that answers the question and I hope even more people got benefit from it since we posted it here. Thanks so much for letting us post the question!

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