Open letter to PC Mag

19 Comments

First off, I have to say , I’m a huge fan of Cisco Cheng and PC Mag. I should also disclose that PC Mag ran an article I collaborated on for the 12/5/06 issue. Having said that, I’m disappointed in the article “Another Let Down: Hands On With The Samsung Q1P-SSD”. I’ll attempt to leave opinion out where I can, but I should also state that I’ve used a Samsung Q1 UMPC as my primary computing device since May of last year; I’ve written no less than 50 unique pieces about the device. As such, I’d say I’m as qualified as Cisco on this device. ;)

1.       It’s still a bulky slate”. Other than other UMPCs, the Samsung Q1 is among the smallest slate tablets in mass production. It’s thinner (less than 1-inch thick) and as light as most other UMPCs such as the Asus R2H (which is very brick-like) and the Amtek 700 based units. This quote simply isn’t accurate. How does it compare to full sized slates? I’ve used them and “bulky” just doesn’t apply here.

2.       “If you want to do text input, you can either use the virtual thumb board, which isn’t as effective, or attach a USB keyboard, adding yet another device to your backpack.”  This statement is wrong on several levels. First; the article never specifies what operating system the Q1 runs and that’s important to this point. Current units run Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005 while the newer units will run Windows Vista. Why is this important? Both operating systems offer a method of text input that the unit is designed for: handwriting and inking. This is a Tablet PC, so to write off the text input with two average methods and not mention the native method is a mistake. Additionally, I use a Bluetooth keyboard when needed, so there’s a fourth option; yes, that will require the carrying of another device and is a good point in the article.

3.       It comes with both touch screen and Wacom digitizer screen for a decent tablet experience”. I was at the CES as well, but I didn’t hear anything about the Wacom digitizer screen. This unit, as far as I know (and I’ll admit I could be wrong) is a touch screen device just like the prior UMPCs. In fact, the Microsoft-Intel Origami spec requires a touch screen; not an active digitizer. Is this in fact a multi-input Tablet PC with both active and passive digitizers? One would think so from the article, but again, I’m not so sure.

I apologize if I seem harsh or a “Samsung Q1 fanboy”, but the UMPC market is already misunderstood and misrepresented. Consider me a UMPC enthusiast and writer on the topic. Ironically, after my last article for PC Mag, I was going to pitch some additional article ideas. I’m sure that after my mini-tirade above, that’s out of the question, but…..if you’re interested in some different perspectives on the UMPC and Tablet PC scene, please let me know as I’m looking to expand my authoring opportunities.

19 Comments

Anton P. Nym

Using the reasoning in that article, a motorcycle is useless because it can’t tow a camper and it’s heavier than a bicycle.

UMPCs aren’t desktops, and they’re not PDAs. Trying to force them into those roles will inevitably make them look inferior… because they’re not designed to tow campers or be carried to the bike rack. They’re designed for working on-the-go, staying productive en route, and getting things done in confined spaces; in that niche they’re vastly superior to desktops and PDAs. (And notebooks, too, but that’s IMO and is dependant upon use model.)

When reviewers stop complaining that wrenches make for bad hammers, er, UMPCs make for bad desktops/PDAs, I’ll stop complaining about bad reviews.

— Steve

Mike Cane

AHA!!

>>>Where it gets especially exciting is the 20.5mm thickness and 19.8 ounce weight, making it one of the slimmest and lightest products in its class.

http://handhelds.engadget.com/2007/01/18/us700w-umpc-from-no-name-oem-makes-the-big-boys-look-bad/

Just as I said. Would you whine if the Samsung Q2 had those specs?!

Holy freakin hell! Go look at that video!! I have to put my clothes in the wash now. Just drooled all over them! Now THIS is a frikkin **ULTRA** MOBILE PC!!

Mike Cane

>>> “It’s still a bulky slate”. Other than other UMPCs, the Samsung Q1 is among the smallest slate tablets in mass production. It’s thinner (less than 1-inch thick) and as light as most other UMPCs such as the Asus R2H (which is very brick-like) and the Amtek 700 based units. This quote simply isn’t accurate. How does it compare to full sized slates? I’ve used them and “bulky” just doesn’t apply here.

Sorry, but he is right. It is bulky and too heavy.

When these things are as light and slim as a Sony Reader, are you going to complain? That is their future. I like the Samsung, but you can bet your life Samsung will (is?) work(ing?) to make it lighter and thinner. And that will only improve sales.

jk

To me this review is the equivalent of a journalist panning the iPod in a review because it doesn’t have external speakers. There is a responsibility of the writer to at least try to write a review that addresses the purpose for which a product is designed, get the facts correct, and then to address how well that product performs its intended purpose. This review misses on all 3 of those areas, IMHO.

Byron

Come on guys.
All reviews are “subjective.”
This is one mans opinion.

Like someone said earlier, the same “dont get it” criticism can apply to any review that is less than favorable.

I personally am writing on a Fujitsu slate similar to the one Kevin reviewed very positively. I love it but it aint for everybody. If some reviewer pans it for having no built in keyboard I understand.

It is important to MOST people. This article is geared towards the MAJORITY.

I like “slates” so I look to guys like Kevin, and James here for opinions.

Truth is that slates and even moreso UMPCs are at a beta like stage of infancy compared with keyboard devices. The OS, (even Vista)and most apps strongly Favor Keyboards. Mindsets also are strongly entrenched with a keyboard-centric view.

So for most people, the desire for a Keyboard even on a umpc is perfectly reasonable.

Let Samsung sell a umpc with the specs of James’ Fuji, for a grand, and it would be the answer to a more mass market.
It would review well because it would appeal to the broader public. Thus far that has been price prohibitive, but eventually it will happen with a major player in the market.

No built in keyboard is a legitimate downside to any pure slate for the vast majority, and there is no sense getting bent when people point it out.

And again I say this as a user of a pure slate tablet.

Evan Easton

Scotty, the Q1P is not necessarily the thinnest. The eo i7210 is .98″ thick. So I think they both share the title.

Kevin, you comments are not harsh.

Kevin C. Tofel

Few quick followup comments:

I have no issue with Cisco Cheng or PC Mag. In fact, Cisco recently wrote some great Tablet PC reviews; some of the best and most objective I’ve read from a MSM outlet. I just felt that this article that may be read by hundreds of thousands is misleading in several ways.

The ‘Q1’ (insert any UMPC or ANY other device in the quotes) is not perfect and for some people’s work style will be relatively unusable. That’s OK! I just don’t want to see something condemned for the wrong reasons.

As far as sending the letter to PC Mag; I did just that via e-mail through their Contact Us page to the “errors and omissions” area. Five minutes later, I decided to put my thoughts out here in the open as I considered it would make for good conversation; which it has, and I appreciate ALL of the points of view!

The main issue here is one of misunderstanding and objectivity IMO. Let’s be sure NOT to turn this into an unfair bashing of all things PC Mag or Cisco Cheng; both have my respect. PC Mag has my money too as I’m a subscriber. ;)

DanC

My issue with the pcmag blurb is that it gives NO achnowledgement to the subjective nature of the majority of the comments. This tends to happen when you begin with your conclusion and then set out to justify said conclusion. Last spring I set out to find a small tablet pc that I could easily carry but would be a fully functional pc. I tried the first tbaletkiosk umpc, the fujitsu p1510d and settled on the Q1P. Each was a good machine. the Q1P was the right machine FOR ME. That does not mean that it is the best of the three. It was the best FOR ME for my needs right now. FOR MY needs and workstyle the “bulky” Q1 with its screen size is a far better alternative than the OQO or Sony. The great thing about the market now is that after less than a year there are numerous choices that meet a variety of different needs.

Too many people seem to be looking for the holy grail of mobile devices without recognizing that my holy grail won’t be yours and yours won’t be mine. The point is, there will always be objective points of comparison. The PCmag blurb was entirely subjective with no achnowledgement there of.

Oh, and then there is the comment regarding the priceoint of the Q1 in comparison to the pricepoint of the OQO or Sony. Last I checked every flavor of the Q1 is significantly less that either the OQO or Sony.

Ben

Arg…my (I used Dynamism prices.) comment should have appeared at the end of the following paragraph.

Ben

It seems that Cisco Cheng has a general bias against UMPCs, and the Q1 in particular. In the current Feb 6th PC Mag printed edition in his Tablet PC buying guide he says, in the summing up (pg 48): “COULD BE BETTER: Avoid tablets such as the Samsung Q1 that don’t have a built-in keyboard. Also, the Q1’s 900-MHz Celeron M353 processor doesn’t have enough juice to run all the latest applications.”

Plus his anti-Q1 view also appears on pg 20, in an article which is basically dissing Wired Mag’s staff reviews of 300 products. The Wired Q1 review was relatively positive, giving a mark of 6 out of 10 “A solid product with some issues”. CC’s comment in response was: “Are you serious? The Q1 has no keyboard or optical drive; it’s processor is slow and its RAM non-upgradeable. In fact, I listed it in our Buying Guide as a product to avoid.”

Yet CC gives the Q1 2.5 out of 5, which (scaled up to 5 out of 10) is not much different from the Wired mark, so I don’t really understand why he is expressing such outrage at their opinion. To me, Wired’s review seems much more measured and appropriate than his. (I used Dynamism prices.)

Finally, his comments on price are equally ill informed. He says Samsung should take pointers from the likes of Sony and OQO on price, and yet if you look at the Sony UX, it is $2500 for the 32GB SSD version (1/4 more than the SSD Q1), and the cheapest OQO 02 is $1300 (non-SSD), which is still $200 more than $1099 non-SSD Q1 that he quotes.

Anyway, I am not huge fan of UMPCs or the Q1 myself, but I am also not a huge fan of closed minds and shoddy journalism.

Ben

Ctitanic

I was a subscribed of PC Magazine years ago and I canceled my subscription after they published an article about the hp 4700 Pocket PC where I could not find anything right from top to bottom. On top of that, from the total weight of that magazine 60% was junk in form of advertisements in all formats that you could think of. I have to admit that they have good articles about PCs but when they have to talk about any other type of devices such as Tablet PCs and now UMPCs, you better skip that page, you wont miss anything and if you read it probably you will end all misinformed. And this is the case of Cisco Cheng, a person that does not own a UMPC and probably have been assigned with the task to write about them…

Bravo, Kevin, you have said what should have been said to PC Magazine a long time ago.

Dean

Kevin, You could attribute thoses sentiments to any device that as a less than glowing review. An example of this is previous podacsts JK. thought that the OQO could not be used all day and never used as a primary device (even though he always states that the device must meen the individual needs). I would present the same arguement that some peoiple who review the oqo, “just dont get it,” and further more add to the already misunderstood market.

Oliver

A couple comments:

1. if you read the actual article, you’ll find that he makes the “bulky slate” article in the context of pocketability (or lack thereof) and compares the Samsung to the OQO2. I haven’t seen the new OQO2, but based on my recollection the Samsung Q1 devices are huge in comparison to the OQO1, and certainly wouldn’t fit into any of my pockets.

2. Mel, I’d hardly call this a review. It’s clearly a short blurb based on playing with the unit at CES.

3. Yes, the article has some obvious mistakes. Worth an “open letter”? I dunno. Why not just send the author an email with corrections and see if the mistakes get fixed?

Mel Buckpitt

This is a poor review.

He has repeated his comments from the original Q1 review, no keyboard blah blah.

He has made reference to his own tests concerning SSD data rates without giving us clue to what these tests were. I assume from the article that it was a hands-on demo at Samsungs CES booth. Hardly a place where quantitive tests can be accurately carried out for a future article in a responsible organ like PC Mag.

He claims that the Q1 SSD only reduces boot-up times by 10 seconds. I thought JK’s tests showed a significant reduction. Again what is he comparing?

Rant over

Patrick Perez

I saw that article when it was published, and dismissed it as another piece by someone who doesn’t ‘get’ (for want of a better term) the UMPC concept. Citing a lack of keyboard is a bit like complaining the Lotus Elise doesn’t have a fixed top. Of course it doesn’t, it’s a roadster!

I have the Q1P, and also own the folio case/keyboard. But I am more likely than not apt to leave the folio keyboard at home. And when I have heavy PC needs, I also have a Core 2 Duo HP TC4400 (T7200 CPU, no waiting!) But since getting the Q1, the HP seems like a lead sled. Who wants to carry 4+ pounds? Yes, the Q1 could be improved, but I think Samsung made excellent compromises when developing it. I look forward to follow on generations of UMPCs.

Now if I could just get Vista loaded on it…

Scotty

Just because it’s the thinnest UMPC doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be better if it were thinner.

And that you are on your second Samsung UMPC in less than a year definitely makes you a fanboy. ;-)

Ayrkain

Go Kevin! Tablets and UMPC’s are much maligned by the “technorati” but there has to be someone out there defending the platform.

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