Yesterday’s post about another happy Q1 owner unintentionally solicited comments from many other happy Q1 owners, which I love to see. Now that I’ve had the device for five weeks and have relatively sung the praises, I have to do the fair thing and list the few things I don’t like. All in all, I’m thrilled with the purchase or I wouldn’t have switched away from my Toshiba M205 Tablet PC. Like everything, however, there’s two sides to every story so here’s my list for your prospective Q1 buyers. Hopefully, Samsung will take note of this feedback, as well as feedback from others, and make the next gen Q1 (the Q2?) even better! Eat your heart out David Letterman…here’s my "Top 10 List".
1. Resuming from Standby turns the WiFi radio back on. This is by default and when I don’t need the WiFi radio on, I use the Samsung touchscreen option to turn it off and save a little power. If I turn the radio off, enter Standby and then resume from Standby, the WiFi radio is turned back on. This adds extra steps to go back and turn it off, which is a time waster. Buried in the BIOS is an option to leave the WiFi as it was when resuming from Standby. I didn’t see any mention of this in the user manual and if this is truly a consumer and companion device, I’d like to see this option mentioned in a future user manual OR find a way to control it within the OS.
2. Resuming from Standby turns the brightness up or down based on the status of the AC adapter. See number one above; same issue but you can address this in the BIOS. Again, not in the user manual.
3. No docking potential. A docking interface would be a killer feature on the Q1 but there’s no port or interface to do this. After taking Sammy apart, I realize it would be tight to add another port, but I’d consider dropping the relatively large CF slot to make room. Which brings me to number four.
4. Choice of slots. At this point, there’s really little use for a CF slot, but that’s what the Q1 has. A PCMCIA slot would be great, but that would be too large and at this point, I see that slot going away soon in lieu of ExpressCard and other options. If the purpose of the slot is for memory and quick file storage and transfer, an SD or even mini-SD slot would be the better choice.
5. Memory capacity. Samsung still doesn’t appear to directly offer the Q1 with the maximum 1 GB of RAM. Yes, you can do this yourself, but that does raise other potential issues. My hope is that Samsung begins to soon offer Q1’s with 1GB of RAM and also addresses the upgrade process in their user manual.
6. The Analog stick is not effective. Right off the bat, it’s designed like a short, squatty mushroom. It also behaves like an old Atari 2600 joystick. If you want to use it as a mouse pointer, you have to hold down the Menu hardware button on the opposite side of the screen and even when you do, it moves in jumps of 10 to 20 pixels or so. I’ve found one and one use for it personally: navigating through the BIOS without a keyboard; otherwise, I rarely use it because for Windows XP it has to be perfectly aligned to one of the 8 directions for it to be recognized. There’s little room for error when using it, so I just don’t.
7. Screen resolution thoughts. James and the readers have some very interesting thoughts on screen res for handhelds and while I can easily deal with 800 x 480, I’d love to see the Q1 (and all other UMPCs) up their native res to 800 x 600 at a minimum. This would help with many of the dialog boxes that just a mite too big to use without changing resolutions or panning. The 800 x 480 obviously isn’t a dealbreaker for me; I use that mode roughly 95% of my 8-10 hour day with the Q1. However, we can’t go back and ask the development world (and Microsoft themselves) to recode apps for the small screen.
8. Screen rotation is not stable. I found this out the hard way within a day of using the Q1. The Intel drivers control the screen rotation and it appears that after every Microsoft Update and at other random times, the rotation ceases to work. You can reinstall the drivers to fix this or you can use the great third party app created to control rotation. I opted for the application which I now keep a shortcut for in my QuickLaunch toolbar on the Q1. Samsung is the only current UMPC manufacturer to offer the rotation feature, but it’s only good if it works.
9. Keyboard. No, I don’t lament the fact that the Q1 doesn’t have one because I’ve added a Bluetooth keyboard for the times I need one. I’m talking about the USB keyboard that Samsung offers. I don’t have it and I can tell you I never will. Why? The cord is less than a foot long which doesn’t give me much flexibility. I’d like to see two things come from this. First, I’d like to see Samsung offer a Bluetooth keyboard, even if they work with Think Outside to re-badge their great keyboard. Second, the USB keyboard should have a retractable cable piece between the USB port and the keyboard, which would allow for more usage scenarios.
10. Last and perhaps most important to me: the stylus. As a slate Tablet PC, there’s a presumption that you’ll be using the stylus quite a bit. The Q1 stylus fits nicely within the unit, but it’s way too small for my taste. I say this as someone who is relatively short and has smaller hands. If it’s too small for me, it’s too small for most people. To give a comparison: the Q1 stylus is nearly the same size and thickness as the stylus for my XV6700 Smartphone! Samsung has to provide a better option here going forward because I find myself using an old Tablet PC stylus for my input.
Even though I was able to come up with ten real issues for the Samsung Q1, that doesn’t take away from my everyday positive experiences. I’ve likely written the most posts as a Samsung Q1 owner than most (if not all) people and I thought it fair to provide the other side of the coin. Do I still recommend the device? Absolutely if it’s the right tool for your needs. It’s still my primary mobile device and I use it every single day, aside from the issues above. I even used it as my primary computing device when I had a DSL outage at my home office. While it has these ten issues above (and others), it still meets my needs. Hope this helps!