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!



Wanted to follow this up. I wasn’t looking for Kevin to convince me to buy a Q1, I was just interested in seeing why he chose it over the others available. I completely agree that my needs/wants may not match Kevin’s, but what I’ve noticed is that some other sites do their reviews without using the device in the real world.

I’ve also been following the “Flash” posts and videos so I have a pretty good idea why James likes his.


agree 100% with your point of view Kevin!
I have a powerful desktop machine at home and an hp laptop 14″; my problem is that I find the laptop not powerful enough for some applications and games, but it’s not too mobile for a lot of my other “mobile” needs (reading ebooks, browsing on internet outside,…), so when I saw the Q1 first time, I knew it will be my fairy tale hero :) unfortunately, each time I show it to people around me, it’s almost the same reaction “ooo that’s too small, why you dont rather buy a real laptop”… so thank you for this article and long life to umpc !!



Thanks for the great write up. I guess my one question is, with your requirements, if you didnt have the Q1, what would you do Today? WOuld you pick something else thats out there, still buy the Q1 (maybe the pentium), or maybe wait (if you know of something on its way out)?


I started out intending to use the Q1 while running around town but still use my tc1100 at home. What’s really happened is the tc1100 sits in its dock large|y unused. I only use it now to play with Vista.

Kevin is right though, everyone is different which is why we never tell anyone to buy device A. We simply show you what we useand explain why so readers can make an informed decision. Then we do our best to show cool ways to use the technology.


I got to say that Kevin is right about “personal computing.” Ever since I got my Q1 I’ve been loving it. I bring it to practically where ever I go, from the bathroom to vacation trips. At the time the when I got my Q1 in June, it was the better choice of the UMPCs that was available. Sure a GPS, built in webcam, and a finger print reader would a great plus but it was more of an accessory than a must. I am a student and I love how i have all my notes and documents on one little machine as to having heavy binders and printout of notes and lecture material. It serves me great as my mp3 player and my portable video player. I love the ability to browse the web with easy and don’t have to carry heavy laptops like other people and trying to balance it while they surf. I can walk around and travel and view everything I want on my q1 with easy and a lil patience. =) But when the time came where I had to do text editing and programming and thing of that sort, I had no problem, just whip out my portable foldable keyboard, i prefer a usb one because it’s faster and I don’t have to remind myself to charge a bluetooth keyboard. I carry a tiny webcam with me too and i can use it whenever I need to. And when I get home I am back on my workstations and other more powerful computers. The q1 is a great companion, and it’s also a great attention grabber and a conversation starter too =P.

When I first got my Q1 the biggest issue I found was the battery life, it was not long enough, but once the extended battery came out, everything was much much better. I didn’t have to stay glued to the wall most of the time (like in class, I could sit in the middle of the rooms instead of off the side were the wall outlets are). I think that the biggest improvement that needs to be made is to beable to see the screen clearly in the bright sun. And I think it should have a built in glare reduce film on the screen. I would think that’s my biggest issue with portable computers now. Oh and the 9 cell extended battery that’s coming out would make each of my day more free. You will find that unless the UMPC can support a battery life over 5 hours, it’s not as useful as it can be. Oh and last but not least I have to say one of the biggest reason for getting a Q1 first and not wait for the Asus R2H was simply because I wanted it before school started and accessories would be more availble at a sooner time. For example the extended batteries and stuff.

Just as a side note, two things happened to my samsung q1 that was unfortunate and due to poor model design was the flimsy jog dial botton on the left hand side and the stylus. Stylus falls out very easily and it didn’t come with replacement. I lost my stylus so long ago. And the jog dial butten was flimsy and it fell out somewhere. It was easily popped off just by brushing across a notebook.

In any case I think that the q1 was a good choice for me and it’s been my best (digital) friend since we met.


For those of you who still have problem deciding on what to get, just follow what James and Kevin get. They may not pick up the perfect unit, but they will do all the research and experiments to make the best use of the gadget they got and you can free-ride on their hard work. :)

Tax Man

Amen, brutha! You may be preaching to the choir, but then don’t all preachers… preach to the choir? (hmm…) I love my new MacBook just because I love Macs and I love new computers, but I find tons of computing time for my Q1 because I really like the form factor and the freedom that it gives me (but then I used to have a Newton).

Kevin C. Tofel

Thanks Mike! It all depends on the task and context of what I need at the time. Since I post-produce one or two podcasts a week, I do those on my main desktop; same with video reviews. When I don’t want to be chained to my desk but would rather “compute” in a more relaxed setting, I sit in a recliner next to the fireplace and use the Q1. Heavy lifting, i.e.: hours of article writing are split 50/50 between the desktop and Q1, but quite honestly, I can use the Q1 with WiFi or EV-DO and my Bluetooth keyboard all day long. The only exception is for the audio/video exceptions mentioned and I don’t blame the device for that. I didn’t buy it for those tasks.



Yep – you answered it. I would’ve preferred more detail, but I guess that brief post will suffice :)

Michael Venini


Fantastic article! I have a question though.

Do you use you UMPC as your ‘Primary Device’ at home? Or would you say your desktop is you primary device?

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