Handheld device quest- a followup


My post yesterday that covered my quest for a handheld PC generated a lot of great commentary.  One thing that is very clear is how passionate mobile PC owners are about their gear of choice.  Based on some of the comments I feel it’s a good idea to clarify my thought process a little bit, and fill in how I currently use my mobile devices.

First of all, I am not looking to replace any of my current gear.  The Lenovo ThinkPad x61 is my main workhorse and I carry it with me when I am going to Big Oil Company for extended periods.  It is a great laptop in addition to the Tablet functionality and there is nothing better when I’m working at a desk and banging out endless long reports.  I carry it into meetings too and ink reams of notes about the various projects I manage and the search function is my main productivity booster.  Searching my ink is a must and the x61 is the best all-around Tablet PC I’ve used to date.

I don’t want to replace the Fujitsu P1610 either.  When I only have one or two meetings scheduled on a given day or I just want to run out to a coffee shop and work I grab the Fuji.  The combination of the small size and weight coupled with the functionality of the Vista Tablet PC bits are unbeatable in this scenario.  Grab and go comes to mind when I think of the Fuji.  I also use the Fuji when I want to sit in the comfy Man Chair in front of the TV and work the web, it’s so good in that scenario.  I use both the Fuji and ThinkPad almost every day in different settings and I don’t want to replace them.

I have enjoyed the utility of having an ultra-portable PC as I described in the earlier post and that is the functionality I miss.  Even the Fujitsu P1610 is too big to take everywhere, especially if I’m heading into a situation where I might not use a PC at all.  It is easy to take a handheld (read very small) PC at those times because it takes almost no effort to do so.  It’s great to have along, though, when spare time crops up and I have a device with me to make the most of it.  I’m not looking to replace anything I currently use, rather to augment them.

Twohands_02overviewThe OQO Model 02 with integrated EV-DO is definitely looking good at this point.  The size is right for what I need, and even though the integrated keyboard is not important to me I can see the utility of having it there.  As an experiment I visited the OQO web site and configured the setup I would need to be productive.  Here is what I found after the jump:

Here’s the configuration I made at the OQO site:


This includes the 1.5 GHz processor (I won’t skimp in this area), 60 GB HDD, integrated Verizon EV-DO, Vista Business, 1 GB of memory, WiFi and Bluetooth.

I added the executive bundle which brings the dock with DVD burner, extra standard battery, case, etc.  I also added an extended battery which I must have on all mobile PCs I use.  I added an extra AC adapter, something I also always do with mobile PCs.  This configuration includes an extended 2 year warranty for $150, along with the digital pen which OQO doesn’t include standard but you must have to use the ink functions.

That’s it, and as you can see this configuration would set me back over $3,000 with shipping etc.  Wow, that’s a huge investment!  So right now I’m still sitting back and thinking this whole thing through again.



My OQO 02 fits fine in my front shirt pocket. I take it with me almost anywhere hands & carrybag free with no problem. I’m not going to jog with it and the clip case works fairly good for transport.

I thought I’d ink a lot but tend to fall back on its thumb keyboard which is amazing for its tactile feedback and ergo feel.

As far as price, yes $3k is a lot, but so is $700-$1,200 to me. It’s what I needed as a PC so that is what I had to spend if I wanted the 02.

As I’ve always said, to each their own. Everyone has a different idea of how they want to be PC mobile, OQO 02 is mine.

Yes it could use a higher res display, 2 gb RAM (don’t go cheap on CPU or RAM), SSD harddrive, but you have a long wait for OQO 03. Hard to say about them going with an Intel chip, it all factors down to size being #1, balancing power, battery life, & heat.

Mike Cane

Sorry, but 3K is just obscene.

Unless, you know, you can totally write it off tax-wise (hey, wait, that means *I* pay for it! gulp!).

And of course you know what happens after you buy it: something new gets announced!


@ Alan: adding RAM to the OQO is not possible with SODIMM; but rather BGA directly onto the mobo.


i don’t know where you guys live at but if i’m seen with a $3000 device on my belt im probably going to get jumped. thats why i use a raon digital vega that i got used for $700. i mean c’mon you could easily drop that $3000 device and we’ve seen how hugo ortega already went thru 3 oqo’s already.


I use a HP TC4400 convertable tablet (similar to the Lenovo). I have 2 regular batteries and an extended battery for it. I take that thing almost everywhere I go to be honest. If I go to a ball game, or the mall or something like that- I use a smartphone (xv6700). I can do pretty much anything I might need to do “quick and dirty” in the field. Beyond that I use a 4gig sansdisk titanium thumbdrive i have on my keychain. The cruzer U3 software on that is amazing- i can plug this into almost any pc and check my emails, surf the web with all my bookmarks- see my desktop, and have 2-3 gigs of my critical files with me.
I’ve thought about a OQO or the Sony UX series, but there is simply no possible way I would get $2,000 worth of use out of one. I guess if i gave up my tablet then it would make sense, but that will never happen!


Also, did you notice that the “better” config’s only difference was RAm and Vista? Personally I would get the better config and save the 150 bucks compared to the ‘best’ config. You could easily get a 1Gig SODIMM for much cheaper than that and I don’t think vista’s worth it either (in my opinion).


If you wanted to lower the price substantially I would take off the 499.99 Executive Pack – I doubt you would really use three batteries (it includes one plus you are paying for a double capacity battery), the dock is cool but chances are you won’t be burning dvds on a pocketable device, so all that’s left is the case, which I’m sure is less than 500.

Either that or keep the executive pack and ditch the double capacity battery – I personally think the executive pack would be better to ditch though. Also, the other two packs offer the double capacity battery right in the package.

Just my two cents.


I would not say that oqo is too big. There is usability factor you should remember also. Oqo is full windows machine. Just the fact that I can do everything I can do on my full size laptop gives me confidance. I dont think anything smaler or wit less functionality is going to work for me. I have used nokia n800 for a month or so, but it is only for internet or streeming musig from my basement to the kitchen when I was making breakfast:) Sony ux was not bad but the shape and screen rezolution made device to bulky and unusable. Samsung q1 I kept for 6 month or so, used it as a car computer to listen podcasts in the car because it was very convinient to sync iTunes via wifi from the dryway. But it was too big and without a keybord (I had external samsungs keyboard) it was not much use. Biger tablets are great, but as a laptop I liked the best my 12 powerbook, so I M waiting until october to buy macbook pro. So at the end oqo apears to work for me best.


Tgr – Everythings relative but in my opinion the oqo is not big. It easily fits in your pocket. And I dont think its heavy at all.

I agree with your comments on the battery though.

Re next year – there will hopefully be lots of new umpcs on Intels new platform. Personally I think oqo will have a tough jon differentiating itself next year with more competition around

Mitch Rusk

TGR, everything you just said is completely wrong. I carry my OQO 01+ in my Pocket, and I get over 3 hours of battery with wi-fi on and with the standard battery.


i dont know how you do it James, thats WAY to many PC environments to have to maintain. installing OS’s, customizing settings, drivers, services, programs, program settings, no thanks!

it sounds like you havent actually used the OQO for a prolonged period of time, because your impressions seem like many others. well unfortunately the OQO isnt near as portable as it might seem at 1st. it’s still to big, thick & way to heavy. it’s not even close to being in the same league as PDA’s yet. and it’s still not a device you can put in your pocket & forget about it. you will always be aware it’s there. and after awhile before you go somewhere you will still have to decide if it’s “worth it” or not. there is a thread at handtops that discusses this exact same subject, almost nobody there carries the OQO in their pocket & usually put it in a bag or a few others their belt.

hopefully with Menlow next year OQO 3 can finally get things right, Intel CPU (Aero support), 1024 x 600, DECENT battery life (its still awful, not even 2 hours on std).

Paul Schofield

Wow is the OQO really that small it will fit in a back pocket?


oqo in exacutive case is a nice device to carry in your hand. If this is too big – without the case it fits in the back pocket of my pants. It does not look any uglier then some wallets :) For casual carrying I have small bag fro H&M.

James Kendrick

Michael, The P1610 is too big to carry to those places one normally isn’t going to carry a PC, like kid’s baseball games, etc. The OQO really can be carried in the hand and can be carried to those places. Geeky as it sounds it can even be worn on the belt for true portability.

Michael Venini

I didn’t know the Lenovo was going back. I thought you were keeping it for good.

I do have another question. Everywhere you going to take the OQO, couldn’t you take the P1610D? I don’t believe the OQO can really go in your pocket. I know it can, but I would be really afraid with a $3000 device in my pocket. So you will still need a bag for the OQO.

Just wondering.


I use iMac at home lenovo laptop in the office and oqo on the go. Foldershare works fine to sync personal files, openvpn to login into my office server to get access to the files i need from the office computer. I just started to use ofline files and I have to say that wit vista it works nicely. Just to be sure that my importan files are save on oqo they are on truecrypt disk. My oqo does not have integrated wwan, but I am using verizon`s usb720. Most important thing – the size of the oqo lets me take it with me all the time. I have extra standard battery just in case and its also very slim and light.
I owned gateway m275, ibm x41, samsung q1 sony ux180 fujitsu d1510 – nothing comes close to oqo in mobility.

Mitch Rusk

Buy the OQO


James Kendrick

Michael, right now I have the Fujitsu P1610 which I gladly paid for. The ThinkPad was provided by Lenovo in exchange for feedback to them on what I like and disklike about the Tablet, something I’ve been doing regularly since receiving it. It will go back to them, however. The MacBook is my desktop replacement, something the Fuji is not powerful enough to do, especially given all the audio and video processing I do. You have to remember I run my business using this gear so it’s all critical to what I do.

Michael Venini


Do you really need a 4th > $2000 device? I mean, do you really use a Macbook Pro, x61, a P1610D and now a OQO? Do you really need all of those devices?

It’s your money, and your choice, of course. But come on, you can’t tell me, it’s worth having $8000 is tech gear?

If you were replacing the P1610, and the X61, I could see. But adding a 4th device?

I don’t mean to sound rude. I just don’t understand.

James Kendrick

Frank, unfortunately no. I have one line with the AirCard and another data plan (albeit cheap) for the BlackBerry. If I picked up a device with integrated EVDO I would have to add another plan unless I dropped the AirCard. I can justify it as I use all in my business.

Frank McPherson

I am curious because it seems you use multiple Verizon EVDO cards or integrated in devices, can you have multiple cards associated with the same Verizon EVDO account? That is very cool if true.


The OQO price is why I am seriously considering the Everun despite the poor graphics support.

DOS Rules

No way! Toss the ‘doze, tos ‘nix, get yourself a handheld DOS box! Try a PC3100 or a Poqet and run Nettamer with a modem. Monochrome rules! I’d suggest a handheld PDP8 running OS8 with a port of Lynx, but it might be kind of hard to source. No worrying about service packs since they don’t exist. There was an Intersil/Harris chip called the 6100 that emulated the PDP-8E…

James Kendrick

Jamie, you’re right, I think any PenEnabled pen would work and that includes my Cross pen. I could probably punt on the $29 OQO pen.

Jamie Poster

Hi JK, I’m also mulling over the OQO 02 at almost the same price. It’s hard to drop that kind of cash on something so small, but if I can (ahem justify) imagine a long list of realistic usage scenarios in my line of work (education), I will do it for sure. Honestly, if I will really _use_ it, then the purchase is worth it.

This is kind of a lame question, as it can only save us $29, but I was under the impression that any “penabled” pen will work, right? I bought an extra pen for my x61 (we have very similar taste in devices), and I was thinking about using it with the OQO 02. BUT, I have a kind of nerdy, geeky, need for the OEMs. Ahh, well, I’m glad to see that someone else is contemplating this purchase.

Build Your UMPC (never bought from them before) is selling an “exclusive” essential pack that might be of some use to you. http://www.buildyourumpc.com/category-s/192.htm

Good luck in the decision making process; let us know what you decide to do.

James Kendrick

Fernando, excellent question and one I meant to touch on in this post but forgot. I will be doing a more formal review in the future but I use the free Microsoft Foldershare to keep all my devices in sync. I make sure that all data I need to have access to no matter what device I’m using is in the Documents folder tree. I have a sync job set up on Foldershare to keep the Lenovo in sync with the Fujitsu. It works with no interaction from me and mere seconds after I create or modify a file (or bring the PC online) on one computer it is updated on the other. I then sync the Fujitsu with the MacBook Pro so it’s up to date too. Clean and simple.


Based on what I’ve read, the OQO really nails its niche. I tried it out at a local MicroCenter. I think it does everything I want a handheld PC to do. However, yeah, it really is a serious investment.


The one question I would ask you is how you would (or do already) keep the 2 (Lenovo and Fujitsu) or 3 (if you include the OQO) in sync so you have all of your files accessible to you at any given time. For instance, you are working in your coffee shop on the Fuji, but one of the files you need is back in the Lenovo (and viceversa). Are you using any workable solution for this? The OQO would add to this complexity unless you already have it worked out.

My selfish reason for asking: I am considering getting a 12 inch tablet myself (I already have the Fuji P1610). I find that the Fuji is a bit slow/sluggish with Vista, and I could also use some extra screen real estate. So, I am curious on a workable way to get all these machines synced (I remember there was some folder syncing software available, but am not sure if it is any good).


Indeed, a hefty price for the size and power… I’m not sure that I would be willing to drop that kind of money for a device that will not be my primary computer…

Of course there are some, like Hugo Ortega, who have made their OQO a primary machine (docking it while in the office etc., and so having a full size monitor, good keyboard, mouse and the rest).

My problem is that I use Mac OS as my primary computing system. So, I find that I use my Macbook for alomst everything, however, I always carry my UX180 in my bag (both as a backup device in case the Macbook should fail), but also to watch video’s etc. on a flight.

I will be teaching in Oxford in a few weeks and so will take only my UX with me (leaving my Macbook at home) for the first time… It will be a bit of a test to see if 1) I can cope with Windows, and 2) I can use such a small machine as a primary machine for a few weeks.

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