Is the WiBrain an OQO for those on a budget?

Wib4Ever since I left my I.T. career to write full time earlier this year, I’ve been paying much closer attention to my budget. I’m losing the budget battle, but I’ve gained a different perspective in terms of device pricing for the feature set. Case in point: the WiBrain UMPC I have on loan from Dynamism. I haven’t had much play-time with it yet since we have a new playmate in the house (no, not THAT kind of “playmate”, although that would have made for an interesting holiday gift!). I have noticed something interesting about the WiBrain however: it has an amazingly similar set of features when compared the low-end OQO Model 02, but it doesn’t have a similar price!

Let’s see what you get for $849 in the WiBrain, using Dynamism’s current price as a baseline:

  • VIA C7-M CPU running at 1.2 GHz
  • 4.8-inch WSVGA touchscreen (1024 x 600 resolution)
  • 60 GB hard drive
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • Integrated Bluetooth and WiFi
  • Webcam
  • Windows XP Home
  • Split QWERTY keypad

Oqo4Now let’s hit up the OQO site and look at the “good” model, which is the lowest end unit, priced at $1,299:

  • Same VIA C7-M CPU running at 1.2 GHz
  • 5-inch WVGA screen (800 x 480 resolution) with active digitizer
  • 40 GB hard drive
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • Integrated Bluetooth and WiFi, with an option for integrated EV-DO
  • Windows XP Home with the option of upgrading to XP Professional
  • Slideout QWERTY keypad

The feature-set is incredibly similar, yet the OQO is roughly 50% higher in price. You certainly can’t choose a device based on specifications alone of course, so I’m not suggesting that the WiBrain is a better choice than an OQO. There are definite intangibles and personal preferences to take into account here. For example, I suspect that the OQO keyboard solution is better than the one on the WiBrain. For folks wanting intergrated WWAN or a truly pocketable device, there’s only one choice here as well. Still, for folks on a budget, there is a compelling choice worth examining here.One thing I don’t understand is the use of an active digitizer on the lower end OQO units. For the component cost you get very little functionality here since the device comes with Windows XP Home or, for $100 extra, XP Professional. Without Vista or the XP Tablet Edition, this piece of the device isn’t worth the cost in my opinion. Yet another reason that adding a component for the sake of choice doesn’t make the device that much better to justify the cost.In any case, I thought this comparison had merit and once I get more time to use the WiBrain, I can offer some additional impressions on the device itself.


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