Last night I was faced with a rare situation, as my wife was meeting some friends for dinner and I had to eat alone. I decided to head over to the local Denny’s and have a quiet dinner, which would give me a chance to read a good e-book. I thought about it for a bit and decided to take a device with me that would not only provide a good reading experience but also let me go online if I wanted. It made sense to take a gadget that would take advantage of the free Wi-Fi in Denny’s should I so desire. I took a long look around Mobile Tech Manor and came up with the perfect solution, the Viliv S7 convertible netbook. Or maybe it’s a UMPC, I’m less sure what fits that category than ever before given the rash of slates, netbooks, etc. It turned out the loaner S7 was the perfect choice for this session, and here’s why.
By way of a refresher, the Viliv S7 is a 7-inch convertible netbook, with a swiveling touch screen that goes from a laptop configuration to a slate tablet. The device is very small and easy to carry, and while the keyboard is not adequate for touch typing, it is perfect for short online sessions with a minimal amount of expected typing. What makes the S7 so versatile is the dual configurations, a perfect fit for my expected needs for this trip to Denny’s.
I had no desire to take a “real” notebook with me, that was overkill and simply too big. I could have taken a smaller pure slate UMPC for the portability, but I wanted a better input scheme should I need it. The Viliv S7 combined the best of both worlds so that’s what I grabbed on the way out the door.
When I got to Denny’s I spun the screen around into slate configuration, and fired up the book reader. I have both Kindle for the PC and eReader Pro installed, so I was covered for handling content in either format. The 7-inch screen is an awesome display for reading e-books, as it can display a full page the equivalent of a paperback book. I simply tap the screen to turn the page, it couldn’t be easier. I ate my salad, a very nice one BTW, and read a good book with the slate sitting on the table in front of me. It was a wonderful experience, with a great leisurely pace to enjoy both the meal and the book.
Once the meal was done I decided to go on the web and catch up on things that happened during the day. I swiveled the screen around into laptop configuration and fired up the Google Chrome browser. I am finding Chrome to be the best browser on netbooks with the limited hardware they have; Chrome is just as fast as can be for handling multiple tabs. The 1024×600 screen was a joy to use in the browser, and it was nice having the keyboard for inputting key commands in the browser.
I also fired up TweetDeck to catch up with my Twitter friends, and switched back and forth between it and the browser. I caught up on my email for the day (inbox zero, in fact), and generally had a fun session on the web. The S7 was a joy to use and I was so glad I brought it to Denny’s.
The point of this is not to prove how good it is to have a big stable of gadgets to choose from. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but the point is to get folks thinking about intended usage scenarios when considering what device (or what type of device) might fit the bill. I’m confident a bigger device would not have been as enjoyable, in fact I probably wouldn’t have even carried a bigger slate with me. I didn’t want to be compromised in how I could use a gadget during my meal, and this 7-inch device was perfect. Easy to carry, easy to use.
Truth be told, I could have taken a smaller slate device, or even one of my smartphones would have worked. But the S7 made everything I did much easier, and more importantly more enjoyable. The bigger screen and real keyboard was nicer to use, and made all the difference in the world. The entire session was a real joy, and that’s priceless.
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):