Friday, July 1, 2005

The OQO Model 01: an amazingly tiny Windows XP handheld

PRODUCT REVIEW

By Jason Giacchino

It was foolish to even attempt to reveal a piece of hardware as unique as the OQO Model 01 in front of the unintentional audience of casual onlookers making up the mid-afternoon lunch crowd at my favorite coffee joint. Men dressed in suits cautiously lowered their Business sections to steal a peek, teenagers glanced at the unit then quickly looked away, employees stared blankly as they wiped down tables adjacent to mine.

I imagine most were certain that they were mistaken at first, this tiny piece of hardware wasn't really running Windows XP was it? I purposely laid the unit flat while taking a sip of my coffee in effort to ease their curiosity. The crisp display of familiar green pastures and blue clouded skies behind the desktop icons spoke their message as well as any words could have; indeed Windows XP, as shown in Figure A, this certainly was.

FIGURE A

The OQO is PDA-size hardware running desktop class software. (click for larger image)

The OQO is a piece of hardware that in many senses defies the current classification structure that is used to identify mobile computing systems. Technically, the unit actually falls into a sub-ultra portable notebook class as it is physically more compact than any ultra portable notebook on the market today.

It is marketed as an Ultra Personal Computer or uPC and is, in fact, only slightly larger than the average PDA, measuring in at 4.9 inches wide, 3.4 inches long, and 0.9 inches thick with a 5 inch transflective VGA (800 x 480 resolution) screen.

Weighing in at 14 ounces, however, keeps the unit from being confused with a true pocket PDA, although it does feel comfortable (albeit warm) in the hand. The slide up screen reveals a competent QWERTY thumb-board that indeed functions most effectively through thumb typing, although the layout is adequate for limited two hand, touch typing data entry once the unit is laid flat on a surface.