There's no denying that the OQO model 01 is one of the coolest devices that I've ever got my paws on. When I looked at the Sony VAIO Type U a few months back I was inundated with emails from readers telling me about OQO and the model 01. Obviously I contacted OQO straight away and attempted to procure a review sample. Unfortunately I was informed that the model 01 was only available in the US, so the chances of a review sample were slim. However I did manage to arrange a meeting with OQO while I was at CES in January, which was a step in the right direction.
OQO was co-founded in 2000 by Jory Bell (CEO) and Jonathan Betts-LaCroix (CTO). Bell had previously worked in the Product Design arena at Apple Computer, as well as at IBM’s Almaden Research Centre. Bell also worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developing moored oceanographic instruments, while also receiving three degrees from MIT. Likewise, Betts-LaCroix also worked at IBM’s Almaden Research Centre where he invented portable computing solutions. Post IBM, Betts-LaCroix founded his own design-and-build consultancy, taking on clients such as IBM, Apple and Maxtor. Bell and Betts-LaCroix pooled their years of experience in the technology arena and set out to create a truly pocket size, fully functional PC – the result was the model 01.
At the most basic level the model 01 is an amazingly compact fully featured PC, in a very similar vein to the Sony Type U. However, there are some obvious advantages that the model 01 has over the Type U. Top of that list has to be size – the Type U was pretty close to pocket size, but the model 01 really is. I’ve been carrying the model 01 around with me for the past couple of weeks and it fits snugly into my back pocket.
The second major advantage that the model 01 has over the Type U is input method. Whereas the Type U relied on handwriting recognition or a soft keyboard, the model 01 has a full qwerty hardware keyboard complete with numeric keypad. The great thing about this keyboard is that the screen completely hides it when it’s not in use, so you can use the model 01 pretty much like a tablet PC if you prefer. The down side is that the keys are tiny, so you need to have very small and dexterous thumbs to really make the most of it. Since my hands are quite small I was able to type reasonably well on the model 01 – in fact I’m writing this review directly on the device right now while I’m flying home from Geneva. That said, it’s far from the most comfortable typing environment I’ve experienced, and my typing speed is but a fraction of what it would be on a notebook, but then a notebook wouldn’t fit in my pocket. And that pretty much sums up the model 01, it’s a mixture of pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, features and compromises.