The big question is does it really make the OQO any easier to use? After all the tiny keyboard under the screen is quite usable once you get used to it and the trackpoint with its left and right buttons, which fall handily under your left thumb, works quite well too. Unfortunately the Tablet PC features don’t really add that much; in fact I found writing in the on-screen handwriting recognition pane more fiddly. It’s the small size of the screen that’s the problem. Although the resolution (800 x 480) is good enough to make most standard Windows jobs manageable – even web browsing isn’t too much of a pain – the small size (just 5in in diagonal) means there’s nothing to lean your hand against when writing notes, for instance, and you quickly run out of room on the handwriting recognition pane.
Fortunately, the other changes are much more effective upgrades. There’s nothing new about the heartbeat of the machine. All the horsepower is still provided by a 1GHz Transmeta Crusoe processor. Not the speediest CPU on the planet but a good choice where low power drain is a priority – I managed to get around three hours of use out of the removable lithium polymer battery. What is new is that the USB connection has been upgraded from a disappointing and sluggish 11Mbits/sec 1.1 to the much more zippy version 2.0, and the 20GB shock-protected hard disk has been upped to 30GB.
All of this makes the OQO even more versatile than before. The speedier USB interface now means it’s actually practical to use as interim storage for your digital pictures, while transferring large files such as PowerPoint presentations to and from the machine using a USB thumb drive is also more workable than before. And with that extra hard disk capacity you can really go to town downloading and installing all of the software you really love to use on your desktop machine.
And of course it still boasts all of the features that made it so attractive in the first place. At slightly larger than the average PDA it’s still the only truly pocketable machine to run full-blown Windows XP. It can still be used either PDA-style typing away with your thumbs or as a mobile replacement for your desktop PC – its ingenious docking cable, which crams Ethernet, FireWire, USB, VGA, 3.5mm headphone and power sockets into one knobbly length of flex, is a surprisingly elegant alternative to a proper docking cradle. And there’s still no other device this small that allows you to create and present PowerPoint slides, then display those slides in their full glory on a 1280 x 1024 resolution external monitor.
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