I’m really impressed with the volume of the built-in speaker. It gets really loud! (I used to have to press my ear against my Vaio laptop.) It doesn’t really suffer from distortion at maximum levels either.
The sound is slightly off-balanced given the location of the speaker, but it isn’t a deal killer by any means.
The battery release button also seems to have speaker qualities, but I couldn’t isolate it properly to find out for sure.
The integrated FireWire and USB 2.0 ports are a nice touch.
I’m glad that OQO recognizes that not everyone has Bluetooth peripherals. Take me, for example. I have a Bluetooth keyboard, but the transmitter on my laser cordless mouse needs a USB port. This is a problem with my UX, which is equipped with only a single USB 2.0 port and memory stick slot. Whenever I want to plug in a thumb drive or my ZVM and I don’t have the port replicator with me, I need to use the UX’s pointing device, which is quite the awkward match with a Bluetooth keyboard.
Although I think the keyboard is user-friendly and relatively comfortable as is, I came across a few usage scenarios where the TrackStik would fare better on the side of the screen (like on the UX) than on the keyboard. For example, when watching a video or browsing text-heavy sites that require more scrolling than typing/clicking, I would rather hold the 01+ without the keyboard exposed. However, if I want to skip a chapter or hit the “stop” button, I need to either slide up the display to use the TrackStik or play a game of “guess the calibration” with the stylus. Granted, neither of these activities is difficult or time-consuming, but it’s usually a bunch of little things that add up to an unpleasant user experience. Moving the TrackStik would of course change the design of the 01+, so perhaps an easier “solution” would be a passive touch screen.
The thumbwheel addresses the TrackStik-location issue a bit; however, I just couldn’t get used to it. I like that it can be used in various ways (scrolling, launching/toggling between applications, adjusting volume, etc.), but it’s not very comfortable to use, particularly as a scrolling option.
Not only is it very slow, but its placement is not where my thumb naturally rests. The only time my thumb is correctly positioned is when the screen is rotated 90 degrees in a counterclockwise direction. I don’t think the thumbwheel’s optimal use should be when the 01+ is in portrait mode and its keyboard (one of its greatest attributes) is rendered useless. Having said that, though, I do like the idea of a scrollwheel. I’m unimpressed with OQO’s implementation of it, but its inclusion still scores a lot of points. (Oh, how I wish the UX had one!)
When it was released last year, the OQO 01+ was certainly at the top of its game, setting the bar very high for would-be competitors who have actually still been unable to produce a smaller handtop with a larger screen.
But by today’s standards and current mobile demands, the 01+ is showing its age and in obvious need of an update. Details about this update, presumably in the form of the 02 (or even 02+), are based on speculation at this point, so it’s better to look at the device for what it is now, not what it will likely be later.
While I enjoyed my time with the 01+, I am not sad to see it go. I would have likely purchased the unit when it was first released, but I would pass it by in the store today.
Irrelevant side note
By the way, I notice that the amount of time a reviewer gets to play with a device is only relevant to readers if the review is bad. If someone bashes a product after spending a handful of hours with it, fans and owners of said product are in an uproar. But if someone writes a glowing review after spending the same amount of time with it, fans and owners couldn’t be more approving of a writer who actually "gets it."
I mention this because the 01+ is the first gadget I’ve ever received to demo, and I’ve just been thinking about how comprehensive a review can be when working within a limited timeframe…
This article is part of the Quick Takes series. Quick Takes are based on short-term usage of various gadgets provided by Dynamism, the best place to find next-generation notebooks and consumer electronics from Japan and around the world.