Its like the school playground here at UMPCportal right now because we’ve adopted Italy-based Alberto as our new friend simply because he’s got a Benq S6. Yes, we’re shallow and fickle but hey, you’ve get to get the best info somehow right? Italians dont come cheap though. as we had to send designer sunglasses and promise to buy Fiat cars for the next ten years to get the report below. Make yourself an Espresso, sit back, enjoy it and feel free to ask questions in the comments or participate in the long-term thread in the forum.
Benq MID review by Alberto, AKA TDFS.
BenQ MID S6 was launched in Italy on 28th September and we could not wait a minute more to test and review it. This is first 3G MID to reach the consumer market and at the moment is sold at 429€ that incude the MID S6, a TIM (Italian provider) SIM 128k, 10 hours of 3G internet and 5€ preloaded.
The package includes the MID S6 with 1 stylus pen, AC charger, 1 extra stylus, soft case, stereo earphones with microphone, mini usb to standard usb cable and a lace.
From the outside
The S6 has ports on right and left side. MicroSD slot and headphones on the right, AC power and mini usb on the left. All controls are aside the screen: on the right there’s a button to activate the G-sensor and the speaker. On the left there are home button, that shows the home screen, and keyboard button, to toggle onscreen keyboard on and off. On the left there’s also an amazing scrollpad
that lights with blue leds under your finger. As last, on top of the device there’s power on/off switch. The screen is 4.8″ wide and it’s really bright and clean. On the back side there’re battery slot (with
sim) and stylus pen.
The BenQ MID S6 looks nice and clean and, as expected, it’s just a mobile internet device without anything added that means, no camera or webcam nor gps. It’s also important to notice there’s no hardware keyboard but the onscreen keyboard works well.
The boot process takes 38s that sounds good for a device like this. The S6 also has a lock mode that suspends the device and it takes 10s to wake up. The user interface is really nice and smooth but don’t expect this to be a fast computer, even if, of course, waiting times in loading app
and similar are reasonable. Applications can be run in fullscreen or keeping the home page main links on the screen.
Finally a true internet experience! The S6 comes with a modified version of Firefox that is quite fast to load pages even if with https or with ajax. Firefox has built in Macromedia Flash player 9 out of
the box and works quite well so also websites like YouTube looking good!
The only negative thing about Firefox is that it seems not to let me add self signed certificates. I click on “add exception” but nothing happens. I need some more time to investigate it. S6 comes also with a mail client, an RSS aggregator which is really useful, and Pidgin, a multiprotocol install messenger.
The S6 comes with some preloaded software: address book, office suite for documents, spreadsheets and presentations, media player for photos, audio and video, a backup utility, BlueSoleil Bluetooth
software, calendar organizer, e-book and pdf reader, file manager, sim manager, Mah-Jong game and usb client to let the mid being used as mass storage when attached to a pc.
The office suite works really well, better then expected to be honest. Also PDF and e-book reader look nice! The file manager is easy to use, intuitive, with copy/cut and paste and file transfer from usb mass storage or from MicroSD cards are fast!
Also the media player looks great, especially for photos! I had some problems with some mpeg videos that the manual says to be supported (this will need some more investigation).
Backup and Bluetooth utility have to be really useful but I’ve still not tested them.
The S6 has also an “Install” utility that checks online for new software to install but at the moment there are not. This is a little bit frustrating because it seems to be a kind of way to lock the
possibility to install arbitrary software. This is annoying, considering the huge amount of software that linux can run.
S6 lets you connect to internet using WiFi networks or 2/3G with HSPA at 7.2Mbps. The utility to manage WiFi connections works well, you can set profiles in order to save network settings of all networks you
know or to list all available access points.
I can’t give a definitive opinion about this device, since it would need much more time to analyse it in depth, but I can say I’m happy! If you need just a real internet experience on the go, anywhere,
anytime, and common office utilities, then this mid is for you! At first I was scared when I noticed that there’s no way to add arbitrary software (especially because I like freedom on my computer)
but much probably this will be easily fixed by a software update. I noticed that there are no other software protections or DRM-like systems to prevent the user to install extra software so I guess they
just “forget” about this.
At the moment this MID is not ideal as portable media player, at least for video playback, but I’m sure all these things will be fixed. I’m happy with this device even if I expected a more mature and open
approach. It’s good a device with great potentiality.
When the Nokia N800 was released nearly two years ago, it was 400 Euros. The Benq is offering much more power and 3G connectivity for a similar price which is great progress but like the N800 ,it appears that the Benq needs to mature before it performs as well as it could. Unfortunately, it looks like Benq is also trying to assert a certain amount of control on the platform by offering a wall-garden software upgrade path which, in these days of successful applications stores, is a big mistake in my opinion. 3rd-party developers won’t get behind the platform which means changes wont feed upstream into Moblin where they can be utilised by other MID manufaturers.
Where’s the Video playback quality? This needs to be working and needs to be high quality if people are going to want to buy this. We’re working with Alberto to try and find out exactly what’s working and what isn’t but obviously, out of the box, this is no high-end PMP. The hardware is capable of much more and Fluendo and Real codecs should be available so one would hope that this will get fixed ASAP. As a platform, the Benq S6 sounds exciting but it looks like it is where the Nokia N800 was a few years ago when it was only attractive to Linux developers. If Benq and Intel want this device to gain quick consumer acceptance they need to address the video issue straight away because without a keyboard, they can’t sell this one on the strenghts of Internet browsing alone.
The Benq S6 is currently only available in Italy but Pocketables reports on a global BenQS6 product page that indicates wider availability is panned soo.
COming next week on the Benq S6. More about the video performance and a video presentation. Thanks Alberto for all your help.