Smart Q7 Review. A Touch of Web, Kindle and Crunch

Posted on 27 May 2009 by

Other features:

  • 1mbps Divx playback. (The platform looks like it could do better. Maybe someone can work out some optimisations for the mplayer-based video software) (H.264 and WMV work but only at very very low bitrates)
  • net radio streaming. (Shoutcast links open up the audio player)
  • MP3 playback via one of two applications. (or command line for even more efficiency)
  • SD card reader (SDHC capable, 4GB tested)
  • Abiword document editor
  • Instant messenger software
  • Very long instant-on standby time (about 3 days without use)
  • Dictionary (StarDict)
  • OpenSSH is easy to install via apt-get
  • Built-in terminal is called evilvte

Issues:

  • No print features installed by default
  • No SMB or NFS cleint features installed by default
  • No uPNP features installed by default
  • Touchscreen sometimes responds incorrectly (false positioning of pointer)
  • Limited RAM (128MB)
  • Limited flash storage (SD card helps to solve this problem.)

Here’s a new video of the Q7 showing the main applications in use. I’m particularly impressed with the browser which is very accurate in terms of page layout and advanced html and javascript support.

Other videos available:

Unboxing

Q7 as Ereader (part of the live UStream testing session)

Overall the Q7 is a well-built, efficient (i’m thinking of doing a new solar project with it) and value for money device. It’s not a ultra mobile PC and will disappoint anyone wanting the full-fat, flash-enabled, sub-10-second-per page web experience but it will interest ebook fans, sofa surfers, travellers (with a folding USB keyboard), people looking for an emergency computing device, people looking for a cheap project device, a synergy companion, a kitchen recipe book, an off-line Wikipedia and anything else you can dream up.

Even if the Q7 doesn’t meet your requirement though, it’s a great benchmark for things to come. It’s only about $50 in parts costs and 12 months away from being a much more powerful device. Replace the CPU platform with a next-gen version that includes video decoding add GPS hardware and think about the progress of Ubuntu ARM, Android, Maemo and Adobe flash for the ARM platform. If nothing else, the Q7 proves that a sub $300 tablet or webbook with near-desktop qualities is well within grasp and it won’t have to be running Intel architecture if it’s aiming at the consumer sector. Of course it could be running Intel architechture. Moorestown and Moblin puts Intel head-to-head with ARM’s partners here but there will be no excuse for anything over $350 from either side…unless it’s an Apple iPod Tablet!

Where to buy the Q7 We bought our Q7 from Eletroworld for $189 + shipping + paypal costs. Total: $240. The website looks strange but after emailing them we got a quick response with quote and paypal account details. We’ve also heard that others have ordered successfuly through this channel. Note that in some countries you will be charged import taxes.

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  • Steve ‘Chippy’ Paine

    Found: Review: Smart Q7 http://twurl.nl/hdbbqn

  • ColdSun

    Fantastic review. Thanks Chippy!

  • RT @chippy: Found: Review: Smart Q7 http://twurl.nl/hdbbqn.

  • Gibbo

    Yes, I agree great review,now where is the karma button…. ;)

  • @arrington Some thoughts on consumer web pads. Might be interesting for #crunchpad team http://bit.ly/PrxFn

  • TuxMeister

    Thanks a lot for this, Chippy. Brillian roundup!

  • celtica96

    Excellent review, Chippy.

    One small correction. When you wrote on page 2: “Google reader to go through feeds and good docs to view and edit all sorts of things.”, did you mean “Google docs” instead of “good docs”?

    The folks at smartdevices.com.cn and electroworld.cn should be very pleased with all the time you’ve put in with the Q7. Your hard work is selling a lot of them. I would never have placed my order otherwise.

    Thank you!

    • Thanks. As always, much of my proof reading process relies on readers ;-)

  • Gio

    Hi guys!! This is the first time I post here. I check your site every day and download the podcasts. I also refer your web site to everyone who ask me about Netbooks, MIDs or UMPCs and let me tell you that you are doing a very good job.
    Thank’s Gio

    • Its always great to hear from a first-time-poster. Welcome. Hope to hear more from you. How do you like the Q7?

      • Gio

        I think for the price you can’t get better this days, taking in consideration that most of PMP (no WIFI-browser) with that screen size cost more and get less functionality.

      • Portable, quality browsing has never been so cheap, I agree.

  • If only they have used transreflective screen for outdoor use.. What the point in keeping portable device at home?

  • wonky73

    Hey Chippy.. the pictures on page 2 aren’t showing up for me. The code looks a little wonky.

    • Thanks Wonky73. Now fixed.

  • luc

    Hello, I was waiting for this review:-).
    My only question is if this baby can boot from usb, and if it can you could install ubuntu 9.04 wich was released by canonical and can be downloaded here http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ports/releases/jaunty/release/ (you need the babage board version).
    Also as a suggestion, if you want flash you can install swfdec, it should be in the the mojo.handhelds.org repositories: deb http://repository.handhelds.org/hasty-armv5el/ hasty main universe multiverse.

    • TuxMeister

      Hey luc, thanks a lot for the repository link! I’m also interested in the USB booting option, would be great to be able to update the device’s OS as I heard the version it comes with is about a year old. I’ve also heard Win7 might be coming up with some ARM support for MID’s so that would be extremely cool (though not sure up to what extent would the Q7 hand such an OS).

      Thanks again Chippy for the review.

      • Hi Luc, TuxMeister.

        It boots from SD apparently. I might try Ubuntu 9.04 as currently it’s running a port of 8.04 I think.

        Thanks

  • Chippy, the link at “Continued on page 3…” doesn’t work right. It’s pointing to this page.

    • again, thanks readers for your eagle eyes. It’s been a busy busy day trying to prepare for Computex.

  • Nice review!

    I believe that this device has some more potential, the SoC isn´t supported perfectly yet in Linux and I believe that a software specifically compiled for the instruction sets of the SoC could make it faster. Of course we shouldn´t forget the ‘dirty’ tricks the Linux smartphone world users use (fast SDHC with swap space..).

    I hope that these devices will be sold often enough (Smart Q5 and Q7) to grow a community with alternative distributions (Mer, Android and something like the original stuff, but improved (think of gnash/SWFdec for flash, and a better virtual keyboard that´s easier to call up (e.g. key triggered) and use)), using a soft synth like PDa on this device could let you have lots of fun and and and…

    Chears,
    Peter

    • I definitely think there’s room for improvement in terms of performance. The question is should people put effort into ARMv6 distros or effort into something like Maemo 5 on ARMV7 so that the next-gen tablets have an even better OS?

      S.

  • vlad

    Is Nokia 800/810 faster wih video playback?

    • I would say at this stage, yes. The Nokia provides a smoother Divx experience.
      The Q7 is more capable though so if someone optimises Mer/Android/Ubuntu, this should be better. I wouldn’t consider this a PMP at this stage though.

  • Smart Q7 Review. A Touch of Web, Kindle and Crunch | UMPCPortal … http://bit.ly/k2QDr

  • Mike

    Hi,

    well the OS is really not the most mature I have seen. In other words it is crap compared to maemo. However that was somehow to be expected. I personally don’t think the browser (you can install on ubuntu as well) is yet ready for productional use.

    What I really would like to see is Mer (http://wiki.maemo.org/Mer) on it.
    Check it’s current release out on http://wiki.maemo.org/Mer/Releases/0.13

    I however don’t know how much proprietary drivers and stuff is in there one would need to make it run Mer or Maemo Fremantle for that matter, but it would surely be a nice experiment.

    Chippy – do you think you could do it?

  • Smart Q7 Review. A Touch of Web, Kindle and Crunch | UMPCPortal …: From my experience with various consumer de.. http://cli.gs/T7AuP3

  • Smart Q7 Review. A Touch of Web, Kindle and Crunch | UMPCPortal …: From my experience with various consumer de.. http://bit.ly/b0kgm

  • Smart Q7 Review. A Touch of Web, Kindle and Crunch (Chippy/UMPCPortal) http://bit.ly/KQl4f

  • Smart Q7 Review. A Touch of Web, Kindle and Crunch – http://tinyurl.com/pbvk67

  • Steve

    Nothing mind-shattering to add; just “Great review, Chippy.”
    Thanks.

  • Stanul

    Great review Chippy,
    Have you tried to install the FireFox Flash addon?
    I hope this maybe a solution for running Flash….

    Thanks.

  • Kola

    Thanks for review, Chippy. What do you think can ARM-platform really attempt on netbooks and small desktops sector?

  • serwei

    Reason why I’m keen on this is because I can read some Chinese, and there are happy hackers. I’m also looking for a Kindle killer, esp since I can’t buy from Amazon (not from USA).

    At $200, this can be the teaching aid for reading, writing, vs a laptop wannabe that lets your kid get distracted ;p Was thinking of using it to read score sheets too.

    The guys talk about Mer 0.13 working on it (with happy Mer devs).

    the OS is on the “arm-linux” branch, so not X86 compatible, but arm-linux is/was spearheaded by Maemo :) :)

    And also the CPU specs says h264, VC1 support for > 30fps on SD content. Just that the SmartQ people did not give optimised drivers, not sure why. (eg IntelGMA on Ubuntu)

  • Smart Q7 Review. A Touch of Web, Kindle and Crunch | UMPCPortal … http://bit.ly/k2QDr

  • NobbyNobbs

    Thanks for the review. I`m really thinking about getting one.

    One question though:
    “The lack of built-in Bluetooth isn’t a problem”
    But the device is listed as having BT 2.0? Without bluetooth (as means of connecting to a mobile phone) this device wouldn`t make sense.

    • There is a mini BT USB dongle included. I’ve tested it with a Nokia phone for internet access ok.

  • Zavandor

    Pay attention!
    I have ordered one unit one week ago from electoworld and they have not shipped it yet. Do other people have ordered and succesfully received it?

    • Do you have tracking info?

    • I checked on stock status with Electro world. It seems we generated quite some business for them. They are ‘stepping up’ the delivery process.

      • Zavandor

        I have no tracking yet. I have mailed them:
        – two days ago they said that it would be shipped yesterday, but I didn’t receive the tracking info
        – yesterday night I’ve written them again and today they answered that yesterday was a busy day and it will be shipped today

        I’ve my fingers crossed.

        • Zavandor

          I’ve received my tracking info. I’ll keep you informed as soon as it will arrive.

  • Andhika

    This device would be great if combined (and also supported) by Hantech Siso Tablo… will create a perfect e-paper like gadget… :)

  • corticalsam

    And again a brilliant review Chippy. Thanks.
    Anyone received his/her device from electworld? I was going to order one. Then what Zavandor said made me stop. Please give me name of some reliable source/shop.
    Thanks

  • Stanul

    CorticalSam:
    Yesterday I have e-mailed the guys and received answer in 15 mins.
    They said will take them 7 days from payment to postage + 5 days transit to Australia.
    They seemed OK….
    By the way, they accept now PayPal as well….
    Good Luck!

    • corticalsam

      Thanks for the reply. It’s okay. Will contact them and order one this week.

  • Stanul

    Chippy,
    Did you have the chanse to try the Flash Addon?
    Thank you.

  • Stanul

    Chippy,
    Another question.
    Is it possible to use the normal Ubuntu repository to install new software, or you have to jump thru hoops to make it happen?
    Thank you.

  • UMPC portal’s Chippy write a long review for SmartQ 7 http://tinyurl.com/pbvk67

  • @TechCrunch, are you listening? We want a #CrunchPad!>> Smart Q7 Review. A Touch of Web, Kindle and Crunch http://ow.ly/9Upl

  • Zavandor

    I have received a tracking code two days ago, but on the site it gives me always the same result:

    No information for this tracking

    I’m starting to worry. I suggest everyone to not order from them, I’ll post here again when (if) I’ll receive the unit.

    • ColdSun

      I heard that this whole week until Saturday is a Chinese holiday, and the tracking won’t start to show until Monday if you received a tracking number this week.

      I’m having the same result for my tracking number.

      • Zavandor

        Today something changed:

        Your item was collected(SANSHUI) at 2009-05-30 14:11:00

        • Ray

          Did you recieve the unit? Also, how long did it take for you to get tracking info. I made a payment (western union) three days ago and I havent heard a thing from electrworld

    • brian f

      If it makes you feel any better I have ordered from these guys on several occasions and never been burned.

      Good Luck

  • laforge

    I’ve found my way to your site by following your experiences with the smartq7 unit, cheers for the detailed review! All I want is something simple and inexpensive that can sit on the coffee table and be reached for when I’m looking for a little extra information on something i saw on the news, the sports broadcast etc etc…just a little casual browsing and maybe some ssh into the box that streams media to my tv. The price makes this thing hard to ignore.

  • datadog

    Hello Chippy,

    I see you have tested fbreader and mobipocket reader. Could you please test ubook reading software on the Q7. Not sure if there is a linux port for it but you should be able to remote into a windows box that runs it.

  • Babak

    Hi,Chippy:
    Thank you very much for your excellent review and superb website.
    please let me know your point of view about handwriting recognition on SmartQ 7?

  • Hello Chippy,

    Which instant messaging software does this come with?

    Thanks

  • brian f

    I live in China and purchased the Q7 to use in sales presentations, I save my PPT’s as PDF’s and then use the ‘page down’ button on the Q to advance the PDF pages. It looks cool and adds to the presentation. I like it because I am selling an online product and this gives my clients the feel that they are online and I do not have to go through the laptop-projector-ethernet cable route to presentation hell and client dis-engagement.

    I like the little thing and I am going to pick up a keyboard at a local market and use it at home. FYI they are running Android on them on the EletroWorld site but I think I will leave it be for now.

    My only gripe is the onscreen keyboard, it is underwhelming and I would like another one. I would also like a pony but for $189.00 I will get neither.

    I look forward to using as a book reader and am glad for the suggestion.

    Great review – great site.

    Brian

    • Gemmer

      Looking into this device to tide me over untill fast color E paper becomes readily available (I use allot of PDFs).

      I found your post (brian) informative. Also thanks for the review chippy.

  • harry

    相比q7,我更喜爱q5.

  • Ray

    Can anyone confirm receipt of the Q7 delivery? I see orders were placed bot no comments on actually receiving it. If so, any feedback would be appreciated

  • Gibbo

    Received my Q7 today and I love it couldn’t experiment with it for to long cos it only had 25% power and I need a universal converter :(.

    • Congratulations! Let us know how you get on. (An article in the forums might be best at this stage)

  • Zavandor

    I have received my unit from Eletroworld. It took “only” 5 days to clear italian custom :)

    • corticalsam

      Great. Congratulations! Thanks for the update. I personally appreciate it that you spent the time to send it and let us feel better and order the device.

  • BritAbroad

    Chippy,

    Thank you for this, I’m very close to buying one on the strength of your review alone.

    Two things that I hope you might be able to help me with; how easy is it to transfer and view .cbr/.cbz files on this and are there any issues with using it in conjunction with a MacBook, rather than a PC?

  • Smart Q7 Review: A Touch of Web, Kindle and #CrunchPad http://ow.ly/g3bg RT @thepadio

  • Smart Q7 Review: A Touch of Web, Kindle and #CrunchPad http://ow.ly/g3bg RT @thepadio

  • now craving over a china gadget, MUST HAVE IT !! :D http://bit.ly/ixJbt

  • What do you think of this? http://bit.ly/ixJbt
    is there a point to this in the age of smartphones?

  • NuNu

    …well. Could someone suggest me device based on Intel chip capable of running Google Earth with GooPs GPS tracker? Ability to capture live video using EXTERNAL USB video captre device will be a bonus. Tablets are OK, laptops are not welcome.

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