I’m still pretty annoyed at the battery life issue but its time to put my personal feelings to one side now and do some straight reporting on the full Kohjinsha SH6 experience. I’ve only had it for three days but I’ve spent enough time with it to have an opinion on most aspects of it by now.
Before I start, let me explain what the SH6 actually is. Its one of the worlds smallest notebook-format PCs built on the latest Intel ‘McCaslin’ ultra mobile PC platform. It comes with a 600Mhz processor, 512 or 1GB RAM (upgradeable to 2GB) the new 1024×600 LED-backlit screen from Samsung (touch sensitive), an SD and CF card slot, WiFI, Bluetooth, USB port, VGA-port and it weighs under 1KG. Its impressively small and quite well priced. After I had paid my import duty and costs, it came to a total of around 1000 Euro which, in comparison with other European prices, is only 100 Euro more than the ASUS R2H and a good 500 Euro cheaper than the cheapest Fujitsu P1610. I bought mine through Conics.net. A version designed for the EU and US market should be available very soon. Watch out for availability of this version from Dynamism in the US and PocketPC Solutions in Europe. Pricing for this localized version is not known yet.
From the outside it looks nicely shaped and finished. Because its in that notebook form factor, it appears familiar and yet so so small. Plastics and finishing is much better than the AMD-based SA1 and the small increase in size is not noticeable at all. I like the light grey bump strip that runs around the outside. I also like the neoprene case which works well with the included strap. Its a nice feature although definitely not one for the men!
Boot-up into Windows Vista Basic wasn’t as bad as I’ve seen with other versions of Vista on UMPC’s but certainly not as fast as with XP. The first thing that strikes you is the quality of the screen. Its quite amazing! Bright, rich and as sharp as a new pin. The actual pixel-size is similar to the Raon Digital Everun but the resolution of 1024×600 is so much more useable. Even outside in bright sun I was able to read the screen. Its not perfect in sunlight of course but its a lot better than any screen I’ve seen before. A total pleasure.
The SA1 had issues with its keyboard. The mechanism was sub-standard and error rates were very high. Not so with the SH6. Its really as good as it possibly could be. I can type at near perfect accuracy at near-normal typing rate. Around 85-95% of my normal typing peed which in comparison to the SA1 is a lot lot better. Only the positioning of some punctuation keys on my Japanese import keyboard slowed the process down. What a relief that Kohjinsha got the keyboard right.
Mouse pointer on the frame is the same hard device as on the SA1. It hurts the finger after extended use but it still serves a good purpose. The touch pad seems to be a little unresponsive though which could simply be due to the plastics used. It appears to have a heavy layer of paint on it so I wonder if this has affected its sensitivity. The mouse buttons on both the screen frame and on the touchpad are better than on the SA1. Speaking of buttons, the additional scroll, brightness, rotation, launcher, shutter and enter buttons are worth having although don’t seem to be programmable. There are two programmable function keys on the keyboard though.
The camera seems good. Certainly good enough for web conferencing. Its a shame the camera isn’t rotateable though. SD card slot is fast. Easily 6MBps with my standard speed SD cards. I haven’t tested the CF slot but if this is also fast, the digital photographers are going to like this device. The mobility, screen and card-reading combo is perfect for these users. Disk drive seems fast and as its a 2.5″ drive, there’s the possibility to open up the device, void the warranty and drop 100GB or more in. I like that capability. I’m not sure why the 40GB drive has a 6GB partition labeled as ‘EISA.’ Anyone got any ideas what that’s all about because as it is, it leaves me with a 33GB partition, an embarrassing 10GB of which is taken up by Vista.
WiFI sensitivity is good. Bluetooth works and uses the Blue Soleil stack which features most profiles. Unfortunately I couldn’t find an A2DP profile though.
On to performance. While Vista basic is faster than other versions of the Vista operating system, I still had to spend time optimizing at and even now, after that process, its laggy. Coming out of hibernation for example, takes a long long time. You think you have ‘the con’ but Vista is off and away doing its thing in the background which makes the device unusable until its reached stability. Video performance is good. Much better than the Everun and not much less of a performer than the Q1P. YouTube is no problem even in full screen. Audio quality is average through the stereo speakers.
The device I have was bought at Conics who were very helpful and also retro-fitted the device with a 2GB RAM stick. I’m not sure how much difference this is making to the speed but overall, its faster than I thought it would be under Vista. Overall its a very nice UMPC. If you ignore the battery life, heat and fan noise, its a fantastic example of an ultra-mobile notebook PC but this battery life is going to be a show-stopping issue for me and unless Kohjinsha come up with a solution in the next month I’ll probably be selling it.
The video introduction has been uploaded to YouTube and is shown below. For a higher-resolution version at 750kbps (WMV format) see blip.tv here. Watch out for more opinions and testing over the next weeks. Meanwhile, check out the specs and more information on the Kohjinsha SH6 in the product portal.