Lets not beat around the bush here. The Aigo P8860 MID is a slightly unpolished, slightly locked-down, slightly thin-app, early-adopters Mobile Internet device. Almost everything in the application suite is underwhelming and after the initial unboxing high, the experience takes a sharp dive. Thank goodness then, that the only real problems are software-related, fixable and have nothing to do with the excellent form factor and superb Intel Atom platform which make this device truly breakthrough. I can’t put it down!
We’ve all seen small devices before. High-end smartphones and low-end UMPCs have been around for a while but none of them have managed to combine true pocketability with acceptable battery life and a top-notch Internet experience. The Aigo does though. 4.8″ 800×480 screen, check! 3hrs online battery life, check! Useable keyboard, check! Powerful processor, check! In ‘Internet’ power-to-weight ratio terms, this is a winner. Read on…
Mobilx.eu sent me a sample to test out last week and having read reports from JKK and Pocketables in the previous week, I was less excited than I was when I got to test out the Gigabyte M528 preview version earlier in the year. That weekend, the M528 went from good to bad due to the early demo software but the Aigo has just got better and better since I’ve been using it.
Let me re-state something again though before I go further. The application suite is really poor. The UI is acceptable and the core appears to be stable but out of the box it’s locked-down and the Coolfox version of the Mozilla browser comes with a permanent toolbar and lack of plug-in capability. The Video and Music applications are laughable in terms of features. Think PocketPC circa 2002 or worse. In fact the video app is nothing more than a filtered file browser and a play button. The GPS app results in a Chinese error message. the IM app supports MSN only, the mail client appears to have trouble even connecting to Gmail and the PIM apps are of no use to anyone with a modern mobile phone. I’ll mention it again, the software suite is poor!
But that’s the great thing about this device. It’s only the software that’s poor. The build quality, form factor, keyboard, screen (lovely), the smooth video playback (H.264, WMV, DivX at 1-2mbps), the audio quality (from the mono speaker no-less), the battery life, the heat dissipation (none) and the noise (none) all get good marks from me. If you’re a geeky kinda guy or gal though, there’s one little tweak that really opens up the device. Plug in a keyboard, give Linux the three finger salute that opens the console, run a few lines of code and boom! you have Firefox 3 running. A few more lines of code and boom! you have a set of apps and mods from the community and you’re starting to realise how much fun this device is and how much potential it has. There’s so much potential here that I don’t want to send the device back to Mobilx in-case Aigo roll out a software update through the included update tool!
To be honest, I haven’t done anything except the Firefox 3 mod and I have to say, this Aigo is making me lazier than ever. I’m participating in Ustream sessions in bed. I’m chatting on the sofa and and really finding it tough to put down. My Twitter and Friendfeed updates have gone through the roof this week and I’ve never had so few posts backed up in my feed reader. I’m catching up with emails, spending more time on IM (through Meebo.com,) listening to more podcasts, watching more crappy online videos and genuinely starting to wonder how long it will be before my wife whacks me over the head with a frying pan and chucks the Aigo in the bin! ‘Sorry love, I haven’t seen it anywhere. Are you sure you didn’t leave it in the coffee shop or on the table in your daughters ballet class?’
Here’s another reality kick though. This is not some screaming-fast, high-end desktop-speed browser experience. For one, 800×480 means you’re switching in and out of full-screen mode quite a lot and speeds are at the low-end of the PC scale but compared to smartphones, this is in another league and because it’s Firefox 3, you just know its going to be accurate and reliable. Flash is working perfectly and most plugins I’ve tried are working. (Geode is the noteable exception right now.) Under Coolfox, even the embedded streaming video players seem to be working!
Here are some speed tests on the browser (More details in this forum post):
JKKMobile ran a set of 8 page-load tests with Firefox and sent me the results. The results averaged 12 seconds per page.
Pocketables ran a set of 10 page load tests with Coolfox and included then in the Aigo full review. The results averaged 11.4 seconds per page.
I ran my own set of 11 page load tests with Firefox and averaged 12.1 seconds per page.
The results beat a previously tested set smartphones and other pocketable ‘Internet’ devices by an average 9 seconds per page. In terms of Internet browsing performance, it blows the N800/N810 out of the water and even the iPhone only averages 20 seconds per page over WiFi. The only pocketable device that gets close is the new Archos 5 with an average, over a similar set of tests, of 15 seconds.
The Aigo P8860 brings a new class of portable Internet browser performance to the market. For those who run any part of their business through the Internet, the value is obvious. For anyone keen to get involved with the Menlow platform and Linux/Moblin-based distributions that are coming out through a number of distributors, this is where you start.
Early pricing isn’t exactly set at giveaway levels but we’re definitely not talking early ultra mobile PC prices here. At 500 Euro before taxes (597 inclusive of taxes in Europe), its priced at the high-end of PMP and smartphone space but at the low end of the ultra mobile PC space. Even so, it’s not cheap and if you want to get the best out of it you’ll need to keep up with development, tricks and tips but right now, is there another option? If you’re not concerned about having built-in 3G (I’m using it tethered via the easy to use BlueSoleil software and a Nokia N82), the Aigo MID is perfect for early adopters in the true Mobile Internet space.
Thanks to Mobilx.eu for sending the Aigo MID over. Their stock will be available soon and you can order it on their website. For more information on the Aigo MID including videos, full specs and links to news and our Aigo forum, see the information page.
Tested: Aigo P8860 MID running software version 030.5005