Smart Devices Q7 Unboxing video. (Updated)

Posted on 19 May 2009 by

I had very well-managed expectations for this sub $200 tablet based on ARM architecture and a Linux operating system from a Chinese company and sold through what we thought was a very strange reseller in China. I’ve unboxed the device and I’m feeling quite pleased. Keep your own expectations in check though because this isn’t a UMPC. Think of it as an internet connected gadget, and you’re on the right track.

The unboxing video is below but if you want to know more, tune into UMPCPortal Live at 2030 CEST where I’ll be going over the device with the cameras on and you’ll be able to ask questions.

One or two notes before you watch the video:

  • No flash support. (It’s not available on ARM-based devices yet)
  • Bluetooth is not included.
  • Video playback quality and performance is very poor
  • Screen brightness is reasonable (not for outdoor use though)
  • OS is in English
  • The device is silent and there’s not even a hint of warmth
  • This is not a productivity device (relatively slow compared to X86 UMPCs)
  • USB keyboard worked on first attempt.

Thanks to for shipping it over. (We paid the normal price with EMS shipping, a total of about $230, through Paypal after emailing Eletroworld and asking if we could place an order. There isn’t a shopping cart capability on their site.)

Update: We’ve recorded a full 2hrs of testing:

Overview and tests with Q&A from the chat sessions.

Near-naked Smart Q7 (unscrewing video)

Smart Q7 as EReader.

Categorized | News

47 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    New article: Smart Devices Q7 Unboxing video.

  2. tampigns says:

    It just looks like perfect.
    I’m actually amazed by the speed.. I expected to see something like a smartphone (quite slow) but this tablet is ok.
    The price is only twice a picture frame…
    I think the community will just have to make some little changes to the UI in order to make it more finger friendly (they could increase the usability of the top right system information, virtual keyboard, ..)

  3. tampigns says:

    After watching the video of moblin 2 … I think something like it would be very suitable (but perhaps too heavy for this.. so something a little less eye candy but as finger friendly)

  4. Sokonomi says:

    Well all I can say is.. cute. ;-)
    Its cheap and certainly looks well built, and just plain fun to poke around with, but its not really “good at” anything.

  5. TrollsMustDie says:

    Exactly my thoughts.Wouldn’t buy it though.

  6. baturix says:

    Estos chinos son la repanocha, igual hasta iban en serio con los Smart Q:

  7. Heirophant says:

    Its definately running the ARM port of Ubuntu, so if you want any UI changes you can make them yourself, and with a little investigation and configuration work it should be possible to make it easier for the individual user. It would have been nice to have internal bluetooth, but to be honest unless you plan to use the USB host port for other things much of the time, the adapter is unobtrusive enough.

    It should also be kept in mind, there are ARM ports of several other Linux distributions and Linux based systems, including Android, so loading it with one of those might be fun for anyone feeling experimental.

    All in all though, looks pretty good for the price, especially if the battery life is anything near the estimates.

  8. tampigns says:

    It do is GOOD AT many things..
    For example :
    – domotic command
    – media center command
    – server control
    – multimedia station / radio
    – web station (i would put it in my kitchen)
    – and picture frame when not used
    and this is for home use but i can imagine many more for industrial purpose.
    You simply lack of reality if you think that it isn’t good at anything.

    I do know that i could easily port a new distrib but the interest of a specific one is “performance”
    I just hope that the community (or the industrials) will make something fast and finger friendly.
    It wouldn’t be that easy if i want to make it by myself.

  9. Sokonomi says:

    @tampigns: I can do that with a 50 dollar PDA.. for 180 im expecing much more then that.

  10. squirrel says:

    50 dollar PDA with ARM 11 and 7″ screen? :-)

  11. Sokonomi says:

    My stone age PDA (ipaq HX4700) is able to do all that tampigns listed. Infact thats what ive used it for eversince I bought it 5 years ago. And given its age, thats the price youd probably be paying for one currently. ;-) So yeah, paying 180 dollars for something that can still be bested by a 5 year old device… meh. ;-)

  12. tampigns says:

    Large screen?
    The fingerfriendly interface is useful for domotic.
    I currently use my Touch HD for these task but a 7″ screen would be much better.
    I would also use it as a photo album viewer with family.
    And can you configure your server with it?…. I tried VNC on my HD too… it is simply unusable… -_-‘
    So i will just laugh and forget what you said..

  13. Sokonomi says:

    Yeah, just be ignorant and pretend it all doesnt work on a smaller screen. I dont know what kind of ogre fingers you have, but im quite happy with just 5″.

  14. Jo says:

    Do you know the difference between a possible function and an user friendly one ?
    It is not only a problem of fingers but also of content.
    On a 7″ screen you can simply have much more information.
    We could imagine a homepage with many functions with widgets (or something like it)
    It is simply unbelievable to have that on a 5″ screen. You will have shortcuts for applications but not the controls on the main page.
    We will have somthing like iPhone… unuseful..
    And about the kitchen part.. can you imagine to read a receipt on you 5″? i’m thinking that 7″ is small.. so 5″…

  15. Sokonomi says:

    I do know the difference, and its a simple matter of properly utilising screenspace. With a littlebit of imagination a 5″ screen can easily be as userfriendly as a 7″ one.

    And if the iphone interface is so useless, why is it so immencely populair, being bought and cloned by tons of people?

    I can read recepe’s on my 5″ screen and I have. Theres tons of software to let you do that without a hint of pain.

    Infact id rather have a controller/reader for my things that I always carry in my pocket, then something that has to be laying around on some table somewhere all the time.

    Just see it for what it is, a really basic and quite slow internet/email device and nothing more. It doesnt even have bluetooth apparently..

  16. TuxMeister says:

    Yeah, by old Sega Megadrive2 is much much better than my XBOX360…

  17. Sokonomi says:

    No, a megadrive would suck if it was released now instead of 15 years ago. Wich is exactly my point..

  18. ColdSun says:

    I have a iPAQ Hx4700 myself and I disagree. First of all, its a Windows Mobile Device and the SmartQ 7 is a VERY hackable Linux device. Second, although the Hx4700 has a very nice screen, the screen is much much smaller. Next, the sensor buttons on the Hx4700 are a pain in the butt – its either not sensitive enough or too sensitive.

    While I will give you the benefit of saying the Hx4700 was a powerful device for its time, the key there is for its time. Even now you can’t buy one for much less than what you pay for a brand new one of these with a 7″ screen and hackable linux. In fact, you could make an argument for getting a Nokia N810,800 instead of this – but the processor in this device is slightly faster. I don’t think the Hx4700 can best this device for the most part, minus a few key features and being smaller and more portable. Also, this device should have a better battery life as well.

  19. pul m says:

    flas does run on arm linux – the noki n800 im a using right now proves it!

  20. turn_self_off says:

    sadly, nokia payed adobe for the port, and thats also why its so far stuck ad flash9 vs flash10 on the desktop…

  21. turn_self_off says:

    btw, MER may well be available to run on this at some point, as its already being tested on the smartQ5 (mostly same hardware, tho i think i read something about the keys being different).

  22. squirrel says:

    Chippy, will you try to install smth like Android or Moblin on it?

  23. squirrel says:

    Or at least some better browser and media player

  24. Gauchers says:

    Watched the entire live broadcast last night – thanks for doing that! I have to agree, this device would be pretty decent w/ Android or Moblin. Just watched the video of the Skytone Alpha 680 running Android w/ an ARM11 processor so it must be doable…

  25. vlad says:

    Hello everybody.

    What would you say about this:

    Looks like same item, but with Windows CE – it means video should play good on it with TCPMP.

    Also maybe someone knows, can an EDGE/HSDPA modem be attached to Windows CE devices, if they have usb host ?

  26. Sokonomi says:

    It sure looks pretty, but its hardware doesnt justify the pricetag. 7″ and 800*480 resolution probably isnt going to look too hot.

    If I had to choose, id definately go with the Q7.

  27. CorticalSam says:

    I am a physician and I always wanted something like this for my office. If the linux version can run a program like office excel I will buy it. It will help me keep the record of my clinical trials much better than a PDA or a Smart phone due to the bigger screen size. UMPCs (which run winxp or vista) are much more expensive(if not please give me a name of one with xp or vista with similar price range).

  28. Sokonomi says:

    Linux has something called open office I think, wich is very similar to microsofts office suite. ;) So this might work for you. Though the onscreen keyboard in linux seems to be a bit finnicky for excell work..

  29. CorticalSam says:

    Is there any hack for it? I mean something that solves the problem. It seems it is not possible to select a field when the keyboard is on. Is there anyway to solve this issue?

  30. vlad says:

    To Sokonomi: They are both 800×480
    To CorticalSam:
    1) You can try to look at – less then 400$

    As for open office – I do not sure that there is an ARM version for it (at least there were no version for nokia 800/810)

  31. CorticalSam says:

    Thanks. But that one is a little pricey for me! Even if I can’t have a excel for the device I will ask a programmer or one of my friends to make a spreadsheet like app for me. This way it may even worth more for me.
    I should mention that hospitals (which my office is inside one) are tricky places. Any device may fall down on a very hard floor easily, plus I prefer not to use a device more that 6 months (even mobile phones) because of many tough bugs that can stick to the device corners or holes and scratches.
    I know there are some special Tablet Pcs made for physicians (like what motion computing offers) but I personally feel they are too expensive for my use. They are great if the hospital pays for them!
    Anyway thanks for the reply. Waiting for more feedback messages.

  32. Sokonomi says:

    @ Vlad: Still makes it expencive compared to this Q7 though? ;-)

  33. Chippy says:

    Another note from me…I’m finding the browser to be surprisingly fast. Faster than N810, Archos 605. Reasonably accurate too. I will do a side-b-side with a few other devices soon on video.

  34. CorticalSam says:

    That’s what I am waiting for impatiently. The best way to choose is to compare.

  35. turn_self_off says:

    you should really try tear or webkit-eal for the N810 then, as its basically the same engine.

  36. pl_here says:

    The Q7 is available on ebay now for US$199 + shipping:

  37. CorticalSam says:

    Does KOffice work on this version of Ubuntu? For example Kexi looks to be a nice database which could be ideal for my needs.

  38. som says:

    what is the exact weight of q7? i am also curious about the real life of its battery. thanks inadvance.

  39. raaiman says:

    The device is great, Found that the cramfs that it uses is not stable at all, keeps crashing. Had to re-install it overagain but the guys at smartdevices didn’t have the english firmware so had to hack the locale.dat and locale.txt to bring it up in english using the chinese firmware. Don’t even try aptitude, it will fill-up the entire root dir and leave the system with no space at all (just only 32mb after firmware install), once you fill-it-up, you can’t even login. Works well with bluetooth, but doesn’t work very well with WWAN usb modems. Connecting bluetooth DUN is simple, works flawlessly. battery indicator is not very accurate, says i have 25% left but turn off and on again i have about 75%, after installing some .deb arm apps, the fs will crash and you can’t even logout normally, that’s when you’ll find the reset button handy. great stuff to have stuffs on the go with you, where you can just msn to them. why not email? well because all yourmails will be stored on the user directory which is no more then 200+mb, which will be filled up in an instant. Haven’t found a way to set the directories to the home/user/disk. The good thing is… reinstalling the firmware is dead simple, just place the SmartQ7 image in the sdcard, reset the device hold down the button below the up/down (yes the move windows button) untill the light turns amber, then it’ll say something in chinese like please wait while we install your firmware. then get the locale.dat and change the locale.txt to en_US that’s it.. midori does it’s job as a webbrowser. As reviewed by chippy, the keyboard/mouse over a usb hub will work on first go, but make sure you just don’t plug in the power cables or plug-out, it will crash the unit. Tons of other bugs you will find, in a short 1 hr, especially when you use keyboard/mouse the PowerManager will just shut off the lcd even if you are using your mouse. so just go to the brightness control panel (in chinese) just slide everything to the max (yes that’s to the right for all you non-chinese reading folks) and hit the center option which i think says apply. setting up the time is also a pain, but.. same thing goes, remember the center button means apply. One thing that you shouldn’t do, don’t drop the unit, the case will crack but amazingly the device still works haha. Changing the battery will be simple as it’s easy to dismantle the unit just 8 screws and that’s it. you just remove the back cover and everything will come out. Don’t think you can upgrade the memory it’s Surface Mounted. The 1gb NAND is from sandisk, 2x64mb ram, not sure if you are able to upgrade or not, yup as advertised it’s using the SAMSUNG arm11 chip. Good thing is… there is a space for a pad for the bluetooth chip i wonder why they didn’t include it and opt for external. Wifi uses the USI chip WM-G-MR-09 i think can’t really see it clearly. Well hope this sheds more light for the smartq7. overall a good device.

  40. Chippy says:

    raaiman. Thanks for that feedback.

    I’m just writing a little overview article and then i’ll be writing up a full article over the next few days. So far I haven’t had any instabilities and i’ve been messing around quite a bit (as you saw over at!)

  41. corticalsam says:

    Chippy, can you send a video overview about video playback quality and performance? You said it’s poor but I wonder how bad it is. Does it mean that the device is not suitable for video at all? I am planning to order one this week and I want to know more about what I will get.

  42. Chippy says:

    1.5mbps Divx seems to work well. I need to more tests though.
    If this is the case, it will be good enough for most situations as long as you can convert to the correct format.

  43. corticalsam says:

    That’s great news. Thanks for the fast reply. I can convert my videos to Divx easily.
    I am waiting for your full review.

  44. Alex says:

    Hey, did a Nokia Charger work for this? I think you didn’t try it in you Q&A. It would be great if it did because you could charge it in your car.

  45. Miron says:

    Has anyone used this device with 3G/HDSPA modem?

  46. raaiman says:

    Tried with bluetooth DUN it works perfectly.

  47. Zavandor says:

    I have ordered one from Electoworld and should arrive soon (5 days since the order, it should ship today).
    I’ve seen that you have installed a different linux distribution on the device. Are you going to publish an howto?

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