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SmartQ T73G Android Reader with 3G for $280. Test soon.

T7-3 I’m not going to call the SmartDevices SmartQ T7 an Android tablet because I think it comes in just under the bar in terms of being a flexible, fully-specified tablet but despite that, it has some legs.

I missed it in my round-up at UMPCPortal the other day and nearly ignored it again when Eletroworld emailed me about it; I assumed it was the SmartQ R7, the Ubuntu version running on a 600Mhz ARM11 CPU. The only thing that saved it from being just another Chinese tablet was the 3G option. It’s very rare to see that on a tablet and at $280, it’s a rare price too.

Unfortunately the T7 is still only running the Telechips ARM11-based CPU but this one is the 720Mhz version also found on the Smartbook Surfer which should be enough to drive mobile versions of websites. It’s got Android 2.1 and an 800×600 touchscreen with auto rotate. We don’t expect any Google Android apps or Market but with some side-loading of apps (see this article) it should be possible to fit this out with enough software to handle any ebook format. With a 600-wide screen we expect Google Reader (in the browser) and NewsRob to look great too.

On top of the basic Android build it looks like Smartdevices have used some of their video playback skills to enable 1080p and support of a wide range of formats. It’s got the correct Android buttons on the frame and a 17Wh battery in a weight of 430gm, it could make a good value holidaying or e-reading product.

Eletroworld have offered us a loaner and we’re expecting to get this on the operating table, live, as soon as it turns up. Expected around 20th August.

Latest specifications and links for the T7 are in our database. The price for the non-3G version is $230 and also note that the 3G version doesn’t include the BT module found on the base model.

I Guess That’s @mikecane Sorted Then? (Archos 5 + Kindle App)

For those of you that don’t know who Mike Cane is, dont’ worry too much. This post is pretty-much aimed diredtly at him.  He’s a long-time customer, commenter and participant at UMPCPortal and Carrypad and runs a continuous chain of personal blogs (currently he’s at Mike Canes iPad Test) that  focus around the ebook theme. He’s also very opinionated, sometimes rude and one of the biggest procrastinators I know. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that because he’s also happy to hear opinions. I like having him around.

He’s been following the UMPC-MID-Tablet-Kindle-Ipad theme for a while and also knows a bit about ebook publishing, ereading and reading in general. He likes open standards but recognises that if open standards don’t enable content then there needs to be choice until a de-facto solution arrives. He likes being connected, participating in Twitter, being mobile, understands ergonomics and he wants value in his products. JKK and I often take the Mickey out of him for getting excited about devices, finding a roadblock and then never buying anything. Well, Mike, when I installed Amazon’s Kindle application on my Archos 5 this morning (with one foot on the baby rocker,) I had to think of you.

Amazon's Kindle Application on the 5" Archos 5 Tablet

The Archos 5 [details] isn’t a new tablet and is not the most advanced tablet. When it was launched it had a continuous string of software problems which ruined the user experience for many and damaged the reputation of the device. Personally, I enjoyed the device as it had a good, fast browser, processing power, screen clarity, portability, flexibility, ability to support many many video standards and most-of-all, a great price. Over time we’ve seen improvements in the firmware and through applications like Aldiko, FBreaderJ, NewsRob, ACast, Seesmic and a number of ‘hacks’ the device has blossomed into something that makes a perfect handheld gadget and quite possibly one of the nicest and most flexible handled e-readers out there. Many people complain about the lack of a capcative touchscreen or the lack of Google Applications but at $250 (RadioShack looks like a good source in the U.S.), you can complain all you want – it’s a great value, internet connected MID, PMP, PND, Ebook reader, Web tablet and more. (See the full review.) Add another $50 for a 16GB micro-SD card, a case and a docking station with USB host and TV-Out and your’re set-up for  some real gadget fun. For the ebook reader, you’ve got Epub support, Kindle support, PDF support and through the Think-Free application, you can read Microsoft Office Docs and your Google Docs. There are more ebook store solutions too.

Kindle on Archos 5 (4) Kindle on Archos 5 (3) Kindle on Archos 5 (1) IMG_1220

Mike knows about the Archos 5 but this Kindle application  might be the final straw for him. There isn’t much else in terms of hardware on the horizon Mike. Summar is here and it will be quiet for a few months. Maybe we’ll see some new Archos devices later in the summer. The Dell Streak is double the price; The iPad too. The SmartQV7 is not powerful enough. Maybe the WiTS A81 is an option but it needs a lot of testing before it can be recommended. The same goes for the top-of-the-Carrypad-charts Huawei S7.

So, Mike. Does the Kindle application take you over the edge or did you buy something already?

Anyone else having fun with their Archos 5. Would you recommend it to Mike?

Full information, specs, links, images, reviews for the Archos 5 in our product database.

Mobile (and Stealthy) Computing Tips For Dads

Baby Nicklas Computes

This could be a long article or a short article because my 8-day old Son, Nicklas is sleeping and who knows when he’ll wake up. Everything I do at the moment has to be flexible, portable and completed in multiple short bursts. Many of you Dads out there will know what I mean and many of you will have tried, like me, to slip a little bit of ‘work’ into the quiet periods.

When you’ve got a studio full of mobile computers to choose from it’s interesting see see what bubbles up as the most used devices and I want to take a few minutes (or 30) to show you what I’ve been using. One thing is for sure though, my desktop keyboard is getting dusty!

[1st break – Clearing kitchen for lunch prep.]

We’re camped-out in our lounge during the daytime and with the kids off school (I have a 9 year old daughter and the kids are enjoying the Easter sun in the neighborhood gardens) and the midwife popping in every day it’s turning into an incredibly dynamic living space. I’m out most days doing some form of shopping…

[2nd break – Kids at the door]

…and trying my best to do as much cooking as possible along with helping where I can.

[3rd break. Baby woke. Now typing with one finger.]

[4th break. Had to take over the cooking]

OK, lets get to the point here. 4 mobile computing devices…

[5th break. Kids need a drink]

[6th break…oh wait. Wife is handling that one.]

..4 mobile devices have bubbled to the top.

IMG_2995One-handed use – Smartphone

Jenn Lee wrote an excellent article about this recently. [See: How Motherhood turned me into a smartphone Whore.] One-handed computing is so, so important for mobility and therefore you need a device that works with the thumb. You need to be able to do as much as possible in one hand too so that means convergence. Modern smartphones are therefore the ultimate solution. Forget that UMPCs can give you a faster, more complete Internet experience with faster keyboard input because you don’t have space for that second device. Forget a netbook too in this situation because despite being able to put a netbook on the side of an armchair and getting a great consumption experience, typing with one finger is hopeless and this static position won’t last for long. (See this post!)

As for convergence you want the best camera you can find when you have a new baby. I want to say that again because despite your thoughts of buying an HD cam or DSLR, you’ll find that, unless you are an absolute stickler for image quality, you’ll use a cameraphone more often and take more natural pictures. In addition to the cam, you’ll need a screen that’s not too large (thumb needs to reach all the way across) and you need, of course, great access to online data. That means not only having a web browser but also having finger friendly applications and references. Comfortable e-reading is a plus. Ensure your device has Wifi for unlimited home-based Internet activities.

One other tip: ‘Working’ with a smartphone is often more acceptable both socially and in the family situation than using anything that looks like a computer. Pulling out a netbook smacks of ‘work’ or ‘browsing’. With a smartphone you can pretend you’re sending an SMS to the mother while you check email.

[7th break… 2nd Pizza is ready.]

[8th break…clearing up.]

[Hiding further interruptions]

Best Choices for One-Handed Use.

I’ve got an N82 right now and its a great cameraphone but it’s not ideal for this scenario because when it comes to running multiple apps or browser windows the experience is relatively poor. There are so many phones out there that would be better and funnily enough, the Omnia Pro I gave to my wife would fit in really well here. (She’s sitting across from me right now thumbing the excellent Samsung on-screen keyboard in portrait mode.) Top choices right now would be HTC Desire/Google Nexus One (I question the camera quality on those having seen and taken a number of iffy-quality images that have characteristic plastic-lens fogging.) or, for a good value choice with an excellent camera and big capacitive touchscreen, the Nokia X6. The Motorola Milestone / Droid is also a great value choice and the recent Android 2.1 upgrade makes it even faster and more usable. The slider form-factor also helps with the bedroom scenario below. The Sony Ericsson X10 would be an expensive choice and if you can put up with some poor UI elements you can have one of the best videophones on the market, the HD and continuous-focus Sony Ericsson Vivaz. Again, get a great cameraphone because there will be many times when it’s the only camera/videocam you have. False friends here would be the Nokia N900 (terrible one-handed experience, slow camera software) and HTC HD2 (the screen is too large for most thumbs.) I wouldn’t recommend the iPhone because of the poor camera although the 3GS would just about creep into the ‘acceptable’ category. If you want a super-cheap cameraphone with a 5mp auto-focus Carl Zeiss lens, Xenon flash, lens-cover, free navigation and a T9 keypad, the Nokia 6220 Classic is amazing value at under 200 Euro for  (Make sure you have a data contract as there isn’t WiFi on this model.) My choice from the above: Motorola Milestone. SIM –Free with Android 2.1 for under 400 Euros + spare battery, bed-side docking station and car charger.


Mobile Office.

3 years ago I would be looking at something like the Flybook V5, the Fujitsu P1620 or an Everun Note and considering the $1000-$2000 cost with 3G. Today, I have a choice of 10 or more 3G-capable mini laptops for $600 or less. The Gigabyte Touchnote I bought in 2009 is working out really well. The touchscreen helps with one-handed browsing, the 3G is strong, the SSD is fast and as I’m largely located in the armchair or out for a short errand, the relatively short battery life isn’t a problem.

Listen, I know that an iPad sounds like more fun but you probably need to do some work at some point on a laptop so put those thoughts of an iPad to one side and get yourself an ASUS T101MT or similar. If you’ve got the money, buy a Viliv S10 with the 32GB SSD and 3G. It’s one of the lightest, most rugged, connected and longest battery life touchscreen convertibles out there. If I didn’t already have a Gigbyte Touchnote, that’s the device I’d buy. [Yes, I have one for testing but it might have to move on to another review soon.]

IMG_2991Bedtime Reading.

As a new father you’ll spend many hours awake in bed where a mini-slate comes in extremely useful for e-reading, music, games, tweeting and more. One-handed use isn’t an issue (quiet at the back!) so I’m finding myself using the Archos 5 Internet Tablet. Great battery life, great screen, a good selection of apps, flash gaming capability, ebook applications, fast browser and super light-weight means it fits in extremely well. A large-format high-end smartphone would also work well here but if you do that, don’t forget to keep it charged for the morning. A Viliv S5, iPad, Milestone/Droid, HD2 or something similar (just choose something that suits you or works with your smartphone usage) is a fun device to have.

IMG_2987Ultra Mobile Computing.

One area you need to cover is the unplanned requirement to do something serious. Fixing a web server, answering an email with a modified spreadsheet, editing an , printing a document or even taking advantage of 20 minutes while waiting for the doctor means you need something reliable and something familiar. This is where the ultra mobile PC has always been the perfect companion as you get to take all your desktop apps and processes on the road with you. I’ve been using the UMID BZ with the Mifi 2352 (and tethered to my smartphone) and it’s been working out well. I also keep it by my bedside for occasions when I need to do some real work while in bed and to be honest, I could use it instead of the Archos 5. The Archos 5 is more fun though!

You could use a netbook in this scenario but netbooks are relatively heavy (especially when you need to carry a bag full of baby ‘stuff,’ and need a stable surface.

[5 interruptions hidden]

So Dads, as you can see, there are some opportunities out there and that it’s not just the Dads that sneak in some mobile computing while looking after their babies. In the spirit of parenthood then, what tips have you got to share? Anyone worked out how to have two hands free? I’ll be testing a baby sling soon so stay tuned for some more mobile Dad tips!

Entourage Edge Dual-Screen Device is Sub-Optimal. (Video)

Cool tech and a very uncool Design.

I am definitely not a fan of this device. Why why why would anyone want to use a huge, heavy two-screen device? Sub-optimal for reading. Sub-optimal for writing. Sub-optimal for battery life. Sub-optimal for costs. What do you think?


A Viliv S10 with a Pixel-Qi screen would be a far far better solution. One screen. One backlight. Dual-mode. Real keyboard. Productive operating system. However, weight needs to be cut down drastically from the 1.2KG of the S10 which is why converged smartbooks/readers will probably end up as dockable single-screen tablet-only style devices.

Alex: Android-based ebook Reader by Spring Design

Our first CES 2010 post of the day is the press release by Spring Designs of their new eInk/LCD combo eBook reading device, The Alex.  The device features a 6-inch eInk screen at 600×800 resolution and a 3.5-inch LCD display with a 320×480 resolution.  The device weighs in at 310 grams (11 ounces) and 7500 ePage turns and around 6 hours of media playback.  Key features include the Android OS and wireless connectivity to surf the internet, listen to music, or watch video on the LCD screen portion of the device while reading on the eInk screen above.

The price seems to be a bit higher than its closest rival, the Nook from Barnes and Noble, at $399.  Still, the form factor and features of this device make it a real winner for people willing to pay a little extra for a fantastic eInk reading experience.  Spring Design created the Alex as an open systems device with the ability to download any book or document that conforms to the Adobe ePUB/PDF/DRM standard or .txt or HTML format.

Check out the device on the Spring Designs web site and this video taken at CES 2010.

The Alex eReader

The Alex eReader

E-book Reading and the Archos Tablet.


I’m no expert on e-book reading but I’m a big e-reader. What I mean by that is that I read electronic content all day long but I don’t read many books. I’ve been working my way through the Adventures of Tom Sawyer on the SmartQ7 and have tried to continue on the Archos 5 but I don’t get very far before I’m distracted by an email or twitter notification and then I’m off into one of those enjoyable but never-ending web journeys.

Based on my experience with the Archos 5, its form factor, hours of using Google Reader (Android formatted) and the web browser I’d say that the form factor lends itself perfectly to 1hr reading sessions and that due to the weight (smartphone weight) and screen characteristics (200 ppi and well-aliased fonts and adjustable back-lighting) many people will end up doing more. What effect that has on your eyes is unknown to me but it certainly feels more comfortable than smaller screens I’ve tried.

I can’t really show you the quality of the screen on a video but you might get an idea of how you might use this device to read e-book content in the video I’ve prepared for you below. You’ll see FbreaderJ with a mobipocket-formatted e-book and Aldiko and an epub-formatted book with online download. One thing missing is commercial content. It is possible to convert encrypted and even DRM-protected content but I’d like to be able to link directly into books from commercial stores like Amazon and Mobipocket without all that hassle.

Don’t forget to watch in full-screen and hit the ‘HQ’ button for the higher quality version.

I’ve shown you Social Messaging, HD video playback and now Ebook reading on the Archos 5 IT but there are at least two other usage scenarios that I want to show you. Next week i’ll be highlighting the Web browsing experience and the navigation experience and that will probably round-up the Archos 5 IT coverage for a while.

If you have experience with dedicated e-book readers, let us know how you feel about this LCD reading experience. How would you feel if the Amazon Kindle software was ported to the Archos Tablet?

P.S. Anyone know if there are commercial audiobook apps for Android? An Audible app would be awesome!

More info on the Archos 5 Internet Tablet here.

LBook T9. 8.9” ultra-thin Multitouch Tablet planned for March 2010

It looks like Windows 7 and some invisible tabletPC marketing force is spurring people to make web pads left right and center. The Ebook reports that the Lbook T9 will be coming to the market next year for an interesting retail price of $350-$375. If they really can achieve that than we’re in for some interesting times.


  • CPU: Intel Atom Z530 1.6G
  • RAM: DDR2 2GB
  • HDD: 120GB
  • Screen: TFT LCD, 8.9″ wide,1024×600
  • Wireless: Bluetooth, WiFi, (3G option)
  • Expected battery life: 4 hours.
  • Weight: 670g
  • Expected retail price: $350-375
  • Planned date: March 2010

Super slim 12.7mm body under the control of Windows 7. The highlight of the device would be touch-screen technology “multitouch” to enter information. [Via translation]

The specifications look challenging but not impossible. An SSD might be more interesting for performance and ruggedness though.

Thanks Mike.

Archos 5 Android Internet Tablet First Impressions. (Long!)

The Archos 5 Internet Media Tablet is a 4.8 inch 800×480 tablet device running Android and Archos Media Player software. Prices start at 230 Euro (8GB) but I’ve got the 32GB version here (bought myself) and I’ve had been pounding it hard since I got it last Friday. So far I’m loving its capability and excited by its potential but am frustrated by the amount of crashes and lock-ups I’m experiencing. At this stage I’d advise customers to hold-off on a purchase and take the time to do some more research and to monitor my ongoing experiences with the device before diving in.

Read on for an extended first-impressions post.

Archos 5 gallery.

If you didn’t catch the unboxing video or the live session on Friday , I recommend taking a look because so far the device has been really interesting. One word of warning though, it’s very unstable and buggy right now. I’m experiencing at least one software problem per hour of use. Version 1.022 of the firmware desperately needs an upgrade and I’d go so far as to say, DONT BUY THIS DEVICE YET if you’re thinking of using it for business or if you’re the sort of person that gets frustrated at unfinished products. Archos have clearly skimped on testing. Even as I type this paragraph, a notification has come in but I can’t unlock the device to get to it. I’m going to have to reboot. Not good enough Archos.

Read the full story

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

The Q7 may not be a ultra mobile PC but there’s a lot to like and a lot to learn from the device.  It highlights the difference between professional and consumer devices very well so in this article I’ve mixed a review of the Q7 with some thoughts about consumer web tablets.


The Smart Devices Q7 has a slow, incomplete web experience, no Flash or AIR, poor video quality, very restrictive ARM11 core, runs a partially re-translated Chinese version of a year-old Ubuntu ARM port, doesn’t have a keyboard, is not good for outdoor use, needs a dongle to get Bluetooth working and has some twitchy touchscreen characteristics. Despite all these scary issues, i’m still using the device many times a day.

Full Q7 specifications available here.

Read the full story

Samsung Q1EX TabletPC unboxing, Q&A, thoughts.

q1ex-3 Ever since we outed the Samsung Q1EX I’ve had trouble positioning it. After an unboxing (see below) a 4-hour live Q&A session (1hr video below) I still cant see why Samsung created the Q1EX. It’s a fine tabletPC  but in the last 3 years they’ve learned a lot about the ultra mobile PC market and they know that Tablet PCs can be a hard sell. What made them go back to the no-keyboard form-factor?

From a TabletPC perspective, the Samsung is actually a very good all-rounder. I called it the ‘20% device’ in our live Ustream Q&A because that about sums up the improvements overall. 20% less weight, 20% less cost, 20% more GPU, 20% more battery life, 20% better looking!! All excellent incremental changes for the TabletPC market but there are silly things that appear to have been left out.

A 1.3mp cam on the rear means it’s no good for Skype video and not high enough quality for photography. The stylus slots into the lanyard which means you need to leave the lanyard attached, affecting the smooth looks of the device. The hard drive is neither fast (in comparison with some of the SSD’s we’re seeing now) nor does it have a very high capacity. The touchscreen doesnt run full tabletPC-compatible drivers meaning the input panel doesnt float and you get low sample-rate handwriting recognition. The organiser pack accessory bulks it out to a size that’s than most netbooks and finally, I managed to push the CPU/GPU combination so hard in a Cooliris test that I got the battery life meter down to 1.5hrs! It bounced back up to three when I stopped playing with Cooliris but it shows that the power envelope of the Q1EX is very very wide.

Full specifications and links in the product page.

On the positive side, the push/scroll wheel is the best implementation I’ve seen yet for an on-screen control panel. Changing brightness, volume, rotation is a breeze. The weight is down to one-handed usage levels meaning you can flip this one into portrait ‘reading’ mode. I was seeing over 4hrs battery life in this, no-radio, quiescent state. Also, the touchscreen has some palm rejection capability. For my ‘pinky on the screen’ left-handed writing method, it didn’t work but it’s clearly a lot better than other touchscreens for handwriting. In fact, one-handed portrait mode usage with a stylus is probably the #1 ‘feature’ over other UMPCs.

Considering that this is entering the market at $750, I would expect to see this discounted like many other devices have been over the last two years. In fact, I think this is very likely. It looks to me like this was a project by Samsung to put a new tablet out there for a specific market, a market-research exercise or even an industry request. Resellers have decided to price-up the device (still below all the other Samsung ultra mobile PC offerings) in order to get the most out of the early, mostly commercial, buyers but based on the fact that a VIA-based Samsung NC20 can sell for 75% of the price, there must be room for a sub $500 or even sub $400 price point. That would be pretty close to that CrunchPad that Techcrunch are working on.

What do you think? Is there a usage model that jumps out at you or is this simply targeted as a good quality, well-priced, TabletPC? Here’s the unboxing video…

For a more detailed look at the Q1EX, check out the Ustream recording below. (If the video is not showing below, go to the Ustream page. I’ve been seeing some problems with the UStream embedded videos today.)

Thanks to VIA Technologies for sending the Samsung  Q1EX over for a test.

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