Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Samsung Q1ultra useability

Thought I'd take my Q1ultra on the train to use it as I normally would a laptop.
First off, if you have to do any amount of typing, it's useless without a proper keyboard or mini-keyboard. The thumb keyboards were fine for small amounts of text entry, but because of the 6-hour battery pack, my Q1 felt heavy and I couldn't sensibly hold it for long.

I'm used to tapping out text with my HTC/T-mobile Touch for text messages and notes and find that together with the predictive text feature, I can do this quite quickly. However, with the umpc, the on-screen keyboard just doesn't have the same tactile feel to it. There's no predictive text (or else I haven't worked out how to turn it on) and with the keyboard as wide as the screen, it slowed me down considerably.

Rotating the screen so that it's in a portrait format helps as the onscreen keyboard becomes more useable (you're not moving your hand as much just to type the letter a, then the letter l), but holding the umpc with your left hand as you do this will lead to serious strain on your wrist and hand.

So my next experiment will be using the umpc with a keyboard as I travel on a train. Which of course then begs the question: why not just get a small laptop? My main reason so far has been the cost: a small laptop costs around £1000 whereas my umpc and a small keyboard will cost no more than £780.

The other good reason to get the umpc might have been the two cameras, which I though would be brilliant for video-conferencing and capturing evidence for work-based learners. NOT recommended!

The video capture seems stilted so that your lips are never in sync with the audio. The idea is good, but the execution is poor. This happened even when I captured a smaller video (320 x 240 ish). I'm not sure why this is, but if anyone has any ideas on how this can be solved, then maybe the umpc would be ideal for capturing video evidence, but until then, I think a typical mobile phone with voice and video capture would do a better job! And be less strain on the wrists!

I still like my umpc, but more for entertainment reasons than business use reasons, so be warned! If you expect people to use the Office software, then do provide a keyboard.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How many things to put on?

That's another advantage of working with pdas or pda-phones: you don't have to put what seems like thousands of bits of software on the thing before you can get all the bits to work!

On a pda, you still have to load on Flash player 7, mp3 recorder software, Mylearning package, add useful tools like Remote Display Control, but that's about it unless someone wants to send me more things that are useful to put on. (Would make a good list for all colleges using pdas - I'll put it up on the Moodle.)

On a umpc, you have the same issues as any pc that comes through the institution door: you have to put on Office, upgrade Flash, Acrobat, Windows Media Player, put on anti-virus, ensure you can get it to connect to your network for file sharing and printing, access to the internet...(Any more requirements, send to me and I'll add to the list.)

For the ESOL and Train to Gain learners who may not be as IT-confident, I would always recommend the pda-route! I think the umpcs are best for the full-time students who may be in the best position to take advantage of all that it has to offer.

Or implement a progression path from pdas to umpcs...

Video conferencing with the umpc

I was on MSN with my sister in America on my pc, so I switched to the umpc, started a webcam conversation and then battled with technology for a bit. The refresh rate on the video didn't seem too good - very stuttery. The microphone wasn't automatically picked up for web-conferencing - how strange. So I'll have to give that another go some time. Ideally, I would like to be able to switch between cameras as well while mid-msn, but I suspect this isn't going to be possible! I gave my sister a little tour of the house until I went out of wireless range and lost her! Might as well have video-d (how do you use that noun as a verb in the past tense?) the thing and sent it to her on email!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Samsung Q1ultra

I've finally received my Samsung Q1ultra! Unpacked it last night. First thoughts - heavy for typing or writing on the go. It's easier to use it sat down; this might have a bearing on what device you choose. Unlike a tablet that you would normal hold like a clipboard, the Q1ultra is smaller so all the weight ends up on your wrist.
Handwriting recognition is fantastic, so for note-taking, it's really easy. I've also bought a rubbery usb keyboard to attach when needed.
I love the fact that there's a webcam (facing you) as well as a camera lens facing away for taking pictures and videos. Great for webconferencing, easy to capture evidence and then to insert the picture in a Word document or other form.
There's a software that allows easy transfer to files between the umpc and a pc using a usb cable. Not activesync, more like two Windows Explorers on one screen. As you know, you can't just attach two pcs together with a usb cable and transfer documents!
Apart from that, the rest is just like a normal pc, so this has some advantage for students who may need access to a pc and wouldn't otherwise have it for working on assignments/ filling in forms etc.
The voice recorder that comes with it records wma or wav. Duh! When will they put in voice recording that records to mp3 by default???? However, being a PC, there's plenty of free recording software that you can load on to it compared to a pda, where you have to pay for a license for Vito audio notes or something similar.
My pda phone with its push email has been part of my everyday life for two years now. I can see the Q1ultra complementing it very well!