Samsung Q1 Ultra Mobile PC – Our Full Review (pics, specs)

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Samsung Q1 Ultra Mobile PC – Outstanding Mobility, Limited Functionality

The Samsung Q1 UMPC can best be described as a miniature, scaled-down Tablet PC. This device is the first release of a collection of devices based on Microsoft’s Origami Project. The Q1 is lightweight. It features wireless LAN and integrated Bluetooth. At one pound, eleven ounces this device can serve a select community of users. But we have to make one point clear. The Q1 and the UMPC itself is simply not a replacement for a real Tablet PC or notebook computer, but rather more along the lines of a super-powered PDA. Working with the small 7″ screen and stylus is reminiscent of my PDA days. The Q1 to me is like a large Pocket PC with a real operating system (Windows XP Tablet PC Edition), a real hard drive, and a real CPU. That said, let’s look at the Samsung Q1 in depth. We’ll leave it to you to decide if the Q1 is worth your $1,100…

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Samsung Q1 Specs:

  • Processor: Intel Celeron M ULV 900MHz, Pentium M ULV 1.1/1.2GHz
  • Chipset & Graphics: 915 GMS, Intel GMA900
  • Memory: 1 SODIMM Socket, DDR II 400 MHz, 512 MB
  • LCD: 7″ WVGA (200 nit, 800 X 480)
  • Audio: H/P out, Array Mic, Stereo Speaker (2 W x 2)
  • Storage: 40 / 60 GB (PATA, 4,200 rpm, 1.8″ HDD)
  • Communications: 10/100 Ethernet, Mini card WLAN (802.11 b/g), Bluetooth v2.0
  • Multimedia: Multimedia Instant On (AVS Now)
  • I/O Ports: 2 USB (USB 2.0), 1 Type II CF card, RJ45, Audio Jack, 2 Array Mic, VGA, DC-in
  • User Interface: Button : 8 Way Joystick, 4 User Key, 3 button (Auto Scale / Enter / Menu), Hold , Volume Up / Down, Power / MIO
  • Battery: Li-Ion Battery
  • Dimension: 9.0 x 5.5 x 1.0 inch
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs. (W/O Optical Disk Drive)

(view large image) The Q1 is about the same size at my Hendrix at Woodstock DVD case!

Build & Design

The Q1 design is a mixed bag all the way around – literally! From different sides of the unit there are things we like, and some we don’t. The Q1 has been called “ugly”. While the design won’t win any beauty contest, there are attractive elements such as the shiny front face and bright, colorful display. The overall shape is like a bulky Sony PSP. On the positive side, this shape enables the Q1 to easily slide into most any bag for trouble-free portability.

(view large image) Okay this is simple enough, just stick the skinny little plastic rod into the “hinge”….

(view large image) Whoops! The hinge snapped right backward. I guess that is what warranties (and duct tape) are for.

One design flaw that was immediately apparent to us is the “80 Degree Stand” built into the back of the Q1. The thin plastic reinforcement pieces are just made to break – ours did with delicate use. I would not recommend the use of this built-in stand as it is a sure bet it will break. This design flaw is just simply unacceptable in a $1,000 plus piece of hardware.

Front View: (left) Speaker, Joystick, Resolution Adjustment Button, Status Lights

Front view: (right) Speaker, Quick Launch Button, Enter Button, Menu Button, Array Microphone

(view large image) Right View: Monitor, USB, AC Jack

(view large image) Left View: External ODD Power Jack, USB, Headphone Jack, Volume Control, Hold Switch, Hand Strap Hole

(view large image) Underside View: Plastic Stands, Battery latch

(view large image)Top View: LAN Port, CF Card Slot, Windows (Ctrl-Alt-Del) Button, Power Switch, Vents, Stylus Slot

Display

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The Samsung Q1 has a 7″ display with a 800 x 480 pixel resolution. Provided the display is on its brightest setting, the image is clear, sharp and colorful.The  7″ widescreen display sounds good on paper. Perhaps I have less patience than  some  users, but I unfortunately find the display on the Q1 as a constant source of frustration. I think the widescreen format was a mistake. At the very least, adding a spare half inch to the vertical screen real estate could remedy this. Using a web browser or viewing the average window size (i.e. My Computer) seems to result in a slight cutoff image. This leaves the user forced to constantly drag windows into full view or deal with excessively scrolling with the pen, resulting in tedious repetitious hassle and a comprehensive loss in productivity time.

Speakers

The speakers on the Q1 are stereo. These speakers deliver as much as can be expected in terms of volume and tonal quality considering the size of the UMPC. Headphones would be a good choice for listening to music or watching streaming video in which sound quality is an issue.

Processor and Performance Benchmarks

Our Samsung Q1 has the Intel Celeron M 353 @ 900MHz CPU. This is a ULV or “ultra low voltage” processor designed primarily to conserve battery life and still deliver acceptable performance. The Q1 is surprisingly snappy for running daily computing tasks. Browsing the web, viewing hi-res photos and working with Microsoft Office applications is no challenge for the Q1.

We used SuperPI to calculate the number Pi to 2 Million digits in this raw number crunching benchmark. This open source benchmark application allows the user to change the number of digits of Pi that can be calculated from 16 Thousand to 32 Million. The benchmark, which uses 19 iterations in the test, was set to 2 Million digits.

Comparison of tablet/notebook models using Super Pi to calculate Pi to 2 million digits (plugged in):

 Notebook Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits 

 Notebook Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
Samsung Q1 UMPC(900MHz ULV Celeron) 3m 6s
Fujitsu LifeBook P1500D (1.2GHz ULV Pentium M 2m 23s
Fujitsu ST5000 Tablet PC(1.1 GHz ULV Pentium M) 2m 37s
ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC (1.5GHz Alviso LV PM) 2m 3s

 

We used Futuremark’s PCMark ’04 benchmarking software to measure the Q1’s performance in various tasks.Performance Benchmarks for Samsung Q1 (900MHz ULV Celeron M) compared to the Fujitsu P1510D (1.20GHz ULV) simulating multiple computing tasks:

Futuremark PCMark ’04 Scores Samsung Q1 UMPC(900MHz ULV Celeron) Fujitsu LifeBook P1500D (1.2GHz ULV PentiumM)
Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression 1.79 MB/s 2.38 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption 13.12 MB/s 17.61 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression 11.75 MB/s 15.54 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing 5.32 MPixels/s 7.12 MPixels/s
Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning 1115.15 MB/s 1403.55 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check 1.44 KB/s 1.92 KB/s
File Decryption 26.13 MB/s 35.2 MB/s
Audio Conversion 1201.73 KB/s 1635.84 KB/s
Web Page Rendering 1.78 Pages/s 3.63 Pages/s
DivX Video Compression 26.27 FPS 34.82 FPS
Physics Calculation and 3D N/A 67.5 FPS
Graphics Memory – 64 Lines 300.11 FPS 392.02 FPS
3DMark ’03 Score N/A N/A

 

Our review unit has a Hitachi 40GB 4200 RPM hard drive. Below are the results for the HD Tune performance benchmarks.

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With an average transfer rate of 16.9MB per second, the 4200RPM hard drive performance of the Q1 is right where it should be.

(Input) Pen, Touchscreen, Dual Array Mic

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The Q1 has a passive touchscreen similar to the same technology used on a PDA. The good news is that the features offered by Windows XP Tablet PC Edition really help maximize pen input options. However due to the small display, invoking the TIP (Tablet Input Panel) takes up a whopping 1/3 of the screen. This makes input for tasks like browsing the web a real drag. Using the “Auto Scaler Menu” the user can change resolution on the fly, but in our opinion you are just trading one problem for another by reducing images and text on screen to be much too small for long-term viewing.The Q1 does include the popular “DialKeys” on screen keyboard option, but again this takes up a vast amount of screen real estate just like the TIP, causing similar problems. Samsung graced the Q1 with a dual array mic, making the Q1 an excellent candidate for dictation (in a quiet room) or capturing audio recordings of meetings or lectures.The Joystick is worth of mention as it can assist the user to move around the screen on the Q1, but really this is more of a navigation feature than one we’d consider functional for input options.

Battery

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Samsung included a hardware button to provide the user of the Q1’s battery charge status without booting up. It would be nice to see this feature as a standard on all mobile computing devices!Using Battery Eater Pro we stress tested the P1500D’s (standard 3-cell) lithium ion battery. With the Wi-Fi turned on, the hard drive constantly reading/writing and the CPU busy making calculations, the Q1 ran for 2 1/2 hours. Real world runtime is also about 3 hours.

System Info
Manufacture SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO.,LTD
Model SQ1S
ModelEx Revision MP
OS Windows XP Service Pack 2
CPU Info
CPU Manufacture Intel Corporation
CPU Model Intel(R) Celeron(R) M processor 900MHz
CPU Frequency ~897Mhz
CPU Extensions | MMX | SSE2 | APM
CPU Cache Info
Level 1 Instructions 32
Level 1 Data 32
Level 2 Data 0
System RAM info
Total Memory: 503Mb
Memory slots 1 ( 1: 512Mb; )
Display Device Info
Adapter Mobile Intel(R) 915GM/GMS,910GML Express Chipset Family
Resolution 800×480
OpenGL render device Intel 915GM
OpenGL driver version 1.4.0 – Build 4.14.10.4545
Vertex shader version 0.0
Pixel shader version 2.0
Hard Disk Drive Info
S.M.A.R.T. Supported and Enabled
HDD Model HTC426040G8CE00
HDD Serial L1EK3G
HDD FirmWare 00P8A0A8
Main Battery Info
Device Name
Manufacture SAMSUNG Electronics
Serial #
Unique ID SAMSUNG Electronics
Chemistry Lithium Ion
Temperature Termal Control Not Present
Designed Capacity 28860mWh
Full Charged Capacity 27750mWh
Designed Voltage 10.8V
Current Voltage 12.555V
Manufacture Date 0/0/0
Cycles Count 0
Cells count 3
Force charge support Not Supported
Force discharge support Not Supported
Benchmark results
CPU BEmarks 0
GPU BEmarks 0
RAM BEmarks 0
HDD BEmarks 0
Work Done
Pi calculations 8846 Cycles
HDD readwrite 4278 Mb
Fames Rendered 309637 Frames
Benchmark Options
Resolution 800x600x32
FullScreen Disabled
Mode Classic
Results
Total time 1:50:51
Result Graph

Software/Operating System

The Samsung Q1 UMPC comes preloaded with Norton Antivirus 2005 (trial) and Fortune-Fountain DialKeys

OS: Windows XP Tablet PC Edition or Windows XP Professional

Wireless

The P1510D comes with built-in high-speed wireless LAN (802.11b/g) and Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR. We experienced trouble-free wireless performance from the Q1 with no interference or drops from various access points.

Customer Support/Warranty

The Samsung Q1 UMPC comes with a standard 1-year warranty. Additional add-on service plans can be purchased to extend to a 3-year plan.

Final Thoughts

The Samsung Q1 is a first of the very first generation of the Ultra Mobile PC devices. That said, we can surely expect improvements in future models. The Q1 is a perfect device for specific users who need to stay connected and productive on the go. Our advice is simply this: Do not expect the Q1 to be a “replacement” for a real Tablet PC or notebook computer. The Q1 and UMPC devices in general are an excellent alternative to users who wish to have much more functionality than they can get from a PDA, but to avoid carrying an entire Tablet PC or notebook computer everywhere. If this describes “you”, the Q1 is certainly worth your consideration.

Pros

  • Incredible portability
  • Offers much more functionality than a PDA
  • This device is sure to accommodate users with special mobile computing needs.

Cons

  • Weak standard battery life
  • No PCMCIA expansion slot
  • Can be frustrating to use
  • A bit on the expensive side

 

Barry J. DoyleTabletPCReviewSpot | Editor in Chief


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