The sun never sets on Crave. Our British counterparts are in Germany this week, attending the big CeBIT show where they spent some hands-on time with Samsung's latest attempt at turning the potential of the ultramobile PC (UMPC) concept into an actual product that actual people might actually use. (We've yet to review a UMPC that isn't awkward, underpowered, and overpriced, including the Samsung Q1.) Samsung's second-generation UMPC, dubbed the Q1 Ultra, brings some improvements to the table, which--to their surprise--left our British Cravers somewhat impressed.
First, it's a bit thinner and lighter than the preceding Q1 and, most notably, includes a QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is split, with half of the keys to the left of the screen and the other half to the right. BlackBerry owners accustomed to banging out quick e-mails with their thumbs should find this arrangement somewhat familiar; it certainly looks like a better option than the onscreen keyboard on the original Q1. The screen is still 7 inches on the diagonal, but it's brighter with a higher resolution at 1,024x600 (up from 800x480). The touch-sensitive screen is improved, thanks to the Touch Pack mobile interface in Windows Vista. There's also a low-res Webcam on the front and a 1.3-megapixel lens on the back. In addition to 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, the Q1 Ultra features an HSDPA SIM card that lets you hop online via a 3G cellular network.
Samsung is keeping the processor a secret for now, but the theory is it has to be a low-voltage Intel chip. Perhaps a Core Solo. Surprisingly, the device uses a standard (read: spinning) hard drive; Samsung says it's still developing models with hybrid and solid-state flash drives. We would have wagered a princely sum that the Q1 Ultra would have featured a 32GB NAND drive, since Samsung had the Q1P SSD on display two months ago at CES.
Two obstacles remain: price and battery life. The Q1 Ultra would appear to improve on neither. It won't offer anywhere close to a full day's charge, and Samsung expects the Q1 Ultra will cost roughly the same as the original $1,100 Q1. It's slated to arrive in the U.K. in May; no word yet on when it'll appear on our shores.