my OQO

[myOQO]

[icon] Specs


Features:

  • 1GHz Transmeta Crusoe
  • 20GB/30GB hard drive (shock-mounted)
  • 256MB/512MB DDR RAM
  • Dimensions: 12.4 x 8.6 x 2.3 cm
  • Weight: 398g
  • 800 x 480 W-VGA 5" transflective display (indoor/outdoor readable)
  • 3D accelerated graphics with 8MB of video RAM
  • QWERTY thumb keyboard with mouse buttons and TrackStik
  • 802.11b wireless
  • Bluetooth wireless
  • 4-pin FireWire (1394)
  • USB 1.1/2.0
  • 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
  • Internal speaker
  • Microphone
  • Digital pen
  • Removable lithium polymer battery
  • Battery life up to three hours, depending on usage

Includes:

  • Power cord and AC adaptor
  • Docking cable
  • Desktop stand
  • Digital pen
  • Carrying sleeve
  • WindowsXP Pro

Docking cable has:

[cable]
  • 3D accelerated 1280 x 1024 VGA video output
  • Additional USB
  • Additional FireWire (1394)
  • Ethernet
  • DC power
  • Audio out

Purchasing Experience:

When my mini Laptop died, I went in search for a replacement and found the OQO which seemed to be a nice product. Although it was a bit expensive, I decided to give it a try and made an online purchase via OQO's international distributor Expansys. This is when the nightmare started. The order was quickly confirmed quoting 3-4 days lead time and provided me with a passcode to a tracking URL. However, only a day after, the tracking page showed 10-15 days. But instead of going down, subsequent visits to the page showed an even increased number in days.

Well, some might know how it feels when your laptop dies and you need a quick replacement because otherwise you cannot do any work. When I initially ordered the OQO from Expansys I was lead to believe that it would only take 3-4 days which was not an unreasonable time to wait. However, what followed was ridiculous. Eventually, after waiting for a week and the time became 21 days I cancelled the order in frustration. In the meantime, I had purchased a mini Laptop from pricejapan and it was delivered 3 days after I ordered from them! Yes, it is possible, only 3 days from ordering to delivery including order processing, international freight from Japan to Australia and clearing customs.

I was happy with my new mini Laptop, but still, I wanted to try out this OQO but it was no more a priority for me since I had a working laptop now. I just considered the OQO a nice toy I would want to have to play with eventually. It no longer was an essential business tool which it was originally intended for. Eventually, Expansys claimed to have stock on the XP Home Edition and I attempted another order. This time I also ordered some extra accessories and they claimed 5 days for everything. However, it fluctuated between 3 and 10 days the day after the order and continued to do so for almost a month claiming they were awaiting stock for some of the accessories.

Then came the big surprise. The OQO I ordered was discontinued! I called up Expansys and demanded an explanation and I was told that their system was down and they would get back to me. Well, they got back to me and offered me an alternate model, the XP Pro Edition which is not what I really wanted. XP Pro is too resource hungry especially for a machine with limited resources. They threw in an extra battery and adaptor as well and assured me they had everything in stock this time and I decided to take the offer since it appeared that it would be the only way I could get an OQO. Again I waited. After a few days, I got annoyed because the status was still at 3-5 days and I called them again and told them how pissed off I was and this time, they immediately dispatched my order. Of course I still had to wait several more days until the OQO finally arrived.

So all in all, it only took 4 months and 3 weeks instead of 3-4 days for the OQO to show up after my initial order. Well, you decide whether this was good service or not. The only consolidation is that I got it cheaper this way but I would had rather had it delivered on a timely fashion like 4 months ago when I needed it!




Thoughts on OQO:

[keyboard]

Well, now that I finally got an OQO, let me give you a small review about what I think about it and whether it was worth the wait. The idea of the OQO is quite good and the engineering that went in for the design of the internals of the unit would had been challenging but they produced something that worked technically. However, many aspects of the product in terms of usability were not thoroughly considered but that is expected for a first release product.

The worst part of the OQO would be the marketing. Contrary to what most people say, I believe they overdid it. They created too big a demand and they reached too wide an audience without having the means to fulfill the demand. They were only able to produce a limited number of the units and were not able to fulfill orders in a timely manner. This is bad. Setting wrong expectations is harmful, especially for a new product.

Their distribution system also is not up to scratch for a wider rollout. They made a very poor choice in partnering with Expansys for their sales and delivery channel. Expansys has to be one of the worst and most unreliable online retailer unless that is the US and EU standard.

They also tried to target the corporate users with the OQO as a desktop replacement. Well, any powerful laptop could be a desktop replacement which the OQO is not since it is nowhere near as powerful as a normal sized laptop. It is not even close to the processing power of a sub-notebook. It should had been targeted at travelling executives who needed the freedom and flexibility such a small device can give them as well as the 'geeks' who are the technology thought leaders and early adopters.

Since the OQO was targeted at the corporate sector, it was mainly shipped with WinXP Pro which makes sense from a marketing perspective reflecting Microsoft's marketing strategy, however, from a technical point of view, the OQO is much more suitable for the XP Home edition since it has a smaller resource footprint. With MS Office added to the OQO, the resource requirements does increase quite a bit and XP Home with Office again would had been a better match for the OQO. Next, the Windows only bundling of the OQO would had make it less attractive to a number of corporations which are starting to embrace Linux. Even though OQO does not have the expertise to roll a Linux line of the OQO, they should had allowed the option for corporations to load an alternate operating system onto their OQOs without having to pay the XP licenses.

The packaging of the OQO is also so typically American where the principle big is good prevails which is such a contrast and contradiction to the OQO itself. Why does such a tiny machine need such a big box? If convennience and easy transportation was the message they were trying to convey, then it should had started at the packaging.

The OQO unit itself is quite small but very heavy in comparison to similarly sized units such as the Sharp Zaurus. In fact, it is almost the same size as the Zaurus except it is slightly longer by a few milimeters, but it feels to weight double as much. In comparison to the Zaurus, the OQO has a very rudimentary ergonomic design. It is too heavy for prolonged handheld use. Also the keyboard is an absolute ergonomic disaster. It is almost unusable for extensive typing. It reminds me of a first generation mobile phone which had a rudimentary keypad for occasional entering of contact informations but was way too cumbersome. The left and right mouse keys located on the left hand side of the keyboard is so very inconvenniently located. It makes using the mouse pointer extremely difficult even when the OQO is placed on its stand. An external keyboard and mouse appear to be an absolute must in order to make productive use of the OQO which usually also includes plugging in an external monitor which then defeats the purpose of having a touchscreen. The touchscreen itself is not bad but wihout the tablet edition of windows, it really is useless. The digital pen (called a stylus on most PDAs) is quite bizarre. It does not need to touch the screen and it is merely sufficient for it to float over the screen. However, it is way inaccurate, even with careful recalibration. If you ever had a PDA, this would be a very frustrating experience and you will most likely decide not to ever use that digital pen again. The screen is also exposed due to the tablet design. A clamshell design would had been a better fit and could had allowed for a better keyboard as well. Hopefully, the next OQO will have considered such as design alternative. The earlier Zaurus models had a similar design to the OQO, but the newer Zaurus models have moved to a clamshell design instead which makes them much more usable.

The OQO also gets extremely hot after only a few minutes of usage. This is quite annoying especially in summer. In winter, however, it does double up as a handheld heater. You can surf the net while your hands are kept warm by the OQO. The fan noise sounds like a little motor out of balance. It is not as bad as mentioned by others. It is very similar in noise to other laptops that get noisy but the fan on the OQO gets activated much more frequently than those so it goes tend to get more annoying.

The ergonomics and usability of the OQO accessories are also questionable. If the OQO was designed to be small and portable, then why are its accessories not designed with that in mind as well? The deskstand that comes with the OQO is heavy and not foldable. It adds a lot of additional weight to business travellers and is hard to store due to its inflexible shape. Next the docking cable is also huge. It looks like a modified industrial strength VGA cable with bits attached to it. It is definately not convennient to carry around and probably intended to be left at a permanent location like an office. This again makes it very inconvennient for business travellers who commute between several offices frequently, often on a daily basis.

[OQO and accessories]

The new VGA adaptor is a nice small replacement for the docking cable if you only need to connect to a monitor without all the other connectors. This is a nice add on and much more convennient than the huge docking cable. However, the VGA adaptor does not work too well with the deskstand unless it is placed on the edge of a pile of phonebooks. As an alternative to the bulky docking cable, the VGA adaptor and a small USB hub can be used instead. There aren't that many firewire devices out there so one firewire port should be sufficient in most cases or if needs be, a small combo firewire/USB hub can be used as well. The external keyboard and mouse can be either bluetooth or USB. In my case, I use a small 4 port USB hub for a USB mini LAN adaptor, USB mouse and USB keyboard, and got one spare USB port for other things such as a small memory stick or external USB HDD. I got a combo USB/firewire harddisk enclosure for my external HDD which can be plugged into either the spare USB port or the free firewire port.

[OQO and Zauri]

And finally, there is the power adaptor which is smaller than some laptop power adaptors but still quite bulky relatively to the OQO itself. For convennience, it should be smaller and maybe have retractable cords. But first there is another more pressing issue. The power adaptor gets incredibly hot, much hotter than other adaptors. This seems like a design or implementation fault and hopefully it will be rectified in the next release. It also makes noises similar to that of faulty electrical devices that haven't been properly shielded. Quite dodgy considering the cost of the OQO.

[OQO and Zauri]

Now comparing the OQO to the latest Zaurus model, the SL-C3200, it has a few advantages over the Zaurus but also has a few disadvantages. First at all, it uses a x86 based processor so it is binary compatible with regular desktop PCs and Laptops. It also has much more RAM and harddisk space than the Zaurus. In addition, it has built-in Wifi and Bluetooth. The Zaurus allows CF card based expansion instead. As well as that, the OQO has VGA out via a bundled docking cable or VGA adaptor. It also has a bigger display and a higher resolution.

Software wise it runs and is bundled with Windows XP Pro which is pre-installed on the OQO. A Windows XP Home bundle is not available via Expansys. If you want Linux, then you can still install it yourself, but you have to pay for a Windows XP Pro license no matter what. The Zaurus comes with Linux pre-installed.

[keyboard]

The OQO cannot swivel around and transform between clamshell and PDA mode like the Zaurus. The screen therefore is exposed. The keyboard is also not as sexy looking as the Zaurus'. It is in fact very clumsy but it has the sticky function key functionality like the Zaurus as well. Screen rotations works on the OQO, but only after a firmware and driver update.

The battery life is not as good as the Zaurus either. It delivers the same battery performance like other laptops of greater size. A high capacity battery is available but it is twice the size and twice as heavy making the OQO even heavier than it already is. Also, with the extra size, the OQO won't fit into the hardshell holder designed for it.

[usb cables]

There is also no expansion slots for cards such as PCMCIA which are found in most Laptops, or SD and/or CF slots which are commonplace in handheld devices such as PDAs which the Zaurus has.

The good thing is that is has a USB interface so I will be able to use all my existing USB devices I had previously bought for the Zaurus which include Keyboard, Mouse, WebCams, HardDisks, CDRW/DVD drive, Card Readers, Light, LAN adaptor and Hubs. The OQO also has a firewire port which the Zaurus does not have, but the Zaurus has an infrared port instead which the OQO does not have. Neither of them have a parallel, serial or PS/2 port.




Additional Accessories needed:

The OQO by itself is not as useful as it should be. There are a few things that needs to be added to make it more usable and also to protect it from getting damaged.

  • bag for OQO and accessories
    [HDD] [HDD]
  • belt clip carry case
    [beltclip]
  • screen protector (essential to prevent scratches)
    [protector]
  • vga adaptor (this one is smaller than the docking cable)
    [adaptor]
  • external 2.5" harddisk for extra storage (with firewire and usb interfaces)
    [usb HDD]
  • external USB CDRW/DVD combo drive
    [usb dvdrw]
  • USB power cable to power 2.5" HDD and CDRW/DVD drive
    [usb power]
  • mini 4 port USB hub
    [usb hub]
  • USB network adaptor
    [usb net]
  • USB keyboard
    [usb keyboard]
  • USB mouse
    [usb mouse]
  • USB cardreader
    [usb cardreader]
  • USB stick/SD card combo
    [SD card]



Post Purchase Experience:

The quality of the OQO is quite low. It is kind a draw of the luck thing. Either you get a unit without any major problems, or you get a unit which keeps breaking and needs to be replaced all the time or send in for repair. If you get one of the latter case, then you will be in for multiple returns which is bad enough. Add the long waiting time and saying you get a bit upset and frustrated is an understatement.

After some time, my OQO developed some cracks on the plastic that covers the two antennaes on each side of the OQO. This seems to have been caused because the plastic expanded when it got hot and then cracked when it cooled down. Anyway, I put sticky tapes on it when the plastic stripe began to fall off because I did not want to send the OQO back to just have the two plastic covers replaced. I could not afford the long period of time it would take to get it fixed as everyone knows - "Time is Money" and wasted time without an OQO is a big waste of money (the ROI of not having an OQO even though you forked out lots of money to buy one). Besides, if you ever send your OQO back for repair or replacement, then if you were lucky you would only be without an OQO for a few weeks, but you might also be unlucky which unfortunately is not very uncommon case, then you could end up without and OQO for many months.

Unfortunately for me, one day the OQO charger died. Of course, I contacted Expansys immediately, and they got back to me after a week and said they would send me a RMA in less than a day so I could return the power supply. Needless to say that it ran out of battery power by then and the OQO was just sitting there collecting dust.

Well, after three days and some friendly reminders, they finally send me a RMA and I sent off the broken power supply. A few days after it arrived, they send me a confirmation that they received it and would be sending me a status about it within three days. After over a week and some more requests for a status update, they finally confirmed that they would be sending me a replacement. A week later, it still had not arrived and I had to call them again and check why I have not received it yet. They started an investigation and after a day they told me that they forgot to send it to me and it was still sitting in their warehouse. So again they promised me that I would receive it the next day. After about three days, it finally arrived!

Now this could had been a happy end after such a long wait, but unfortunately, the trouble is far from over. When I unpacked the package, I found that they forgot to send back my power adaptor for the charger. So without it, I could not use the charger. The next day, I called Expansys again and told them about my missing adaptor cable. They said I should just buy another one, but I insisted they send mine back.

Knowing it probably would take a while, I went out and bought a new adaptor so I could use the charger. When I plugged everything in, it began to charge the battery and I was happy and let it charge overnight. The next day I took my OQO to work and was expecting to finally be able to use it again. I plugged everything in, the docking cable, ethernet, power and began to check my email online. Then five minutes later, the OQO went into a weird charging state and I could not use it. It would not respond to anything until I pulled the battery and rebooted. Plugged everything back in and the OQO locked up again.

I contacted Expansys again and told them about my problem with their replacement charger. It charges the battery but it will locks up my OQO if I have it plugged into the mains while using it. So basically, I now I can use my OQO on battery power only which is like 2 and a half hours at best. Then I need to charge it which takes more than 4 hours. This means its useless for work. I told Expansys about this and also reminded them that they still have not send me back my adaptor. They apologised about the adaptor and said they would send it back to me immediately and would investigate why my charger was not working properly.

After many more weeks of waiting, I still have not received my adaptor cable back nor have they given me any advice as to whether I can send the power supply back for another RMA. Repeated attempts at getting them to respond have fallen on deaf ears.

Meantime, my OQO is still collecting dust since it is pretty useless without a working charger...so in the future, I will never ever buy anything from Expansys again. Such a low quality of service is just not acceptable and I would also advice others not to buy from such a dodgy retailer. As for the OQO, it would need to be a cold day in hell for me to even consider buying a OQO2. I just cannot afford to waste so much time and money on something that is not even close to being usable. Unfortunately, the Zaurus devices have been discontinued by Sharp and they are not releasing any more new devices. I would had bought those to upgrade my existing Zaurus which is a beautiful device with good hardware quality.


DISCLAIMER: The above information is provided AS IS. No assurance is given to the accuracy or functionality described above.