CES 2007: OQO releases model 02 UMPC

Las Vegas (NV) - OQO has released the second generation of its ultra mobile computer, which is now officially designated as an ultra mobile PC (UMPC). There is more of everything and an innovative enticing new accessory - a stylish dock. But even with those improvements, the specs hint to some drawbacks - such as performance, battery time - and price.

No matter how you look at it, OQO should be considered the inventor of the UMPC, even if this term was introduced more than two years after OQO had first introduced its concept of a pocket-sized, yet fully functional Windows computer. The model 02, the second generation of the device, was officially introduced yesterday during Bill Gates' CES opening keynote and is now officially called a "UMPC Pro" computer and not an "ultra personal computer" anymore.

See the OQO model 02 in detail ...

So, what do we have under the new and fancy black skin of the 02? It starts with 1.2 GHz and 1.5 GHz Via C7-M processors (an upgrade from the 01's Transmeta Crusoe/Efficeon CPUs), 30 GB and 60 GB hard drives, 512 MB and 1 GB of memory as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Mobile broadband (EV-DO) is an option. There is also a striking new dock, which integrates comes with an integrated CD±RW/DVD-ROM drive (dual-layer DVD burner is optional), and an array of ports, including HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, USB 2.0 (x3), and audio. The dock comes standard with an HDMI-DVI adapter.

From what we have seen, there is little doubt that the model 02 is a huge improvement over the previous 01 and 01+ models. But until we actually can spend some time with it, we have some reservations about the device - reservations we also had with the first generation versions. First, there are the processors, which are more potent, but not exactly race horses and not powerful enough to run Windows Vista. The 800x480 pixel 5" screen is powered by a Via VX700 integrated graphics chipset, which is the lower-end, non Vista-ready version of two graphics chipsets offered for the Via C7-M processor.

The spec sheet also indicates a battery life of six hours with the high-capacity battery option. If correct, this number is somewhat disappointing as higher-performing LV notebooks already reach that mark today. When first announced, UMPCs were promised to run about eight hours on one battery charge and the OQO device is clearly targeted at a user group that requires mobile computing not only on half a day, but at least eight hours, if not more. There is still some work to do on this part.

Then there is the price. Compared to the first-generation OQO, the entry-level 02 is cheaper - the price is down from $2000 to now $1500. But that is for the entry-level device - without dock and EV-DO connectivity. Upgrade to the 1.5 GHz/60 GB model ($1850) add the DVD-burner-dock ($400), the tablet PC version of Windows XP ($100) and you are at $2350. And that is without the EV-DO option, which hasn't received a price tag yet. That price appears to be somewhat expensive even for a very stylish UMPC that can't run Windows Vista. At about $2500 for the fully decked out model 02, some customers may be looking over to Samsung's latest Q1 UMPC, which runs for $2000, but comes with a 32 GB SSD flash hard drive.