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Samsung who have struggled in the Notebook market in Australia have refused to confirm if the new Q1 will be launched in Australia this year.

The device which was shown at a recent Sydney trade show was undergoing evaluation for the Australian market however several analysts who have played with the device say it is still a “gimmick with limited application capability”.  
The Q1, which runs the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system, is currently available for sale in the U.S and Korea only.

In addition to making history by being the first Ultra Mobile PC, the Q1 is also making history in another arena. Last week, Samsung released two new models in the Q1 line. The original Q1’s new siblings — the Q1 SSD and the Q30 SSD — are the first commercial PCs sporting NAND flash memory instead of hard drives.

Mixed Reviews

Those keeping an eye on the first Q1 have mixed feelings. Some observers believe it is too small, or too big, or too weak in the battery, or, at $1,599, too pricey.

This kind of device is in a “1 kilogram wasteland,” said Leif-Olof Wallin, an analyst at Gartner, a technology research firm. He said it’s “too big to put into your pocket and too small to do some real work on.” Wallin also said he believes it will take until 2008 until we all will see truly compelling devices in the Ultra Mobile PC format.

Nicole d’Onofrio, an industry analyst at Current Analysis, offered a similar take. “The high price point is going to marginalise this — until we see it come down to $500,” she said.

“We probably won’t see this form factor gain widespread adoption until 2008,” she said. “And the initial specs are a bit weak.”

Non-PC Territory

Weighing just under 1 kilo, the Q1 is operated by thumb-controlled buttons on either side of its 7-inch screen and by a stylus. It has no physical keyboard, relying instead on handwriting recognition via the stylus or a touch-sensitive virtual keyboard on the screen. Additionally, for those needing to do a lot of text input, standard keyboards can be attached to the Q1.

Bluetooth 2.0, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, and an Ethernet port are included with the Q1. The recommended screen resolution is 800 x 480, although it is scaleable to 800 x 600 or 1,024 x 600. A 40-GB hard drive and 512-MB memory, upgradeable to 1 GB, are standard.

In addition to these traditional PC features, the Q1 offers some non-PC options. The Q1’s Instant On AVS Multimedia feature, for example, allows users to view movies, photos, and music without starting up Windows. It is a portable music player as well, with enhanced SRS TruSurround sound and stereo speakers.

A twin-array microphone on the Q1 is designed to help make phone calls over the Internet. And, although there are a limited number of available games that will run at the Q1’s default screen resolution, an eight-way stick with a three-button pad gives users the means.

The offered CPU is the Intel Celeron M ULV, running at 900 MHz. The standard battery’s life is estimated by Samsung at three hours; an optional long-life battery is available.

Despite this seemingly impressive set of features packed in a small case, the jury, it seems, is still out on the Q1. Reviewers and analysts alike have expressed many opinions about the Q1 and about the Ultra Mobile PC format, but it is still too early to determine whether the Q1 will develop a following.

After all, the little guy is only about a month old.

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