Virtual Globes go UltraMobile

OQOI finally got tired of lugging my Thinkpad around, and decided that I needed to somehow get an even smaller, lighter portable device, yet with full laptop capabilities. So, I managed to spend all my money on an OQO Model 02, which is the ultimate in geeky tech. It is part of a new family of devices known as UMPC (UltraMobile PCs). My OQO is a mere 5.6″ x 3.3″ x 1.0″, but packs in a 1.5GHz VIA processor, 1 GB of RAM, and a 60 GB hard drive. It runs a full installation of Windows XP (and you can buy models that come with Windows Vista), and is basically a laptop PC in a tiny package that weighs just around a pound.

The OQO is really for the techie on the go. It has built-in wireless and Bluetooth and you can pay more for integrated Wireless WAN and other options. If you want to know the specs in more detail, the OQO website has everything. Now, on the more cool part. I decided to see what the OQO could really do in terms of letting me do my work on the go, so we installed a full ArcGIS including extensions (see ArcGlobe and ArcMap running on a 5 inch screen is a little weird). Then, during one of the morning breaks at ISDE5, I decided to take advantage of the wireless in the room and see what I could play with. I downloaded ArcGIS Explorer, Google Earth, and the plugin for Virtual Earth 3D. Then I decided to see if I could in fact run them. I was a little surprised that ArcGIS Explorer seemed the least fazed by the little screen and so-so resolution, and the only real slowdown I noticed was in relation to the network. I had no real trouble navigating around in Virtual Earth 3D, although the 3D buildings in San Francisco did not have time to load fully, and I don’t know if the OQO display graphics are really capable of handling the textures. Google Earth was the last globe I had time to try, and it of course told me that I might not want to run it on such a low resolution screen (I believe 800×480), but when I actually went ahead and started, we did OK and I tried out a few info windows and such.

Overall, I love my OQO and it’s exactly what I hoped it would be. It’s not for everyone, however. The tiny screen and lower resolution might bug some people and the keyboard is small, so effective typing pretty much has to be BlackBerry-style. So, even though I didn’t really intend this post to be a review of the OQO Model 02, if mobility and connectivity matter to you, you should definitely check it out.

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