I just got my SmartQ 7 few days ago. In this post I want to share some technical thing (not a full review, you can find it somewhere else). Before giving my opinion about this device, I want to give quick update: I haven’t done much progress on the STR9104 FreeBSD port except to keep it up to date with FreeBSD Current. I am planning to start to work on it again this week. Andrew Certain have added joystick support for AppleWii. See the Google Code for latest version.
I bought this device from DealExtreme for 206.1 USD , this is the first expensive thing that I bought from DealExtreme (I only bought small things from then, usually my total is less than 20 USD). The thing shipped in about 10 days, but I need to get the thing from the post office, because I need to pay extra tax 350 baht (~11 USD).
SmartQ 7 is a 7″ MID (mobile internet device) running ubuntu. It has ARM processor (the SoC is Samsung S3C6410), the RAM is 128 Mb, with 1GB internal flash storage. There are 2 USB ports, one for USB Host, and the other for USB OTG. It doesn’t have an internal bluetooth, buat a bluetooth dongle is given, it looks like this thing in DealExtreme. It has 4500mAh battery. The screen resolution is 800×600.
My short opinion is: this thing is great, but needs better software. There is no accelerated driver for Xorg (X uses fbdev, an unaccelerated framebuffer driver). By default it allocates 128Mb swap space in the internal flash. I am a little bit worried about this (the flash have limited write cycle), and I move the swap to external SD Card. Because the memory is only 128Mb, it swaps a lot.
This SoC has a 3D graphics support, but of course, no driver for it yet. It also has a hardware JPEG decoder (no driver for it yet), hardware MPEG-4 video decoder (no driver for it also). I hope someone will make those drivers (or may be I will if I have finished the FreeBSD stuff).
The power management is still not so good. Sometimes it works perfectly, but sometimes not. On the first day, I can use it about 9.5 hours (according to uptime, part of this uptime is when the LCD is off when i left it for a while) reading comic books while installing several softwares using apt-get (the wifi is kept on). On the next day, it shows some strange behaviour, such as refusing to resume after sleep. And restarting it several times makes the battery drain faster (I think it lasted less than 5 hours). I still don’t know whether this behaviour is from the factory, or may be I have messed around too much.
Most sofware are not designed to be touch operated. I have seen several modal dialog box that appears beneath current window, and you can not switch to it. Plugging an external USB Keyboard seems to be the only good solution when it happens. Sometimes you ocan still escape by holding some combination of buttons, but sometimes plugging a USB keyboard or resetting the device is the only solution (or if you have installed an openssh server, SSH-ing to the device and killing the application).
You have several options for the operating system: the built in OS (Ubuntu), Mer, Google Android (just some initial support, I haven’t tested it), and Windows CE (Chinese version only for now). You can also do multiboot using those OSes (dual boot, tripeboot, or even quadboot).
Just a note: the device is perfect for reading Manga, but not American comic books. The size fits perfectly for a manga page (except when they show double page). I suggest you use latest Comix application, because it is more touch friendly.
If you are looking for a device that “just works”, then this not the device that youare looking for. If you are like me, who likes to mess around with stuff, then this device has many potential. I can use this device as a very large PDA, and I can use it as a netbook by connecting a USB keyboard. It is not pocketable, but it is very portable (smaller than my wife’s EEE PC). With the USB Host functionality, I can do almost everything that I can do with laptops, such as copying things from USB Disks.
My wife have an EEE PC for her traveling needs, and she also owns a MacBook Pro, which is quite portable around the house, but too heavy for long trips. I wanted to buy another netbook, but I think this device is better for me. I can carry the SmartQ, and put the USB keyboard on my bag. For my traveling preparation, I have bought a USB hub (with power adapter, for those devices that requires it) and a small keyboard, the total for both are 500 baht (~15 USD).
I wrote this post on SmartQ 7, using usb keyboard on Emacs, and then I copy paste the text to Midori web browser.