[IDF] with the Atom blitz going on at IDF, it was a good opportunity to do some interesting hands-on with upcoming sexy gadgets. The Compal JAX10 (also sold by Aigo in white under the P8880 product name) was one that caught my eye. It has a full keyboard, WiFi + CDMA 1X connectivity and a GPS among an impressive list (full specs in the full page). This particular version was running Linux, but Windows XP could also be installed I’m told. My goal is to use it for web browsing, email and blogging. It is capable of doing all of the above, but the user interface is a serious limiting factor.
With an 800 pixel wide display, we can say that this is very close to a full desktop web experience. I liked it a lot.
I could not install an email client, but GMail works great. Typing on the keyboard is not so comfortable, because the width of the device if a little too big for my taste (I was holding it like a Blackberry). I’m not sure that I could get used to it, so I’ll stick to my first opinion for now. I would say that email is much more comfortable to read when compared to a blackberry, but it is comparable (or worse) than a smartphone when it comes to typing.
I logged into a popular platform like MovableType and everything worked perfectly. I suspect that other platforms would “just work” too. There’s one problem though: manipulating (copy, resize) images would not be too convenient, when compared to a laptop. Sure this is possible, but I’m afraid that the productivity would be quite low. Now I have not spent too much time thinking of a workaround, so remember, it’s a first impression.
Physically, the device works well, but the OS that it runs on assumes that you have mouse pointer. Using the finger, or even the stylus to click on some 8×8 pixels user interface element can trying. The same goes for using the scrolling bars and other common interface elements. The virtual keyboard requires the stylus. Finally, it’s not an instant-on (boots in seconds) device. I wish that I had the time to measure the boot time, but I’m sure that it is not “instant” – that’s what we really want from this type of device.
Would I get one? may be, it depends on the price. For $200 to $300, sure, I’ll get one just for fun. I can’t call it a productivity device yet, but knowing its weaknesses you can guess if it will help, hurt or just entertain you. To me, the hardware is way ahead of the software here. You can reduce the size of a computer, but by doing that you’re changing the way it should be interacted with, and that requires a more suitable (I did not say “new” or “revolutionary”) interface.
Specifications (robot-translated from Chinese)