Last weekend, my desktop system developed a major overheating issue. I attempted to correct the problem by replacing the CPU heat-sink and fan, but ended up messing something up and leaving the system unable to boot at all. As a result, it has been at the repair shop for the last week. This means that my UMPC has been serving as my primary PC for the past week, resulting in an interesting test of its overall usability.
My desktop PC is kept in our living room and even since I got my eo, I have mostly still been using the desktop system when I was in that room. Even for tasks like web surfing and email, I have mostly been using the UMPC when on the go or around the house in rooms other than the one where the desktop PC was located, particularly up in the bedroom. With the UMPC as the only PC available this week (unless I want to use my wife’s notebook PC), I have now expanded to using it anywhere in the house. What I have found is that this has helped to introduce me more to the wonders of “couch surfing”, the term that many in the UMPC community have used for web browsing from the couch while parked in front of the TV. While I admit that I almost feel a tad lazy web browsing in that way, I also get the feeling that I could get way too used to it. It is a bit decadent, but also pretty nice…
This week, I do wish that I already had the docking station cradle that has been announced for the eo, but not yet released. This cradle while add VGA and Ethernet ports as well as a couple extra USB connectors. If this were already available, I could have essentially used the eo as a desktop PC some of the time this week by hooking it up to the monitor, keyboard, and mouse that are currently going unused. The USB connectors on the eo itself do allow the use of the keyboard and mouse, if I want, but connecting it to the monitor isn’t really an option. There are a few USB-based video adapters on the market, but they tend to be expensive and also have a reputation for being very slow. I’d rather wait for the cradle. Admittedly, this is one case where the Samsung Q1 would have been advantageous, since it does have a VGA connector directly on the device. For me, though, this would really only have been advantages during this time that the docking station cradle isn’t yet available.
Even with the docking station unavailable, I am actually writing this blog post while sitting at the computer desk in my living room. I am using the extra stylus that was included with the eo as a stand (the plastic stand that TabletKiosk sent me is on my desk at work) and have just moved the full-sized computer monitor out of the way. Since space is pretty limited on my desk with the monitor still there, I am using my smaller Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard and the touchscreen/mouse stick instead of plugging in the full-sized keyboard and mouse. It would be nice to have this hooked to the bigger monitor, but I’m still finding this to work very well.
The biggest disadvantage that I have found to the use of the eo as my primary PC has been the poor battery life. With my desktop box in the shop, I have not yet sent in my eo for the recall service, so I’ve had to keep working around the way-too-short 1:20 battery life. Even once I do get the recall work done, that probably isn’t going to extend to much over 2 hours. That is still pretty short for fairly heavy usage. Of course, it isn’t extremely hard to keep the system on the charger much of the time when using it around the house, although even there it has been something of an inconvenience. I have a 2-year-old child, which means that I really can only use the eo on the charger in places where he can’t easily get at the cord. On weekends, my wife and I also typically spend some of the time taking turns hiding out in the upstairs bedroom while the other watches our son. It also still isn’t unusual to have to get up with the kid in the middle of the night on some days. With no desktop PC downstairs, I have run into a few occasions where the battery ran out and the charger was in the other part of the house. It actually has me considering getting another charger to keep downstairs, although I suspect this problem will be much less significant once the extended life battery is available.