Lots of internet users seem to be claiming that the latest videos posted
on the VIA Arena website must be fake. But we're here to tell you that they are very real indeed. When it’s not utterly discriminating against us left handers (of which both yours truly and Tim are better off for being), you can
actually play a number of games, including retro classics like Quake 3, Half Life
on VIA’s new OQO UMPC.
The OQO UMPC is incredibly painful with the tiny buttons and the fire keys being on the same side as your WASD, but hey, it works. It works so well, in fact, that you should be no less well-equipped than anyone else at your LAN party. That is, as long as they don’t suggest a round of BattleField 2
We would probably recommend avoiding FPS titles like Quake 3
due to the tiny confines of the keyboard and lack of a mouse. Ideally the mini computer is suited to RTS games like Command and Conquer
, or just browsing the net and checking email. For these types of tasks, it's better than anything else that's out on the market right now. It's way more comfortable than a mobile, but nowhere near the bulk of a laptop.
We were genuinely well impressed with the device, but until the inclusion and mass roll out of WiMAX in them, we can’t see them replacing either mobile phones or notebooks any time soon. A mobile phone is smaller and can still surf the web (albeit for a significant cost and discomfort), whereas a notebook has the distinct advantage of a full size keyboard: typing with thumbs is extremely slow process in comparison. It's really hard to fathom when exactly you are going to want one of these with such alternatives already available.
And at around £1200, it’s still a luxury product that’s hard to work on and “only” plays classic games. It does sport HDMI out, which is a fantastic addition for a slideshow or video output to a big screen, but that appeal is still
only for a niche market even if it’s one that will inevitably grow. VIA may not see this as such a downside, but a business needs to earn enough money justify the cost of future R&D.
It's not that the OQO UMPC is a bad product, in fact it's quite the opposite. It is way more than we would have expected, but at the end of the day it is just too far
ahead of the curve. In a market where everyone needs a cell phone, laptop or both, this fits into neither.
Of course, we can only begin to dream up some of the modding-related benefits...
Ever thought of owning an UMPC? Let us know in the forums