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May 16, 2008

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Hands-on with aigo MID by UMPCFever


I have just received Hong Kong first Intel Atom based MID – aigo MID –from the aigo branch office in HK.

aigo MID (Gigabyte M528 in US) is 4.8 inches Intel Atom (Z500) based MID which is one of the first group MIDs presented in the world. (BenQ MID in another way is the first MID shown in IDF 2007 as a full function demo. unit). Before I meet the real machine of aigo MID, the first point in which aigo MID attracts my interest is it's Intel Atom processor (also known as Silverthorne). Intel Atom almost the main topic to be presented in IDF Spring 2008. Most of the devices and prototypes using Intel Atom or Diamondville were demonstrated in the IDF and I found aigo MID and LG MID were the representatives for MID engineering design.

The advantage of the Intel Atom (Silverthorne type + Intel Poulsbo) over it precedent, A100/ A100 (McCaslin), is not only the 45nm manufacturing process but also the theoretically 10 times less power consumption which means MID will have much more battery life than the current A100/A110 based UMPC or ULCPC.

My First Impression:
Apart from the interior Intel Atom processor, my first impression on aigo MID is it's size and weight! It is a real small and light and even lighter than Raon Digital Everun which is the smallest UMPC I've played before!
When you holding it, it is just like you are holding a PSP or NDS but with a x86 processing power! My HTC TyTN II weights ~200g and aigo MID is just 352g but with a larger screen size (4.8 in 800 x 480 res.) and full function browser which is what I have expected on a mobile internet device.

User Interface:
I am not a Linux user, I know aigo MID comes with a Midinux 2.0 which is a GUI with a big icon for BIG finger control.

In my first attempt to use this UI, I find it is not necessary to use the stylus. With my medium-size fingers, I can easily access almost all applications, including the sub-menu in browser and player!
Moreover, this GUI supports smooth sliding of Program Launcher. Just likes what you experienced in iPhone (and most of iPhone-like WM launchers).

There are 10 Tabs including Internet, Communication, Media Center, Game, Navigation, My Financing, Business Center, Tools and System config. Each Tab will further expands the sub-menu (Big Icon again) and also easily be accessed with fingers.

One interesting function I have to emphasize, inside Media Center Tab, the Cool Image is a pictures viewer. It supports Touch-control to view photos. What's that means??? It is hard to explain with my poor English. So I will upload a movie to youtube later :)
But all I can say, it is very funny by just using your finger to watch photos and scroll page in Coolfox browser.

Another essential point why I just spot on aigo MID and LG MID is their qwerty keyboard.
In Midinux's Coolfox, when you tap on the url, a virtual on-screen keyboard will pop-up for input.
I think most of you may experience using a virtual keyboard is not a easy task. Hence, a real qwerty keyboard is essential to me.
And that's why I am using HTC TyTN II (code name HTC Kaiser) for my input device on the go (most of my articles/blog/news were typed using it, part of this article also :P )
Therefore, I spotted aigo MID for a long time and started to contact aigo Hong Kong branch office for a demo unit few months ago. Hehee~~

The Qwerty keyboard is larger than TyTN II's but I think it is not suitable for long time input as similar as I usually do on my TyTN II and ex-phone Hermes.
Although the keyboard of aigo MID is designed for thumbs typing, it seems a little bit wider for easily access to the middle keys of the keyboard.
Maybe my hands are not that big enough to handle it or that's why I can type very fast using the small qwerty keyboard in TyTN II and Hermes.
It still much much better to use a on-screen keyboard for long message typing.

And most importantly, even there is a qwerty keyboard, the thickness of aigo MID is just 22mm.
It is a full function X86 device and I could not expect it could be as thin as this. I think OQO is the limit~~ (Flipstar is horrible).

Business Center:
I don't have much time to test the office function (the true is I don't feel interest on it ;P) but I found in the "Bussiness Center Tab", you could find most the office application you normally use.

A bundle of Office applications (紅旗 2000) based on OpenOffice will offer you most of the office function. "Contact", "Calendar", "Audio REcorder", "StarDict" and especially "Take Notes" will do the rest of the office job. There is an email client called "Sylpheed" provides most of the function of
Outlook. It should be more than enough for your mobile email solution.

Media Center:
I wouldn’t go into detail on this section. aigo MID just do its job right on entertaining one's requirement.
I will upload some videos on youtube for sharing later.

Performance and Battery life:
I think most of you may ask the performance of the Intel Atom (Z500) 800 MHz. I do not change it to Windows (smoothly) so far (I just got it for two days~~).
I will pass it to my colleague Pauliu to have a full function test (if we can change it to Windows XP “successfully” – a little bit trick has to be overcome first).

But what I have experienced so far, the Intel Atom Z500 did pretty well in this Linux OS. I seldom felt it laps or hang-ups during normal use.
The Midinux OS very suitable to Intel Atom based device (and I think Microsoft will not want to see this especially they don't like Touch Screen device running WinXP OS).
However, the battery life does not show what Intel promised (theoretically)~~ I don't see 10 times longer in battery life~~(that is for sure >.< )
The battery capacity is 2700mAh, 3.7V (~10Wh). For a normal use, surfing internet with Wifi on and simple text input may give you about 2 hours operating time. Even worse than EeePC 900 and Kohjinsha SR8 !!! However, I did not count exactly the running time. Hope I will have time to test it again (both in Windows and Linux environments)

Navigation and HSPA Connectivity:

We still cannot activate the GPS of aigo MID but the officer from aigo notices us it should be workable in the later version. Hope we can test it in the new rom.

Aigo MID supports 3.5G HSDPA connectivity but don’t support phone call function. I still have not test it so far but I know the sim slot is functional in this version. I will test it in this weekend!!

Sum Up:
I have never play a small X86 device likes this. Compact, Stylish, Innovative and Entertaining.
The Midinux GUI is easy to play, easy to learn and easy to use (Hahaa~~). Most of the application you need may find in this small device. The Intel Atom Z500 is not a high performance processor but seems work smoothly in Midinux (and Windows XP). All the thing govern my orientation to get one is the price!! As what Chippy and JKK said for Gigabyte M528 (same hardware with aigo MID) is the price may up to 1199 AUD. Fortunately, the information I got from my friend in aigo is that aigo MID should be around HK$ 6000 – 8000 (depends on configuration) and much much cheaper than Gigabyte M528 :P.

Photo gallery of aigo MID

Other related reviews:
aigo 超輕便 MID 第一篇 - 簡介篇
aigo 超輕便 MID 第二篇 - 外型篇
Hands-on with aigo MID by UMPCFever
Youtube and Cool Image Video Demo on aigo MID
MacBook Air Parody (Two Endings)
MacBook Air Parody (Final Endings)
aigo MID video (HD WMV) playback
Audio Blog #11 - aigo MID 市場業務主任專訪

• Hands-on with aigo MID by UMPCFever

Re: Hands-on with aigo MID by UMPCFever
July 1, 2008 by alvin • • •

So what's the result as mentioned you will test the phone func. later by May. Does this one perform phone func.? Reply


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