The OQO: WindowsXP in the Palm of Your Hand

What Is It Good For?

The OQO seems to be a nice device for PowerPoint presenters. With Power Point installed and docking cable in hand, you can output your presentations in 1280x1024 resolution to any VGA screen or projector. No longer would you have to carry around your more-bulky laptop for presentations.

Another less-apparent application is to use the OQO to find wireless access points, also known as wardriving or warwalking. I installed Netstumbler 0.4.0 , a free program that detects and logs wireless access points, onto the OQO with no problems. Netstumbler was even able to use the built-in wireless interface to scan for networks.

Since the OQO has a USB port, aspiring wireless hackers can attach USB wireless adapters such as the Parkervision USB Wireless adapter I used for a short warwalking experiment. I walked around the block and found 15 wireless access points. I could have easily put the OQO and USB adapter in a backpack or small bag.

Conclusion

The OQO attracted a lot of attention during our testing. Dozens of people walked up and asked us what it was and how such a small device could run Windows. After showing them the device, the most common statement was, "Ok, it's cool, but why do I need it?"

The OQO is a cool device, but is it practical for most people? Today, laptops and PDAs are extremely powerful and quite inexpensive. For the same price as an OQO, you can purchase a decent laptop AND a PDA.

In certain limited applications, such as PowerPoint presentations or wireless hacking, the OQO can work well. The portable nature of the device ensures that any data is always kept with the owner (assuming the owner doesn't lose it). A more rugged and robust version could have military applications.

The OQO is a marvel of technology. The makers should be applauded for cramming a CPU, hard-drive and WindowsXP into such a small device. If this device had come out two years ago, we have no doubt that it would have gained a huge following.

If you have money to spare and want the smallest WindowsXP computer, the OQO represents a decent first try. For everyone else, it doesn't make sense.