Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

My Samsung Q1 Gets an Overhaul

Nearly a year ago, I received a Samsung Q1 Ultra-Mobile PC for review. I still have it laying around, although it hasn’t gotten much use lately. I tried using it for a while as a mobile TV device when my wife and I go on trips with the kids, but the 1GB RAM and the 4200 RPM hard drive were not enough to keep just about any video from stuttering to the point of unwatchable.

So this Christmas, I got brave, and decided to perform some minor surgery on this underpowered little device. For just about $50, my Q1 now has 2GB RAM, as well as an Intel WiFi Link 4965AGN card. Coupled with a clean install of the Windows 7 Beta, I now have a mobile entertainment system that streams media from my home network, and plays it off the hard drive, with ease. It is also surprisingly responsive to everyday tasks like web browsing and e-mail.

So how did I do it?

The Parts

The Tools

The Process
If you follow the video, you should be able to get the thing open in relatively short order. The secret is a clip under the VGA access door, and then popping the case over the headphone jack. On my model, the memory was on top, and the WiFi was underneath the mainboard, but YMMV. But be careful, as the Ethernet card is mounted as a daughter card to the motherboard, I’d highly recommend leaving it screwed in. I took mine out, and my wired internet connection no longer works :(.

The Result
Windows 7 appears to have adjusted their Windows Experience Index scores (also known as WinSAT) as a result of the Vista Capable lawsuit. You’d never get Microsoft to admit that is the reason, but I’d be willing to bet money that’s why my WinSAT scores dropped half a point for the processor, and a full point for the Intel 945 integrated graphics (which is at the center of the Vista Capable suit). The only thing that stayed the same was my crappy hard drive.

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The memory upgrade, coupled with the speed and memory footprint improvements in Windows 7, have FINALLY made my Q1 a pleasure to use. It feels much zippier and responsive, and I don’t have to wait for… well, hardly anything, even at 800MHz.

I’ve started using it as an eBook reader, so that I can take books with me on the go. And with the new HomeGroup built right in to Media Center, I can *FINALLY* use it to watch TV the way I want to. Though you still can’t use it as a full-blown extender, you CAN still watch Recorded TV, without skipping or lagging.

Final Thoughts
The only thing I’m still not happy with is the hard drive. I think if it had an SSD, it would be far more responsive. I’m looking at getting one of the new ZIF SSDs from RunCore, but now computer upgrades get to compete for attention with the ‘66 Mustang my parents gave their adult children for Christmas (they drive it around the country every few months and let one of us use it… it’s my turn until the spring). Maybe if someone gave me one for review *cough cough* I could report back any improvements. I was also thinking about the cheaper SuperTalent PCIe SSD… but then if I wanted to put in a WWAN card, I’d be out of luck. Hmmm.

But for now, I’m anxious to see if my beefier UMPC will make me any more productive. Stay tuned.

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Comments

  • Eric Geiger said:

    As a fellow Q1 [first generation] owner, I say, "Thank you".  I want to use mine more than I do, but it's underpowered for most of the tasks that its form factor implies it should be good for.  (My more affectionate term for it is "World's Most Expensive MP3 Player").  At least now I have some ideas on upgrading and re-purposing it.

    However, are there any caveats with putting Windows 7 Beta on it?  Isn't that going to expire at some point, bricking your Q1 until you do yet another install?

    January 4, 2009 1:14 PM
  • No caveats, really. I've gone Windows 7 on all my machines. On one I did a build-over-build upgrade from the leaked 6956 build to 7000, and didn't have any issues. On another one I upgraded from Vista SP2 and had teh same result.

    Yes, it will timebomb at some point, but it's not going to brick your Q1 at all. You will be able to upgrade from the Beta to RTM, but I always recommend a clean install whenever possible. The only reason I did a build-over-build upgrade is to see how stable it would be.

    HTH.

    January 4, 2009 6:34 PM
  • Nicholas said:

    I've also been running Windows 7 (various builds) on my Samsung Q1 Ultra (1.3 GHz, 2GB RAM, HSDPA) and it has been amazing. The performance of Windows 7 over Vista in battery life, startup & shutdown times, multitasking and application running are easily noticable.

    Having Windows 7 performing so well, there is a chance that UMPCs can piggy-back off.

    The price for the 64GB SSD card is great ($200 USD) might be picking up a couple for my Q1 & 2730p :-)

    January 4, 2009 11:56 PM
  • Max said:

    I see that there are now 4GB cards on the market.  Do you believe that these cards will work in the Q1 Ultra.  I've heard that Vista makes better use of add on memory than XP.  If the video card in the Q1 is using system memory, it seems like loading the device up with more memory would be a good thing.  The question is whether the BIOs on the Q1 will accept 4BG of memory.  

    Incidentally, my just purchased Q1 Ultra with Vista can't even play a game of solitaire all the way through without the pointing device becoming useless for 15-20 seconds at a time.  It can't even play Apple.com movie trailers at their lowest resolution without skipping or stuttering.

    Could you please provide more detailed instructions on how to replace the WiFi card.  Photos or a video would be a big help.

    Thanks,

    Max

    Thanks,

    Max

    January 15, 2009 3:22 PM