Hands-On Review - Aqcess Technologies' Qbe
Aqcess Technologies' Qbe> is designed to be a traveler's dream. With features such as an onscreen keyboard, a built-in QuickShot camera and an infrared port, users can complete a slew of wireless tasks. Two PC card slots, engineered to provide additional features like memory, fax/modem, networking and storage capabilities, also expand the number of on-the-road computing options. A smart battery is included with six cells, or 12 cells for extended life, and withstands about two to four hours of use. In addition, the sleek design of the flat monitor, coupled with its relatively light weight (the Qbe weighs 6.3 lbs., with a six-cell battery weighing an additional 1.1 lbs.), makes the Qbe a device that tucks away perfectly in any briefcase or book bag.
If settled in one place, capabilities for expansion abound. A removable porticle that doubles as a stand can be attached to a docking connector, located on the back of the monitor. This mobile docking station makes connection to a TV, a printer, an external monitor and a joystick possible. Other possible adjoining features include a touch pen, a mouse and a keyboard. ParaGraph PenOffice, a handwriting recognition program, and L&H VoiceXpress Professional, a speech recognition program, are installed to make note taking a snap. Connecting a microphone or speaker to the Qbe is possible, thanks to two available audio jacks. An IEEE 1394 port provides faster data transmission rates and universal I/o interconnect through a serial bus driven by an advanced communication protocol. The Qbe supports up to 512 MB SDRAM, and supports power on suspend, suspend to RAM and suspend to disk.
In our review of the Qbe, we found the present version of the product to be somewhat glitchy. Setup remains challenging with the Qbe. Screen settings may switch from vertical to horizontal each time the machine is turned on, so rotating the screen remains a task that often needs to be completed before beginning other assignments. Freezing and skipping ahead occurred periodically while viewing a video on CD-ROM. In addition, several attempts to establish a dial-up Internet connection failed. The onscreen keyboard appeared overly sensitive and often did not respond to incessant finger poking or constant jabbing with the touch pen. Overall, while the Qbe has the poten tial to be a useful tool for traveling educators or students, in its present state of development, it requires extra time and patience to make all its features work.
This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.