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FIC Midori Linux AquaPad - Extensive Review

FIC Midori Linux AquaPad - Extensive Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The FIC Aqua Pad is mobile internet access device connected by a wireless PCMCIA card.
 83% Rating:   
Filed under: Notebooks Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: FIC Feb 05 2002   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Notebooks > FIC AquaPad

Onscreen Menus and Features

As the AquaPad doesn't use any spiffy sounding software like Microsoft's Digital Ink, you might be rightly wondering how exactly someone types in a URL?

The first method is simply to plug in a USB keyboard and type directly as you might with a notebook. That isn't a very portable solution, and the stylus doesn't allow you to write to the screen with any degree of speed or accuracy (Penpower just doesn't work well enough), so what do you do when you are mobile?

Condensed, Expandable On screen Keyboard

On the menu bar of the screen is a little keyboard icon, and tapping on that with the stylus brings up a full sized software keyboard on the screen. In the image below you can see the keyboard as it first appears (the icon is the 6th one in from the start button). To enlarge the keyboard, users have the option to click on a small magnifying glass in the lower left corner that will enlarge the keys in three steps.

As I've seen this particular software keyboard used on a number of Crusoe-based mobile devices in the past, I'm still wondering why the programers decided to use a full-size keyboard instead of a representation of a notebook's keyboard. Given the small amount of screen space mobile users have to work with, a notebook-type keyboard would seem to be a better use of space, and one that should be equally familiar with users.

In any event, the keyboard is easy to use, simply tap the stylus on the letter you want to hit and it shows up in the URL address bar, or email for example. For capitol letters, the software keyboard works in the same way, hit the shift key once and it highlights allowing you to type the next character in upper case.

How easy it is to type large messages with this keyboard? Well realistically, you wouldn't want to be typing in long messages, or letters, but for URL's and short emails it is possible to type pretty fast once you get used to the process. On thing we noticed when typing was that it is really important that the stylus be correctly calibrated. If it wasn't, where the stylus touched the screen wasn't exactly where the cursor would be.

Incidently, the keyboard goes away by tapping on the big "X" on the upper right hand side.

The stylus calibration program can be accessed from the menu bar and is located adjacent to the keyboard button. The calibration application places a target on the screen that you have to tap directly three or four times.

The closer you get to the center of the four arrows the better aligned the cursor will be to where the stylus actually makes contact with the touch sensitive screen.

I ran through the calibration pretty fast, and as a result the cursor was always one or two millimeters off to the side of where I was actually touching the screen.

FIC have an optional Charging Cradle which the AquaPad can be place in, and aside from offering recharging facilities, holds the unit in an upright position so a USB keyboard and mouse could be connected, and used easily.

In that event, the AquaPad would essentially operate like a slimmed down notebook (ie not much storage, and no installed programs as such) and the stylus could be left alone entirely.

Desktop Navigation & Menus

Other little applications that come bundled with the AquaPad are the Mozilla browser, a calculator, file manager (for CF cards), Address book, Calendar, Notepad, To Do List, and a System window. Bear in mind that little picture of the system window was taken before we upgraded the AquaPad to Midori Linux Build 1211.

Most of the menus shown here from the start button are also accessible from the menu bar, so things are easy to get at. One of the down sides to a mobile OS which resides in a flash card, is that there is no way to store things like bookmarks or your calendar of events unless you have some sort of storage card installed.

Mozilla takes about 20 seconds when initially loading up, and if the AquaPad runs out of memory the browser will simply close. Despite all that we did to the AquaPad we were unable to get it to lock up, even once. Up next, we take the AquaPad and its Mozilla browser for a spin around the internet and see what it can, and can't handle...

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Contents of Article: FIC AquaPad
 Pg 1.  FIC Midori Linux AquaPad - Extensive Review
 Pg 2.  Features of the AquaPad
 Pg 3.  Inside the FIC AquaPad
 Pg 4.  Getting the Internet into the AquaPad
 Pg 5.  Online Midori Linux Updates
 Pg 6.  — Onscreen Menus and Features
 Pg 7.  Internet Compatibility Tests & Conclusions

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