Yopy 3700 Product Review
Everybody knows about the Sharp Zauruses. They were not the first Linux-based PDA available, but they have been the first great commercial success for Linux on a PDA. While Sharp was designing the Zaurus, however, Samsung also was working on a Linux-based PDA, the Yopy. When the Samsung project ended, GMATE purchased the rights to manufacture the Yopy and now is selling them. Although the hardware used in the Yopy is similar to that used in a Zaurus, the software differences make it another PDA altogether.
Yopies are not widely available yet. The only way to purchase one worldwide is to go to yopy.com. Customers from France, Austria and the United Kingdom can purchase one through local resellers.
I personally placed an order though tuxmedia.com, the French reseller. The service was excellent, even though the Yopy 3700 was not immediately available. Apparently, GMATE does not have manufacturing capabilities comparable to Sharp's. But when the Yopy 3700 finally did arrive, it came complete with printed manuals, a CD-ROM for connecting the Yopy to Windows, a cradle and a power charger.
The design of the PDA certainly is the best point of the Yopy; it is far superior to the Zaurus 5x00s and meets the challenge of the Zaurus C7x0. The grey Yopy case features blue parts and a metallic-like keyboard. Although the keys are smaller than a Zaurus C7x0, they feel better and provide a nice shiny surface. The letters are engraved and both a tactile and an audible feedback occur when the buttons are pressed. It may not be as good as an old M-Series IBM keyboard, but it certainly is the best PDA keyboard currently available.
The Sony Clié NX-like clamshell design is another excellent point for the Yopy. Unfortunately, the added Compact Flash slot on the 3700 model makes it too big to take advantage of this design feature. The 3500 looks better and certainly fits better in a shirt pocket. Unless you seriously need a Compact Flash slot for Wi-Fi or memory cards, I strongly suggest purchasing a 3500 instead. MMC memory cards can be plugged into both models.
When you open the clamshell, it immediately powers up. The first thing you notice is the keyboard--there are far too many keys for application control. Among the 49 keys present is a four-direction control pad, four application buttons (Action/OK/End/Power), plus Shift, Control, Function, Caps Lock, Space, F1, F2, Penguin and Right Shift buttons in the bottom row.
If you consider the Tab, Del and Enter buttons found in the rows above, you begin to understand why it is a bit difficult to control applications. Because many shortcuts are mapped to each application, you can do things you didn't intend if you press the wrong key. And the buttons themselves are so small that pushing the wrong one by mistakes happens quite often. On the other hand, I did regret the traditional four-direction control pad plus Space button on the Zaurus 5x00 series and the jogdial plus OK button and Cancel from the C7x0 series.
A nice add-on to the Yopy is the rainbow row of LED lights in the front of the case. The Yopy powers off when you close it, unless music is playing, in which case it continues the playback but turns off the screen to save power. When it powers off, the LEDs flash, Knight Rider-style only with color and sans David Hasselhoff. This LED light show is completely useless is very appealing and geeky. It also is used to provide a visual alarm when the Yopy is closed.
The Yopy is nearly identical to a Zaurus 5x00. It features a 206MHz Strong ARM CPU, a 3.5” backlit TFT color LCD screen (displaying 65,000 colors in 240x320), 128MB of SDRAM, 32MB of Flash ROM, an RS-232C serial connection, a USB slave connection, an IrDA port and an audio-out jack. Of note is the 128MB of RAM, which even the Zaurus C700 does not have. Only the latest Zaurus C760 can stand the comparison.
In addition to both MMC and Compact Flash slots, the Yopy 3700 has a few other high points. The Li-ion polymer battery is quite large, 2 300 mAh. While the Zaurus needs to be charged very often, the Yopy 3700 can last a long time with a single charge. The other big advantage of the Yopy 3700 is the internal microphone and speaker, which makes it handy to use the Yopy like a dictaphone.
The screen on the 3700 is smaller than the Zaurus C7x0's but is comparable to a Zaurus 5x00, maybe even a bit brighter. But the screen is very responsive, especially during draws--it really is a pleasure to use the paint application. There is no lag or delay between the movements on the screen and the appearance of the drawn lines. The only real drawback is the absence of a good and heavy stylus; like the C760, the 3700 comes only with a cheap plastic stylus that does not feel as good as a metal stylus.
Overall, the hardware is great. Besides the screen resolution and the CPU, the Yopy 3700 is at least as good as a Zaurus C760. Maybe new versions of the Yopy will provide a faster CPU, but the current model is fast enough with the included applications.
Why is the Yopy faster than a C700 even though it has a slower CPU? The answer lies in the software. Unlike the Zauruses and the Simpad, which are based on Qtopia/OPIE, the Yopy uses the X Window System and the mobile GNOME environment. Keeping in mind the X-only iPAQ distribution, Yopy is the third PDA environment to use the Linux kernel. The drawback is the GNOME mobile environment is GTK-based, making the whole collection of Zaurus software incompatible with Yopy.
The Yopy interface is not very different from OPIE or Microsoft Windows. It offers a start menu, a list of opened windows, icons for active peripherals and a clock. An on-screen keyboard and a graffiti zone make it possible to enter characters if one does not like the 49-key keyboard.
The PIM is one of the most important pieces of software in a PDA, and, as with the Zaurus, the Yopy PIM was not well thought-out or designed. A nice PIM add-on is the possibility of using the Yopy 3700 embedded Web server to update or enter PIM information from the desktop computer. Yet it would be nice to be able to keep a local copy of the PIM data.
For Windows desktops, MyPIMS is provided on the software CD-ROM. Although it is a good application, there is no possibility to synchronize the device with Outlook; the former Yopy 3000 could. The only options are third-party, non-free software or iCalendar formatted imports.
The default applications included in the 3700 mostly are the standard one. The control center has good icons and is easy to use. And the ability to run X applications is a big plus.
On the Internet side, there is no Web browser but Dillo. Dillo is not as good as Opera or Netfront or even KHTML, but the e-mail application is powerful.
Some applications stand above the others: the GQMpeg MP3 player, VLC client and Grecord make it possible to use the Yopy as an MP3 player, a portable video device (if you have a Wi-Fi stream or a big memory card) and a dictaphone. gpaint is fast and responsive. It may be a result of both the touchscreen and the GNOME mobile environment, but this paint application is intuitive and easy to use for taking small notes.
Yopy Office, on the other hand, is not very good. QPresent is the worst; QCell is better. Hancom Mobile Word here performs exactly as it does in the Zaurus version.
Overall, there are far fewer free and non-free applications available for the Yopy than there are for the Zaurus, mainly due to the distribution choice. It also is not easy to connect the Yopy to a Linux machine, and there is no Java environment. I would have preferred a Qtopia/OPIE-based distribution, if only for the amount of software available.
The boot process of Linuxpy, the Yopy default distribution, is far more verbose than that of Zaurus, and the Web server available by default are convenient options. The ability to export, display and recompile X11 applications also makes the Yopy an attractive choice. But the Yopy does not perform as good as the Zaurus on the PDA side, mostly due to the lack of application and the PIM problems.