SmartQ's 7 MID is currently tempting and disappointing us in equal measure, thanks to the promise of a budget price tag and sizable display but potentially hindered by an underpowered CPU. Engadget China had the opportunity to go hands-on with the 7-inch MID, and while the photos don't tell us much more than we already know, they do confirm why the price is so low: the plastics don't exactly look high-end.
Still, cheap plastics are bearable when they lead to a cheap price, and at $189 - at least according to one retailer, anyway - this is lining up to be a bargain purchase. The whole thing measures 7.9 x 4.7 x 0.9 inches, runs a custom Linux build and has two USB Host ports for connecting peripherals (like keyboard and mouse) or external storage. There's also WiFi and Bluetooth.
I can't help but compare the SmartQ 7 MID with the 7-inch TV tuner PND Mio demonstrated yesterday - you can find our hands-on video demo and full details here - and wonder why web access for the latter isn't a possibility. Mio's people told me that, while blending UMPC/MID functionality with their PND range is possible down the line, they consider the former segment simply too underdeveloped versus user-familiarity with navigation devices. Perhaps they're right, but dedicated PND units are already taking a hammering from cellphones with integrated GPS, and adding a web browser would seem a pretty straightforward way of adding value to a PND.