I saw a prototype FlipStart hand-held PC today. One of my friends is working for them and was showing off a prototype. I only had two or three minutes to play with it, and I didn’t have a camera with me, so I don’t have a ton to say here. All in all, it seemed decent–it’s clearly a small PC, not a big handheld, but the formfactor is okay. It fit into my shirt pocket with a millimeter or two to spare. The display seemed decent; it wasn’t outstandingly bright, but it I was right next to an open window, and it was still readable, which puts it about on par with my old Clie. The touchpad is on the right side of the unit, above the keyboard, where you can reach it with your thumb while holding the system. The mouse buttons are on the left. I was surprised, but the touchpad/button layout worked well for me. There was also a scroll wheel and a few other buttons, but I didn’t have a chance to see them in action. The keyboard is way too rubbery for me, but my contact says that it’s going to be replaced before it ships. I didn’t have a chance to test any peripherals or networking on the box; I barely had time to watch XP boot and then play around with it briefly.

The specs on the website seem to match was I saw, except for the USB ports–the specs list one USB 2.0 port, while the model I held had two mini-USB ports.

If it was shipping today, would I buy one? Probably not; I’m mostly a Mac person these days, and I wouldn’t have a whole lot of use for a pocket-sized PC. On the other hand, if it was a Mac, I’d be jumping up and down–I’d drop my Palm in an instant for it.

I was using Windows instead of OS X as my primary desktop, I’d be sorely tempted with this, because it seems to be small enough to be pocketable, while still being big enough to be usable. The keyboard’s around half-sized, which isn’t big enough to touch-type on, but it’s big enough for 3 or 4 finger typing. It’s a lot bigger then any of the built-in Palm/PocketPC keyboards that I’ve used, although the tactile feel wasn’t really any better.