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Hands-on with Vulcan's Flipstart handheld PC

The Vulcan Flipstart is one of those products that just gets you juiced up about gadgets, because really, what's more gadgety than a full-fledged computer that you can slide into a coat pocket? There was a short while there (2003 to 2007) when we thought that the Flipstart would never make it out of vaporware hell; all that trepidation disappeared, however, when not one but two of the little XP-powered clamshells got delivered to our doorstep. Having already played around with both OQOs, several UMPCs, and countless smartphones, we had a pretty good idea of what we were expecting from this device, and from our preliminary evaluation, it does not disappoint. From the polished, slightly-heavy body to the port replicator to the geeky hip pouch, everything feels solidly built -- as we would hope for a product that's been in development for several years. Boot-up occurs fairly quickly, and you're up and running within the minute, with most applications performing adequately on a Pentium M CPU backed by 512MB of RAM. Input is also fairly painless; although touch-typing is a non-starter on the tiny thumb board, those used to their Treos will catch on quickly, and the dual methods for pointer control (touchpad and nubbin) felt responsive and precise. Another nice feature is the auxiliary external display, which although not powered by Slideshow, nonetheless offers PIM entries and media control in a very convenient manner. We'll have more impressions for you once we take our two new toys for a longer spin, but for now you can pass the time by checking out the loaded gallery below, complete with the all important Flipstart vs. Flipstart comparative shots.