Review of the Mintpass Mintpad MID / PDA / MP3 Player (Page 1 of 2)
Ah, the Post-It note... a mainstay of organizers everywhere. Sitting atop your desk merely waiting to be peeled and stuck, the iconic yellow squares (or tabs, or rectangles) have been around seemingly forever, and to date, haven't met with an adequate electronic replacement. Computer desktop "stickies" don't really seem to emulate the feeling of jotting down a quick note. It's for this reason that the beguiling Mintpass Mintpad called my name, begging my compulsively organized self to give it a try.
What is the Mintpad?
With its cute name and arguably cuter exterior, the Mintpad is certainly a chic little device. About the size of, you guessed it, a Post-It, the Mintpad is simple and elegant. It feels solidly built and it's apparent that it is a quality device even before you turn it on. Indeed, the masterminds behind the Mintpad are former iRiver employees (reportedly) so this isn't surprising.
At its core, the Mintpad is a "MID," or Mobile Internet Device. It's not really big enough to technically be an MID, but it's a lot more than an MP3 player and has a wireless connection and browser, so most people choose to refer to it as one. You could also call it a PDA, of course. It has all the standard functions you would expect, including an Internet browser, calendar, MP3 player, camera, audio recorder, video player, memo function, and more - but each with a unique twist.
Remember that the Mintpad is available in Korea only at the moment, although it's been widely publicized that the device will be available in the U.S. shortly. This makes sense, as they have developed an all-English firmware for the device, as well as an English localized website supporting their proprietary Sapphire file transfer system and device registration (more on this later.)
Getting Started with the Mintpad
The Mintpad is easy to set up, assuming the previous owner un-registered it. I'm really hoping they eliminate this in the future. Registration is locked by serial number, and when you plug in the device, it will attempt to automatically connect to the Mintpass website (through Internet Explorer, as it uses ActiveX) and either log in or register you. This is a problem is the previous owner is still marked as the current owner.
Anyway, assuming you have an untainted 'pad, you can easily register and download the latest "Funware" (their special name for firmware, why, I don't know) and get ready to rock and roll. The interface of the Mintpad is built atop Windows CE 5.0, but it all feels custom and nothing like Windows in any way. You "swipe" your way through and it all feels very smooth, responsive, and intuitive. It's hard to describe unless you've tried it - the video above might help show you more.
Mintpad Memo - The Core of the Mintpad
The Mintpad really defines itself with the memo function. The focus here is on simplicity and finesse and providing note-takers with any and every function they could dream of in an electronic sticky pad. One can easily and quickly generate multiple notes in various colors and store them on the main note panel. Simply pull up the program, scribble away, and shake the Mintpad to save your note. (It has an accelerometer to save on shake. It's pretty cool.) Also unique to the Mintpad is it's vector based note rendering, which makes your stylus strokes look much more realistic than you would expect - much neater than you would expect. Also of note is the ability, introduced in the newest firmware release, to add notes from any program. For example, let's say you are listening to an MP3 file and need to jot down a note - simply swipe to the right, write it down, and save - and you will go back to what you were doing seamlessly. Later, you can pull up your "MP3" notes in a separate section in the Memo function.