I am an expert on the QBE's. I owned one or more for several years and did upgrades for other people via Ebay.
They look damn dead sexy and I LOVED taking mine into a fancy restaurant and waiting for people to start to approach me. Especially before any Joe Schmoe could walk into CompUSA and look at or buy a Tablet PC, the QBE was really ahead of its time. This was back in 2000/2001.
The QBE has a ton of shortcomings. When I used it, I tolerated all of its shortcomings, didn't use it for anything productive (other than doing my Transcender MCSE flashcards in fancy restaurants, or watching DVD's with my upgraded-to-DVD-drive), but when I needed ABSOLUTE SEXY, and ABSOLUTE PHAT then I would whip out the QBE. I literally used mine about once every 4 months for 2 years and that was it. With Tablet PC's coming out this fall (i.e. now) I sold mine back in Spring 2002 for $1250 (fully upgraded).
The main shortcomings of the QBE are:
1) weight. I thought all the pansy-ass reviewers that would whine about the weight were a bunch of pussies. Well....actually these are heavy as hell to carry around and to use a tablet. But using it on the portrait kick-stand on a table they were great.
2) battery. OMG, the battery on these things was HUGE, about the size of a VHS tape, and they SUCKED! 1 hour battery life.
3) quirky as hell. designed for windows 98 only. jerry rigging win2k to work on these was fun (not!) and forget about linux. and forget about trying to use the extra's like the smartcard reader, built-in camera, etc., in win2k. Hell, the QBE was so quirky if you looked at it funny win98 device manager would impload and the mini-pci network card, modem, smartcard, video camera, and touchscreen would all colide in a 60-car pileup and every resource would be conflicting. what a pain in the ass. WinXP was available with a PAY BIOS upgrade after the QBE was already dead from the market for about $100.
4) support was **atrocious**.
5) corded stylus.
I think they made about 4,000.....or was it 40,000 of these? It was a commercial flop. Aqcess is dead, and their partner Gr@eatCities still sells a few on Ebay now and then. I would love to know the whole insider story of the company, but suffice it to say this quickly died, and for a while Aqcess was trying to put out the successor to this tablet, but it went nowhere and was vaporware.
Aqcess Technologies paid a company (http://www.innolabs.com.tw) to make these. We are talking 1999-era.
This company has been trying to produce their Evita line of touchscreen PC's, but from what I can tell these have gone nowhere and their website hasn't been udpated in ages.
On the technical side:
* hd is upgradeable using up to 17mm laptop HD's! I threw a 30 gig in mine.
* memory is two PC100 SODIMM slots. I had 512mb. Supposedly the BIOS can handle up to 768mb.
* cpu is NOT upgradeable. It unfortunately used the Micro PGA-1 (uPGA-1) PII-400 which was socketed, but is not compatable with the uPGA-2 standard, and the PII-400 was actually the pretty much the fastest uPGA-1 CPU made. Ah well.
With real Tablet PC's costing in the $2000+ range the QBE is good for someone who wants the Tablet PC chic, without the price or the full usefulness (given its CPU/battery/weight/quirky shortcomings I mentioned above).
In my opinion $400 is the "gotta buy it" price for this item for those who can afford it.
The QBE was the darling of the trade shows and pen magazines for a few months in 1999, but thats it. And despite it being quite cutting edge I rarely even hear its name mentioned when the history of tablet computers is discussed.
I loved owning a QBE along with the attention and head turning it generated.
Regardless of its own shortcomings, and the shortcomings of the company that put it out....even if the QBE had no issues, and the company was well run, with the advent of the Tablet PC push by Microsoft along with its collaboration w/ large favored OEM's a small-time company producted Tablet PC would have been dead anyway.