Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

  The nokia 770. Webpads. Handheld musings

Note to Nokia on their 770. Nice try, you got close, please try again.

I built something similar back in 2000, around the now discontinued Hitachi Webpad. Like the Nokia 770 it ran X, and gtk (though it was version 1.2). In 64MB it had enough memory to run mozilla and a few other useful applications, like xmms (which had some cool visualizations). The webpad was a joy to use, though a little cumbersome (alhtough the huge touchscreen was great, a wireless usb keyboard would have been nice). I used it daily, heck, I kept it by my bedside for a couple years, hacking on it, reading web pages in bed, and listening to wifi'd music over my headphones, before I reluctantly had to hand it back to my former employer. It's still used as a demo and for testing within that company.

It was also a usb master, which meant memory sticks and keyboards "just worked". This was an age before the GB usb memstick existed, so it wasn't as useful then as it is now... but the thousands of usb devices for every need cry out for small usb master devices.

Example - webpad on top of my synthesizer keyboard - usb midi interface - Bang! instant music studio!

I'd give a lot to get a few of those old webpads on the cheap, but no matter where I've looked, they don't seem to exist. Too bad. The 770 fits right in this niche, but like Russell Nelson sez, first and formost, the nokia 770 needs to be a USB master, period.

I've been watching the slow rise and death of the Pocket PC world. Pocket PC based devices are like Bill Cosby's children - put them down for a while, they forget what they are doing - and, hopelessly tied to their master device (a PC), they don't stand alone well enough to use for their intended purpose - helping people remember things. My linux handheld is a far better system than Pocket PC ever was for remembering things - or, rather, it would be, if, after 5 years of use, the Lithium battery in it would last longer than 20 minutes. (anyone know how to replace the battery in an Ipaq 3760?)

I have a lot of hope for future versions of the Nokia 770 series, I almost got one for my dad as he's spent a lot of time horizontal lately. It seemed like a perfect device for him to use. Maybe next year... tho I hold little hope for the TI-Omap processor to be a truely useful choice for a small box.

My choice for a processor (last year) would have been an ep9302 or ep9307. And I would have been wrong, the software support and toolchain for the ep92xx still - a year later - is not quite mature enough to support a whole product around. (it's getting there, though - I'm quite excited about the new ts7300 - it has a serious FPGA on it....

Another more focused review of the 770 is
here.
 
Comments:
ipaq batteries are all over the place.

The 'howto' battery replacement is here;
http://www.ipaqrepair.co.uk/guides/Compaq%20iPAQ%20Battery%20Replacement.pdf
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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