I’m mystified by how much I miss having a little kickstand on my handheld computer. The n810’s didn’t even work very well – only the “Closed” and “45° to the table” detents actually held – but being able to have … Continue reading
My N810 finally bit it yesterday – The touchscreen gave out earlier in the week, and after re-seating the ribbon connector (again), it rebooted with serious video artifacts/flicker/discoloration. When I opened it back up to try again, the connector literally fell off the end of the ribbon, taking out the display as well as touch. Ribbons are not solderable, and replacement screen modules are not available, so it has been rendered pretty much useless.
I was looking at replacement options as soon as the touchscreen went out again, and the field is grim. What I want is a modern handheld-size *nix (preferably Linux) box with a qwerty keyboard, a “reasonable” (800×480 or better) screen of around 4″, an audio out compatible with normal 3.5mm connections, WiFi, and enough battery to make it through the day. Apparently I am alone in this desire. Searching kept bringing me to the list at pocketables, which has the majority of potentially suitable devices.
To follow up the last post, this is pretty cool – a shareholder driven concept for a slimmer, more directed Nokia that remains in control of their core platform. I’ve read through and am in near complete agreement with their plan, and it sounds a lot better than “Become the next Kin.” I don’t directly own Nokia stock (apparently I do indirectly hold some through mutual funds), but I would be seriously considering it if I did, and I hope they succeed. I’d also like to add a proper citation for the previous claim that Microsoft’s mobile partnerships are a string of painful failures.
In more pleasant news, some users have hacked together another new patch set for the Diablo/OS2008 maemo release the n810 runs, and now that I’ve got a new battery and rid myself of the BME bug I hope to play with them. I’m thinking I’ll be a little more cavalier with my use of alternate OSes and software on my n810 now that it is getting problematically obscelescent.
EDIT: It was a hoax.. The issues are real though.
Since the N800 came out there has been a lot of rumbling in the community about the unutilized hardware present in the device (and it’s sibling/successor, my beloved N810). The piece most complained about are the PowerVR MBX 3D accelerator and 5MB SRAM included on the OMAP2420 SoC the device is built around. The explanation has always been a mixture of licensing issues for the drivers, and that the external Epson S1D13745 display controller was better suited to the 800×480 (still unusually high for mobile devices) resolution, despite being rather slow and devoid of 3D-capability.
With the advent of the N900 and it’s non-backward-compatible Maemo 5 OS, there is some fear in the community that the N8×0 devices will be abandoned. The N900 looks like a very cool device, but like many tablet owners, part of the appeal of my N810 was that it wasn’t designed to have a >$50/month cellular data plan. Nokia’s offical (and seemingly very classy) stance is that they will provide support for continued community developed FOSS software for the platform, which currently mostly means Mer, a community firmware/ partial Maemo 5 backport. There are also several other linux-based OS ports to the N8×0 platform, and a burgeoning effort to produce a binary-compatibility-maintaining system software update like the ones Nokia used to produce for Maemo 4 which will hopefully all cross-pollinate sources and keep the platform alive. One only has to look at how long the OpenZaurus (later merged into OpenEmbedded/Ångström) community held on, and how much they accomplished to be hopeful.
The combination of these thoughts? Nokia (and the various other relevant IP owners) announced they will be supplying drivers for the PowerVR to the community in the immediate future. With a little luck the Mer hackers will get them integrated into a release soon, which may contribute to tipping to Mer as the predominant OS for n8×0 devices over the OS2008/Maemo 4 stack Nokia provided.
I depend so much on my n810 I haven’t really been into OS hacking on it, but as it ages and the community firmwares come to the fore I suspect I’ll get more into it (if I have time). Maybe as they get cheap I’ll even end up with one of the “knockoffs” to use as a test platform in the same primary machine/beaterbox setup as my bigger machines.