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Transmeta

Crusoe WebPads By FIC 120

p0rkmaster writes "Found a nugget in a Tom's Hardware Guide report from Computex in Taipei - FIC was showing off TransMeta Crusoe 'WebPads' " Interesting specs, but no comment on what OS it's running, or on the type of wireless LAN used. If it's Linux and 802.11, we may have a winner ...
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Crusoe WebPads by FIC

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  • more fun...
    cookies
  • Much like Hotmail's Open Cookie Jar [peacefire.org] problem.

    --

  • Probably a mis-translation of "generous".

    Gordon.

  • The Palm OS works best for people who are just to busy to learn how to hack things. The largest increase in market is in the multi-function device such as the Web/Cellphone area.

    This is based on the stuff they send me as a shareholder.

    So, basically, a true geek is not in their market, but a trendy post-geek is right in the crosshairs.

  • Admission is by free will offering.

    Doesn't get much better than that!

    --
    Eric is chisled like a Greek Godess

  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Friday June 09, 2000 @01:23PM (#1012476) Homepage Journal
    I may be totally wide of the mark here, but does this spell trouble for Palm? Not just from the increased competition, but the Nerd factor must surely be in favour of Transmeta now.

    I won't say your off the mark, more that you probably just hang out with geeks. In my experience Palms have brought us much closer to ubiqitous computing than MSFT, Intel and Apple combined. The palm is the only device I have seen turn people both young and old (teens to people in their mid-fifties) into blubbering nerds. I seen people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds become enraptured with a Palm due to it's simplicity, usefulness and all around coolness. No tech-company today can say that their device elicits squeals of delight both from college students and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
    Basically what I am trying to say is that Palms attract a lot more people than just nerds and even amongst the nerds that are attracted a lot of them aren't the slashdot-type/linux/free-software/hardware-hacker type, so thinking that some product will steal market share from Palm simply because Linux geeks will want to buy Transmeta is a false assumption.

  • I would'nt mind even paying $999 for that, or as much as $2K.... Will anyone invent that? (Ok, drop the 10 Mb wireless, Gimme a BAM 19K wireless modem and we'll cal it even :)
  • ...What I don't like about my Palm V is the lack of color, lack of memory, lack of CPU, lack of small removable storage. And better sound capability. I want to be able to toss out my portable MP3 player and just swap memory sticks in and out of my PDA with a good set of earphones. And to be able to plug in a small game controller and play stuff on it as well. There goes the Gameboy. Heck, even small movies on that screen if the removable storage has the space...

    Ick. You almost perfectly described a WinCE/PocketPC device. So why haven't you bought one yet, then?

    Ick is a relative term. I sorta want one too... but I'd have to find or write a program to throttle down the CPU and power down the screen, I think, when it's playing MP3s. It'd be nice to be able to play music for 10 hours, even if you're doing nothing else with it!

    -AS
  • I am pretty sure you can squeeze an MPEG-2 stream (DVD) over an 1MBps connection; there are a coupla companies already working on video over DSL, so it has to.

    engineers never lie; we just approximate the truth.
  • Here's an article (in english) from the Taipei Times, "Linux the most popular flavor among IA makers" [taipeitimes.com]:

    "If the display booths of companies at a trade show in Taipei is any measure, Taiwanese manufacturers of Internet appliances are enthusiastically adopting Linux-based operating systems..."

    Basically, the article says that Linux is the most popular candidate for IA devices; that Transmeta CEO Dave Ditzel has been in Taiwan, pushing the Crusoe; and that IBM is reportedly planning a Crusoe-based notebook. Of particular note, Taiwan companies also find Linux's foreign language capabilities to be of prime importance.
  • Ya, I know what you mean. My girlfriend, who was formerly completely computer phobic, flipped when she saw the Palm. Now it never leaves her purse. She memorized Grafiti in an hour. I was stunned...
  • I may be totally wide of the mark here, but does this spell trouble for Palm?

    The Aqua is 1.5 pounds, the Palm is lighter then a can of soda. The Aqua is the size of a sheet of paper (B4 paper), the screen alone is 7.5 inches. The Palm fits in my pocket. My shirt pocket if I'm not wearing a tee shirt. The Aqua's battries last about 7 to 8 hours. The Palm's battries last well over a month.

    Either the Aqua sucks big rocks, or the Aqua is aimed at a totally diffrent set of problems.

    Part of the Palm's success (I'd guess) was its appeal to nerds; and when one nerd brought his to a LUG, suddenly everyone else had to have one too.

    I'll admit, they have a lot of geek appeal. But they have a broader base then that. My lawyer has one. My accountant has one (he promised me he only keeps names, phone numbers, and meeting times, not account numbers in it). The guy behind the desk at the car dealer thought it was cool, and was thinking of getting one "if only they were cheaper". Lots of executaves seem to have them. So I'de say the geeks arn't the big market segment there.

    Of corse, fewer geeks would mean fewer after merket doo-dads for it. Certinally no more pocket Rouge.

    PS oh, I want one. As well as my palm.

    I thought so. I want one too. But it will never replace my Pilot (Visor actually). It's way too big. I might take it into boring meetings to fiddle around with (we have 802.11b at work). I'll use it at home, maybe. But it won't come to lunch with me. It won't go out on weekends. It won't even go into work every day.

    I doubt anyone who has a Palm will stop using it after buying a Webpad.





    P.S. the Moto 680x0 (or CPU32/DragonBall) in the Pilot is one of the few CPUs other then the x86 that the Crousoe could emulate quite well (similar ALU flags, Crousoe's 44ish registers are enough to deal witht he 16 in the 68010, and the non-IEEE FP in the Crouse won't stop it from emulating a CPU with no FP at all). So if push came to shove, Palm could "upgrade" to a Crosue. If they could solve the battrey problem -- the Crouse uses more then a DragonBall by a longshot. More even then the ARM which is what slashdot rand a bizzare story saying that's what Palm is going with.

  • The newton came out quite a while before the palms... in fact, palm was a company that programmed apps for the newton... And what difference does it make what os it's running? End functionality is all that really matters.
  • by drwiii ( 434 )
    Well, I don't know what OS they plan on running, but the screen shown on their page looks like it has IE browsing at www.microsoft.com.

    image [fic.com.tw]

  • Instead of camping out in airplane bathrooms, why don't you just buy a spare battery? Delivery guaranteed to be earlier than your Crusoe laptop.
  • is the (IMO, detrimental) way they change the relationship between user and content. Content has to be dumbed down to use a click-only interface, or in some cases perhaps extensive customization from another computer to make click-navigation possible (like setting up your stock portfolio for easy quote checks, lining up bookmarks, etc). Most sites (and it's not their fault) simply wont' allow complex navigation using only clicks.

    Let me rephrase: If I can't enter text easily, it's only a toy!

    Web TV may offer horrible resolution, slow speed, generally weak user interface, but you know what? It's possible to send email with the chintzy wireless keyboard. Not joyous, but possible.

    But with all the processing power built into these various transmeta devices, they will be more like sort-of-interactive picture frames (the constant smirking references to their pornographic applications are really not far off, I think) than the superby useful and fun things they could be, unless there is adequate text-entry means.

    Does anybody code using graffiti? Does anyone like drawing up proposals using any kind of handwriting recognition? Maybe a few do, but even those I can just betcha would prefer, given adequate space and barring extraordinary circumstances, to have a "real" keyboard (however defined) ... I'm partial to clicky, some people like silent, and there are plenty of radical designs like the kinesis which I think I'd like as well. Or the twiddler, or the BAT, or anything other than scribbling on glass one letter at a time. Typing may tear the wrists, but it does free the thoughts ...

    (What if I want to search on google for the name of a friend, and that name has upwards of 20 letters?)

    Again, so long as keyboards will work via USB or other ports, then OK, ok, I give, uncle, mercy, etc. I'll get a happy hacking keyboard or similar and be done with it, and if I ever
    overcome my Mr.T-like fear of airplanes and leave Iceland, my seatmates will just have to deal.

    timothy

    (In answer to the obvious, No, and no. Just kidding.)
  • We seem to be at a turning point here. We need it to be small enough to be REALLY portable, like a palm, but we need the big screens and easy-to-use input devices like a laptop and/or webpad. Barring a neural interface (I only browsed through JonKatz's cyberpunk article earlier, but I don't remember those being mentioned), we need to come up with a different (ie better, more innovative, etc) interface. I admit, I don't know exactly how to do it, maybe an image projected onto the inside of sunglasses and some kind of gloves or rings that monitor hand movements, but we need to come up with something smaller (and less power-hungry, for the battery life issue) than a keyboard and monitor!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The wireless networking support isn't really a concern, as these devices will not have native wireless lan support. They simply have a PCMCIA/CardBus port where you could plug in a Wavelan [wavelan.com] board or something similiar. The S3 linux tablet that Transmeta demo'ed at the Crusoe launch had 802.11b support, this was just done via PCMCIA board.
  • AC (theo), after I taunted the world for someone who coded using Graffiti, wrote:

    "I do. I haven't done anything HUGE yet, but I've written a checkers game using PocketC that's about 14K of source code, and a line-of-sight checker for BattleTech thats somewhat smaller.

    I don't know that novels would be any shorter if the authors used Graffiti instead of a computer. After all, some of the longest books were written before the advent of the ball point pen, much less the typewriter or computer."


    a) I'm impressed / suprised ("surpressed"?)! :) I'm also a little disturbed to think how your hands must feel after doing that!

    b) If writing on my Visor felt like using a fountain pen or a quill pen, I might still consider it an archaic input device, but at least I woudn't scoff at it. I would even enjoy it more than I do, and in fact I do enjoy writing in Graffiti for short periods of time, only not for extended ones. Fountain pens of at least moderate quality are a pleasure to write with, even with my poor grip. Ball points, especially of the Bic and Papermate variety ubiquitous in offices, near cash registers, chained to hotel check-in desks, at the "Please sign in" board at the gates of Hell, etc, are a pain in the tookus. I consider them *worse* than graffiti, and you now know it's not my favorite, even though I live the devices it makes possible.

    thanks for the reply, I withdraw the implication that *no one* codes in graffiti because obviously out there at least one guy does.

    timothy
  • Well, it's not like I ever did that more than once! I don't travel as much now, but I still want one when they come out.

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
    Scott
  • I thought the whole point of those Transmeta chips is they run an on chip microkernel so they can appear to be any chip to any OS.

    Linus wrote (or participated) in the microcode which means that by tenous logic every machine based on a Crusoe is running linux!

  • I remember that when I watched the Transmeta unveiling, that they said that the 3200 (or 3150 as I believe it was called then) was a Linux optimized chip, and the 7000something was the Windows optimized chip. This uses a 3200. So, it sounds like it runs Linux.
  • Too hysterical!
  • That's pretty much the point, but AFAIK they only have an x86 emulator. And no, not every Crusoe-based machine runs Linux - but they certainly can.

    --

  • And here's the translated text courtesy of babelfish:

    The Surf terminals seem slow to come to the Internet access independently of the PC into travel - and newcomer Transmeta can probably cut itself a tidy piece of the cake for Internet Appliances. Gateway/AOL and S3 already announced appropriate devices; At Computex the Motherboard specialist FIC presented for the first time its WebPAD with a Crusoe CPU by Transmeta, developed under the code name Aqua. The device is equipped with a color LCD operates with Embedded Linux and is going to get according to manufacturer five hours of use from a fully charged battery. For the connection to the Internet an integrated radio modem is provided. The Transmeta processor already sections of the chip record (Northbridge) contains, is necessary beside the CCU only a Southbridge. Suitable building blocks offer at present both VIA and ALI. Will in the long run select which manufacturer FIC for the internal Web PAD, is certain at present just as little as the selling price desired.

  • Doesn't that normally refer to horizontal pixels by vertical pixels?

    Isn't that necessarily wider than it is tall?

    Don't all their pictures show a screen notably taller than it is wide?

    Or is it just me?

    - StaticLimit
  • Straight from the cnet news story here: http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1006- 200-2026361.html [cnet.com]

    "The Aqua, which should be ready for volume production by November, comes with a Transmeta Crusoe processor, a Linux OS and a Sony Memory Stick port, said Julia Kuo, a project manager for the company."

  • Didn't you learn anything from NASA? Use Metric! Call it 364.2kg!

    Oh, whoops. You mean that's not an '31337'ism? You actually meant to use '1'? My bad

  • by dearmar ( 199025 ) on Friday June 09, 2000 @01:46PM (#1012500)
    Just spoke to the folks at FIC about a release date and they are saying third quarter of 2000. They are also saying that a real prototype doesn't even exist!!! (Where'd they get that nifty little device posed on the site that's stirring up all this conversation?)
  • The specs mention DVD

    The specs also say:

    so it needs very low power consumption to make high performance come true, associated with an extended 5~6 hrs battery life using Lithium battery to complete superior wireless Internet access out of question

    which leaves me to wonder if it wasn't written by someone with not the best grasp of english. Marketing by babelfish.altavista.com. Share and enjoy.

  • PC Card? Great.

    CompactFlash? Cool. Microdrives are neat, reasonable amount of storage. CF is available at WalMart.

    SmartMedia? Well, even though I like my Leica DigiLux, I admit SM has its flaws. It's sexy and slim, but ... expensive per MB, not getting cheaper fast enough. At least it's around, though, and used in quite a few cameras, as well as Rio MP3 players.

    But that Sony memory stick stuff? WHY? What advantages does it offer (to anyone but Sony) over PCMCIA or CF? (I admit, the SM slots aren't good for much else.)

    Sheesh. Stupid chewing gum form factor will win cause it's cute ... or something.

    timothy
  • reality master, you must repeat your 101 "basics of reality" class. There is no f-ing way that is a picture of a prototype. But I think the rant stands. Gimme 1000x800, touchy, and wireless. About the size of a drawing pad. For $1000. (or $999 at Donny's Discount Laptops)
    --
  • I remember the description for the wizard's (I forgot his name) call spell in FF2 in the manual..... "blows wizard"
  • Either Transmeta chip will run whatever OS you put on it.

    However, this pad can't be running Windows Me, because it doesn't have a disk. So that leaves Linux, BeIA, or QNX.
  • >If it's Linux and 802.11, we may have a winner .

    So, if it ran BSD, this is NOT a win?

    This unit is too big to be a PDA. "The PDA Market" has shown large PDA's don't sell well.

    Without Applications - a method to make this UNIT useful, it won't be a "winner".

    There are plenty of places where this unit can be a win...just not in the palm pilot space, where size, battery life and cost rule.

    A good place for thsi unit is in the 'roving inside your business comminicating data' market. Or, in the bathroom giving you something to read. Even here, if the backend of the company is Windows based, the only hope for pad-to-backend intergration is XML or a custom App. Given how well custom apps were rewarded by Apple/Newton, not many people will want to go that way.
  • I've seen the Symbol devices, as well as a near clone made by Olivetti. The cost of integration is way too high.

    I appreciate the pointer anyway, AC..

  • what? do you like work at transmeta or something?!

    hehe.

    but is that a picture of it loading /.? That's the question...now. :)

    --
  • I may be totally wide of the mark here, but does this spell trouble for Palm? Not just from the increased competition, but the Nerd factor must surely be in favour of Transmeta now.
    Part of the Palm's success (I'd guess) was its appeal to nerds; and when one nerd brought his to a LUG, suddenly everyone else had to have one too.
    But luggers are more likely, are they not, to opt for something made by a company for which The Creator works?

    Just a thought.

    PS oh, I want one. As well as my palm.
  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <maxomai.gmail@com> on Friday June 09, 2000 @12:08PM (#1012510) Homepage

    The website mentiones 802.11b specifically as an example of their RF card. It's probably a safe assumption that they use 802.11 as their RF standard.

    Now if we can only get confirmation that it runs Linux....


    The Second Amendment Sisters [sas-aim.org]

  • Doesn't look like it does anything new, besides the fact that it has a Transmeta inside. Color, mp3 playin', web surfin' PDAs are old news.

    Anyone know the pricing on these puppies? I'm waiting for the price to drop dramitically on similar devices, before I give up my US$150 Palm3...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I understood that the Transmeta team had to do extra work to get things working with windows due to its 16bit modes and the fact that it is generally less understood. I am sure that and unix, or most likely QNX and BeOS will run fine on this chip.
  • What are they going for here? Is it supposed to compete against the Palm? It seems too big for that. If its a laptop replacement, tablets have never been very popular. Or maybe its one of those internet appliances. We hear a lot about that but I don't see it.

    I think it's definitely cool, but I don't see where they're going with it.

  • "Aqua is weighing less than 1.5 lbs., measuring under B5 letter size, offers a charitable 7.4"/8.2" DSTN LCD"

    What exactly do they mean by "charitable"?
  • No. Next question, please.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I broke this story a week ago

    I can tell you for a fact that the "Aqua" web pad will be using Transmeta's mobile Linux o/s and that it will be on display at PC Expo in New York at the end of the month.

    Also an Acer PM told me that in Q4 this year they will be using 3120 chip in their web pad

    For all the news spec, and pics visit my site

    Tim
    www.MobileLINUX.com

    tim@mobilelinux.com
  • No, StarOffice is not open-source. Neither is Netscape (not counting Mozilla), Applixware, WordPerfect, VMWare, or most of the major game titles like Quake 3, Unreal Tournament, etc.

    --

  • Damn I was close though!

    BTW, think I have enough Karma? [slashdot.org]

  • The problem I see with Windows running on such a chip is the native emulation Windows does. Every app is opened in a virtual machine. These VMs are most stable running 32 bit apps but since Windows has to remain compatible with 16 and 8 bit apps you get a bit of a problem. Windows has a bit of hard coding for x86 instructions which I imagine would need to be specifically handled by the Crusoe's emulation.
  • The specs mention DVD. I wonder if this means the DVD player is in the base unit (referred to as its "Access Point")... probably not, because the RF wouldn't have the bandwidth to support DVD.

    Or would it? I don't see where you'd put a DVD in the handheld webpad, yet the specs have it mentioned. Could this just be a buzzword seed?

    I definitely like the concept. I'd buy one right now if it were available, but in the meantime - my I-Opener will have to do the job.
  • Even though I'm a Palm user, I don't much like the idea of inputting URLs, name & address, or credit card details through a stylus.

    The simplest solution is voice input, though that would probably consume far too much power, and may not be ideal in a living room shared with other people. More complex solutions might work, e.g. the TV has an 802.11b or Bluetooth link, or even IrDA, and beams URLs of current programmes and adverts to all and sundry. Of course, there are some security issues - if you are watching the porn channel, Bluetooth would beam the hot URLs everywhere, including outside your house... Encryption might be a good idea here, which 802.11b has, though it's far too expensive for a mass market TV.

    The TV industry is looking at broadcasting URLs and small amounts of data alongside the video signal, so that is taken care of, though I don't know the details.

  • The difference between Palm and this unit is that Palm is shipping. If I had a nickel for every press release about a Linux-based PDA, I'd have, like, at least a buck.

    Note to companies: I will pay for your stuff. Please make your Linux PDA's soon. Thank you.


    --
    "And is the Tao in the DOS for a personal computer?"
  • The report doesn't have to specifically state which OS it's running. True 32 bit OSs run well on both Transmeta chips but windows only runs fast on the more advanced version with it's 16 bit optimizations.

    It would be a braindead design mistake to use the "32 bit only" CPU in a device built for Windows 9X. That leaves Linux, WinCE, Palm and Win2K as the possibilities.

    Since Webpads must be cheap, Linux, Palm and Wince are the only possibilities. Since it's a pad rather than a pocket sized device it doesn't need the "optimized for small screen" interface which is WinCE's only saving grace.

    Palm wasn't really designed for things like full featured web browsers so this is most likely a Linux based device. Possibly running Mr. Turvalds' own distribution.

    Then again I may be gusing :)
  • I think we have a winner :) Good call... I can't find a link to prove it, but I'm pretty sure that the 700 Mhx chip had Windows-specific optimizations while the 400Mhz (while not specifically optimized for Linux) was intended for Linux use. Not sure if it was exclusive, though (whereas the 700 Mhz was definitely for Windows.)
    ~luge
  • It could be that they are targeting Asia only because Palm has been too busy with the US to expand overseas. It would be a good testbed given APAC's voracious appetite for new, cheap & portable technology.
    ---
  • Trouble for Palm? No more than the Newton did.

    Likely this will cost as much, and every damn reviewer out there will piss and moan that it doesn't fit in their shirt pocket, so of course it can't be any good.

    Sorry folks...we're stuck with a crappy little device that has 2 square inches of screen space that manages (barely) to serve as a decent address book replacement.

    Bitter...me...naaahhh :-)

  • To Paraphrase from the Crusoe launch, because it will last much much longer on the same battery. The analogy that was put forth at the launch was good: Imagine you have two cars - Intel, which will go 100MPH and will travel 100 Miles on a tank of gas, and Crusoe, which only does 90, but will travel 300 miles on the same tank of gas. Have you ever had a long or even coast to coast plane flight? Ever try to get any WORK done on that flight? I once, after draining my battery camped out in the bathroom of the plane for like 1/2 an hour - doing work and charging the battery. :-) Basically I left the bathroom once the flight attendant started persistantly bugging me - I told her I was sick, but she was still mad at me, and I STILL didn't get enough of a charge out of the bathroom to finish the flight. A Crusoe based device will SOLVE that problem for me, big time. Not to mention long car trips. With the advent of cellular modems (it's like a Cell Phone/Modem in one PCMCIA card) I never even need to be offline ever again (assuming I can use it with this device - if not, I'll wait for one that does what I need) and that would be a HUGE help!

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
    Scott
  • No - the appeal of Palm has always been that it does simple tasks superlatively. If I had to name another device that works so well I couldn't think of anything in the same space - you have to go to the other classic simple devices, like the wheel or the ballpoint pen. Even if there was a fully-featured Crusoe-powered web pad for the same money as a Palm you would still have people preferring their Palm device. It's still smaller and simpler, and the batteries still last much, much longer.
    I don't believe Palm's success it built on the nerd factor at all. Most Palm users I see day-to-day are in personal contact jobs - sales, marketing, business devlopment etc. It's the personal networking tool par excellence.
  • Ever see what a cigarette does to a LCD? I'd honestly prefer a dropped hammer to a dropped Lucky Strike..
  • The market is huge!

    ...us geeks just don't see it because we're big time "technology apologists" (to use Alan Cooper's words).

    You guys should read Don Norman's book, "The Invisible Computer."
    Info about it is available from the MIT Press website [mitpress.com].

    ..brad
  • Yeah!! Now that's what I'm talkin' about! It's hard to tell how thick they are, though. I hope those aren't just mock-up "concept" units and they are real prototypes.


    --

  • Is StarOffice not open-source, then? I was wondering if any Linux apps are binary-only.

    PS: Slashdot moderation strikes again: if it's not overtly pro-Linux, it must be flamebait.

  • I can't find a link to prove it, but I'm pretty sure that the 700 Mhx chip had Windows-specific optimizations while the 400Mhz (while not specifically optimized for Linux) was intended for Linux use.

    The "Windows-specific" optimizations (according to IEEE Spectrum [ieee.org] is merely support for the 16-bit operations. Apparently (a) Windows still has a ton of 16-bit code in performance critical areas, and (b) nobody at Transmeta realised it before their first CPU (the article said they were pretty much all Unix heads).

    I find it a little supprising that they didn't do a better job of checking the dyanmic instruction mix of popular OSes and applications (maybe using bochs [bochs.com]) before spinning Si, but what the hell.

    In any even the 400Mhz CPU will run Windows (or anything else a x86 CPU can run), and so can the 700Mhz chip. It's just when running Linux (or any all 32bit OS) more of hte transistors of the 700Mhz part will go to waste, and while running Windows the 400Mhz CPU will spend more time in the slow part of the emulator...

  • I have some doubts about that. I know plenty of people who would qualify as a "nerd", including myself, and we all find current web phones, and most other pocket devices, grossly limited, I'd take a Palm over just about anything that size any day of the week. For size, and function, you can't beat it, and as someone mentioned above, it does simple but useful tasks superbly. It doest require fumbling a keyboard and stylus, and it doesn't have the lock ups, or the load times, or the complexity of CE devices and the like. It's quick, light/small, reliable, has so much battery life, you literaly don't even have to worry about it, and has pretty good app support. Until someone really comes up with something better/more efficient, Long Live Palm!

  • Or it could be running WinCE, which I forgot to mention in my previous message. I'm not sure if there are many WinCE apps that would know what to do with that much CPU power, though.
  • Nasty compromises? I know of companies still using Tandy portables for warehouse stock entry! They're paying around $400 a pop to get refurb units as well.

    Why? Long battery life, nearly indestructable, decent input provisions, and you can plug a barcode scanner in. Going with a NCR barcode scanner syatem is prohibitivly expensive and you get shit battery life, and Palm doesn't give you a flexible enough interface nor the indestructability you need.

    If they can make these things as indestructable as the Tandy, and offer better battery life for under a grand, I'm willing to bet POS and stocktracking will earn them a tidy sum before the geeks and marketroids even get into the game..
  • but only almost. 1000x800? Fine, good enough.

    And wireless, yes, is important.

    But a touchscreen I could do without. I can see it for signatures or whatever, OK, fine -- and I can scribble Graffiti at a fair clip, so fine, little thumbnail sized area of handwriting recognition I'll go with. But most important is a provision for a keyboard! An actual external, moving-keys keyboard!, PS/2 best, but in the interest of not being a Luddite, I'll go with a USB port and buy an adaptor for my clicky beast.

    Working with text is simply too ridiculous with handwriting recognition. You can bet novels would be a lot shorter if writers were confined to their Palms / Visors / Newtons ...

    For $1000 bucks, I'm nearly sold, for $750 you couldn't stop me. I want to use a computer in the living room ...

    timothy
  • From the FIC web site:
    In addition, "Screen Rotation" function enables that end-user can see the screen both landscape view and portrait view for different usage, completely let user feel friendly and comfortable.
    Ok, classic literature it's not, but I think that the main point comes through: you can use the screen in either a vertical or horizontal orientation. Thus, it's both a 640x480 and 480x640 screen.
  • by sugarman ( 33437 ) on Friday June 09, 2000 @03:39PM (#1012539)
    If you go to the other product, the desktop unit, it lists the OS as BeIA. Sweet!

    Oh yeah, the direct link is here. [fic.com.tw]

  • It depends what you want to use it for.

    If you want to keep track of your schedule and telephone numbers then a webpad is overkill.

    If you want to browse the web, read ebooks or other types of documentation anywhere anytime then a small PDA won't cut it. In comes the webpad. Sure, you could use a laptop but the webpad is smaller, draws less juice (No HD or CD.) and has a higher kewl-ness factor.

    For me a webpad is just what I want. You could even use it as a reference and browse online references while usíng the app on your computer.
  • That is indeed a functioning prototype.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here [mobilelinux.com] it is on the Mobile Linux Web site.
  • actually, on a press release of them (here: http://www.fic.com.tw/fic/pressr/000516_computex20 00_pr.htm)
    it's comfirmed:

    "On show for the first time will be the FIC webpad project, currently being developed in conjunction with Transmeta and code-named Aqua. This exciting new product is based around a Transmeta processor with
    embedded MobileLinux OS, and offers wireless connectivity to the Internet enabled via state-of-the-art wireless technology and a residential gateway, which will connect to the ISP. The low power
    consumption of the Transmeta processor ensures a battery life as long as five hours, while the LCD screen allows easy and unrestricted web browsing. "
  • The OS won't be Windows. It would work, but oo slow. The Crusoë 3200 isn't optimized for Windows, and has a slow performance on it...
  • Hmmm it seems to me that the chips are desigtned to emulate a particular chipset architecture. Since both Linux and Windows are probably going to be x86 how can you optimize the chip more for one than the other?
  • Read the press release:
    Demo 2000 Conference, Indian Wells, Calif. - February 7, 2000 - Be Incorporated (Nasdaq: BEOS) today announced the selection of its just-announced BeIA(TM) software platform for Internet appliances by First International Computer (FIC).
  • Except for the mix of things it says it supports, such as USB and DVD, which unfortunately are currently easier to support on Windows.

    The last thing you want to do on a webpad is tell people "sorry, you have to be a techie to use that device" or "sorry, you can't play that DVD on there because it's illegal".

    As cool as we think these things are, we aren't the market.

    We need to fix the problem, the companies won't.

    --
  • by de Selby ( 167520 ) on Friday June 09, 2000 @12:18PM (#1012548)
    I seem to remember that the 400Mhz Crusoe was meant for Linux while the 700Mhz one was for Windows. That would imply that this runs Lunux.
  • I don't see a problem. the resolution is 640x480, or 480x640 in the default portrait mode. Since most web pages are designed to be viewable on just over half of an 800x600 display (i.e. about 400x600), this device should display such pages adequately. If you want a larger web pad, these already exist.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • Furthermore, A Crusoe-based webpad would most likely strengthen the handheld computing market as a whole. Palm is already successful and will continue to be, regardless of the Nerd factor. In my opinion, a Crusoe-based webpad would surely attract Nerds and non-Nerds alike, from Soccer Moms to People-who-download-the-most-bleeding-edge-develop ment-Linux-kernel. I feel that the Palm/webpad overlap will be minimal, since most people still use the palm as a comfortable-to-hold general organizer and use the internet options as one feature of a fully-featured PDA. A webpad would probably me more focused on internet connectivity, a larger screen (not necessarily more comfortable-to-hold), and web browsing for information on the network. Palm is not in any trouble, but Microsoft's PocketPC? That's another story :)

    Peace out,

    O
  • Your point is valid: Palm devices have already gained significant market share, and have good brand recognition on many sectors.

    However, the reasons why Palm devices *became* so popular are worth a good look. Amongst other things, simplicity and battery life have been key factors in this.

    What is the first thing I looked for in that "webpad"? The battery life. It says "5-6 hours". Why, that's about as good as my laptop. I change my Palm III's batteries about once every *three weeks*!
  • Probably "generous". Remember, these are Taiwanese writing in English. I've never seen a Taiwanese tech site that had decent English translations.

  • It looks like a Palm V on sterroids. Cool. I want one.
  • The diagonal resolution is 800 pixels-- why not hold the display at an angle and scroll through the web page so you see the complete 800-pixel width of your web page at the middle of the screen (along the diagonal). I don't think I've ever seen any PDA do this.

    I should patent this idea-- but I'm sure that my home network connection would be DoS'ed because of it. ;)

    .----------.
    |\_________|
    |_\ _______|
    |__\_______|
    |___\8_____|6
    |____\0____|4
    |_____\0___|0
    |______\___|
    |_______\__|
    |________\_|
    |_________\|
    `----------'
    <--- 480--->

    I won't attempt to draw a PDA in ASCII tilted at an angle, but I think you can get an idea of what I'm getting at here.

    This UI idea Copyright (c) 2000 Simon Janes, released under the terms of the GNU General Public License. If theres "prior art", I'll happily concede credit to the original inventor. :)

    They say that everyone makes stuff to scratch and itch, and I'll bet you're wondering what mine was: It was listening to you people bitch and moan about this particular web-pad not being 800x600 or 1024x768! ;)
    _______
    computers://use.urls. People use Networds.

  • * LEP (light-emitting plastic) foldable monitor. * Chord Keyboard, Englebert style (bitch to learn I'm sure, but magnificently portable). This could be foldable too. ETA: 3 years.
  • by Sebbo ( 28048 ) <sebbo@NoSpaM.sebbo.org> on Friday June 09, 2000 @12:21PM (#1012557) Homepage Journal
    Well, we do know that FIC has a contract with Be, Inc. [be.com] to use BeIA (whenever the damn thing comes out) in "internet appliances." Whether that means the Aqua is going to be running BeIA isn't clear.

    Love that language in the page, though. Favorite phrases include:
    • Aqua uses Touch panel and Stylus to be the input device for spontaneous Internet accessing.
    • ...we can turn it to the backside and let Aqua stand firmly on the desk. How amazing it is!
    • using Lithium battery to complete superior wireless Internet access out of question.
  • Fuck, I forgot to select "plain old text". Shoulda looked like this:

    * LEP (light-emitting plastic) foldable monitor.
    * Chord Keyboard, Englebert style (bitch to learn I'm sure, but magnificently portable). This could be foldable too.

    ETA: 3 years.
  • [rant gun to full power]

    If I want a Palm, I'll get a palm. When I heard "web pad", I pictured a notebook-sized unit with an 800x600 or 1024x768 screen, say about 1/2" thick that I could toss around the living room. At least, I think that was the unit described at the (in)famous Transmeta coming out party.

    This is totally worthless for surfing the web. The technology is there for a real web pad... my IBM laptop's screen is only a half-inch thick. Put the electronics and battery around the sides of the screen and boom! instant web pad, the way it should be.

    Come on Crusoe licensees, get a clue. If you want to make a Palm, make a palm. But don't call it a web pad when the SCREEN IS TOO SMALL TO SURF THE WEB.


    --

  • Actually, I'm willing to bet that the geek-appeal sector is not a big market for Palm.

    Have you seen how many suit-and-tie folk carry the things? That's where Palm is making its money.

    (I'm willing to bet that geeks take up a large percentage of the 3rd party app market, though - a lot of the suits I've dealt with never install new software on theirs)

    - Jeff A. Campbell
    - VelociNews (http://www.velocinews.com [velocinews.com])
  • Personally I prefer something with the size of the Palm. I like something I can shove in a shirt pocket or pants pocket. With a device like that, I think you're best off building to a form factor and shoving everything you can into it. A webpad doesn't have that easy ability to be carried around with me at all times. Given what I'm sacrificing in functionality, that is the only thing the PDA really has going for it.

    What I don't like about my Palm V is the lack of color, lack of memory, lack of CPU, lack of small removable storage. And better sound capability. I want to be able to toss out my portable MP3 player and just swap memory sticks in and out of my PDA with a good set of earphones. And to be able to plug in a small game controller and play stuff on it as well. There goes the Gameboy. Heck, even small movies on that screen if the removable storage has the space.

    A webpad just doesn't do that for me. A webpad might work strictly as a specialized input device that I used strictly to enter data now and then and to dump immediately into a computer or into my PDA. But I wouldn't keep anything standing on it. Or with wireless capability as a remote terminal, which again puts it more in the data input category and ability to view remote data. Or if they used the size to have a DVD-ROM drive built into the thing, which is about the only thing that might justify the form factor. Even then I might just break down and go to a laptop.

    A webpad strikes me as one of those nasty compromises that gives you the worst of two worlds. Not as large and comfortable and powerful as a laptop and not as conveniently portable as a PDA. As others have noted, this is where the Newton died. Ergonomics are critical for a device like this, and webpads just don't do it for me there.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The report [heise.de] at Heise (german) says it will run embedded Linux.
  • might want to consider the Vadem Clio. You can pick up a reconditioned C1000 factory direct for $600. 640x480x256 (or 65K colors with the C1050), workable keyboard, acts as a laptop or flip down the LCD on top of the keboard and you've got a webpad. PCMCIA slot, takes flash memory. try 12 hours of battery life.
    see www.clio.com. and no, I'm not gonna give you that in html; you like your keyboard so much, right?

    and Linux is already ported to it, see www.linux-vr.org.

    just waiting to get the damn PCMCIA-CF adapter in the mail, and I'll be going to town on it.

  • These webpads would be a rad idea if they were cheaper and larger. Does anyone remember the webpad deceloped by Cyrix a year or so ago? That sucker was pretty nice sized and did most if not all the things this little bitch does. The main difference was running a MediaGX chip rather than a Crusoe. Personally I think the MediaGX idea was better becayse it incorporated the media processing on the chip so you needed less internal components for decent performance. These webpads are also teeny tiny with a 7.4 inch screen. How am I supposed to sit around looking at news and porn on such a screen? The smallest screen I want is 9 inches with about 800x600 resolution. The WebPlayer by Virgin has the right idea for a web console. You buy it on a lease-to-own basis (50$ per year) and get internet service bindled with it. It isn't portable but something similar could be made portable. I want a webpad for checking out websites from the couch so I can use my DSL with an RF networking card rather than WebTV or something along those lines. I think this was posted due to the trend factor of it having a Crusoe processor. I really hope we start seeing some decent Crusoe based designs rather than underpowered overpriced Palm VII's.
  • There are certain hardware "assists" that they put into the different model chips to help the code morphing stuff optimize a certain OS. It will still run other x86 OSes, just not as well.

    Read the "history" article on the Crusoe that was posted here a couple of weeks ago. It explains it.

    :wq!

  • I agree, but for a different reason. For Crusoe to take off in the mobile market, its inherent low power must not be compromised by power-guzzling components used around it, as in the case of the Webpad.

    A mere 5-6 hours mobile use between charges is ridiculous for a truly mobile device, it's as bad as a laptop. Compare that to the 3 months on a pair of AAA batteries for the Palm -- it's no comparison at all. Crusoe-based webpads need to strike a happy medium to be useful, something like a week's use between charges, otherwise there'll be nothing special about Crusoe-based equipment and people will stick with tried-and-tested technology instead.
  • You're looking at the Genesis 2000, which is another beast altogether: the CPU is listed as an "NS Geode GXLV 233MHz processor".

    The lack of built-in video display in the G2K kinda limits its use as a webpad. :-) It seems to compete directly with the Corel/Rebel Netwinder.

    The Webpad in contrast *is* Crusoe and Linux-based, as is readily apparent from the link off www.mobilelinux.com.
  • In that case we'll all be buying the Yopy [samsung.co.kr] instead of Webpads, since "third quarter of 2000" really means mid-2001 in the shops, earliest.

    I wish these damn mobile computers didn't have to be made with colour displays for marketing reasons though, as the resulting poor battery life makes them almost unsuitable for their main target market. We need something between laptop power consumption and the Palm's three-months-on-two-AAAs frugality, say a week's use between charges. The Yopy's StrongArm is even more frugal than the Crusoe, but the colour LCD makes that irrelevant. Bleh.
  • Couch potato market.

    Your sitting on your couch, a .com commercial comes up, you think, hey that is neat, pull out your webpad and check it out.

    You are sitting in your easy chair reading a book, you read an obscure reference, you pull out your webpad and look up the info.

    You are in your kitchen, you forgot your recipe for cookies, you pull out your webpad and look up the recipe.

    You are sitting on your toilet...well you get the idea. :)

    etc...

    Certainly not a replacement for PDA, too big.

    The above have happened to me numerous times, I have wanted one of these things since I first heard of the Cyrix based one, so damn handy.

  • buried at the bottom of the Charitable page is a comment:
    Aqua is also ready to support e-Book application with its apt form factor and user interface.
    That sounds like it may be Windows-oriented...

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