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Another Linux PDA to Challenge the Nokia 770 92

vhogemann writes "It seems that the number of Linux PDA devices just keeps growing, the German based phone maker Road just announced an Qtopia based Linux Cellphone/PDA. The original article gives more details: 'Opening the clamshell device reveals a QWERTY keyboard and a 640 x 240 display — closed, the unit presents a 102 x 65 monochrome phone screen. The HandyPC contains the usual array of PIM and messaging apps, along with a viewer to read Microsoft Office files. It will ship with PC synchronisation tools, media player software and a web browser. It can even be used as a voice recorder.'" Rather than Nokia's 770, to me Road's phone more closely resembles Nokia's 9XXX series.
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Another Linux PDA to Challenge the Nokia 770

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  • Great! (Score:5, Informative)

    by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @10:39AM (#15926593) Homepage Journal
    Rather than Nokia's 770, to me Road's phone more closely resembles Nokia's 9XXX series.
    Whatever it is that has the name 9XXX, I want one.

    With the current growth and popularity of Linux on the handheld, the OS is rapidly approaching ubiquity. This trend will accelerate with the much awaited release of the Linux version of Palm OS [].

    • by rmart ( 834426 )
      Here's a few:

      Nokia 9500 []
      Nokia 9300 []
      Nokia 9300i []

      The E-Series might have something like that coming up, too.
      • The only problem is that SIP is quite lacking on those models, but they do have about everything else.
    • Not trolling here, I just want to know if this sucker will sync with my Mac's address book, calendar and the like. I didn't see any mention of such functionality on the linked web sites.
      • Since it's using Trolltech's Qtopia [], it has a pretty good chance...

        The Qtopia Desktop [] has versions for Windows, Linux and MacOSX.

        And there is also a good chance that this Phone will be compatible with Zaurus PDA applications too!
    • Whatever it is that has the name 9XXX, I want one.

      I think a Palm would be the obvious choice.

    • by sowth ( 748135 ) *
      Hmmm...I've always wanted a PDA I can program for and directly on. All the ones I looked at seem to either require Windows for programming or were using some completely closed system--I think you had to pay a bunch of money just to get the developer kit. Maybe with more Linux PDAs, my dream will come true? Is Qtopia [] free to develop? Hmmm... Open source downloads []? Maybe so...
  • Meh. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BecomingLumberg ( 949374 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @10:40AM (#15926601)
    Sure, its cool, and it runs Linux, but will it be manufactured in large enough quantities to make it economically realistic?

    I doubt it.
  • by disc-chord ( 232893 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @10:42AM (#15926625)
    I've played with all of the data carriers and EDGE is just not what it was cracked up to be. Verizon may suck for voice quality, but their EVDO is tops. I'm able to listen to 160kbit streams all day long no matter where I go in Chicagoland on my XV6700.
    • by terevos ( 148651 )
      I believe Cingular's HSDPA is available in Chicago, which is more like 3.5G - much faster than EVDO I believe.
      • The availablity must be very limited. I ran around with a Treo from Cingular for a month and had really spotty service availablity.
        • by terevos ( 148651 )
          They don't make a Treo that support UMTS or HSDPA right now. Only EDGE, which is the 2.5G tech. UMTS is 3G and HSDPA is 3.5G. However, near Boston, I get great service with EDGE on my Treo. 120kbits/sec most of the time.
      • Current Cingular HSDPA is about the same speed as current EVDO implementations. Both are firmly 3G.

        Cingular, Sprint and Verizon all estimate 400-700 kbps download speeds: [] irelessHighSpeedData_tabB.html [] roadband/serviceoverview.jsp []

        The biggest difference is coverage. Sprint claims EVDO coverage in 220 markets with Verizon claiming 181 metro areas (148 mi

        • I forgot the most importate thing - the phone in the article doesn't have HSDPA. It only has GPRS/EDGE. Hence the OP subject - "GPRS/EDGE makes this already obsolete"
          • by suggsjc ( 726146 )
            Depends on what you are wanting this device to do.

            If you are just wanting a somewhat basic phone (when it is closed) but something that could also SSH into a server while on the go and easily type commands fairly quickly (when it is opened). Then this device may be almost perfect. GPRS/EDGE is plenty sufficient to run a terminal. Heck, you could probably even ftp text files (scripts, logs, etc) back and forth.

            If you are wanting something to stream well, anything, then yes GPRS/EDGE probably makes thi
    • The device has WiFi - there is almost nowhere in my city I can go without access to a WiFi connection. Why would I use EVDO or EDGE or UMTS and pat outlandish bandwidth costs when WiFi is free?

    • In Norway I could catch 200 someodd kb on my Moto L7 with Edge and can find an EDGE connection in most of Europe and the States. I just got a Sony M600, data with UMTS is greater than 300kb - that is cool here the cities of Scandiland but I am kicked down to GPRS in most of the States and Europe. I am sure EVDO is quite cool but what your local provider has online counts (EVDO is limited in Europe) - not to mention the places you might happen to find yourself. I would take EDGE to 3G in a heart beat jus
  • mmmmm..... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    A QWERTZ kezboard...
    • Phew...I'm glad to see that. For a minute I thought it said SQWERTZ. That would be unacceptable in the boardroom.
    • :-(

      I can't believe it. And I've been campaigning for ... (counts)... over a whole day now!

      CAPSoff. Changing the world. One lousy key at a time.

    • Is there some reason they changed the keys around?
      • Wikipedia is your friend []. To sum up: QWERTZ is the type of keyboard used primarily in German-speaking regions. The Z and Y are swapped because the former is much more common in the German language than the latter, and the digraph 'TZ' is also common. The manufacturer is German, hence the keyboard.
      • They didn't.

        There are some countries (with a combined population of a 100 million) where QWERTZ keyboards are the way to type.


        P.S. Yes, Im sure, a QWERTY version will follow suit. Maybe a while after an AZERTY version, of course ;-)
  • by krell ( 896769 )
    Looks rather decent, all the way around. None of the bizarre smaller-than-chicklet buttons in funky curved arrays that mar similar devices. It even has a standard touch-tone pad for phone functions (something many regular cell phones even lack).
  • Whoa... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by free space ( 13714 )
    This device has it all.. Linux, a real keyboard, half VGA resolution and WiFi.
    Also, unlike the Nokia communicator series, it has a touch screen ( useful for VNC, among other things).
    I haven't been this interested in a PDA since the Psion series 5. Cool!

    • Nah... not good enough to get my interest. I have heavy demands -- console-mode only (maybe even scrap that bulky Linux stuff for MS-DOS), Lynx, Pine. A real geek's PDA...
      • While not enabled out of the box you should be able to customize the phones based off of ALP, the replacement for PalmOS, to do exactly what you want there. This is of course dependant upon what the carriers decide to lock the phone down to but as I've been keeping up with the new developments in ALP things are looking very optimistic in the way of customization and hacking for the phones based on ALP.
      • by dindi ( 78034 )
        hmm qtopia -> xterm/qterm/rxvt/whatever-your-favourite-term-is
        then max it up and run pine and the geek stuff :)

        and then when you want to make a call or manage PIM, you do not have to type grep "birthday" ~/calendar-file | grep `date` ... or whatever kinky stuff you like to geek around when finding todays birthdays in console mode :) -> just click calendar-> today and see all bdays registered :)

        just an idea :) I would also like to monkey around in a term on these, but a term only phone ? come
    • by lixee ( 863589 )
      Now if only they'd drop the camera ...
  • What the hell? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by mcai8rw2 ( 923718 )
    Errr...what is a QWERTZ keyboard?

    I've heard of DVORAK and QWERTY but never QWERTZ.

    Gigaqwertz? Kraftqwertz? Ouch-that-qwertz?

    who can tell.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @10:54AM (#15926720)
    Have they learned that screen real estate is vital on these small displays yet? I can't tell much from the screenshot. The bar along the bottom suggests they haven't. The Linux/qtopia Zaurus I had was absolutely dreadful for wasting the screen. Menus, buttons, status lines, large scrollbars all over the place. Damned near unusable...looks at supplier web site... Nope they haven't fixed it, they're still taking the windows desktop metaphor and trying to squeeze it onto a tiny screen. Well maybe they've improved the keyboard shortcuts.

    The Epoc based Nokia Communicator though does make good use of screen space. It should it came from a company who understood how to make a usable PDA.

    • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:47AM (#15927137) Homepage
      640x240 is not that small. 'High-resolution' CGA two-colour display was 640x200, and Windows up to 3.0 can run in that. For many years the standard PC resolution was 640x480, and if you choose your fonts carefully it's okay to halve the vertical resolution. The Archimedes had a pleasant and reasonably uncramped GUI in 640x256 (using an 8x8 font designed to work with rectangular pixels), and I think the Amiga and other 'home computers' designed to connect to television sets had a similar resolution.

      I think this was in the days before excessive toolbars; the Arc also disposed of menubars and used the middle middle button to pop up a menu, which was a neat way to do things.
    • The photo reminds me of the best PDA I ever owned. It's been about four years since my Psion Revo (badged as a Diamond Mako) died. I bought a Windows-based PDA following the sad event, but less than two years after that, I stopped using it. I don't use a PDA today. Why doesn't anyone make a good clamshell anymore? Why doesn't anyone make a good mobile OS anymore? The Revo's UI was a study in pure usability, not trying too vainly to be simple (PalmOS) or trying too hard to mimic inappropriate desktop conve
      • Psion recognised that PDAs on their own would be overtaken by PDAs with a phone and connectivity built in. They made a deal with the number 1 phone company, Nokia. The Nokia Communicators are the result of that. They are Psions with phones added on.

        I have a Nokia 9210 and yup, it's an updated Series 5 with colour screen, email, web etc etc etc. ok so it's a brick, but it's a brick that's served me well for years, a brick which will bring my life crashing to a halt when it breaks down. My next phone will be
  • QWERTZ IS NOT A TYPO (Score:3, Informative)

    by dwayner79 ( 880742 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @10:59AM (#15926758)
    Its German... look at the pics.
  • Love the form-factor (Score:4, Informative)

    by mdielmann ( 514750 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @11:04AM (#15926807) Homepage Journal
    This is the form-factor I've looked forward to most in the phone/PDA market. Easy enough to handle as a phone, and a screen that's wide enough to actually fit 80 characters on. I have some issues with the computer UI, but hopefully someone makes better use of the screen space. I don't need to waste one line of text to show me what else I'm running when I only get half a screen in the first place (I'd prefer a hidden menu-type listing). If I could pick my next cell phone, this is the form factor, if not the actual phone, that I would go for. Sadly, my work supplies Blackberries with their small screen, wide form-factor, and sub-chiclet buttons.

    P.S. Of course, it's also the form-factor that Val Kilmer used in The Saint. :)
  • Is there a CDMA+GSM+WiFi phone yet? That runs Linux, or has HW similar enough to a Linux arch that a port is straightforward? Maybe a Windows phone that can be targeted?
    • by mspohr ( 589790 )
      The problem with this is that the telecoms companies won't distribute a phone that has both WiFi and GSM/CDMA. They want you to pay for their cell based data access (and voice calls) and prohibit you from getting (free) WiFi data and voice access.

      This leaves a very small market for these phones.

      • My PPC-6700 has CDMA+EVDO+WiFi. Since it is a CDMA phone, it doesn't have GSM. It came directly from Sprint. You are right though - there is a very small market for that type of phone.
      • Funny that!

        I've got a GSM phone with WiFi (bluetooth etc) sat in my pocket at the moment, it's the O2 XDA Mini S (nice phone) from the UK. No problems installing Skype on it either.

        Must be a USian thing, as there are lots of phones in the UK with WiFi (XDA series, the E series Nokias)

        • by mspohr ( 589790 )
          Good to hear that these phones exist. I guess they are not common in the US since most people here get their phones from the telecoms companies (as part of lock-in contracts) and don't buy them directly.

          (I say this even though I just bought my third unlocked phone... not from the telecoms company.)

          • T-mobile may not be the biggest but they are a carrier in the US and they have the SDA [] and MDA []. Verizon has the Samsung SCH-i730 and XV6700. I don't think Cingular carries any right now but they're supposed to be getting an HTC and maybe a Nokia model that should have wifi.

            Just trying to educate here, we're like the third world of cellular here in the US, so the pickings are slim.
      • by vrwarp ( 624266 )
        Isn't T-Mobile testing a program where they distribute a wifi router with a tmobile firmware and a phote with wifi capabilities to go with it. The idea is that when you're at home, you'll use the wifi and when you're not, you'll just use it as a regular phone.
    • by linj ( 891019 )
      HTC Universal is the closest so far. Look it up at []

      Full VGA screen, Wi-fi 802.11b, 3g (UMTS), GSM+GPRS, Bluetooth, 520mhz Bulverde XScale. However, it is Windows Mobile 5... but with the above link, there is a project to port Linux to it. Oh, and it's also got the keyboard in a Tablet PC-esque convertible style.
    • by uradu ( 10768 )
      Uh, let's start with the CDMA+GSM thing, never mind all the other features you want. Can you find me a single combination CDMA+GSM phone, regardless of how feature poor? Any?
      • Verizon has phones that have a GSM mode for international service, here's their list of three- Verizon Global Phone []. The Samsung i830 on that list has SDIO so it could be possible to add wifi.
  • They've already made two good choices: a small, but real keyboard and Qt.

    Now, if they charge that extra $50-$100 to make it pretty powerful and debug the damn software, they'll be set. That was my biggest complaint about my 770. The software that was included crashed **constantly** and was just... wrong, especially that thing they called a new reader.
    • by richlv ( 778496 )
      indeed. additionally, if the device provides an easy way for customising, they provide sources of applications, build community (share information, provide means of communicating like forum etc) - that could be very, very nice.
      i never buy my phones for a full price - so far there has not been a device that would not suck in one or another way, and no phone manufacturing company has listened to complaints about usability or problems.
      if they respond to customer wishes, update & fix the software (building
    • Sounds like you want an ultra portable laptop with a phone card.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This reminds me a lot of the nokia communicator, except its running what will hopefully be a much more hackable OS :) I've always been tempted be one of the newer communicators but EPOC seems a little limiting compared to linux, it was a great OS for running Psion PDAs where the main task was word processing/spreadsheets/games etc but when it comes to networking I always felt epoc fell down a little.

    The only obvious limitation is that the screen resolution is quite low they could do with a few more pixels o
  • Its been "comming soon" for so long that until I actually see a physical copy, my money is still on Duke Nukem Forever.
  • The 770 doesn't even pretend to be a PDA. It's for surfing the web, period. Yet twice this week we've seen PDAs that were supposed to be compared to the 770. Not just PDAs: PDAs with keyboards. Get real!

    I'm guessing lots of clueless marketeers are picking the 770 as the product to position their product against. The Slashdot editors need to tune their filters against this sort of crap.

    • by gubbas ( 651881 )
      I'm glad someone else caught this. Why the hell is the 770 being compared to PDA's and SmartPhones? Kind of like comparing Internet Explorer to Outlook...
  • In Germany, telephone business is driven by Road.

    In Soviet Russia, Road drives telephone business.

    Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.

  • Sure, I can see it challenging the Nokia Communicator - essentially a PDA/Phone hybrid - but the Nokia 770? I seem to recall Nokia themselves stating that the 770 was effectively an experimental "internet tablet device", and not a PDA or a phone per se, both of which this seems to shoot for. Comparing apples and pears for the purposes of hype?
  • It's a cool phone if it existed, which is what I thought in March of 2005, but the phone never appeared, so still hearing about it today makes me warry.
    Check out the way back machine for february 2005 [] vs today's page []
    You'll notice subtle changes, but for something that was announced at least 18 months ago and that still doesn't exist, my patience has eroded somewhat.
  • As many have pointed out this has been vaporware thus far, since for about a year and a half there's been no production release. Only news releases.

    Another point is that the display looks wasted due to the widget set and also rather restrictive in terms of vertical resolution. It reminds me of the old Handheld Pocket PC's that were out there 5-6 years ago. I tried porting a couple of handheld apps I had running on other platforms and trying to utilize that 200-odd pixel vertical space was a major PITA. Th

  • This looks like its got a decent sized, usable keyboard, plus it has both wifi and cell support, and qtopia, so a lot of the software made for the zaurus should run on this.
  • Ari Virtanen said on CNET [] "Once you put a SIM card in, it's automatically controlled by the operator."

    I don't want to buy any hardware where I am not likely to control both ends of a connection. WiFi uses peers, but WiMAX uses a $15,000USD base station. I'm not likely to buy one of those ever.

    So I'll skip out on GPRS, UMTS, WiMAX, or any other technology where I must talk to an expensive base station that will be controlled by a vendor.

    I might buy a pocket widget that lets my Nokia 770 talk to the mob
  • Challenge the Nokia 770?

    The very first line in TFA is: "German phone maker Road has announced its answer to Nokia's Communicator."

    So why even bring up the 770, only to later add that it looks more like a 9xxx??? I know /. has been all over that 770 thing, but do you think this is the only way you can get us to look at a Linux PDA?

  • I'm desperatly waiting for a device like this with HSDPA or a Compact Flash HSDPA card for my hx4700...
  • I'm sorry, what is it going to challenge the 770 at?

    The 770 is crap. Generally you don't compete to see who can be the worst piece of crap.

    (yes, I've used it, had one for a couple days.)
  • The ROAD website has been there for ages. Certainly it was there in February last year - it's archived [] in the Wayback Machine [] from then. The screen images look like mockups to me and I doubt they have any real working hardware.

    Which is a shame, because it looks like a great device in some ways & I'd rather like one.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.