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Handhelds Hardware

Pogo Phone/PDA Quietly Launched 81

Posted by timothy
from the smaller-than-it-looked dept.
labourstart writes: "Carphone Warehouse, one of the largest mobile phone retailers in the UK, this week quietly began selling the Pogo device, which claims to offer greater than 56K connection speeds to the Internet without waiting for 3G mobile phones to come into use. It's also a PDA and web browser using a proprietary operating system and data compression software that, they say, allows very fast downloads of HTML (not WAP) web pages." This one's been mentioned before, but now it looks like it's really and truly available.
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Pogo Phone/PDA Quietly Launched

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  • Awkward shape (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    To me, the shape of the the thing is a bit awkward to carry around. I don't want a giant squarish thing clipped to my belt.
    • well, don't clip it to your belt then. This has the added advantage of NOT making you look like the retarded geek that you so obviously are. Who knows? you may even be able to approach a woman thus unencumbered.
  • Flash player (Score:1, Interesting)

    by karmma (105156)
    According to the specs [carphonewarehouse.com] it comes bundled with Macromedia Flash Player 4. This brings to mind the recent stories [slashdot.org] about Flash virii. Are they also going to bundle it with anti-virus software, or give the user the ability to uninstall Flash?
    • Re:Flash player (Score:2, Informative)

      by benjj (302095)
      According to the ZDnet Review [zdnet.co.uk] that somebody below pointed out, "There is some heavy-duty protection to guard against viruses." What that means exactly I don't know though.
    • No - AFAIK the entire interface is based around Flash, so unbundling it isn't a possibility. The device has an embedded mini-browser and flash interpreter built in.
    • Re:Flash player (Score:4, Informative)

      by generic-man (33649) on Saturday January 19, 2002 @10:57AM (#2868115) Homepage Journal
      If you would kindly read the recent stories about Flash virii, you would notice that they cannot be activated by a web browser. The problem lies in self-contained EXE files used to transport Flash presentations, which when run on Windows can cause some nasty ActionScript actions to occur. Users of web browsers on all platforms, and all non-Windows users are completely safe. In fact, the so-called "Flash virii" are considered very minor threats.
  • Review (Score:3, Redundant)

    by jonv (2423) on Saturday January 19, 2002 @10:12AM (#2867992)
    Review can be found here:
    http://www.zdnet.co.uk/reviews/rstories/0,3040,e 71 11404,00.html
  • by ciryon (218518)
    I wonder what the proprietary operating system is? Pretty cool device, but I believe more in conventional PDA's, with an extra phone-backpack or whatever. Also note that this machine is only 75Mhz and most likely rather slow. And 4MB Flash + 16MB SDRAM is not enough when it comes to playing MP3's.

    Ciryon

    • Re:OS? (Score:1, Redundant)

      by Corrado (64013)
      Yea, I didn't see any expandable memory slots in the specifications. A SONY Memory Stick or MMC slot would do wonders for this device and couldn't raise the price much.

      Again, Mhz alone does not reveal much about the overall speed of this machine. You need to take the whole package into account. My first Amiga only ran at 8Mhz, yet it could do so much more than the PeeCees running @ 25Mhz.
      • by Corrado (64013)
        Opps, I just saw that they have a multimedia card drive accessory that accepts 16mb, 32mb, 64mb cards. They don't say what type of card it is though.
      • by benjj (302095)
        Er... it has an MMC card [carphonewarehouse.com]! I agree about the Mhz being fairly meaningless though - if its fast enough to play MP3s and render websites then what else do you need?
    • I don't know what the OS is, but apparently it can run just about any Flash application, and they have an API (called "Boing") that allows you to create your own programs for the Pogo. Which sounds pretty cool? (Source: ZDnet review http://www.zdnet.co.uk/reviews/rstories/0,3040,e71 11404,00.html )
  • So it can download at greater then 56k speeds.. but can it compile a kernel? :-P

    Honestly, I want a PDA that I can use to hack at the latest kernel on the go..
  • 56k? yeh, right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oozer (132881) on Saturday January 19, 2002 @10:18AM (#2868003)
    I have to admit that I hadn't heard of this device before, but according to the specs it uses standard 2.5G technology (GPRS/HSCSD) in which case its claims of 56k transfer rates are highly optimistic.

    Also, I don't which mobile networks they are expecting you to use this on, but unless they have been opened up recently, they didn't have a general GPRS->Internet bridge available that would let you use the Pogo to browse web pages via GPRS.

    The last time I looked at GPRS in the UK you could only use it to connect to the networks own WAP and messaging gateways and the authorised WAP servers operated a "walled garden" policy.
    • Re:56k? yeh, right. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Fishd (114843)
      Well, I've read about this before... and it doesn't actually download at speeds greater than 56K...

      The service provider you (have to) connect to has a compression server on it's network and it compresses the data you've requested before sending it to your device, where it is uncompressed. They claim it makes the 9600bps of GSM as fast as 56kps but as we all know, the success of data compression relys very heavily on the data being compressed. Compressing pure text HTML may be fine but I expect this thing to crawl when it comes to graphics...

      In a previous article the head of Pogos company basically accepted that this device has approx 12 - 18 month lifespan as it will be killed by GPRS technology. But seemed pretty upbeat anyway... (doesn't want to scare his investors I guess)

      GPRS phones are currently available here in the UK but none of the cellphone providers seem to realise that charging extortionate rates means they aint gonna get used...

      Pogo - Nice idea... shame about the tech...
      • >Compressing pure text HTML may be fine but I expect this thing to crawl when it comes to graphics...

        Well, the server reduces all graphics down to 256 colours (which is all the device can display) before transmission, which probably helps a bit. I still would have to see it to believe it really seems faster than 56k though.

      • I'm sceptical about the compression, but it should improve things given image downscaling (Plucker and AvantGo do the same thing on Palms). As for your GPRS comment - the Pogo is a GPRS device, so it's not exactly going to be 'killed by GPRS...'
    • I know someone who works at Pogo, and I've seen a pre-production version of it, but didn't really get a chance to play with it. AFAIK, web browsing goes through the Pogo servers to the outside world which does a lot of graphic clipping/compression to simulate 56K over a GPRS type link. Whether this holds true in the real world has yet to be seen.


      All in all it looks a very cool device, and it'll be interesting to see how the big boys respond to it.

    • > its claims of 56k transfer rates are highly optimistic.

      From ARM.com [arm.com]:
      The secret to the Pogo's hi-speed wireless web connection lies in its unique proprietary compression technology. It is powered by an ARM7 core, which was selected for its excellent code density and speed.

      marmite
    • From the ZDnet review [zdnet.co.uk] Pogo is essentially a mobile thin client. The problem with using a thin client over the GSM network is that bandwidth is limited to 9.6Kbit/s, compared to a standard wired modem at around 40Kbit/s. Pogo has got around this with some very clever compression software. Pogo Technology's server takes the Web page you want to access and strips out animations, reduces the colours to the 256 the Pogo can display, and swaps the fonts for those that look good on the Pogo screen. Then it compresses the data -- typically to a sixth of the normal amount -- and sends it to the handheld device, where it's uncompressed and displayed. Some file downloads and Web pages are still painfully slow, but in general using the Pogo over GSM feels good -- akin to a wired modem, and very much better than a Nokia 9210 using HSCSD (High Speed Circuit Switched Data) at 28.8Kbit/s. Of course, what would be even better is the clever compression and more bandwidth, and that may yet come. The hardware in the Pogo uses a standard radio module from Wavecom. In fact, it's the same module that Handspring uses in its new Treo devices. The Wavecom module has all the hardware necessary to do GPRS, so you may see a 30Kbit/s upgrade for the Pogo in the next few months.
    • by seldolivaw (179178)
      According to the ZDnet review, the web pages it browses are actually translated by the "Pogo Technology Server" first: so when you go to www.yahoo.com, it's actually a page on their server: their server optimizes the colours to the Pogo's standard 256, swaps fonts to display better, and then it shrinks the whole page so that an 800x600 page looks fairly normal (if teeny) on the 320x260 screen, which is pretty cool. The fast transfer rate is accomplished because the server also compresses the page before sending it to the phone, which then decompresses it -- a good solution in a bandwidth-limited device. But it relies on a *lot* of proprietary technology :-(
    • in which case its claims of 56k transfer rates are highly optimistic.
      From ZDNet's Review: [zdnet.co.uk] Compression technology makes the browsing experience roughly equivalent to using a 56Kbit/s wired modem. (bolding is mine)

      This probably means that all graphics, etc. are compressed prior to being sent to the pogo. The screen isn't as large as your computer monitor, so it can get away with it without a noticeable difference. So no, it is not going to get you 56k transfer, but it may feel like it.
    • From ZD-Net's Review [zdnet.co.uk]

      Pogo is essentially a mobile thin client. The problem with using a thin client over the GSM network is that bandwidth is limited to 9.6Kbit/s, compared to a standard wired modem at around 40Kbit/s. Pogo has got around this with some very clever compression software. Pogo Technology's server takes the Web page you want to access and strips out animations, reduces the colours to the 256 the Pogo can display, and swaps the fonts for those that look good on the Pogo screen. Then it compresses the data -- typically to a sixth of the normal amount -- and sends it to the handheld device, where it's uncompressed and displayed.
    • I have a GPRS phone and account on Vodafone here in the UK - they have recently opened up full internet - and I was able to telnet and surf the web from my Palm m505 / Nokia 8210 using GRPS


      James

    • As an employee of a major UK phone company I have to counter this comment. Firstly, Vodafone has offered Internet access over GPRS for a couple of months now. Secondly, GPRS does run at pretty fast speeds, such that when I am web browsing on my laptop I find GPRS on my mobile to be faster than my 56K modem on a landline. (Admittedly the landline connection is about 46K)

      Steve.
  • Newton II? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Corrado (64013) <rnhurt@@@gmail...com> on Saturday January 19, 2002 @10:20AM (#2868010) Homepage Journal
    WOW! This looks like something that Apple (sh|w)ould do. It looks as big as a Newton 120 (which I currently use) but with a good screen and lots more horsepower. It plays MP3 (what about OGG?), renders real HTML in full color, and the price seems right (300BP). Too bad it's not available in the US, I might be tempted to get one. After all, my Newton 120 is getting quite old and I need something to stand out in the sea of Palm & WinCE devices.
  • well, it has some very good technology, but its hideous!

    a very very very good idea though, glad someone did it
  • Is it just me, or does this thing seem a little vapourish? I mean, it sounds good, and all, but where o where are the close-up product shots? All I see is tiny mockups in the models's hands, and some graphics. No close-up pix. What's up? Can't they afford a photographer? Or is the hardware still beta?
    • This device is ON SALE now!

      For close up shots try here http://www.pogo-tech.com

      Around 6 months ago people were claiming vapourware... now they have delivered... a rare thing in this industry... (yopy anyone?)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      OK, so the thing I looked at in Carphone Warehouse this lunchtime is vapourware?

      It's a very nice device - a little large though, bigger than a Palm for instance, although it pretty much does everything a Palm would do anyway. It has a screen very similar to the iPaq's which I didn't have any trouble seeing under heavy shop lighting, unlike my Casio E115 display. The shape of it is actually very good, it's easy to hold and use with one hand via the touchscreen, or you can use the strange-looking stylus that comes with it.

      There are a couple of niggles though - 1) I couldn't get it on Vodafone, so I'm not likely to get one in the near future and 2) the PDA functions sync remotely, which is a nice idea, but I'd really like to get all those Outlook (yuck!) contacts into it for work.

      I didn't get a chance to play with the MP3 player, so I can't tell you if it was any good, but if you're listening to MP3's, it appears you can set it up to interrupt the music when a call comes in. I also didn't get a chance to look at the POP3 email settings, but I guess this is pretty easy to set up.

      I notice in the web pics that the guy's wearing it on a bag strap - as far as I could tell, there was nothing like this included with it, only a soft pouch.

      So to sum up, nice idea, nice screen, easy to use, but it needs to be smaller and be able to be used on different networks, although I guess this will come soon. I'm assuming that for the time being, it'll be a hit with rich kids...

  • Need better pics. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nobodyman (90587) on Saturday January 19, 2002 @10:40AM (#2868066) Homepage
    Man, the pogo website blows. From the pics that they got on there, I can only get a cursory idea of what this thing looks like. It would be really nice to get some nice hi-res images of the thing.

    Anybody out there got some links besides the pogo website?
    • Re:Need better pics. (Score:3, Informative)

      by jwilhelm (238084)
      http://www.pogo-tech.com has some higher resolution pictures. Looks a little awkward to carry...
    • I believe Pogo is a selling a young man. What a great way to kill interest in this thing: Lay on the marketing speel and don't show any close-ups or "virtual tours" of the device.

      This thing supposedly does everything, yet a pretty and low content promotional tool (website) is all they're offering to get me to buy it? For shame.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Here you go [pogo-tech.com]
  • When these guys [zeosync.com] release their product we will all be surfing at cable modem speeds over 9,600. In fact, since"Everything in an N-member set can be expressed in an N-1 set." [wired.com] we wont even need a network connection, we can just reconstruct our webpages by uncompressing /dev/null!
  • Backed Up? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) <xanadu@nosPAM.inorbit.com> on Saturday January 19, 2002 @10:49AM (#2868090) Homepage Journal
    From the article [carphonewarehouse.com]:

    Meanwhile, all your data is stored on a centeral server and backed up everytime you go online, so there's no need to sync your Pogo manually with your PC.

    Wait. OK, so all my personal info is being synced with some company that has root access to that said info? Does anyone see a problem here?

    What about the servers? Let's just say this device really takes off, what's gonna happen when the un-avoidable upgrade happens? What if the upgrade goes boom? Does that mean all my data is MIA? Is there ANY WAY I can sync my info with another PERSONAL computer?

    To speak quike frankly, if this wasn't actually being sold, I'd call it Vapor-Ware(tm).
  • While the Pogo phone/MP3 player/PDA/Web browser/underwear changer is, like many others, trying to fill the "convergence" void - I think I'll stick with this Pogo [pogolinux.com], which seems to be a lot more secure and reliable.
  • From the Review [zdnet.co.uk]
    link mentioned elsewhere:

    "There will be support for programmers who want to write their own Pogo
    programs using the API known as Boing, with a Flash-based Software
    Developer's Kit."

    It's clear this is a proprietary subscription oriented device.

    So until someone identifies the OS as other than this AmigaDE/Taos intent
    thing.....
  • by seldolivaw (179178) <{me} {at} {seldo.com}> on Saturday January 19, 2002 @11:46AM (#2868260) Homepage
    This is indeed a pretty sweet device, and at £329 it's comparable to (say) the latest Visor models. However, in typical UK fashion (I live here; I know) CPW has loaded unreasonable ongoing costs on the back of it: data and voice calls are 10p per minute (14 US cents), calls to phones on other networks are 35p (aargh! why?!), and on top of that there's a £7.99 (US$11.50) monthly charge for the Internet access, etc.. That can really add up if you use it pretty regularly. Other than that problem, I'd get it tomorrow! :-)
  • The ultimate portable device, as I see it, will like the Pogo, be reliant on the Internet. Why have in-unit storage if you can have unlimited storage potential through the use of the Internet? Also, another barrier that must be reached is faster wireless internet connections through these devices (plus cost coming down). However, once these are reached, think of the possibilities--
    - unlimited MP3 storage anywhere
    - picture frame w/ unlimited storage - everywhere you go
    - graphical internet surfing/chat/etc. for those long trips
    - document retrieval anywhere
    - PDA functionality without space/storage concerns
    - gaming :) better yet, multiplayer online gaming

    and more that I can't come up with right now...

    Right now, I have separate (or no) devices for each of these things. I, for one, would like them combined.
    • The ultimate portable device, as I see it, will like the Pogo, be reliant on the Internet.
      ...And therefore not only have the problems inherent to PDAs(Small, underpowered/battery life, awkward interface), but have all the problems inherent to wireless networking (Relatively low speeds, intermittant coverage, battery life)
      Why have in-unit storage if you can have unlimited storage potential through the use of the Internet?
      Good question - If you're not posting from a network appliance (Ex:WebTV, iOpener, Audrey, New Internet Computer), maybe you aught to buy yourself one and experience the amazing array of problems associated with having ALL your data held hostage by some fickle, intermittant remote server - Not to mention that it's probably going to be a long,long, long time before ubiquitous wireless networking reaches the speed of USB, much less EIDE, SCSI or Compact Flash.
      Also, another barrier that must be reached is faster wireless internet connections through these devices (plus cost coming down).
      Neither of which is going to happen soon, and neither of which are going to happen together - Not in america, at any rate. Who do you think is going to put up /all/ those 3G wireless nodes? Some company! And why are they going to do it? Same reason as always! To bleed consumers as white as they can stand! THe only way we'll see widespread, reasonably priced 3g in this country anytime soon is if the goverment steps in and funds the infrastructure. And that's about as likely as it is for NASA's funding to get doubled next fiscal year - IE: Short of alien intervention, not too likely.
      However, once these are reached, think of the possibilities--
      Yeah! Let's!
      • Centralized storage of your music content! Along with that holy grail, Copy Control!
      • Paying to look at grany, small pictures of your children!
      • Automated tracking of your location, whereever you are!
      • Truely and finally insecure documents! Now ANYBODY can steal your private material and information!
      • PDA functionality without anywhere near the reliability of access!
      • Paying. And Paying. And Paying. And Paying, to access your own data, nonetheless
      • Hate to say it, but if this is where Mobile computing is headed, I think I'd better get off the bus NOW.
  • If they have a big tough guy on there web page geting tatooed (pogo home site: PDA section) then I know that from know on I'm going to be safe from represion by bikers. I'l be able to walk into a tatoo parler and say, "look I have a Pogo some people who get tatoos have pogos. Do you want to be my freind?".

    PDAS ARE COOL
    HELLS ANGELS ARE SCARY TO ME
    NOW WE WILL BE FRENDS
  • So it uses doubled up gsm (i.e. 19.6k baud). That's been on offer from Orange for over 18 months now in the UK.

    The optimisation and shrinking page stuff is new, and necessary on a 320 pixel wide screen. Bet a lot of pages become unreadable tho'.
    I'd beware of the faster than 56k modem claim too, the optimised page might come down quick, but only after the soon to be heavily loaded servers have retrieved and optimized the page, assuming it's not already cached.

    My humble psion 5mx with the double bandwidth deal from Orange and a 640 pixel wide screen does a pretty good job of sites written with narrower screens in mind, and the opera browser offers 3 zoom levels too. AND it'll run java and ssl ;-)

    Nice toy, think I'll wait for a linux/crusoe device though.
  • This is the second combo phone/PDA device I've seen that appears to require the use of a headset for phone calls. (The other device is a Motorola that they sell on Voicestream, don't know the model number.

    What makes them think I don't want to hold the device to my ear? I don't want to have to hunt for a headset everytime the phone rings.

    • hrm... a phone with a retractable headset would be nice, actually. Provided there was a catch so it didn't try to retract while you were wearing it, anyway.
    • it would have the advantage of not frying your brain (as much) as some scientists fear cell phones do anyways the entire design is not really optimized for holding it against the ear and the design was chosen to have a more desktop pc like screen ratio .. probably to make it more "web resolution" compatible so I think their choice was made with good reasons
  • Considering all the crap I already have crammed into my pockets and laptop case (Cell phone, Palm, mp3 player, RIM) this thing is a godsend. To have all that stuff combined into one unit is spectacular. Add in an HTML and Javascript enabled browser and you'd have one very happy techboy. Might be a little expensive, but that's what tax write-offs are for. Can't wait till it hops the pond.
  • Its using GSM 900/1800 (GPRS for internet) which is Euro-specific. US GSM networks are 1900, so it'll probably be at least a year before we see a US version.

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