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Handhelds Hardware

User Review of Transmeta-Based Aquapad 153

Posted by timothy
from the pick-up-chicks dept.
An Anonymous Coward writes: "Remember when dot.com's were profitable and webpads were these cool little toys that were going to explode? Well that never happened but it seems like at least one company has actually come out with a Midori Linux webpad...called the Aquapad - looks kind of cool but only uses flash memory, so no storage :( I don't know if it would really be worth getting, but it looks like fun."
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User Review of Transmeta-Based Aquapad

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  • by Tregod (441880)
    Aqua pad floats in water! (not recommended)
  • by Sonicboom (141577) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @02:40AM (#2960442) Journal
    "A developers kit accompanied this AquaPad which included an 802.11b WLAN Access Point, and 802.11b Cisco Aironet 350 Series PCMCIA card.
    "

    It can be effectively used as a dumb term - all storage would be on the server side.
    • Yeh, that's what I was thinking when I read it. I've got a buddy whose business runs their entire warehousing app over a browser and this could be useful. Other that that it could make for an expensive remote control as it were. Have an intranet at home with a bunch of X10 junk hooked up to the server, run xmms remotely, and other such buffoonery.
    • And a microdrive compatible compact flash slot gives you at least 1Gb, does that count?
    • I see these devices as an excellent thing at any large factory or plant.

      Many times there's a control room to which all the data is sent. The mechanic looks at the diagnostics, on screen, and goes to the device that malfunctions. If he makes changes, he has to rely on flashing lights and broken screens. Then he has to call or go back to see what's changed, only to make some other adjustments. And so on.

      With one of these or similar devices (the aquapad as presented wouldn't stand a chance in an industrial environment), he could enter the machine he's working on (or better, ID it with IR) and get the data realtime. This would save money, as there's no need to have someone answering the phone and telling the mechanic what appears on the screen, or saves time (==money) if the mechanic doesn't need to go to the control room the whole time.

      This mechanism would also allow the diagnostics to evolve even further, as the data would become easily available in such an environment, making it worthwhile.
  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @02:41AM (#2960443) Homepage
    Just like Aquaman. Pretty much useless in almost every environment.
  • http://www.mp3newswire.net/stories/2001/microdrive .html

    Besides, I want one. This web-pad sounds too cool.

    This is the sort of thing I've wanted for years.
    • The article says that the Windows version of the Aquapad boots off a built-in microdrive. I couldn't find how large/whether it was configured to be user-writable, though.
  • No Storage... wrong. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Arimus (198136) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @02:45AM (#2960453)
    Actually reading the review they say that the CF slot does support the IBM Microdrives... <OT> wonder if IBM remember the Sinclair Spectrum Microdrives?</OT>.

    Looking at the device it does look rather nice and given it's underlying OS is Linux the potential for getting to do things its not designed for probably won't be too much effort.

    Suggested use, tie it in with a RF locator and web based map of large campus style corporate headquaters and visitors (or employees) need never get lost again ;>
    • it also comes w/a PCMCIA slot. You can get TWO microdrives in there then. The IBM drive comes w/a PCMCIA card that you can plug in to read it on laptop's or desktop's w/the PCI adapter.

      2G seems plenty for a web pad.

      • If you really wanted to be cool, you could add yet a third drive by opening it up and swapping out that one 32MB CF memory card that the OS is held on. From there it would be trivial to copy the OS over to the microdrive and enable the saving of data to the internal hard drive itself.

        3G seems like it would be fun for a web pad. :) Store an X-Files episode for on the go!
    • Noticed the screenshots ran IceWM [icewm.com] as its window manager. Rather easy for non unix users to understand and start using also.
    • It might be worth noting that you can save SOME data without external storage. I wrote a few odd text files just for giggles and they seem to be stored on the internal flash memory. And configuration changes manage to survive between boots. But, of course, I doubt there is a whole lot of available space.


      Of course, I've had no problem using CF cards. Next week, I'll be customizing a Midori build and booting off the external flash card.

  • Cost (Score:2, Informative)

    by Denito (196701)
    Interesting device..
    The review doesn't seem to say anything about cost, but Aquapad.org [aquapad.org] are selling Linux version for 700 bucks. (plus access point if you don't have one)
    One thing I don't understand is why it cant view hotmail.com. They say it must be a mozilla problem, but aren't you Mozilla users able to get to Hotmail?
    • Re:Cost (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by glwtta (532858)
      Last time I checked, hotmail didn't let mozilla in, but if you set it to identify as IE it worked just fine. So I guess they can't say that Mozilla supports it, even if it does. At least that was my limited experience (I don't normally use hotmail) - anyone else?
      • Hotmail certainly does allow Mozilla users. I don't use it either, and don't have a single message in my Inbox, but for the purpose of this post I tried and it allowed me in without any problems whatsoever. Mozilla/20020201.
  • lol (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zanek (546281)
    Has Trasmeta actually produced anything to this day that rivaled the hype surrounding their appearance on the scene ?
    No.
    This aquapad sounds like it would make an excellent liner for my bird cage
    • a sub-notebook [zdnet.com] that runs 6 hours between charges? Sure, it's not the fastest machine out there, but my aunt (who still uses Win311+Word 6) still beats me (who has PIII + SO6beta on Redhat 7.1) when it comes to typing some letters. SO6beta is great, but my aunt just happens to type 60 word/min.
      • You should work in advertising:

        Buy Transmeta - because my aunt types 60 wpm

        I guess if I look hard I'll see the point you were making.
        • I'd guess he was trying to say that most users don't need an ultra powerful PC. His Aunt and her ancient machine can out perform him on his high spec box at the task that she uses it for (word processing).

          Right?
    • by Eil (82413)

      Well tough guy, if you were around to witness it, you'd note that any hype generated by Transmeta was a side-effect of their NDA that applied to their employees and anybody who got to view the technology before release. They could NOT spend four years building their new processor from scratch while telling the world about it, or Intel would have simply thrown money at them (in the form of lawers or competition) to make them go away. That's called a trade secret. That's called business.

      Second, Transmeta did not produce the AquaPad, a company called FIC [fica.com] did. But of course, one would have to actually read the article to find that out...
  • I would get IBM Transnote [tigerdirect.com] instead.
    • They stopped making it - there wasn't any demand for it - sure, it looks cool, but if it doesn't sell well - whats the point?

      You can still buy them at eBay...
  • the conclusions... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bob@dB.org (89920) <bob@db.org> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @02:49AM (#2960468) Homepage
    if you have better things to do then to read 7 long pages of review...

    We have presented a lot of information about a relatively simple device, and as there are not really any mobile devices on the market, we have largely been comparing the AquaPad against computing solutions consumers are likely to be using such as notebooks and desktops. In that regard, the Midori Linux based AquaPad has its limitations, but they are not unworkable. As a mobile platform to browse the web the AquaPad functions well - most major websites that deliver content, or news, are built using the most widely acceptable programing. With the exception of Hotmail, we had no difficulties exploring CNN, or TransmetaZone for example.

    Multimedia or artistic websites that make use of Java or Shockwave present a hurdle for the AquaPad, so that is something to be aware of. However, support for RealAudio applications like streaming audio or video, and Flash5 is superb, so I guess it's a bit of a trade off.

    With its 500MHz Crusoe processor, the AquaPad seemed well equipped to handle the variety of tasks we threw at it, and users who have never used Linux before will be comforted by the Windows-like user interface. The screen size is good for most of the websites on the web at the moment, but as webpages move away from the 800x600 pixel screen support to the larger and more common 1024x768 resolutions, the AquaPad may find itself outsized. For the moment, this is not a problem however.

    Probably the neatest thing about the AquaPad was its ability to remotely update the OS over the internet. Battery life is good at just over 3 hours for average web surfing, but placing the DC power port (along with the USB and headphone jacks) behind the small door was awkward. I personally would have preferred to see these ports in a recessed area or along one edge protected by rubberized covers than the fold-down hard plastic port cover used.

    The unit is comfortable to hold, and the magnesium alloy casing offers a tough alternative to what would otherwise be plastic. I especially like the little spot to hold the stylus, and found the on screen keyboard acceptable in terms of speed for entering in URL addresses.

    Memory is one area I think FIC could improve upon. Including a Compact Flash card with the AquaPad would be one step in the right direction, but perhaps switching out the OS's CF card for an IBM microdrive would be even better, even with Linux. FIC tell us that the versions with Windows 98/ME/2000 make us of an internal microdrive however.

    While we used the AquaPad extensively for web surfing and streaming audio playback during our evaluation, the problems gaining access into Hotmail limited its use to us a mobile platform for email. An integrated email client would be an interesting addition for the device to support, especially if the memory card was included.

    There really is no one line summary that we can make about the AquaPad because its uses are so varied and depend on what each individual user requires. In terms of surfing, 80% of websites we tested it on had no problems and the pages were displayed correctly. Audio quality through the speaker was so so, but via the headphones excellent. The LCD panel was easy to read and bright enough for an office environment, and the touch screen is quite user friendly once you get accustomed to it. Whether or not the AquaPad is right for you, and your intended applications is up to you, but FIC definitely have something interesting here with this little blue magnesium device, and it is sure to turn heads!

  • 2.5 lbs? (Score:2, Informative)

    by jezzball (28743)
    How is this unit with an 8.4" screen 2.5 lbs?

    And only 3.0 hours of battery life? Out of a Crusoe?

    It seems as if this unit fits right into where no one would want one - a tablet that weighs as much as a light laptop, is smaller, can do less, and doesn't last any longer.

    Am I missing something?
    • I was in the hunt for my new thin-n-light notebook for a while. The lightest one I found was around 2.9lbs. (It was Sony SRsomething, don't remember). Those small notebooks have, well, small batteries. I never found ones that last longer than 2 and a half hours (except one, NEC Daylite, it has extra battery hidden behide monitor tho).

      I also looked at some mini notebooks. They are about 2.x lbs, and have battery life about 90min (except one, Fujitsu P series).

      I agree that the whole webpad thing is not very practical, but 3 hours of battery life on something 2.5 lbs? That's impressive.
      • Actually, it's not impressive, as a notebook contains a harddrive, cdrom drive, and does not use a transmeta, which would consume almost no power
        • actually it is. if you are not qualified to reply, then don't.
          • Rrrright. My IBM Thinkpad T20 gets at least 90 minutes on battery with the wireless card in it, but if I close the lid and fire up an MP3 player (for plane flights) I can get 3 hours out of it. Two batteries gets me cross-country.

            A similar Dell I had got me 60 minutes on battery no matter what I did. Similar specs, except the Dell was 100Mhz faster (800 instead of 700Mhz).
  • Midori Linux? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ukryule (186826) <slashdot@yule. o r g> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @02:54AM (#2960477) Homepage
    Is this the only current device using Midori Linux [transmeta.com]?

    It's all gone rather quite since Midori first was announced last year - and the In Use [transmeta.com] page on their website has only 2 broken links and this device.

    It seems a bit odd that they seem to be ignoring the (large) potential PDA & Mobile phone market in favour of webpads.

    Incidentally, the Familiar Project [handhelds.org] is chugging along quite nicely producing a decent Linux PDA OS (for the iPaq only ATM)
    • Re:Midori Linux? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dublin (31215)
      Pre-production versions of the SonicBlue/FrontPath ProGear webpad ran Midori Linux, but that may have changed. (I tested one of the preproduction units and worked with the people doing the Linux work - I know they considered Slackware, too, and am not sure what they finally settled on.)

      It was a nice unit in many ways: it even supported an internal 2.5" HD, so you could cram 20 GB or so into it if you wanted to. The major problem (at least with the early units) was that it was relatively fragile - not really tough enough to survive the treatment such a unit gets in the real world, and it nneded help on the input front, as most such Linux-based devices do. (Why the various companies working to do this don't pool their resources an do it RIGHT, I still don't know - as it is, everyone hacks up thier own pretty much useless rehash of bad on-screen keyboards and, if they're ambitious, text recognizers.)

      Still, I want a webpad far more than I want a new laptop: The simple fact is that even a mediocre webpad is 10x more useful than a good laptop for the things most people do, especially if outfitted to provide "instant-on" access via wireless networking. (Sadly, the "instant-on" part is one area where CE has a decided advantage, even as totally brain-dead as it is...)

      I think most of the problem here is that web pad manufacturers are trying to build devices that can be both a wireless browser *and* a laptop replacement, driving up costs and ensuring that they do neither job very well. A wireless, browser-only box (or even a remote Terminal Services box using Microsoft's RDP) would sell for those many of us that would like to treat the web more like a book and not be tied to a desk while reading. Sorry folks, but Microsoft's RDP is a FAR better protocol choice than something like VNC for a device like this. RDP is actually excellent, and it would be nice to see open source RDP servers and clients for other OSes. Try the two side by side, and you'll see what I mean. I've done just that with my Epods webpad: RDP is quite usable, while VNC is far slower than dialup (although in fairness the CE VNC client is pretty bad.)
  • by GregGardner (66423) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @02:55AM (#2960478) Homepage
    I find it interesting that if you follow the link in the review to a place where you can preorder one of these devices: www.aquapad.org [aquapad.org], the pricing is $700 for both the Midori Linux version and the WinCE version. Doesn't it cost money for the WinCE license? And does it not cost money for the Midori Linux license (GPL)?

    I guess this is just one reseller's version of the pricing. Maybe they are just taking a bigger margin on the Linux version. Too bad they don't pass the savings onto the consumer.
    • >And does it not cost money for the Midori Linux
      >license (GPL)?

      Remember, GPL means free as in speech, not NECESSARILY free as in beer.

      -l
    • suposedly the licencing fee for CE is around 10$ so I doubt that it makes that big of a difference.
  • by supernova87a (532540) <kepler1@nOspAm.hotmail.com> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @02:57AM (#2960484)
    So you say the aquapad has no hard drive, or document storage system?

    Sounds perfect for the busy Enron executive on the go...
    • Well, that busy Enron exec should be rich enough to afford 2 IBM 1GB Microdrives ($360 each) to fit into the two PCMCIA slots. Of course, 2 Microdrives cost as much as the whole unit, so us poor folk can't have 2GB Linux webpads, at least for the time being.
  • Hmm, mozilla there looks pretty old - something like M18, I was first milestone with 'Blue' theme completely broken and removed. I wonder how much hemorrage it is to build moz 98 to fit into 32mb flash along with XFree86-4, I guess those guys doing Midory finally have managed to rip composer out of mozilla ;-)
    • They should have no trouble at all moving to the absolute latest release of Mozilla and to XFree 4.2. I've been developing a Linux kit for a very similar Curuso/32Mb flash device, and I have the Mozilla 0.9.8, a pared down copy of XFree 4.2, and XMMS, and have room for a few MB of more-or-less flash friendly persistent storage to keep bookmarks and the ilk in.
  • I think this is a great device, but I think I've heard about it somewhere before. Oh yeah, now I remember. Timothy, do you remember your previous [slashdot.org] articles [slashdot.org]? It's not really news the second and third time. Remember: News for Nerds.

    Be sure to check out Chris Tom's ongoing review of the AquaPad over at AMDZone [amdzone.com].
  • Fujitsu's Pen Tables (Score:3, Informative)

    by Redking (89329) <stevenw@redki[ ]com ['ng.' in gap]> on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:18AM (#2960505) Homepage Journal
    Now, these machines [fujitsupc.com] look real nice!

    Me,
  • What's the use? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by boopus (100890) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:23AM (#2960512) Journal
    I had to admit I didn't make it all the way through the review of this particular model, but... The question that always comes to mind is what people are actualy going to use these for. UPS uses a "web pad" of sorts, and it seems to work very well for them, but that's a single use machine. The only real use I can see for these is when they are going to be deployed to do one thing, and have custom applications designed to do their one thing well.

    Why? Because there isn't any decent way to get text into them. You can tap out characters on a screen, but that isn't the same as typing, and gets frusterating quickly.

    Would it be cool to grab your web pad out of it's charging cradle and relax on the couch? Yes. Untill you decide you want to respond to the guy badmouthing the whole webpad concept on slashdot and try to type a response.

    That being said, the lack of storage seems like a good thing, as there really aren't any uses for these that don't involve a network, that's why they're called a webpad.

    In the end the geek in me will win, and I'll probably own one... But not untill they're on tigerdirect/ebay for $150.
    • Would it be cool to grab your web pad out of it's charging cradle and relax on the couch? Yes. Untill you decide you want to respond to the guy badmouthing the whole webpad concept on slashdot and try to type a response.
      Modding you down using my Aquapad ain't that hard, though.
    • Re:What's the use? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aussersterne (212916)
      ...there isn't any decent way to get text into the them. You can tap out characters on a screen, but that isn't the same as typing, and gets frustrating quickly.

      There are very nice handwriting recognition systems for other operating systems, just not for Linux. I used Calligrapher for Windows CE (now bought by Microsoft and renamed to Transcriber) and used it to take notes all through college. I was able to scribble fast enough to keep up with professors and accuracy was better than 90-95%, more than enough to make readable notes. When I got my BA, I had >300 printed pages of notes which had been written by hand and recognized in real-time into Pocket Word documents.

      My current PDA is a Newton 2100, which I would say gets about 99.5% accuracy for me (it actually "learns" your handwriting as you use it, getting better over time) and I e-mail and post to Usenet with it all the time. I don't even think about it; I never have to bring up the tap-tap keyboard, even for punctuation or unusual symbols like umlauts in German.

      For Linux, unfortunately, there isn't anything comparable to either of these handwriting recognizers. I owned a Fujitsu Stylistic and installed Linux+KDE on it on a 12GB drive for a brief moment. I thought I was going to use it as my main computer, only plugging a keyboard into the PS/2 port when I needed to to extensive data entry. Unfortunately, I gave up and sold it because the only Linux-based pen input I could find at all was xscribble, a horrible implementation of Palm's Graffiti, and much less helpful for serious use than Calligrapher/Transcriber under CE or Rosetta/Paragraph under Newton, meaning that with the Stylistic+Linux, I had to have the keyboard plugged in all the time to be useful.

      Natural handwriting recognition exists, and it works, quickly and accurately. Just because Palm users or Linux users have never seen it doesn't mean it's not there.
      • ... is that these things are for performing useful tasks. They are for managers/executives to produce on trains, at conferences etc. - anywhere where they might impress someone. I've seen my previous manager on a half-hour train journey get out his laptop, PDA and cellphone. Saldy, he's completely incapable of using any of them.

        (bukkake)
        • As far as I'm concerned, taking notes is useful. I took notes in college under WinCE with natural handwriting recognition. Now I often work as an editor and I take notes on my Newton and mark up RTF documents on same using a pen and natural handwriting recognition.

          Why is that not as useful as what an executive needs to do? Actually, maybe I missed the point... Maybe the point is that executives are not all that useful...
    • Yeah it's kind of nice toy.

      But I have to say. All these years when various companies were rolling out different "digital appliances" have proved me one thing. Nothing beats general purpose computer. If you need portability get yourself a good laptop. You will pay 3-5 times more but it will be much more usefull. That is there will be 100 times more ways to kill your time or to organize your time (whatever your preference is).
      I predict. One day on Slashdot there will be a post about a guy who found a way to attach a keyboard and a harddrive to this aquapad and I will smile
    • A bit expensive perhaps, but if i would have a lot of money, I would mount one on the wall in every room in my house.

      I would be able to listen to music from my entertainment server [apestaart.org], watch who's at the door control the lights in that room, and so much more!

      It would be geek-heaven!
    • I was interested in the device as it offers the right interface for data entry to our medical practice data automation project. But then... that's more of the niche application that you were refering to.


      But that's not to say having a couple of Aquapads to kick around hasn't been fun. It is really a great form factor for browsing web pages from the couch. I tossed the device to my wife with a set of headphones and she curled up on the couch listening to streams from mp3.com. I'll have to try watching some movies next (off of my own server). And perhapse some simple email management.


      Sure. The input is a bit limited. It took me a few clicks to get used to pulling up the keyboard or writing app (and the PenPower app included with both WinCE and Linux seems almost useless - but to be fair, I haven't tried it too much). But then, that's the form factor. And maybe that's the key. A webpad is a niche product even in general use.


      Webpads are about portable access to data - and more about consuming data than generating it. Desktops provide the best bang for the buck in general computing. Laptops provide good portable general computing. PDAs provide even more portability of data (though not very suitable devices for general computing). Webpads weigh in somewhere between the laptop and the PDA.

  • THATS the problem with all these aqua pads, these expensive palms: They LOOK cool, but WHO will buy them, you need something that people dont want to just play with, they want to BUY and USE and keep. Toy's dont make profit, extremly useful, simple, and most importantly: COST EFFECTIVE devices are what most people want.
  • Well, one use for this puppy would be for a portable Web terminal for browsing and email. If it's cheap enough and comes bundled with some good handwriting recognition software it may just be worth it. Granted, I wouldn't replace my PC with it but perhaps the general web browsing/email reading populous would like it.

    Couple this with online services (financial, email, messaging, Pron :) and we could have a winner.
  • Powered by a 500MHz TM5400 Transmeta Crusoe processor with 128MB of PC133 SDRAM, and a Midori Linux operating system based out of a 32MB Compact Flash card, the AquaPad is the definition of a low-footprint device.

    This one caught my eye. My first question is: Why would the device need 128MB RAM, four times the amount of ROM? Does Midori Linux really need that much room to maneuver? Just seems a bit excessive, to me, since Mac OS X is about 20 times larger, yet requires significantly less that 128MB (without pageouts) with a bunch of apps open.

    • This one caught my eye. My first question is: Why would the device need 128MB RAM, four times the amount of ROM? Does Midori Linux really need that much room to maneuver? Just seems a bit excessive, to me, since Mac OS X is about 20 times larger, yet requires significantly less that 128MB (without pageouts) with a bunch of apps open.

      The Midori, like most palm-type systems, doesn't have a harddrive (yes, you can add one of those IBM MicroDrives via the PCMCIA port, but its not standard). So where do you think your apps (other than those bundled in the ROM) are going to live? What about your data (mp3s, text files, whatever you use the pad to create)?

      Probably in that 128MB of RAM.

    • > [...] Mac OS X is about 20 times larger, yet
      > requires significantly less that 128MB

      I do not know where you got this "information",
      but MacOSX 1.2 on 256MB RAM pages as hell.
      You don't want to "use" mosx below 128MB, because
      nothing seroius would run without being paged to
      disc.

      But you definitely want to use MacOSX in General:-)
      It's lovely and it feels like MacOS and *X at the same time.

      k2r
      • That's funny... I've got OS X running now with IE and terminal open and have got zero pageouts... maybe somethin's funky with your system (like you're running Classic)?
  • this seems to be a good invention for meetings. while PDA's are ususally by far too small for taking notes and Laptops are too big, this thing cries to be used to take notes and then- when everything is done - send it to the other participants by mail via WLAN. I at least will recommend the Aquapad to my company (at least to test it and to get one in my hand). Another cool feature is that you can choose your OS, another plus compared to the average PDA. (Although in my opinion Win 2000 doesn't make sense on this piece of hardware). I just wonder how long the batteries last before they need recharging....
    • >> ). I just wonder how long the batteries last before they need recharging....

      Well the company advertises a battery life of 3 hours. So my best bet would be anything over 2 1/2 hours would be an act of nature, a miracle for all to see....Hell, I have a guy here who swears that the same AA has been powering his wall clock for 30 20 Years :)

      Anyway -- Even at 3 hours, thats a long way from being really usable.
  • I like the idea, with ssh/vnc it can be very usefull for me as a control terminal from my couch. But the non-availability of quicktime, shockwave plugins on linux will make it less attractive as a surf board.

    Maybe they should license Crossover plugin from Codeweavers [codeweavers.com] and have mozilla preconfigured to use them.

    But on second thoughts, I am not sure about the license issues of redistributing the windows plugins through Crossover. Crossover asks us to install the windows plugins through Wine by clicking through the vendors EULA and other stuff.

  • I think they're right, for the most part webpads are ahead of their time in the consumer market. I know I'd like one, but I've also got 3 pc's and a wireless lan, not exactly average.

    I do believe that their right on the mark though about the so called "Vertical Markets." I can think of many uses for this in industrial applications. I think it'd be great for things like physical inventory, instead of sending out hordes of people to count inventory and report back on sheets to be keyed in the main system to be reconciled, they could just walk the floor with these and eliminate the data punching. Or for replacing pick tickets for order fullfillment, no more printing and it could even show mass-overstock locations in a warehouse so if the shelf is empty the picker doesn't need to look up the overstock location.

    Basically I could see it used anywhere there is a need for information on demand, allowing the users to be untied from their PC connection to the mainframe system, so they can get the info they want when they need it, instead of going back and forth. If priced right, it could easily show an ROI quickly in reduced labor and increased productivity. Especially good in times like this where the economy is bad and things like hardware distribution are already low-margin businesses at best.

    Since it's basically a computer with not harddrive, all that's needed is a little gateway programming, and if done right that could spill easily into enabling things like the SPT-1700 wireless scanning palm pilots. The webpad could be used for more interactive applications where the added screen space would benefit, and the SPT-1700 could fill in where scanning and minor keypunching is needed, especially receiving product on the docks. No more keying item codes, just scan barcodes and the system can automatically do the recieving!

    I can't wait until these things start coming down in price and commodity so they become a viable option for medium sized business.
  • GPS! (Score:4, Troll)

    by Perdo (151843) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:41AM (#2960542) Homepage Journal
    This thing is dieing for GPS. Current GPS handheld's maps are too small and no on likes to mount their laptop to the dash. Imagine Taxis, UPS, and Fire/Police with these including the connection so dispatchers could remotely tag the drivers map.
  • Microsoft has a computer pad called the Mira, its not really a PC, but uses winxp's built in terminal services to allow you to view video/audio and surf the web. Heres a link for the Mira [com.com]

    I think the kids could use a Aqua as a seperate computer, they could use it for IM, Email, Web, maybe attach a keyboard or some kind of docking station when they need to use it for more indepth work. If the prices where right, and could beat a 300-400 dollar computer system from pricewatch [pricewatch.com] then I could see myself buying it. Unless its a geek impluse buy for myself. :)

    Even thou people are working on portable hardware, the remote desktop control is either TightVNC [tightvnc.com] or MS Remote Desktop [microsoft.com]. And M$ Remote desktop is much quicker, plays video, audio and games over a lan network. Not knocking tightvnc, I use it on my unix and solaris boxes. Good thing the Aquapad runs WinXP, that will secure some good sales in the non-linux markets.

    -
    If I had to sum up in one word what makes a good manager, I'd say decisiveness. You can use the fanciest computers to gather the numbers, but in the end you have to set a timetable and act. - Lee Iacocca
  • Possible Uses (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Selanit (192811) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @03:58AM (#2960565)

    This could be very useful in a large networked environment, for monitoring system status on your servers remotely. It wouldn't even require modification of the system, if your server has "statu page" accessible by web browser. Alternatively, you could use VNC [att.com] and get the added benefit of not only monitoring your server remotely, but being able to perform system maintenance remotely.

    I suppose the VNC scenario would depend on a couple of things:

    1. Input problems. Can that stylus/on-screen keyboard be used quickly enough once you get used to them? Having to carry around a USB keyboard all the time would put a serious dent in its usefulness for remote administration.
    2. Using the VNC server's built-in web server, which has permission to serve up one single page containing a Java applet that hooks into VNC to allow web-based control, might be a problem. Looks like the review had a hard time getting Java to work properly in Mozilla.
    3. Using VNC like this might open up some security concerns, particularly if you're a large company. Under ordinary circumstances, you can tunnel VNC through SSH to increase its security, but I don't think that would work in this case without modifying the aquapad in such a way that Mozilla could understand SSH. Still, if you have the know-how that can be done -- ain't open-source great?

    If you're a bit more daring, I bet you could modify this in such a way as to make it a nice, portable media outlet. It's got an MP3 player already. It'd take some doing, but you could make it capable of streaming movies over the network also. 802.11b's 11-megabit pipe is fine for DivX-encoded movies. (Note: the thing's OS is flash-based. If you try making modifications and screw it up . . . it wasn't my idea! Unless you are a Linux Guru, capable of causing device drivers to rewrite themselves by sheer force of will, it's probably best to leave well enough alone.)

    One hopes that future versions might include 1) a hard drive, for example an IBM microdrive, which would make fiddling with the OS's guts a lot simpler and safer. Note that the article says the Windows CE version already uses a microdrive -- so maybe you could get a windows version, wipe it, and install Linux? 2) USB 2.0 instead of 1.1. 3) *Integrated* 802.11b, so you could use that PCMCIA slot for something else.

    Finally -- that green-haired chick that serves as Midori's [transmeta.com] emblem is cool. I wonder what she's looking at. Perhaps she is looking down at Tux, and wondering how it is that she came to be co-starring with a penguin.



    • One hopes that future versions might include 1) a hard drive, for example an IBM microdrive, which would make fiddling with the OS's guts a lot simpler and safer. Note that the article says the Windows CE version already uses a microdrive -- so maybe you could get a windows version, wipe it, and install Linux?


      The WinCE aquapad that I have doesn't include a microdrive. I think that's a reference to Win9x/XP versions. Having said that... both the WinCE and Midori Linux devices happily use compact flash. Buy your own microdrive.


      3) *Integrated* 802.11b, so you could use that PCMCIA slot for something else.


      I completely agree there. Sure, the aquapad is fine using a microdrive or CF card. But they really shine one they're hanging off a wireless network.
  • The device has USB ports, and usb-storage module is fairly stable. The USB 1.1 is not very fast, but 1 MBps should be enough for this little webpad...

    They also say that you can connect keyboard and mouse through the USB too; this makes it a decent portable system, not a notebook but something like Palm Pilot with cradle, keyboard, charger etc. etc.

    This surely can be used in vertical markets, but no vertical market will want this *consumer* device. In real world (on factory floor, in shipping etc.) the portable terminals must be much more rugged to survive the abuse. This one has *no chance*, and I worked in that industry. A terminal usually must survive 10 hours fully submerged in water (while turned on and working), or work after 4 feet drop on concrete, or work at minus temperatures for freezer use, etc.

    The most likely user I can think of is a lazy geek who ate so much pizza that he can't get to his computer!



  • These look great to mount on the wall and control things like lights, music and security cams throughout the house.


    A bit expensive if you want to install one in every room. But it would be cool! I mean, these things have a TOUCH screen and wireless LAN!


    would be great to integrate in our home entertainment project. [apestaart.org]

  • Since when? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Agent Green (231202) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @04:16AM (#2960587)
    An Anonymous Coward writes: "Remember when dot.com's were profitable...

    Where was I when this was happening???
  • ... because you can't invite a girl to your web pad.
  • The Crusoe processor, as most of you already know, is a software-based processor. This means that the native language this X86 compatible chip operates under is 128-bit VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word). VLIW is something that bears no resemblance to that of traditional Intel chips, which are also known as X86 processors.
    Is there any way to reach that 128-bit VLIW directly, without the whole overhead of translating from x86 code? If that processor is so fast with the translation step, it would be a very fast without it.

    Wouldn't that be a good idea for Transmeta to run Midori Linux natively on their own chip, instead of emulating Intel instruction set? I know that the compatibility with x86 is important for a chip today, but when they're using their own OS, it seems to be, well, not the best idea, even considering the ammount of work to port the software (which is still nothing compared to designing the translation layer).

    • IANAEE, but VLIW has been around for a while, and if it were at all possible to code for it they would have done so by now. That said, IBM was working on a Jre/Jit for VLIW, planning for a Java based system, but apparently that didn't pan out. and if i remember correctly, that project is what transmeta baed their entire idea on.
  • If any of you happen to have seen Microsoft's announcement and demo of Windows XP (Tablet PC Edition), you would easily be able to figure out why this..the Aquapad won't be succesful, when compared to Windows XP tablet PC...All small mistakes...

    In all portable devices, three things matter the most on the usability side...

    "data exchangeability"...
    "binaries/Software availability"....
    "Data Input methods/GUI"....

    And these three matter the most on the "Device feasibility" side..

    "size/weight"...
    "battery life"....
    "variety/installed base".....

    Now...looking at the midori/transmeta combo, sure..it has x86 Linux binary compatibility...nice...but what Tablet PC type apps are there on Linux.....is there a single office suite specifically modified for that purpose? Any proper handwriting recognition tool? Any Ink manager? All these apps/APIs will have to be built and standardized before you expect such a device/platform to become popular.

    As apps that run on the Tablet PC edition are exactly the same that run on the PCs, and add support fot he INK API that runs as a service on WinXP tablet PC (handwriting recognition), the data generated is exactly compatible to the one on PC apps..full compatibility...

    Look at the advantages the Crusoe offers....the whole platform offers around 20% of battery life saving over others..but at the cost of a 40% performance hit..as proved by many benchmarks all around....

    Building a simple 600 MHz PIII mobile platform for a tablet PC, is just fine to defeat the crusoe...as it runs almost as long as the crusoe...provides much more power...and is a more commonplace platform with widely adopted production base....making it easier for OEMs to start on that track....and make TabletPC devices...

    Size...same.....variety...LOADS....everybody will be making them.....

    My advice...first make proper software..then think of hardware to put it onto...not the other way around......

    Hardware can be modded to suit specs more easily than software nowadays....OEMS and fabricators offer you the capability to do all that for much lower costs than you had to invest in the past....

    Who do you think makes PDAs for Handspring...? Not them....it's a company called Flextronics....the same guys who make the XBOX for microsoft...
    • Flextronics is a huge contract manufacturing house. That is they will assemble for you anything as long as you pay them and prove them that next year you'll come back with even bigger order.
      They are hardware/components people and in the framework described in previous phrase they don't give a rat's behind about linux and microsoft.
      Basically man, I could not understand you conspiracy theory. Then again it's 2 am here in Bay Area
      regards


    • If any of you happen to have seen Microsoft's announcement and demo of Windows XP (Tablet PC Edition), you would easily be able to figure out why this..the Aquapad won't be succesful, when compared to Windows XP tablet PC...


      Of course... you're assuming the Aquapad can't run Windows XP, Tablet PC Edition. If it runs on an x86 platform, it can run on the Aquapad. Stating that the Aquapad will be a failure because of Windows is simular to claiming all FIC's motherboards will fail because you saw one being used to run Linux.


      FIC is producing a white box tablet PC. They have no intention of selling them to the public. Instead, they want to produce a platform on which OEMs can brand their own product. Those products may include WinCE, WinXP, Linux... or something completely new.


      One other point - Crusoe's performance hit isn't likely to be as bit an issue as you portray. So far, its managed to keep up with all the tasks I would expect out of a web pad. I don't expect to do a lot of compiling or 3D gaming / modeling with one. And its managing to run a lot cooler than my modern laptop.

  • by FastT (229526) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @05:21AM (#2960677) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand why manufacturers spend so much time and effort making bad design choices with pad-type mobile computers. Why not just take a standard high-end laptop, put a touch screen where the keyboard is, and bundle a top-flight handwriting recognition package with it? Why is it any more complicated than this? I see great opportunities for people who are in the laptop market to buy such a variant--it makes much more sense if the machine will be used in social situations, or in vertical markets.
  • The perfect name for a web pad powered by free software: the StayFree Pad.

    Unfortunately I think there might be a few too many copyright [stayfree.com] issues involved.
  • build your own (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday February 06, 2002 @06:29AM (#2960785) Homepage
    Go to ebay, search for tablet pc or pen pc.

    get one of the toshiba models 1000,2200 perferabaly
    install linux
    install a 802.11b card.

    get the same thing for less than 1/2 the price of this webpad, and run kde with an aqua theme.

    you now have something better, more configurablem and massively cheaper.

    sorry but webpads are never going to sell until they can get one in my hands for less than $199.00 and no service charges, works with your own home network.

    and we all know that will never happen.
  • Does anybody remember if this was originally designed to run Be?

    I seem to remember this device being a future BeOS platform...
  • Were dot.coms really profitable? Or are you just remembering the days were VC's were making poor investments in very, very risky, long-term business plans.
    • Bt profitable, they mean able to pay there employess salaries, and lunch, and cokes, and foosball table, and a fleet of company cars, and let them play quake for half the day.
      And yet, there where suprised when they couldn't get Another 20million out of a VC.
      The only thing that pisses me off is I couldn't get a piece of that action, I could of poduced something that made no money just as well as the next guy!
  • by Foehg (48006)
    Sure glad *MY* webpad never exploded...:-)
  • Ha, looks like they're running their webserver off their aquapad
  • It'd probably still be alive today:

    Windows NT error number 2 occurred.
  • The market for this might be similar to the one for "Ginger", or whatever - large, contained area where mobility is important and wireless is easy.

    Hospitals, warehouses. Think about any job where running around with little books or slips of paper is big, and you've got your audience.

  • I noticed the transmeta link is down, check out http://www.aquapad.org/ for info, reviews, etc. It's a pretty neat little device from what I've seen.
  • I love when I get "connection refused" when trying to access sites that are posted on /.

    I wish they would learn to /. proof their sites if they are going to do/make something remotely interesting or cool!
  • No use for southpaws (Score:2, Interesting)

    by notfancy (113542)

    Pray tell me just how do you use it if you are left-handed?

    So simple: design it so it's direction-neutral, add a pair of accelerometers to detect the direction in which you're holding it, and modify the display driver to swap the screen accordingly. Voilà! Plus, you have portrait- and landscape-mode for free.

    There's no mercy for us lefties in this world...

    --Matías

  • "...looks kind of cool but only uses flash memory, so no storage"

    Um, so what is flash memory if not storage? The site is currently Slashdotted, so I can't read the review, but flash memory is useful only as storage (excepting flash ICs that support execute-in-place).

    Do you mean that it doesn't have very much flash?
    • It means that the flash is cramfs which is mounted read-only. Sure you can write an entire new disk image by reflashing the device (and the article, had you taken the time to read it, tells how they did that) but you can't mount it R/W and expect it to work.
  • Pretty useless stuff as many people have already pointed out.

    When I think about graphic tablet, I wonder how people deal with finger prints all over the screen. It is funny because the photo advertising this useless device has even finger prints on it. Bad photographer, bad!

    PPA, the girl next door.
  • I can think of a dozen good uses off the top of my head, the real problem is cost. The cost vs usefullnes ration is about 150 -200 dollars.
    Its probably not possible to do at that price, but thats what it needs to sell for.
  • Remember when dot.com's were profitable and webpads were these cool little toys that were going to explode?

    You mean, like trick cigars?

A language that doesn't have everything is actually easier to program in than some that do. -- Dennis M. Ritchie

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