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Handhelds Communications Software Hardware Linux

Mobile Phone with PC running Linux 2.6 191

Posted by timothy
from the good-for-the-ski-lift dept.
A8 writes "There is a new toy (aka the S101) around the corner from a German company called Road GmbH. Looks like the Nokia Communicator, but is a little PC with GSM, GPRS, IrDA, Bluetooth, WLAN -- you name it, running Linux 2.6/Qtopia! Sorry seems like the page is in German only." There are also versions based on the same hardware but running Windows CE and Symbian.
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Mobile Phone with PC running Linux 2.6

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @06:53PM (#11730989)
    Ah, the Psion 5 ... that was a really decent bit of hardware for the time. Quite a usable keyboard too, even on the minimal Revo model.
  • Translation (Score:3, Informative)

    by Electronik (821589) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @06:54PM (#11730997)
    Here is the Goggle translation [google.com]
  • Great keyboard! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by claes (25551) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @06:54PM (#11731000)
    Take a look at the keyboard - finally a keyboard at a PDA-size device that includes keys for international characters. It takes germans to understand that some alphabets are longer than a-z!
  • For those of us... (Score:5, Informative)

    by freralqqvba (854326) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @06:55PM (#11731004) Homepage
    who speak english [road-gmbh.de].
    • Well, that'll teach me to RTFA first!

      After stumbling through it with my high-school Deutsch, I find in the first reply that there was an English page all along. Oh, well; it's useful to maintain some semblance of an ability to read a few other languages, even if I do live in the US. ;-)

  • ROAD runner? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KontinMonet (737319) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @06:57PM (#11731015) Homepage Journal
    Looks to me like vapourware. Hardly any info, pictures tooled up with Photoshop (or whatever). No address or phone number, just a one address email. Is it a 'skam' (as we might say auf Deutsch)?
  • ...are "still under development". Considering the difficulty of getting hold of licenses for either of these two OSes as a small developer, don't hold your breath.

    I'll be interested to see how this competes with Nokia's Communicators. It doesn't seem to offer any new features, so it might have to compete on price.
    • It might also rely on the geek factor, it seems to work for other devices [openwrt.org] as well.
    • I don't know wbout Symbian, but getting licenses for Windows CE is not a problem for any size developer. I used to work for a very small company (less than 10 people) in 1999 and we developed an embedded device with Windows CE (2.1 I think). Getting the licenses was not a problem at all. The environment (to build custom CE images) wasn't expensive either (I don't remember exactly, but less than $1K).

      A CE license in our miniscule volumes was about $50 (again, I don't remember exactly), which might be consid
  • Can someone inform me/us what the advantages of running the Linux version would be? I already assume it would be cheaper to aquire such a phone dollar wise , and being immune to viruses (sp), but what about in day-to-day operations?
    • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:16PM (#11731114) Homepage
      I'll probably get modded troll for this :(

      If you don't already understand the whole "Linux" appeal, I doubt you'd find anything particularly appealing about a Linux-powered phone.

      For the most part, I think the appeal is the ability to tinker with it, add software that wouldn't be intended, and various other 'geeky' things that most consumers wouldn't give a damn about. It would give the sysadmin type a great deal of mobile administration ability. If you don't grok grep and pine for sed, there's not a perl of wisdom I can give you which would likely make you see the significance.

      Additionally, since it uses Opie, there's a lot of available software out there for the device already. Much of it is 'geeky' software, but as a for instance: you'd be able to emulate PalmOS without any problems, provided you had the ROMs. I don't know if this is possible with WinCE, though, so it might not be all that 'special'.

      This particular device looks fairly useful to me, and that's saying a lot, as I tend to thing such things are just trendy toys. The existence of the SD slot is definately nice, as it'd allow you to use this device for quite a few things, including a portable MP3 player. It's got a built-in keyboard which - while not full-size, is a hell of a lot bigger than those on other chick-key keyboards.
      • For the most part, I think the appeal is the ability to tinker with it, add software that wouldn't be intended, and various other 'geeky' things that most consumers wouldn't give a damn about.

        But consumers care a great deal about the things those tinkerers come up with. Example: Firefox.
    • by Erik Hensema (12898) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:16PM (#11731115) Homepage

      To the user it probably has no advantages at all. You won't even notice it's Linux.

      To the manufacturer it's just the usual freedom/free beer thing.

    • I guess if it would be possible to port normal linux apps to it, it would be a great geak device. I'd love to be able to hack away on a linux "box" anywhere. Could run all my favorite linux console apps, and maybe even X stuff if it supported some sort of X interface.

      But other then that, the Linux "Qt" PDA GUI has been used in Sharp PDA's and others, and provides most if not all (or more?) of what you'd find on a Windows CE based device.
    • This device will sell in much greater volume if released with win CE. There is a real momentum building around win ce phone devices, such as the xda 2 (which is actually being aggressively advertised on billboards and TV in the UK), the various MS smartphones (such as the SDA) in Germany, the underpowered Mpx and many others (like the wonderful MDA 4, which has a vga screen, wifi, bluetooth, GSM, GPRS, 3G and a qwerty keyboard) to be released soon.

      When normal people think windows mobile they think the pow
      • The cellphone networks are firmly behind win CE because they generate much greater GPRS data profits that symbian devices (average 3 times more), because they get used used more to access the internet etc.
        That might be simply because geek users (a.k.a. don't fall for marketing scams as easily) tend to buy more Linux Devices than the average user.
    • by nickos (91443)
      I'm not sure about advantages, but I was speaking to someone from one of the big mobile phone manufacturers on Saturday and they were saying that when making a phone, it was very important to the network companies that a company was legally responsible for how their equipment dealt with the numerous communication protocols (and so presumably could be sued or whatever if it caused a problem). He went on to say that sadly Linux might have a problem with this as there is no company to take legal responsibility
    • by idlake (850372)
      but what about in day-to-day operations?

      Potentially lots more software than for any of the other platforms: it's the same kernel and APIs as on the desktop (not true for any of the other phone platforms), and there is lots of Linux software that runs on small screens and limited memory (due to the age and previous uses of UNIX).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:00PM (#11731030)
    What use is linux for handhelds, considering there are currently no good open source mini browsers (eventually, there will be minimoz) or handwriting recognition programs.

    For less than this, you could get palm or windows devices that are fully functional. Until there is a free handheld environment, we can't just say "stick linux on it".

    --
    Dogs are annoying. Go ECFA. Buy a K9Zap today.
    • "What use is linux for handhelds, considering there are currently no good open source mini browsers (eventually, there will be minimoz) or handwriting recognition programs."

      I'm more interested in being able to synch up with Outlook or an equivalent app. Honestly, I don't care what OS it runs.
    • Ah, you did notice that this guy has a keyboard? And no stylus. Not much use for handwriting recognition.
      • ... was that it's 128x60x25mm and weighs 210g. This isn't a pocket device, unless you've got deep pockets. It's a small laptop with a builtin phone.

        I did also notice that the specs include 640x240 touchscreen. I wonder if you could use a random stylus with the screen? If so, what's the sensitivity? I do have a couple of those multi-gadget pens that include a stylus (plus pencil and red/black or red/blue pens). It'd be cool if you could use these. Of course, a stylus that hides inside the device woul
        • Probably you could use a stylus, but the screen's not designed for more precision than you could get with a forefinger.

          This device is too small to be a real laptop. But you're right, it's too big to be a pocket device. It's one of those in-between devices I hate. Still, somebody must like them, 'cause there sure are a lot of them.

          This is yet another all-in-one device, a category I hate. Do people actually want this? I suspect they exist solely because that's what wireless providers want to sell. The alt

    • There's Opie Konqueror and also a version of Opera that was made for the Sharp Zaurus. The Opera was really quite good but had some page rendering issues(there's no pocket browser that doesn't). Konqueror is sorta hard to use but has the KHTML renderer.
    • by evilviper (135110) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:48PM (#11732483) Journal
      What use is linux for handhelds, considering there are currently no good open source mini browsers (eventually, there will be minimoz) or handwriting recognition programs.

      Good call Anonymous Moron...

      There's no good Open Source mini-browsers like Konqueror Embedded [konqueror.org], Dillo [dillo.org], or (GUI) Links2 [mff.cuni.cz]. Which is too bad, because the universe would colapse on itself if you used a non-open source browser (such as Opera) on Linux, just like every other embedded device ever made.

      And you're sure to need good handwriting recognition on a device with a full keyboard... An on-screen keyboard (which most PDA users use) like xkbd couldn't possibly be good enough. And someone that wanted handwriting recognition couldn't possibly adapt one of the open source Linux OCR programs to suit this purpose...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:00PM (#11731032)
    S101/S101K
    Technical features
    Software
    - standard applications
    - GSM telephone with SMS/MMS
    - PIM also
    * Directory
    * Appointment calendar
    * Tasks
    - pocket calculators
    - dictating machine
    - indication program
    - MP3 Player
    - PC synchronisation Ms Outlook
    - remote ACCESS
    - InterNet Browser
    - email client (POP and IMAP), repeated accounts
    - Office Viewer (Ms Word, Ms Excel, Adobe pdf)

    [Customized applications]
    - cryptology (only S101K)
    - Business applications for direct access to firm servers
    - Providerspezifi on-line services

    [Operating system]
    - LINUX Kernel 2.6.x
    - Qtopia Graphic user interface

    [Hardware]
    - GSM telephone
    * Display: LCD mono chrome 102x65 pixel
    * Keyboard: 20 keys standard layout
    * Acoustic output over earphones or free speech mechanism
    - PC
    * Display: Color TFT 640x240 pixel with Touchscreen
    * Keyboard: 63 keys PC-compatible layout
    - Diktiergeraet/Audioplayer
    * 4 separate keys for control
    * Rendition over loudspeakers/earphones
    - camera (optional)
    * 2 megapixels

    Actual working time
    - GSM telephone: actively 4h, standby 240h
    - PC: actively 5h, standby 30 days (GSM telephone switched off)

    Konnektivitaet
    - wireless: GSM quadband (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz) with EDGE
    * WLAN
    * Bluetooth
    * IRDA infrared modules
    - wire-bound
    * USB 2,0, mini USB socket
    * SD Card base
    * Power supply unit 5V DC, RK 1A
    * Telephone Headset or stereo earphone

    [Interior life]
    - CCU Intel Xscale PXA 263 with 400 MHz
    - memory 64MB RAM, 64MB Flash
    - Akku lithium polymer 1500mAh, load time 3h
    - vibration alarm

    [General data]
    - weight 210g inclusive Akku
    - dimensions 128x60x25m
  • by goofyheadedpunk (807517) <goofyheadedpunk@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:00PM (#11731034)
    Does anyone else remember the simpler days, when phones where just phones? When you didn't have to bother with your friends sending you pictures over their $400 internet phone camera thingies? When you didn't have to interupt a kernel compile just to check your voice mail?

    I do. Good times.
    • Re:Ah memories... (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      At least with this phone you could argue that it is an 'old-school' (i.e., Psion style) PDA with wireless internet capability and mobile functionality built in.

      Then you can bitch when it gets nicked and not only do you lose the phone, but you lose the stuff you've been working on earlier in the day because you were out of the office, etc.
    • Remember back in the old days, when a washing machine was just a scrub-board and a tub, and you got to spend all day washing one load of laundry with your bare hands? Remember how you'd have to then hang your clothes on a long piece of rope by attaching it with wooden pins? Remember when you could spend a whole day doing nothing but laundry? You wouldn't have time to do anything else, but boy, it was fun spending all that time doing laundry.

      I decry these new-fangled machines that let you toss in the clo
      • "Smart" Phones are NOT progress. They just waste a lot of time for a lot of people and are really annoying the shit out of everyone when someone not up to date with current microphone technology yells into his/her phone so everyone in a 10 meter radius can hear his/her part of the conversation.

        I agree that mobile phones are a progress for certain people who travel a lot and have to be reachable (like service technicians e.g.) but cameras, games, ringtones and all that other shit companies put into "modern
    • "Does anyone else remember the simpler days, when phones where just phones?"

      Yep, and now I have a ton of extra pocket space!
    • Those "old good times" you paid $500 to have something like a Motorola Flare (my first mobile, and left me a horror towards Motorola phones really).
    • Re:Ah memories... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS (41445)
      Yeah, I remember those times.

      I remember the absolutely atrocious low-frequency ringtones which would set me on edge every time someone's phone would ring (at least the new 'personalized' ringtones have a fuller frequency). I remember the shitty quality signals and the battery life which required the phone to be recharged after about 8 hours of in-pocket use and maybe 20 minutes of talk time. I remember having to cart around a huge brick which took horribly grainy photos if I wanted to use a digital camera.
    • Re:Ah memories... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm longing for the days when we will finally get phones where you can turn off the phone feature. I don't want it. I want a mobile clock, alarm, mp3-player, camera, organizer etc. the size of a box of matches, but I don't want people to call me all the time. That's annoying.
      • I'm longing for the days when we will finally get phones where you can turn off the phone feature. I don't want it. I want a mobile clock, alarm, mp3-player, camera, organizer etc. the size of a box of matches, but I don't want people to call me all the time. That's annoying.

        It's called flight mode. All smartphones in the last 2-3 years have it.

        Surur
    • Does anyone else remember when phones were JUST phones? When they were tethered to a jack on your wall? When you didn't have to worry about "checking your voicemail"? When someone would call you to arrange a meeting and then you'd meet them IN PERSON?

      I do. Good times.
    • Does anyone else remember the simpler days, when phones where just phones?
      Want to save some bandwidth? Let's establish short code words for slashdot cliches such as this. Just like the cops on their CB's, "we got a 1014 in progress on maple and central." I also nominate "in Russia..", "Step 5..profit," and "why, when OSX already has it?"
    • Re:Ah memories... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dago (25724)
      You know what, such phones still exists ... Nokia 1100 [nokia.com] for example.

  • by Linuxathome (242573) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:10PM (#11731087) Homepage Journal
    In the English version of the page [road-gmbh.de], if you look at the larger picture of the device, the keyboard has a Windows key next to the Alt button. I understand we can remap that key to do whatever we want, but can't we use another image? I'd like to be reminded less of the pervasive MS Windows monopoly.

  • Outlook Express (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ward.deb (757075)
    I think I see Outlook Express running here: http://www.road-gmbh.de/grafik/foto_pro_s101_02.jp g On Windows 9x...strange ;-)
  • This is -at most- a work in progress. The phone looks as if it were just a computer graphic(look at the large image). The firm is just being founded. Everything is copyright 2005 only. The features look as if they were some developer's dream.
    • This is -at most- a work in progress. The phone looks as if it were just a computer graphic(look at the large image).

      It might also be a way to pump money out of some investors.

      They claim availability of Symbian OS, which seems rather fishy to me. They can't be shipping w/ Nokia S80 variant (because Nokia aren't licensing it), and I don't believe Psion is going to license their UI kit either. They definitely aren't going to be implementing the software themselves, it's tons of work even for a giant like N
  • Power use (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pdxdada (684092)
    What strikes me as odd is that they claim a 5 hour battery life using it as a computer but only a 4 hour battery life for calls. Are cell phones really that power hungry or are portable computers really that power lean?
    • Re:Power use (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Cellphones have to transmit a signal that can be picked up by a tower that is some miles away. An electromagnetic signal attenuates at rate of some constant I can't remember times pi times r to the power of two ( the surface area of a sphere. ) I think modern cellphones tend to use about a tenth of a watt to transmit, from memory.
      But basically anything that broadcasts a radio signal uses a lot of power.
  • While it looks cool, it seems more vapourware than anything else, as other posters have mentioned.

    Which company in their right mind plans 3 models of a phone, with the only difference being the OS?
    • Which company in their right mind plans 3 models of a phone, with the only difference being the OS?

      It's called being OS-agnostic. Not something most slashdotters would recognise :-)
  • Anyone know why the "Y" and "Z" keys are switched?
    • That's how the keyboard is laid out in Germany (Perhaps other countries as well?) but I don't know why it is different or if it makes a difference in typing speed. On the French keyboard layout the first row starts with AZERTY. See here. [terena.nl]
      • It is different because y is not very common in german while z is. These are not the only differences btw. Most special characters are different and we have umlaut-keys. I use an english keyboard though because the german one has the / key on the shift-7 which is just awkward to type all the time in Linux (there are other advantages, this is just the most important one for me).
    • German keyboard arrangement, most likely

      -b0lt
    • Anyone know why the "Y" and "Z" keys are switched?

      I ask myself that every day.
  • Oh great... (Score:4, Funny)

    by n2dasun (467303) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `nusad2n'> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:32PM (#11731196) Homepage
    ...as soon as I've ordered my Treo 650, they introduce the phone that will mother my children.
  • by cmclean (230069) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:36PM (#11731220) Homepage Journal
    Hey, let's get this out in the open, shall we. The product was "announced" at the 3GSM World Congress, it don't exist, you can't buy it. Yet...
    But the specs have been announced, you can email the company about pre-ordering, and it's getting some decent coverage. Plus the fact it looks pretty cool (the screen may have been photoshopped, but the model looks like a prototype).

    Usually I like to give a product more than 72 hours before denouncing it as "Vapourware".

    Now, about the 1400 Euro pricetag :-(
  • I just measured my current cell phone: it is 86x47x22 mm. This is an 3-year-old Samsung, not a big old qualcomm.

    The ROAD is 128x60x25mm

    I abandoned my belt holster three years ago when I shifted to the Samsung. Qualitatively, the ROAD is on the bleeding edge of being too large to keep in your pocket if you wear guy-type casual clothes. I guess it's back to wearing the phone in a belt holster if I move to the ROAD.
    On the other hand, 128mm looks like an absolute minimum width for a QWERTY keyboard, and

    • by jrumney (197329)
      My service provider is Verizon. No GSM. Will ROAD eventually have CDMA, or will the US eventually have GSM?

      The US has GSM already, you just need to switch networks and/or move to another state.

      But for a phone with these specs looking to release in almost a year's time, I'm surprised they're going with GSM rather than WCDMA, or is Germany that far behind in 3G rollout?

  • Using a Qtopia handheld myself, I can say it doesnt really count as "linux" persay
  • MÄrvelØus (Score:2, Funny)

    by adnvvfr (861260)
    The wait was unbearable.
    Finally a Cell Phone you can use to type viking names without knowing the ASCII codes.
  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @07:59PM (#11731342) Homepage
    like the XDA-2 and the XDA-3, it will contain not one but TWO ARM processors:

    - GSM-Telefon: aktiv 4h, standby 240h

    - PC: aktiv 5h, standby 30 Tage (GSM-Telefon ausgeschaltet)

    that translates into "one ARM to run the GSM, one ARM to run the PDA". thank god there isn't one ARM to rule them all and one to get them and little toto too, is all i can say.

    anyway.

    the first is as shown, the Intel PXA 263 running at 400 Mhz.

    these devices are approx $30 in volume quantities, and after your 400% to 1000% markup, minus the expected subsidies, would result in a price tag of oh around £70 in stores (_if_ it was running the GSM phone bit on its own, but nobody would buy it because...)

    this processor it will be possible to place into "suspend/sleep" mode, to conserve battery life, which would otherwise be drained in a ridiculously short period of time.

    the second processor will be an ARM 7, 8 or 9 processor, running at an _absolute_ maximum of 100mhz, consuming sufficiently little power to provide the talk-times and standby-times we expect.

    these processors are oh around $20 in volume, and after your 400% to 1000% markup minus subsidies, you're looking at a price tag on the phone of "free" or £10-£20 (_if_ you didn't have the second processor)

    put TWO of these processors into one device, and your subsidies mysteriously disappear or become insignificant.

    result: a price tag of £200 if you get one of these types of phones [XDA-2, MDA-3, one of these german phones, doesn't matter] with a hefty per-month guaranteed usage contract, or £400 if you buy it without any subsidies.

    those 400 to 1000% markups are a _real_ kicker when you get these two-processor PDA+phone jobs.

    i'd _love_ to see a linux phone running on just one of these 100Mhz ARM processors, not this oh-we-must-put-two-processors-in-it crap.
  • What is the real difference between this and Nokia 9500? One that I can think of is availability - 9500 is on the market, at half the price of S101, which in turn look like a marketing prototype. 9500 has WLAN, EDGE, GPRS, BT, IrDA, ability to do IMAP/POP mail, Opera browser, m$ doc support (although rudimentary)
    I dont see the point of S101 as it isnt any lighter or smaller than 9500. OK, it runs Linux, but so what, using keyboard that small is excercise in futillity anyway..
    What it has as a big plus is to
  • by fm6 (162816) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:09PM (#11731400) Homepage Journal
    When I do input on a handheld device, I prefer a stylus to a keyboard, since it takes two hands to type, and I'm not a motie. Yet all PDAs now seem to be deisgned with a keyboard instead of a stylus. Oh well...
  • by jav1231 (539129)
    Cool! Another gadget running Linux that 99.99999% of the technology-buying public will never see! SWEET!
  • it's fake (Score:3, Interesting)

    by idlake (850372) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:23PM (#11731822)
    According to the web site, the guy who founded the company has a patent (filed in 1995) for a combination of "mobile PC with a cellular telephone" and then in 2005, he "founded" this company, whose "goal" it is to create a product. The product "photographs" are obviously fake: the scale of the screen is wrong and a keyboard with concave keycaps makes no sense on a small device. This guy may be trying to cause some trouble with his patent, that's all.

    Motorola makes several Linux-based cell phones that are apparently quite nice. Otherwise, the Nokia 9300 and 9500 are great little cell phones with a decent operating system (Symbian).
  • These little PCs, running Linux, can really handle some work. Even my iPaq3670/Familiar0.8 is a great little "compute server" running over ethernet; it easily plays 320Kbps MP3 streams out its stereo headphone jack. I bet its battery would last 10x longer with Bluetooth. So a Bluetooth/WiFi or /GSM or /CDMA gateway, with its own batteries, in my coat pocket or pack, could give it hours of between-plugs use. Keyboards with batteries and Bluetooth are plentiful. What we need is a Bluetooth headset display, so
  • There have been even more mobile (cell) phones with Linux [tuxmobil.org] announced, e.g. from the German company Invair, from Curitel, Datang, E28, Motorola, NEC, PalmPalm, Panasonic, Samsung and Yuhua.
  • English website (Score:2, Informative)

    by uluckas (103730)
    There is an "english" link at the top of the page - pointing to http://road-gmbh.de/en/index.html [road-gmbh.de]
  • VoIP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by uluckas (103730)
    A hackable phone with WLAN. I guess it won't be long before someone puts a VoIP client on there.

    Use WLAN to make cheap calls and GSM for backup if there is no WLAN available.

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