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Handhelds Hardware

Royal Linux PDA Finally Coming To Market 178

An anonymous reader writes "According to 'After a false start and a delay, Royal appears ready at last to ship its Linux-based PDA, the Linea LX. The Linux LX is now expected to arrive this quarter, priced at $399. The device will be based on a 200MHz Motorola i.MX1 MDragonBall processor equipped with 64MB of SDRAM and 32MB of Flash memory, and will include Trolltech's Qtopia graphical framework and PIM suite.'"
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Royal Linux PDA Finally Coming To Market

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  • I predict a TOWERing failure if it's launched over here, after all, it'd be far too easy to confuse with the Royal Linea GE, and Queenie gets all upset when people start abusing the Royal name :-)

    • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:30PM (#8636952) Homepage Journal
      But you're forgetting the endorsement by Prince Charles.

      "If I'd had one of these a few years back, I could have kept all my dates with Camilla encrypted and locked away from prying eyes. The Voice over IP support would have allowed us to chat over a secure chanel, so our phone sex sessions would have remained undetected. I'd still be married, Diana would still be alive, and no one would know that both Diana and I had lovers on the side. Everyone would have been happy!"

      Cut to shot of Charles' hand holding up the PDA.

      Voice over: "Linea LX, let it save your wife's life today."
  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:20PM (#8636852)
    What counts is how fast it feels to the user... not bragging rights for processor speed... such a pity that it's competitors are going to push their clock speed to the fore on spec sheets and the proles aren't really going to notice the real speed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:20PM (#8636853)
    but at first glance I read that as Royal Family Linux PDA coming to market.
  • Good idea, but.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DR SoB ( 749180 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:20PM (#8636854) Journal
    "with Microsoft Outlook synchronization. "

    I hope that's not all it sync's with?? I was hoping I could finally have an all-encomposing Linux solution at home, that I could PDA on the road with, but apparently this Linux solution still wants me to have Windows installed at home..
  • Worth the price? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dalamarian ( 741404 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:20PM (#8636856)
    I love the idea of more Linux in my life, but the hardware seems a little less than stellar compared to something like an Ipaq for the same money. I believe you can get an Ipaq with a 400mhz Intel X-scale processor for 400 dollars also. Unless this Motorola has some sort of different rating...
    • hell take look at how it compares to the Sharp Zaurus... it's twice as much as a SL-5500 that has better specs, better design and more support + expandability.

      it's priced close to that of a SL-5600 shich is 2 times the macine the royal is.

      sorry, I'll stick with my Sharp Zaurus that is a proven design that works absolutely great.
    • Correct.

      Popular retail channels would have you buy an ipaq 2215 for $400 or a 4155 at $450 (both of them have 400mhz xscale cpus, but the 4155 has wifi).

      However, I bought my 4155 []at newegg for $396! :)

      I also tried a 1945, which has a 266 ARM cpu and couldn't stand it. It couldn't even play an MP3 without skipping if you tap the start menu. the 4155 can stream divx over the wifi network smoothly.

      • I also tried a 1945, which has a 266 ARM cpu and couldn't stand it. It couldn't even play an MP3 without skipping if you tap the start menu

        I find this very hard to swallow. Even the Casio EM-500 and E-125 had no trouble playing MP3s while multitasking on their lousy 150MHz MIPS CPUs in my experience (as for the MIPS being lousy, some Casio fans will assert that it was mostly poor support for it that resulted in poor results, but the effect was the same). And the Samsung 266MHz ARM in the 1945 comes out
  • by NerveGas ( 168686 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:20PM (#8636861)

    A 200 MHz processer, 64 megs of ram, and 32 megs of flash. For $400.

    For the same price, I could put together an AthlonXP 2500+ with 512 megs of memory, a real hard drive, and a cd-burner.

    I know, there are vast differences in manufacturing strategies, supply and demand, and all other items that dictate how much these handhelds will cost. But it's still a kick in the pants when a very low-powered handheld costs as much as a fairly powerful workstation.

    • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:23PM (#8636885)
      try carrying that in your pocket though...
    • by sczimme ( 603413 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:32PM (#8636971)

      between desktops and laptops/notebooks, too: for a given class of machine (CPU, RAM, HD, display) the laptop would cost significantly more than the desktop.

      However, in recent years the gap has narrowed: now a 2.4GHz Celeron laptop with a 14" display can cost under $700 []. (Scroll down to the Inspiron 1100) The laptop still costs more than the same class desktop, but the gap isn't nearly as wide as it once was.

      I believe that - as the PDA/handheld market matures - the price gap will close a bit. There will always be expensive stuff on the high end, but the entry- to mid-level stuff will offer pretty darn good performance.

      • I recently bought a Compaq Presario 2500 laptop for $850, added 256M of memory to reach 512M (+$60). It has a Celeron 2.4GHz CPU. I am now regretting getting the Celeron; for another $100 I could have gotten an AMD. This machine is noticeably more sluggish than the 1GHz Pentium Vaio w/ 256MB it replaces. rsync'ing from scratch to a large remote directory (10000+ small files in 500MB) under Cygwin takes longer - about 25 vs. 15 minutes - this is a CPU time limitation; the network is local and 100Mb and t
    • by imnoteddy ( 568836 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:49PM (#8637103)
      A 200 MHz processer, 64 megs of ram, and 32 megs of flash. For $400.

      For the same price, I could put together an AthlonXP 2500+ with 512 megs of memory, a real hard drive, and a cd-burner.

      Are you including the price of batteries for the AthlonXP setup? I wonder how big a NiCad pack you'd need to get 4 hours of life.

    • A better comparison would be to other PDA's... in which case... it's still a ripoff. A new iPaq at that price has double the clock speed (plus SD and CF slots, Wifi, and Bluetooth) and is probably considerably smaller and lighter. (My friend just got one - it's a nice little PPC.) You can get one with specs similar to this one's for about $100 on ebay.

      Chalk another one up for PocketPC... If anyone wants Linux handhelds to succeed they need to price them affordably with similar specs. Much like the desktop
    • For my part... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by irokitt ( 663593 )
      Personally, I'd rather have a slimmed-down notebook than a PDA. Something with a Transmeta processor, a quiet fan that doesn't try to light my thigh on fire, and a combo drive. I hate the BIG notebook trend, i.e. Dell and the larger Powerbooks. I spend most of my time at my desktop anyway, that's what I *do*, so I would want a light notebook to fill the gaps in.
      Most of the guys I know with a PDA use it because it's fun, which is to say they don't really use it at all, they just play with it. And how many e
  • Agenda. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sbaker ( 47485 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:21PM (#8636867) Homepage
    I still have my Linux-based 'Agenda' PDA. It's pretty good - although the handwriting recognition is kinda iffy and it's a bit short of CPU power.

    It's quite surreal to be able to pop up an Xterm on this tiny box.

    It's nice to be able to use NFS via PPP to copy files back and forth to my PC...having that level of general 'stuff' available is a powerful reason for wanting Linux in a PDA.
  • Processor (Score:1, Redundant)

    by MagicDude ( 727944 )
    MDragonBall processor Indeed, it also comes with an enhanced Majin-Boot Sector.
  • dimensions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr2cents ( 323101 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:23PM (#8636888)
    Does anyone know the dimensions of the thing? it looks a bit thick.. or is it my imagination?
    • I think that's just the proof-of-concept one, because the second one on the page looks less thick to me.
      • What, all that computing power in something smaller and lighter than a brick? Sometimes people are waaaaay to picky.
      • I think that's just the proof-of-concept one, because the second one on the page looks less thick to me.

        Err, no. That's a picture of the previously announced model that never came to be. Which brings me to another point. Couldn't they have done just a little bit better job with the user interface? Look at the difference between the PIXIL-based model that never happened and the newly announced Qtopia-based model. Everything about the previous model is so much better looking -- not just the box itself

  • OOOhhh (Score:1, Funny)

    by mattgoldey ( 753976 )
    Can you imagine a Beowulf cluster of these?
  • I hope this is USABLE! I don't have a palm pc, and I won't have one for the forseeable future. I have fixed palm pc's for my boss and friends... and they are a nightmare! I hate them so, so much.

    That being said, I don't really care how fast the processor is and the like (I don't plan to use my palm for computational computing). What I would really like to see is a palm that doesn't break once a week. That would do it for me. Stability will make me a paying customer.
  • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:26PM (#8636921)
    I'm sorry, this may have linux, qt, a whole bunch of apps starting with K and you can SSH into NASA with it - but was there any reason why they had to make it horrifically butt ugly?

    Compare it [] to say, the h2210 [].

    Maybe Linux PDA users aren't fashion conscious, but if i've paid a small fortune for a PDA, it would be nice if it didn't look like something by Fisher Price [].

  • What will this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stopmotioncleaverman ( 628352 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:29PM (#8636949)
    actually offer in the way of improvement over current, non-linux handhelds? Surely most people that buy handheld pcs aren't likely to care what it's running, so long as it gets the jobs done that they want?

    I know you could code your own handheld distros and so on and so forth, but let's face it - as long as it acts as an organiser, has a nice display that's not too cluttered, accepts input well and doesn't fall over too often (which describes my last handheld perfectly well), why does it really make a difference whether or not it's Linux-based or not? Is this simply a release for those Linuxheads that hate microsoft? Or does it have some other benefits that I have overlooked?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Is this simply a release for those Linuxheads that hate microsoft? Or does it have some other benefits that I have overlooked?
      How about, no viruses on your PDA?
    • Re:What will this (Score:3, Insightful)

      by woobieman29 ( 593880 )
      I currently use a Zaurus 5500 and there are certainly a number of advantages to a Linux handheld. HOWEVER.... Most of these are advantages that mean very little to your average PDA user. I feel that my Zaurus is more of a handheld laptop replacement than a PDA, and as such the ability to install and run thousands of Linux applications is very appealing. I use my Z mainly as a portable terminal to VNC/SSH/SFTP etc into other devices to manage them. This is not something that an average PalmOS user is interes
  • by Desirsar ( 666014 ) <> on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:30PM (#8636959) Homepage

    Something just puts me off about buying anything other than toys, cards, and videos, with the word 'Dragonball' in its name. (Especially a processor... can it go Super Saiyan for temporarily increased processor speed at the cost of battery usage?) What marketing genius came up with the name anyway? I can hardly imagine someone in a board room suggesting this, and having even one person agree that it was a good name, let alone people who can actually make it happen.

    In a related yet unrelated bit, there is a martial artist named Carlos Newton who calls his style Dragonball Z Jiu Jitsu. Do you think anyone took him seriously before he won his first UFC title? I suppose that could work in this PDA's favor, in terms of word of mouth advertising...

    -computer store employee- Can I help you find anything?

    -uninformed PDA buyer- My friend recommened I get the one with a Dragonball thing?

    -computer store employee- Right this way...

    • Something just puts me off about buying anything other than toys, cards, and videos, with the word 'Dragonball' in its name.

      Then you have nothing to worry about, unless there is some doubt in your mind that this is anything more than a toy...

  • Will it play my WMV files???

    * Ducks *

  • Bah! (Score:5, Informative)

    by oGMo ( 379 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:32PM (#8636972)

    Bah, this has the exact specifications of a Zaurus SL-5500. And it looks cheaper and clunkier and the keyboard is some snapon crap. And it's $400! You can pick up SL-5500's these days for cheap.

    For the record, I do love my Zaurus. The battery life isn't super, but it lasts about a week or so worth of actual use before I need to charge it (unless I'm in a meeting and need to "take notes" play a game). I don't code on it though, but it's highly beneficial to be able to get in and tweak various scripts to do nifty things (like when cards are inserted).

    Anyway, if you're going to spend $400, you can probably get a newer model or an iPAQ and load OpenZaurus/OpenEmbedded [] (yes, it works on non-Zaurus hardware). You'll probably end up wanting that anyway.

  • You can get a dell axim with more memory (and a faster processor, but it doesn't matter how fast it is if the software is inherently slow) and throw linux on it for $200. Pay another hundred or so and you've got wireless built in.

    What, exactly, is the upside to this new portable, and is it worth the premium? It seems to me that the extra money is for a supported linux handheld, but is there really going to be much support beyond reflashing the handheld and re-syncing with the computer? If not, is there some other reason to look at this?

  • People always talk about running Linux in this or that device instead of the original OS it came with...

    Maybe now the Microsoft Zealots will come out of the woodwork and ask:
    "Yea but, can it run Windows!?"
    "Just imagine a BSOD on these?"
  • by MyFourthAccount ( 719363 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:39PM (#8637035)
    No offense, but this will probably become a false second start.

    The specs are sorta last year's (well, 2002 really), maybe not the CPU but the amount of RAM & Flash, the enclosure looks clunky and really, it's nice it runs Linux, but that's not going to sell a product. (and of course there's nicer devices that run Linux)

    Unfortunately, this device does not belong on frontpage /.

    The problem with creating stuff like this is that time to market is everything. Not only that, competing on consumer electronics with HP and the likes is pretty much impossible in the long run. The biggest problem is that most companies do not plan this far ahead and think they can get a piece of the pie and stay there. They sometimes do for a little while, but at the end of the day you need the infrastructure to produce VERY HIGH volume consumer electronics, which ALWAYS means extremely low margins.

    Sorry to sound so negative. I still think people should try, I'm just saying that most of the time the best approach for these companies is to plan to be bought by the likes of HP or Sony.
  • Can evolution sync to this device? Does anyone know of a way to sync evolution to PocketPC? (dell axim).
    • Check out Multisync [] it's an all-in-one sync for Linux (ah la InfoSync for MS) it currently supports Evolution, QTopia, Palm, SyncCE, SyncML and others (like IR sync to cel phones).

      I've had a little trouble with my SE Z600 and it but for evo and pda stuff it works really well.
  • But what about GPE (Score:2, Interesting)

    by B2382F29 ( 742174 )

    Where do i get a decent handheld running GPE []?

    I was waiting for it since i saw it the first time

  • by donbrock ( 705779 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:48PM (#8637094)
    Just kidding :)
  • by woobieman29 ( 593880 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:50PM (#8637110)
    Looks like the specs are pretty close to my Zaurus 5500, excepting the fact that my Z has a built-in keyboard as opposed to that snap on thingy (extra $$ ?) and includes a Compact Flash slot. Oh yeah - and I only paid US$190 for my Z a year ago. Sure the processor may be a bit faster, but I really don't see much to justify the price. Also, only one expansion slot means that when you plug an 802.11x card in the SDIO slot you are stuck with the built-in 64MB of SDRAM and 32MB of Flash. Judging from the way I use my Z, that would be severely limiting, especially when you are doing online activities that need to keep logs, like kismet.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @04:56PM (#8637825) Homepage
      I also agree. I have a 256M sd card in the side of my Z and use the CF card for many different devices. Most of the time doing something that the iPaq owners here in the office dream of like replacing the $13,000.00 Fluke network analyzer with my 100baseT CF ethernet card, my Z and a few typical linux apps (ntop is AWESOME for this)

      I see royal dying a miserable death with this one if they dont instantly cut the price in 1/2.

      I can buy SL-5500's all day long at $179.99 from retailers all over. sothey have to be less than that to even get any interest from most buyers.
  • by Traicovn ( 226034 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:50PM (#8637113) Homepage
    I owned a Royal DaVinci (the original line of DaVinci's that Royal had out) and was very hurt when the lawsuit with palm (Link [] - Link [] - Google Search []) because Royal stole code from the PalmOS source and used it in that line of products. While the UI was fairly nice and I liked the Royal Davinci, soon after I received it I found that Royal basically stopped supporting it. It had been a great deal, and I had been hoping to get a lot of use out of it, but software and accessories never made it to market that were supposed to, and Royal was not allowed to continue supporting the device during and after the lawsuit.

    It left me as a customer fairly hurt, so it is understandable that I'd be just a bit cautious before spending 400.00 on a product made by Royal. I doubt they'd make such a mistake again... especially if they are using an open-source platform, but I'd still be very cautious, I've lost a lot of faith in them as a company.
  • by rtphokie ( 518490 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:54PM (#8637153)
    What benefits does this PDA runs Linux under the hood provide? The only mention of synchronization is Outlook.

    Is Royal trying to appeal to the mass market by supporting synchronization with Outlook and the geek market with touting it's Linux basis?

    Did they choose Linux for the "it's Linux, therefore it's cool" factor or did they choose Linux because it's a good kernel to develop this
    kind of hardware on?
    • by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @04:05PM (#8637261)
      What benefits does this PDA runs Linux under the hood provide? The only mention of synchronization is Outlook. Did they choose Linux for the "it's Linux, therefore it's cool" factor or did they choose Linux because it's a good kernel to develop this kind of hardware on?

      I dunno about this thing but having Linux on my Zaurus was great. I could sit there with a fold-out keyboard and fire up Xwindows, running programs like Octave (a Matlab clone). I could do VNC, SSH, AIM, email, and browse the web. I could do any of this just about anywhere on campus.

      Running Linux means that it can run Linux software.
  • Yes, it seems rather awful compared to the Zaurus and the like...but it depends where they plan on selling these, too... Its hard to tell if they are going to be better or not than Win Mobile's pocket pcs, different processors, different optimisations, different drivers, etc...but comparing to the depends... It does seem worse...but...Sharp doesn't really market their zaurus everywhere... For exemple, I can't get one in Canada without importing from the US...rather awkward, and makes the device
    • At $400, it's awful whereever it's marketed. A large percentage of consumers who are even going to consider spending that much in the first place are going to look at the specs and realize that any of the current Zaurus models are better overall if not just cheaper. The 5500 is a comparable device and can be had for around 200, while the 5600 is about 100 more. Even with shipping and such, it's still going to be a better bargain than the Royal's offering. Once the 6000 comes out, the prices for the olde
  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:58PM (#8637185) Homepage Journal
    Color PocketPC's and PalmOS devices have now reached the $199 price point. There is no market for this device.
  • That's another, right Royal F&*k up.
  • For that price, I can get a Zodiac^2. I dunno why it keeps masquerading as a gaming platform, because it's one of the best PalmOS devices out ther: huge screen, dual sd, bluetooth, loads more memory (128 mb!)...and of course PalmOS and all the usablity and software that entails :)
  • Considering PDAs with integrated Bluetooth, wlan and whatnot this thing doesn't really stand a chance with that pricetag. And even with a possible linux l33tness bonus I'd rather pick up a zaurus than that thing. Err, or in general an oqo once the vapor around it vanishes.
  • by RailGunner ( 554645 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @04:03PM (#8637226) Journal
    Dragon Ball processor huh... you know they could market that to a certain group of fan boys and probably make a killing.... I can see the login screen now:

    Royal Linux Release 2.6 (Vegeta) for DragonBall
    Kernel 2.6.1

    Then, just name the Email client "Gohan", the Office Suite "Saiyan", and the mp3 player "Android 17" and you'd probably have the market cornered in no time. ;)

  • by -tji ( 139690 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @04:04PM (#8637235) Journal
    I'm as big of a linux fan as the next guy.. I own two Zaurus PDAs. But, I'm not sure why they are releasing this after so much time. I don't see anything about these PDAs that lead me to believe they will succeed.

    - Linux OS - some of us find this a compelling feature. But, the Zaurus's have met that relatively small market already.
    - Form Factor - it looks rather thick, and not particularly small in any dimension. There are many small/lighter/thinner PDAs to choose from.
    - Performance - at 200MHz, it's not bad for a PDA, but there are many others out there that are faster and can do MPEG video.
    - Software - Yes, the linux command-line utilities are nice. But, for general PDA apps, there are many better choices than the Linux PDAs.
  • From looking at the picture [] of the Linea LX PDA up close, it is apparent to me that Linux will not be taken seriously in the PDA or desktop markets until a graphical design artist actually takes the time to do some user polling and UAT to determine which graphical icons look and work the best for the end-user. I mean seriously, they have a 'Contacts' icon with an @ symbol, and an 'Email' icon with a paper envelope and stamp symbol. Not only that, the 'Text Editor' and 'Sketch' icons appear to have been swit
  • Linux PDA... sweet! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SphericalCrusher ( 739397 ) on Monday March 22, 2004 @04:07PM (#8637279) Journal
    That's very sweet. I love how Linux is porting too all kinds of devices, and not just personal computers and servers.

    I wonder if it will be possible to download that version of Linux somewhere so that I may install it on my current PDA? I'm really interested in checking out the code itself also... just to see what makes it so flexible on the PDA.
  • It's almost exactly the same as the Zaurus SL-5500 from 2002.

    Except my Zaurus includes a built-in, sliding keyboard while you have to pay extra for a clip-on one on the Royal.

    Well, Sharp hasn't exactly lit the world on fire with the 5500 (nice, but the 5600 is much nicer), so Royal's chances with a virtually identical package for more money than a 5500 can be had for today?

    I don't think I like those odds very much...
  • by wehe ( 135130 ) <(gro.libomxut) (ta) (ehew)> on Monday March 22, 2004 @04:57PM (#8637842) Homepage Journal
    There have been three Linux PDAs yet, which have become available in the market actually: the Agenda VR3 [], the SHARP Zaurus series [] and the Yopy made by Samsung []. Some other Linux PDAs [] were created for developement purposes only (e.g. COMPAQ Itsy), others were announced but have never made it into the market.
  • This product is outclassed before it even comes out. The same $399 (US) will buy you a PDA with double the resolution - either the Sony TH55 or a Palm Tungsten T3. Both have wireless networking built-in (Bluetooth for the Palm, Wi-Fi for the Sony).
    Sony: TH55 []
    Palm: Tungsten T3 []

    So, if you're a dyed-in-the-wool, dreams-of-penguins fanatic who simply must have Linux in everything, go ahead. People who are looking for greatest bang for their buck will buy elsewhere.
  • Ugly Fonts and Linux (Score:2, Informative)

    by osho_gg ( 652984 )
    Now for those of you who didn't read the actual article, go and read it and look at those screenshots. Boy, those fonts look so horrible!!!

    If you have used Windows CE based or Palm based PDAs; you know what kind of beautiful sub-pixel anti-aliased fonts to expect. These fonts look ugly which is a huge usability hinderence.

    I hope these guys would take advantage of the awesome freetype2 libraries on linux *properly* to display fonts.

  • I flashed linux with qtopia to my old Compaq iPaq 3970 almost year ago, because WindowsCE ond PDA sucks. And the hardware has practically the same performace as this advertised gadget. In fact, I use runlevels to switch between X11 server with java, python and gtk stuff & co. and qtopia w/pim on framebuffer.
  • The OS that a PDA runs really should be an implementation detail. The thing's damn ugly, and it has fewer features than a Palm had 5 years ago, and it's a lot bigger, and it's a lot more expensive.

    So what's the point, that it runs Linux?

    You know, I absolutely LOVE my TiVo. It's the best PVR evAr. And it runs on Linux! But actually, I couldn't care less that it runs Linux, I just care that it's a damn good PVR, and if it were based on MacOS or WinCE and ran the exact same way, I'd love it just as much.

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner