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Pepper Pad 2 Linux Web Pad 197

`Sean writes "Pepper Computer debuted their $800 Pepper Pad 2 at DEMOmobile 2004 this week. Specs include a 624 MHz XScale processor, 8.4" 800x600 TFT touchscreen, 802.11b+g, and 20 GB HDD running MontaVista Linux CEE. Out of the box the Pepper Pad 2 loads the Pepper Keeper as its GUI, but a full-blown Linux distribution with Java 2 JRE and X-Window System is sitting under the covers just waiting be customized. I personally can't wait to get a hold of one of these to turn into an OBD-II and telemetry workstation for the rally car."
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Pepper Pad 2 Linux Web Pad

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  • Media Player (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EEproms_Galore ( 755247 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @02:04AM (#10219455)
    This would make a great portable media player with a bit of hacking.. Hmmm I sooo want one.
    • Not really. If you look at the specs, it measures 12" by 6" by 0.8" and weighs 2.8 pounds. You're better off using a portable media player such as an iPod as a portable media player.
    • hacking? (Score:3, Informative)

      It kind of already is a portable media player. The Pepper Keeper software looks like it will do most things you would need, and since there's a full linux system underneath, you can just install whatever players are missing.
    • Sadly, this is all I can imagine myself ever using one for. That is, if I were to ever own such an expensive novelty. I think it is cool, just not too terribly useful.

      For $800 I could get a pretty nice laptop and a 4-pack of Redbull.
  • IR ! (Score:5, Funny)

    by phreakv6 ( 760152 ) <phreakv6@gmail . c om> on Saturday September 11, 2004 @02:09AM (#10219465) Homepage
    Oh it also has IR... hmm.. so u can use it as a TV remote !!
    • Oh it also has IR... hmm.. so u can use it as a TV remote !!

      Why is this moderated as Funny? We put high-power IR emitters on the Pad for a reason...

  • by notthe9 ( 800486 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @02:09AM (#10219466)
    I realize it is a lot cheaper, but I amnto sure it is worth it. Does the XScale processor pack the necessary punch? I know I have one (albeit a probably inferior one) in my Toshiba e740, which has many of the qualities this thing brags about. Also, is this an actual touch screen? If so, this is unfortunate Having used Tablets before, I really enjoyed the special pens, and would think this would make a great picture. Also, that thumb keyboard looks quite lacking, and considering they are not bragging about their handwriting recognition, it probably also leaves something to be desired. At this point, I think I could get a lot more functionality out of a laptop or one of those tablets-that-runs-your-pc-iver-wifi things than I necesarily would this.
  • by DAldredge ( 2353 )
    Where can you buy low cost Single Board Computer that can run linux? Kind of like the one in the WRT54g?

  • For the hacker/cracker on the go, looking to break into all those Wi-Fi networks around pools, this model comes "[r]uggedized and splash resistant." Although one would not suggest one using any computer around a pool.
  • But.... (Score:2, Redundant)

    by saden1 ( 581102 )
    It's $800. I don't know if the value provided is worth 800 dollars.
    • Personally, I'd rather have a Sharp Zaurus SL 5600 with an added GPS unit. Different use cases, true, but I'm certain I'd get more use out of the Zaurus.
    • "It's $800. I don't know if the value provided is worth 800 dollars."

      That depends on how much you put into it, really. Something like this is less about what it can do and more about what you can do with it.
  • I wont but it coz 1) Looks too weird 2) split QWERTY keyboard ???? 3) can u put it in ur pocket ?
  • I've wanted this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hugonz ( 20064 ) <hugonz AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday September 11, 2004 @02:20AM (#10219500) Homepage
    I've wanted this for months now. A "laptop" that instead of advertising the newest P4 processor for Barbecues (R) gives you low power, ARM (XScale) computing at the right price. Of course, It has to run linux. Good one!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So have I. Imagine, it would make a great X terminal at home. Use the power of your desktop in a device that weighs 2.3 pounds.

      It's basicly what MS's tablets promise to be, but at a third of the cost and it has the flexibility of linux.

      The thing can be 3x as powerfull as a tablet PC if you have a nice dual (core?) opteron computer laying around somewere.

      The business aspects of this device is also intreaging. If you use it as a X terminal, the majority of the time the harddrive will be asleep, and thus th
      • 600 Mhz is underpowered for high resolution MPEG4 decoding (you shouldn't have to reencode everything you download) ... and underpowered for hand writing recognition (isn't that supposed to the the stregth of a pad?) ... it comes with a stylus but hand writing recognition is only "almost working"? there is no composite video out (pads are usually good for presentations) ... and the pepper pad looks like a pile of garbage ... those little round thumb keys split on either side are silly ...
  • by Samurai Cat! ( 15315 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @02:22AM (#10219507) Homepage
    ...a Dawson's Creek Pepper Keeper Future S2000?
  • Battery? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by melgeroth ( 726004 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @02:23AM (#10219510)
    Is the battery life mentioned anywhere? If it is I missed it.
    • Re:Battery? (Score:3, Informative)

      Is the battery life mentioned anywhere? If it is I missed it.

      Couldn't find any exact info other than the following in the press release []:
      "It has a rechargeable lithium polymer battery with power management providing support for a day's worth of activities"

  • Comes only with USB 1.1, which is kinda slow for something that you'll want to transfer photos, mp3s, and video to. Also the 20g hard drive is a little tight for that purpose. I'd like to see one of these with usb2 or firewire and at least 80g on the hard drive. It would be nice if it had some kind of cover to protect the LCD too. But this looks pretty badass nonetheless.
    • Re:USB 1.1 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by arakon ( 97351 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @02:51AM (#10219560) Homepage
      I was thinking the USB port would be used for A Mouse or a Keyboard. Especially for someone who though this would be great for editing docs on the go.

      Of course the other half of me thought immediately, i could use it for a game controller and slap mame or another emulator on this bad boy... 600+ MGhz should be plenty enough to run a SNES emu.

      I mean it has built in wireless networking and anyone who would buy this would fork over $50 for a wireless AP right? File Transfer problems solved.
      • ...and anyone who would fork over $800 would think "I forked over $400 for my iPod and it has twice the storage space." Seriously, 20GB? WTF?!? Obviously they're trying to keep the price under that of a low-end laptop, but come on, ditch the bluetooth and put in a 50-100GB drive. Whats with only having SD/MMC? Howsabouts Compact Flash or SmartMedia? They're touting it for multimedia and they don't use the most common cards for digital cameras in favor of the most maligned and unsed format? HUH? Also, 256MB
        • The iPod has: (Score:3, Informative)

          by StarKruzr ( 74642 )
          No keyboard.

          No color screen.

          A proprietary O/S (yes, it can run Linux - poorly)

          No bluetooth.

          No ability to run real applications.

          No touchscreen.

          No WiFi.

          This is easily worth two iPods.
        • ditch the bluetooth??? on a on-the-move device it's quite useful.. unless you want to juggle to get ir connection to your mobile.

          if you don't like it don't buy it.
          • God forbid anyone give anything but a lovefest for new products that although basically "good ideas" obviously need to go back to the drawing board.

            Design criticism is crucial to getting designs right and there's a lot of very valid criticism to be given to the design team that produced this turkey.
        • The scroll wheel will be great for browsing web pages. What do you need a trackball or a trackpad for when you have a touchscreen? Also, 2.5" drives are much more expensive than 3.5" drives. I haven't seen a laptop with more than 80 GB of space. For a portable keyboard, use Bluetooth. SD and MMC slots take far less space than a CF slot, and both can be supported with only one slot.

          I'm not getting one, of course; I already have an iBook. Still, it's not that bad.

      • Wireless networking would let me tap into my MythTV box from anywhere in my house, which is nice. I am not certain at the maturity of the project, but plex86 [] deffinately ups the value of this device for me. I wonder how much tweakage would be necessary?
    • by fm6 ( 162816 )
      They could have done all that. Then they would have had to charge a lot more. They obviously decided that $800 was the most somebody would pay for something like this, and chose the features to fit within that boundary.
    • That was the first thing I noticed as well. USB 2.0 is standard on the even cheapest motherboards on the market today, so I can't imagine that it would have added more than a buck or two to the manufacturing cost. And it would have added a lot of new flexibility. My desired use, for example, is as a CarPC/Mp3 player, and a 20 gig hd isn't big enough. The easy solution, and perfectly appropriate for use in the car, is an external hd, but that's not an option here due to the slow USB.

      This would also make it
      • "The easy solution, and perfectly appropriate for use in the car, is an external hd, but that's not an option here due to the slow USB."

        Yes, it is. Why does everyone act as if USB 1.1 is a 5kbps protocol?

        It runs at 12Mbps. This is more than fast enough to bring MP3s or OGGs from the drive to your PepperPad and play them back in real time.
        • It runs at 12Mbps. This is more than fast enough to bring MP3s or OGGs from the drive to your PepperPad and play them back in real time.

          Granted. Perhaps I should have said "that's not a -good- option". What about copying 10 gigs of mp3s to the internal hard drive? Sure it can be done, but it will take hours. How about listening to mp3s from an external drive while copying files from a wired network? What about other applications that I didn't think of? My point was that, assuming the cost to add usb2 was
    • Well, most cameras, even if they use USB 2.0, only use Full Speed, which is the same speed as USB 1.1 anyway. If it's a 802.11g network card, you can transfer the MP3s and videos over the network; this thing doesn't have an optical drive to rip CDs, and I would use a stationary to download things anyway; just copy over when it's wanted. The small hard drive also neccessitates this. Won't work as a primary computer, of course, but as a complimentary device it'd do quite well. Assuming it's fast enough to run
  • No USB 2? (Score:3, Informative)

    by hobbsbutcher ( 753062 ) * on Saturday September 11, 2004 @02:31AM (#10219526) Homepage Journal
    According to the photos page [] it just has USB 1.1 and only one USB port.
  • by ErichTheWebGuy ( 745925 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @02:39AM (#10219540) Homepage
    1. Yea but does it run Linux?
    2. Imagine a beowulf cluster of Pepper Pads!
    3. In Soviet Russia the screen touches you!
    4a. Design a superior piece of hardware
    4b. Include a superior OS
    4c. ???
    4d. Profit!
    5. Netcraft confirms, Pepper Pad is dead!
    6. If it doesn't run [KDE/Gnome/desktop of choice] then it sucks!

    There, I think that about covers it!
  • wow I want one (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dcstimm ( 556797 )
    WHen I get a job and can afford $800 dollars ill buy one in a heart beat, lets just hope it can run the mythfrontend so I can watch tv in bed.
    • "WHen I get a job and can afford $800 dollars ill buy one in a heart beat, lets just hope it can run the mythfrontend so I can watch tv in bed."

      $300 gets you a Dell Axim with a 600 mhz processor and built in 802.11. If your intent is to watch recorded video in bed, it might be worth investigating if this will do the job.

      I'm suggesting it because I have a TabletPC that I sometimes use to watch TV in bed. Despite the fact that its' small and light weight, an hour holding this up in bed is actually a bit
      • Or possibly even buy a small TV...

        Or is that a little too far out?
        • "Or possibly even buy a small TV... Or is that a little too far out?"

          If he doesn't have one right now, then there's probably a pretty good reason. Maybe he doesn't have enough space. Maybe he has satellite or something and he'd have to rely on bunny ears to get reception. Maybe he specifically wants a "Watch what MythTV has recorded" device in his bedroom and making his current TV do that is a bit challenging. Maybe he doesn't want to spend $200'ish on a TV when he could spend $300'ish on something w
  • Nice ad `Sean (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 11, 2004 @03:33AM (#10219636)

    You thought you snuck one past the editors huh?

    Look folks, of course `Sean wants one of these for his rally car...he's in on the damn thing!

    Check out these [] pics [].

    good job /. editors for plugging this thing for Sean Hamor.

    News for nerds. Shills that matter.

  • Sounds nice... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @03:38AM (#10219651) Homepage
    but I worry about the psychological impact of making computers look less like computers. People have been taught for the past few years that they have to keep their computers up to date with security patches, that they should have a firewall and a virus scanner... but this doesn't look like what people recognize as a "computer". It isn't even advertised as a computer; it's called a "web pad".

    Combining the innate cluelessness of most of the people who will buy these, the fact that these don't "look like computers", the fact that these are wireless-only as far as networking is concerned, and the lack of apparent infrastructure for distributing security patches... I have to wonder how well these machines will fare once they reach the real (insecure) world.
    • Re:Sounds nice... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by pipacs ( 179230 )
      I agree with you the trend is worrying, but I don't think shifting the responsibility to customers is the solution. It just shows in what a poor state the industry is today.

      There is a full-blown computer in my wireless access point, mobile phone, DVD player. Soon in my TV, my fridge, you name it. I don't want to be the system administrator of my fridge!

      Infrastructure, as you say, for distributing and installing security fixes is needed - but manufacturers will never invest into this unless forced to do

    • True to a degree, If it boots Windows (and the explorer interface) its instantly recognisable as a "Computer", If like this it boots some wierd UI then it isn't, however this isn't prolly running services etc and *should* be locked down well / auto updated. The point is the UI is as important the the shape of the box to the user deciding if its a computer.
    • Most aplience like devices can do fine. You can lock down an apliance device far better then a PC.

      Besides, it just needs to last a year for most people, then they'll get a new one.

      The same thing is happening with computers. Why spend hours and hours caring for the computer, when they're cheap enough to buy a new one every year?

      Whats the work I'm looking for...oh yeah, commodity.

      I have a Dell magazine right in front of me. 519 dollars, I can get a PC, with monitor amd free shipping.
      2.4G, 256 megs, 40gb,
    • and the lack of apparent infrastructure for distributing security patches...

      There will be a full updates system in place for both the Pepper Keeper software and the underlying operating system.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    wickywickywack:~$ whois
    Technical Contact:
    Sosik-Hamor, Sean

    wickywickywack:~$ whois
    Administrative Contact:
    Sosik-Hamor, Sean
    • He's their webmaster, yes, and probably one of the engineers there as well. He isn't the whole company though, as you can see from their management team page - they are a legitimate, if not huge company, based in the building next to where my old company was based, down Hartwell Ave. for anybody who knows the area, in Lexington, MA. In fact, I know one of the engineers at Pepper (assuming he's still there).
  • by deminisma ( 703135 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @03:48AM (#10219667)
    But where's the market? You can buy a decent PC for $300, the keyboard looks too unsuitable to be used professionally and it's too big to used as a PDA. So it is an overpriced, oversized PDA, with a clunky interface. Who really has any utility for that?
    • by Maserati ( 8679 )
      As a Mac user I've suspected it for years. There's a previously uncataloged meme on Slashdot, and it's spreading. It's the $300 PC meme. New iMac ? $300 PC Computer for the kids ? $300 PC No Linux games ? $300 PC New tablet computer ? You guessed it... Frank Stallone !
  • Pepper Keeper? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by david_reese ( 460043 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @03:59AM (#10219689)
    Hopefully it'll have better info-retention capabilities than my junior high Trapper Keeper :-) Seriously, my main issue with contact managers are
    1. Data Entry... and this has a full qwerty keyboard (tho it's arguable how usable it is, being so small keys)
    2. Sync capabilities... palm was good, but ipod/iCal is better, and so is my SonyEriccson T610 that supports SyncML. Can't recount the number of times that I lost data due to bad sync or lack of sync {sigh}.

    From the site's page [] on PK, it looks pretty good. Gotta try the download and see if it's better than my palm desktop.

    • 1. iSync syncs with Palms.
      2. iSync doesn't use SyncML (yet - which is why most SyncML phones aren't compatible with iSync).
      3. You can't enter data onto an ipod!
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @04:16AM (#10219708) Homepage Journal
    Hmm this might have been neat a year or so ago, but I'm a little underwhelmed with it. Just a couple of months ago I bought a Toshiba M-200 TabletPC. Granted, it's over twice the price of this guy ($2,000...) but lemme share with you the specs:

    -Centrino 1.5 ghz processor.
    -1400 by 1050 resolution screen
    -512 meg of RAM
    -40 gig HD
    -It doesn't use the touch screen, rather the Wacom digitizer for the stylus. This means pressure sensitivity, but it means you can ONLY use the stylus for input.

    -NVidia Go5200 card.
    -3-4 hour battery life. (I've reached a little over 3 with it.)

    -It works in both slate mode, and it can unfold like a laptop with a kb. ..etc. etc. etc...

    I do like some of the things they're doing with this machine, but ... well... it's hard to really get excited now that I have this M200 machine.
    • oh yeah, right, i'm gonna overlook your $2000 investment versus an $800 investment, and just agree with you entirely on the specs/power/performance underwhelming ...

      forget it, fool. if you don't know the difference between $2000 and $800, send me $1200 and i'll tell you!

      for $800 (hopefully thats just rrp), this is a stormin' accessory to my existing computing solutions. i'm gonna get one, just so i've got a nice, portable, useful linux machine around to hack code^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hwrite worthwhile comput
      • "forget it, fool. if you don't know the difference between $2000 and $800, send me $1200 and i'll tell you!"

        Heh. Funny thing is I pointed out the price difference to avoid shitheaded comments like this.
    • Actually, you can get a very good used laptop on ebay that will do everything one of these does, will run linux like a champ, and you can get it for $300 or less - heck, you can pick up a 266mhz machine with a 12" screen these days for as ittle as a hundred bucks. My own machine has a 13" TFT, 500MHz PIII, 320mb ram, a 20gb hard drive (with 18 months left on the warranty) and still could be had for less than what they are asking for this thing - and in another year the stinkpad will STILL be an actual pc th
    • we you say the car reviewed suckes comapared to a car that cost 2.5 times the cost?

      I mean, it's not the some type of device, and it's not meant for the same market.
      • "we you say the car reviewed suckes comapared to a car that cost 2.5 times the cost?"

        If the cheaper car was cheap because it couldn't be driven on highways, then yes, that'd be an ok analogy.
        • So what you're saying is that this thing is a moped? The question then becomes, do you want your friends to see you on one?

          Of course no one really drives a car, that would be a multi-headed PC. It's all motorcycles, one or two people can use it once at best, and the second person isn't in much control. I think we can all imagine the rest of this analogy so I'll stop here.

  • I mean the free download only runs on Mac or Windows. This says to me that they aren't really serious about Linux. I know that if it were built on WinCE I wouldn't expect the free download to only run on Mac and Red Hat.

    I'd also like to know if they have modded any of the Linux or GNU tools/apps on the box. If so where's the source. If the source comes with the device, fine. The source doesn't have to be seperately available, or available to just anyone. It does however have to go back to the original
    • I believe those downloads are so you can run pepper keeper on your mac or windows box. It looks like pepper keeper is a combination window manager with a bunch of apps like media players and a web browser and so forth, probably with builtin pen-input support. I imagine the source code is included at least for the web browser since they say it is mozilla-based (or it may simply be mozilla, but I imagine they trimmed some fat to put it on here). It also looks like the linux system under the window manager
  • Pen input is good. I jury rigged a Zaurus to provide input for messing with graphics prior to getting a tablet. I liked it.

    I got a tablet. After using it for a while, I realized what a great thing pressure sensitivity is. It's not just the touch screen that makes a tablet pc thing, all of those have wacom styluses for their input.

    I've also noticed an area in which Linux lacks support badly: Handwriting recognition.

  • Is it just me or are people having similar issues with seeing the comments on this entry? When I first click it (every time) it shows 0 comments, when I refresh it shows them. It's done it across several browsing sessions. But here's my babble about the article itself so this doesn't get killed as off-topic: I would like to see a company spend more of their money to create proper handwriting recognition under Linux for such endeavors instead of half-assed QWERTY keyboards (which leaves out Dvorak users su
  • I want to be a Pepper (Pad) 2!

    There... (nonexistent) karma burn-off complete.
  • Reading books in the toilet... Or Slashdot anyway.
    Granted, the price is a bit steep for that, but hey! It's still so sexy.
  • by wehe ( 135130 ) <wehe&tuxmobil,org> on Saturday September 11, 2004 @07:03AM (#10220041) Homepage Journal
    There is already a bunch of Tablet PCs pre-installed with Linux [] available, there are also installation reports for other Tablet PCs.
  • by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Saturday September 11, 2004 @09:33AM (#10220362) Homepage
    This doesn't have PC processors or other hardware. It does have 32MB flash built in to go along with the 256MB RAM and 20GB hard drive.

    That 32MB flash should be usable to boot the machine nearly instantly; no need to suspend/hibernate to save battery life.

    I wonder what the Opie and OpenZaurus [] folks think about the Pepper Pad 2?

    Compared to a Zaurus, this is a good upgrade.

APL hackers do it in the quad.