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First North American OpenMoko/FreeRunners Arrive 180

holdenkarau writes "The North American OpenMoko FreeRunners are starting to arrive. It would appear that the OpenMoko still has problems with some 3G networks, including AT&T. Although, in my own personal completely unscientific test, 2 out of 3 AT&T SIM cards worked. Check out the unboxing of a complete FreeRunner (along with debug board) and my experience getting the FreeRunner up and running. Or a direct link to the pictures for those of you bored with text. If you feel brave enough to take the plunge, you can buy your own FreeRunner from the OpenMoko store."
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First North American OpenMoko/FreeRunners Arrive

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  • Take them OF the phone, not WITH the phone!

  • by jacquesm ( 154384 ) <j&ww,com> on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:09PM (#24199993) Homepage

    When I realized it did not have a camera. While a hackable phone has immense appeal having to lug around a second phone or camera is really too much a of a hassle. Oh well, we'll just wait for release II I guess.

    • by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:40PM (#24200575)

      Oddly, a lack of a camera may give something like this a push into certain businesses where cameras are not allowed on the premises.

      • by jo7hs2 ( 884069 )
        I totally agree. When I bought my last phone I was observing a lot of trials, and cameraphones were not allowed in several of the courthouses, for security reasons, but also because you could take pictures of the jury. I had to search out a cameraless phone, which forced me to buy an overpriced older model, because it was quite literally the only cameraless phone AT&T had in stock. It wasn't that I needed my phone in the courthouse, but rather that I didn't want to make the walk to my car without it.
    • by rekrutacja ( 647394 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @05:08PM (#24203275) Homepage

      Waiting for second release is a good way to kick a company out of the market. I understand this desire for some businesses, but with Freerunner and OpenMoko you do want this second release to happen, right? So buy this release, and than buy the second when it's ready.

      • that's a really good point, I had not thought about it from that angle.

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:50PM (#24204929) Journal
        Which is why the lack of the camera and 3G is a huge problem. I'd be happy to pay slightly over market value for a phone with an open software stack, but only if it's an upgrade. My current phone is almost three years old now. It has 3G, works for Internet access from my laptop via Bluetooth and has a 2M pixel camera. Trading it in for one with only GPRS (getting off GPRS having been the reason for my last phone upgrade) and no camera is just not going to happen. My next upgrade is likely to be to HSPDA and something with enough flash for my music collection, and I'd really like it to be based on an open stack, but if they are going to build products based on three of four generation old technology and price them in the premium segment then it's really hard to justify buying them.
    • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

      They should concentrate on Bluetooth camera support. E.g. my Nokia 9300 (Symbian S80) doesn't have camera but has some excellent bluetooth camera support so you can use an actual bt enabled camera when you need.

      Wonder why they didn't provide Camera as optional add on. (Sony) Ericsson T68 had that kind of wonder. You plug add on camera if you want to take photos, remove and leave it at home if you don't need. Best of both Worlds. []

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:11PM (#24200027) Homepage Journal

    Lots of North America is only served (or well-served) by CDMA networks. Hopefully, with Verizon embracing LTE [] for its next network build-out we'll finally have compatible transcontinental coverage. Next, the world.

  • by crush ( 19364 )
    What does this thing have hardware support for in terms of audio codecs? Also how is using it to browse the web?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hannes2000 ( 1113397 )
      the webbrowser currently available through the repositories is quite a pain in the ass. the rendering is butt-ugly, scrolling is only possible using scrollbars, zooming is only possible using the tiny zoom-buttons and the keyboard didn't show up when I focused the textfield at google. but I'm sure things will get better soon.
  • by Goaway ( 82658 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:15PM (#24200091) Homepage

    Although, in my own personal completely unscientific test, 2 out 3 AT&T SIM cards worked.

    Sounds like Open Source to me!

  • 3G network... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Etherized ( 1038092 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:39PM (#24200545)

    OpenMoko still has problems with some 3G networks, including AT&T.

    This claim is misleading - the device has no UMTS radio, so of course AT&T's 3G network isn't supported. What's really happening is that some people who have "3G" SIM cards are having trouble accessing AT&Ts GSM network.

  • If I'm not mistaken, the phones are going for $400 per. It doesn't look all that good compared to the $200 iPhone so why would I want one if I wasn't interested in the "open" aspect of the phone?

    • by Tony ( 765 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @02:54PM (#24200867) Journal

      First and foremost, because you control the software.

      Secondly, the iPhone is *much* more than $200. That's the subsidized price. By the time you finish with the contract, you've spent quite a bit on your iPhone.

      Really, though, you'd only want one right now if you wish to hack on it. There's no reason to get one as your regular phone if you're not a hacker. The software stack is still in its infancy.

      Mine is supposed to arrive in a week. I'm pretty damned excited. I figure it needs some good games, like Nethack.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by pinkstuff ( 758732 )
        In New Zealand the iPhone is NZD$200, if you take that option then you are tied to a 2 year contract. How much is this contract? $250 a month! So over two years the iPhone will have actually costed you NZD$6,200. I think I will get a FreeRunner...
        • OK, and how much is the no contract price for service monthly? Including the unlimited data plan, etc. that you will need to pay for to get the equivalent service from your FreeRunner?

          Get back to me with a full cost comparison for equivalent level of service and functionality and we'll talk.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) *

        I figure it needs some good games, like Nethack.

        Wow, you mean it doesn't already have Nethack? I would have figured that would be a higher priority than the phone dialer!

      • Um..except for the fact that you kinda have to have a contract with somebody to use it anyway. Since none of the carriers is going to give you that subsidy money in cash, or lower contract prices, you are pretty much just giving your carrier a big fat payday by going with a non-subsidized phone. And in fact, you are paying the extra by not being able to take advantage of the subsidy.

        Since most people become semi-religious about their carrier, and very few people swap carriers on time frames shorter than
  • they're too blurry, on some pictures you can barely make out what the guy is trying to take a picture of!

    Too bad, since I think it's a pretty nifty device and I would've bought it if it hadn't taken that long to get to market

  • Can anyone shed some light on the following statements, taken from: []

    (after several points wraps up:)

    "...OpenMoko therefore isn't a new âoeopen phone,â it's merely a version of Linux designed to run on a specific vendor's proprietary implementation of Windows Mobile. Buying an FIC phone to run OpenMoko is like buying a Dell Windows PC to run Linux. You're not changing the world, you're merely funding d

    • by ThogScully ( 589935 ) <> on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @03:27PM (#24201491) Homepage

      Sounds to me like they made a bunch of stuff up. The OpenMoko folks have gone to great lengths to develop the hardware platform from a completely open perspective, so that it developers can have full access to the hardware and full specs to program to.

      Ultimately, calling this a Windows phone running Linux is like saying that all ARM processors are really Windows machines that can also run Linux.

      The article really focused on OpenMoko vs. iPhone, but at least as far as I read, didn't get the point. The iPhone is geared toward those who buy things already working and the FreeRunner is aimed at those who want to make it better.

      • by Crizp ( 216129 )

        I think he just tried to say that the hardware was originally designed by the Chinese government (what's that got to do with anything) as a Windows Mobile platform, not that Linux runs on top of Windows, but then again I'm not sure -- they guy seems to have a screw loose somewhere.

    • by dltaylor ( 7510 )

      "serial connection to GSM/GPRS"

      GSM/GMRS modules often have an embedded microcontroller (ARM7, or the like), and some sort of microkernel. The command/control channel between those and the "system" processor (running Linux/some sort of embedded M$-Windows/...) may emulate, or, in fact, be, a serial port. You exchange sequences similar to the old Hayes modem commands, now commonly called the "AT" command set. You can also use PPP connections, although I don't know if they take advantage of PPP's encapsulat

    • by simong ( 32944 )

      It's clearly someone who doesn't know what they're talking about. For one, FIC are not a Windows PC maker, but a PC maker. They make the ION 604 mini PC that is sold under various names, particularly Koolu [] and Linutop [], which is sold either as a diskless thin client or with a 2.5" HD with a Linux distribution. It's based on the AMD Geode chip, and will run practically any x86 OS as long as there are drivers - I've put a standard out of the box Ubuntu distribution onto one which worked perfectly except for th

  • [] It seems that GPS doesn't work very well with a microSD card plugged in ... and this appears to be a hardware issue. If this is the case, I am thinking about sending the package back when it arrives (it's scheduled for tomorrow via UPS). It'll cost an arm and a leg to send it to the US and back otherwise (from Canada, thanks to UPS and customs).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @03:31PM (#24201565)

    I just got mine, and all I have to say is....

    game over!

    This is not just a phone. It is a handheld Linux based router! It has a full stack via USB, and in the other direction via the GSM. It is open source hardware, using open source software. I hope a few of you realize what I am talking about. I don't think a device like this (this small, and compact) existed which has this functionality. Routing.

    After testing three different sim cards I finally got it to work with ATT. (G3 Fireball, not the one with the round contacts on the back, the one with the square contacts on the back it ends in G 4003 or something to that effect, its posted on the openmoko wiki.

    Mark this post, this is the beginning of the end my friends!

    • Huh? My current phone (which I've had for 3 years) routes packets between my laptop or palmtop (I use it with my Nokia 770) via bluetooth and the Internet via UMTS. It doesn't need a wire, and it gets 50KB/s in real-world usage. Why, exactly, is needing a wire and routing at a tenth of the speed, but using Linux for the routing, is an improvement.
    • Why in the world would I possibly ever want to use my cell phone as a router?
  • but I'm still occupied fixing the numerous little annoyances that came with my last not-quite-ready-for-prime-time-alpha-version open source phone [] purchase. I hope they can make the beta version a little smaller since it doesn't quite fit into a pocket and it is too big to hold up to my ear for long.
  • Android? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by autophile ( 640621 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @05:18PM (#24203465)

    Will Android run on it?

    What access does it have to wireless data connections?

  • by efalk ( 935211 )

    I received mine yesterday. By evening, I found out that the GPS wouldn't lock on unless I used an external antenna. By this morning, users had discovered that the GPS works fine if the memory card is removed, pointing to probably electronic interference behind them. If they don't find a field fix for the problem, I'll have to send mine back because I bought it for the GPS applications that I would write for it.

  • Why on earth did they choose to put a 3D accelerator chip on it that requires an NDA [] to program? The entire FreeSoftware movement was created as a reaction against NDA's.

    If I have to reverse-engineer the dang thing, I might as well get an iPhone. Its cheaper too.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger