Industry Linux overview by Linux experts Aaron J. Seigo, Community leader at the KDE Foundation and Arnaud Laprévote, CTO Chief Technology Officer at Mandriva Linux. They provide information on the status of Linux for ARM powered laptops and analyse the influence of Linux on the Laptop industry with the advent of the Netbooks.
Since I filmed such a great video of it at IFA, OPTIMA TECHNOLOGY(SHENZHEN)CO.,LTD sent me a review sample of their new Optima OP5-E for me to publish an exclusive hands-on video-review. The new Optima OP5-E Maemo Linux based MID is now being released by http://www.chinaoptima.com/ and China Telecom on the Chinese market and they are now looking for global distributors (if many people demand it, there may be a distributor bringing this device to your local 3G telecoms market or sell it unlocked). (contact email@example.com if you might be interested in ordering 300 units or more).
Maemo is the biggest potential alternative to Android Linux OS for embedded devices, mobile internet devices, pocket computers or phones, however you want to call them. This Optima OP5-E is the worlds first Maemo device that is not manufactured by Nokia. This makes the Optima OP5-E a product to check out for people who want to see how Maemo could make a commercial impact outside of Nokia in the open-source embedded device market.
It has a 4.3" 800x480 resistive touch screen (capacitative at that size and price does not yet exist), 806mhz Marvell PXA310+ ARM processor, 128MB RAM, built-in 3G CDMA sim card reader (HSDPA version coming next month), built-in GPS, built-in Bluetooth, a high capacity exchangeable 2600mAh battery. All that comes for around $500 unlocked and could be sold at $300 or lower subsidized with a subscription plan from the carrier. It can support either VOIP and IM or regular voice and sms, that is up to the carrier how they want to integrate that feature.
The really cool things about this product are following:
- It has a built-in 3G CDMA modem with sim card reader.
- It has a pretty long battery life with a high capacity removable battery (I got a second battery to swap just in case I need more than 8 hours or more battery life for video playback)
- This type of device could function as a VOIP phone on 3G and WiFi networks (if the carriers agree to it and don't apply packet shaping mechanisms to block VOIP usage on the 3G networks)
- Maemo may have quite a lot of dedicated open-source programmers already hanging out in the http://maemo.org/community/maemo-developers/ and who may have developed some pretty interesting Maemo based applications already (which I am going to check out and publish another video when I have found out which would be the best applications that work on this device and how much porting may be required to eventually adapt software that is already developed for the Nokia Maemo Linux tablets).
- It comes with a larger touch screen than on the existing range of Smartphones, significantly larger than the Nokia N900 screen, yet this product can be sold cheaper than all those smaller smartphones. I think that a larger 800x480 medium density screen is very valuable and I think that all those 3.5" smartphones on the market have too small of a screen for Internet browsing and video playback use.
Things that I think Optima and eventually the open-source developers may improve on this device (based on my initial tests):
- The whole Maemo Linux user interfaces I think could use some optimizations and fine tuning, this device does support firmware updates, I don't know how often Optima may release firmware updates for it to improve on all these things.
- The Firefox Fennec browser that is included, might not be as smooth and fast as the Webkit based browser that one can find on Android, the Palm Pre and the iPhone. Though, my guess is that it should be possible to port a version of a Webkit based browser to Maemo (if it hasn't been done already), and I am sure this browser could be optimized and improved in firmware updates.
- Obviously, I would like to have HSDPA instead of CDMA 3G modem in this, to have i work here in Europe, Optima has told me that the HSDPA version will be released in about a month from now (maybe a bit later, I guess it may depend how soon interested importers from Europe and other HSDPA markets demand for it to be made available)
- I can't seem to be able to connect my Bluetooth foldable Stowaway keyboard, I don't know if Bluetooth headsets may be supported. I am sure, this could be fixed or improved in firmware updates. I don't know if it supports Bluetooth tethering to access the Internet through a mobile phone that has that functionality. My guess is Bluetooth tethering is not supported yet since the 3G modem is integrated.
- It does not seem to have a TV output (unless somehow that functionality exists within the mini-jack output, but I guess it's not there). Too bad, cause I enjoy watching DivX videos outputted from such a device onto a TV. Though, most existing smartphones on the market such as blackberry, palm pre and the iphone don't have that feature either.
My pictures of it on Picasa:
You can discuss this product in the dedicated forum section for it at http://forum.armdevices.net/viewforum.php?f=5
Here are the full official specs and press pictures:
We have had to wait a month and a half since the release for the full Google Experience to start being available and working on the Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android. Google had not certified the Archos on Android 1.5 for a WVGA 800x480 Google Experience, so the hope is that this certification will be signed by Google when Archos updates the installed Android version to 2.0 at some point in the next weeks.
For now, someone in the forum has posted instructions for how to install the full Google Experience on the Archos using the ADB developer debugging tools: http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=27934, and JKK has posted a tutorial for how to install it on Windows: http://jkkmobile.blogspot.com/2009/11/archos-5-it-now-with-android-market-and.html
Chrome OS Laptops will cost 50 dollars and run 20 hours on a battery, and come with free unlimited 3G internet data connectivity.
Chrome OS is not going to be companion to Windows/Mac, Chrome OS is destroying Microsoft/Apple and even Intel.
You will be able to run powerful and free image and video editing software using Native code and hardware accelerations functions of Chrome OS and HTML5.
Chrome OS works offline just as well as any other laptop. Want to write emails while offline and auto-send them when you find a web connection? That is possible. Want to write documents offline and sync them when you find a WiFi? That is possible. Want to watch video while offline? Just connect USB storage and that is possible. I am sure Chrome OS laptops will even come with extra storage and hard drive compartments built-in if you really want to carry a lot of stored data to do a lot of things offline. Otherwise, by that time, there will be Google Drive to store a TB of your personal files for less than 50 dollars per year, thus only slightly more expensive than buying a TB hard drive. And if you will want to store divx or mp3 files on your Google Drive that other users have stored on Google Drive already, you won’t have to actually upload it, a quick scan and a copy is on your Google Drive and storage costs will be shared by all the users who will have access to a copy of the file.
Chrome OS works on touch screens, uses whatever hardware you want. Most importantly, with a 50 dollar ARM laptop the experience will be just as good as on a 400 dollar Intel laptop.
Here is the cheapest laptop in the world. It can run Android since it is based on a Samsung ARM926EJ-S3C2450 processor, but for now this review unit that I am reviewing in this video only runs Windows CE 5.0. Check back hopefully within a month for another video when Menq may have sent me a firmware upgrade to use Android instead of Windows CE.
As I filmed the Menq Easypc E760 last year at IFA, Menq is a chinese company interested in providing the worlds cheapest laptop designs. Last year, they were using a 480x320 resolution 7-inch screen to reach the $89 price point for laptops, now they are able to include a 800x480 resolution 7-inch screen. Find more information about this Menq EasyPC E790 at http://www.menqgroup.com/products/pro/E790.asp
Web Browsing is all that most people need, with clever HTML5 enabled Chrome browser running on any type of Embedded OS, be it Android or Ubuntu, even offline application could be run reliably from within the browser engine. Anything most people really need will work.
As you can see in my video review, this Menq EasyPC E790 is kind of slow since it is based on the ARM9 processor technology. For not much more cost, though, the Chinese laptop manufacturers could soon be using the ARM Cortex A8 processor technology, which should provide for a 5-10 times faster web browsing experience, and even faster if using an upcoming ARM optimized Chrome browser.
This laptop, I think, is giving us a taste of the future of laptops. Soon all laptops will cost $80 or less, run 10 hours or more on a small and cheap 3-cell battery, even over 20 hour battery life if using the Pixel Qi screen technology. It is also providing a sensation for the what we can expect from the next generation OLPC One Laptop Per Child XO-1.75 to be released by OLPC with ARM processor technology inside instead of X86.
If using ARM9, OLPC could definitely sell laptops at below $80, but maybe ARM Cortex A8 will be preferable at around $10-$20 extra in manufacturing costs, and the innovative new Pixel Qi screen, WiFi meshing, more RAM and storage, could bring the next ARM based OLPC XO-1.75 laptop coser to $125 per laptop, to reach below $100 with mass production. In any ways, I am really looking forward to see the upcoming releases of the ARM Cortex A8 based laptops, yet still, this ARM9 based laptop is very interesting, and if you want your local supermarket to start selling them, I suggest you phone your local supermarket headquarters, and ask them to contact Menq and order for example 5000 pieces or more so they can get them at the price of $80 per unit and sell it to you for probably below $100 in supermarkets.
Pictures of this laptop:
Find more information at http://www.menqgroup.com/products/pro/E790.asp
Blog about the cheap Alpha-400 laptops http://www.alpha-400.com/
Here are some of my previous famous videos of this type of cheap ARM based revolutionary laptops:
September 3rd 2009: Sharp PC-Z1, the first Freescale ARM Cortex A8 based smartbook on the market
June 7th 2009: $150 Freescale ARM Cortex A8 based Pegatron Desktop
June 5th 2009: ARM talks about the new ARM Laptops
June 5th 2009: Qualcomm talks about Snapdragon powered ARM laptops
June 5th 2009: Freescale shows smartbooks
June 4th 2009: Worlds first Android laptop, Qualcom snapdragon powered by Compal
June 4th 2009: Nvidia Tegra talks about Flash support and HD multimedia ARM laptops
June 4th 2009: Nvidia talks more about their new ARM laptops
September 12th 2008: Menq $89 EasyPC E760
September 2nd 2008: The $98 Hivision Mininote
September 1st 2008: Univ $150 ARM laptop
March 12th 2008: GeCube ARM laptop
March 12th 2006: Municator $146 desktop
I am a big fan of FON. It enables you to have free access to a million WiFi hotspots in the world in exchange for sharing your own WiFi at home with your neighbors. FON routers broadcast 2 WiFi signals, one is a personal WPA-password protected WiFi SSID and the other is the open WiFi SSID for sharing your Internet connection using the FON DNS authentication login page so people are not able to do illegal things anonymously on your WiFi.
This newest Fonera 2.0n router is much more than just a WiFi router. It now comes with a powerful embedded processor and a USB host connector so that you can connect USB hard drives, USB dongles, USB printers/webcams and other USB peripherals directly to your router using a USB 2.0 hub and thus have those peripherals always connected to your home local network as well as to the whole Internet. Fonera 2.0n lets you install certain applications developed open-source such as a BitTorrent downloader based on Transmission, Youtube/Picasa/Flickr/Facebook video and picture uploaders, Rapidshare/Megaupload downloaders or just run FTP, Samba, Upnp file servers locally on your local network or remotely over the Internet so you can stream all your multimedia files from any other WiFi hotspot that you may access all over the Web.
The main use that I have with my new Fonera 2.0n is to constantly have access to Terrabytes of my personal multimedia files from all over the world, any of which streamed using my 2mbit/s upload Internet broadband connection. That 2mbit/s upload connection which I have at home, lets me remotely stream DVD quality movies. This currently works fine using any laptop copying the FTP URL into VLC media player "Open URL" feature. I am hoping to soon have this work on my Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android, so that I would easily be able to remotely stream my personal movies and music hosted at my home on my Fonera 2.0n from any Internet access point in the world using that.
Cloud storage will eventually be able to host everyones massive amounts of personal multimedia files. Though as ones options are today to use Cloud storage services from Google or Amazon, to host a Terrabyte of personal data on the cloud would cost $1800 per year on Google App Engine, same price at Amazon S3, those prices are just not workable at all if you just want to host 1 Terrabyte of your multimedia files on the web. Even the new Google price for Picasa image storage at $256 per Terrabyte per year is still far too expensive cloud storage for most people. See my comment on Google's latest cloud storage prices here: http://charbax.com/2009/11/11/cheapest-cloud-storage-needed/ A Terrabyte hard drive only costs about $80 in the US or 80€ in Europe, add to that the 79€ Fonera 2.0n, and that is all it will cost you (other than the power consumption of the USB hard drive) to have access to stream from your Terrabyte of data anytime you want from anywhere you want, as long as you have got enough upload speed from your home to support the streaming of that data.
Another feature that is really cool, is the Firefox Add-On the FON DownloadHelper, which can automatically launch the download of .torrent files to the BitTorrent client of your Fonera 2.0n router, directly from when you click on the .torrent file from within Firefox. And you can launch your BitTorrent downloads locally when you are at home or remotely using your laptop or Android product using Transdroid from anywhere in the world. And when the BitTorrent downloads are finished, you can immediately stream your downloaded video, music contents locally or remotely as well. With Extensions soon coming to the official Chrome browser, I think we can expect FON DownloadHelper extension for Google Chrome soon as well.
If you are considering to have a Network Attached Storage in your home, if you are considering to get a WiFi 802.11n router, if you are interested in hosting a remote FTP server and BitTorrent client in your router in your home, and run a print server and webcam, if you are considering joining the FON WiFi-sharing community, then I would definitely recommend that you check out the Fonera 2.0n and follow the latest developments about it in the FON Discussion Boards.
Archos is the first provider of a Youtube HD set-top-box solution by the Archos 5 Internet Tablet simply being the worlds first Android product supporting the playback of H264 High Profile at 1280x720 and 2mbit/s that is the format, resolution and bitrate that Youtube encodes all their HD videos in. More and more videos are uploaded to Youtube in HD quality (including this video that I embed in this post) and all those videos playback awesomely on the Archos 5 Internet Tablet since the 1.2.11 firmware version by just clicking on the embedded videos play button or browsing through all the Youtube videos at http://m.youtube.com
As Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said at the Royal Television Society Convention, the coming of new cheap set-top-box products that can play Internet video will be the biggest enabler of the IPTV revolution towards Video-On-Demand, with Youtube already delivering more than 1 Billion views per day, with cheap set-top-boxes with direct Youtube support on people's HDTVs, Youtube would reach even many more views per day and there will be a greater demand for higher quality Youtube videos at up to HD quality. Archos delivers this solution with the Archos 5 Internet Tablet, the first cheap embedded support for Youtube HD on a HDTV.
Waiting for Flash 10.1 support in Android is not even required for Youtube HD, HQ and Normal qualities to work. Flash 10.1 support will come on Archos as soon as Adobe releases Flash 10.1 for Android.
If Archos can support full MKV 720p H264 high profile support with full bitrates in optimized firmware updates, then the Archos 5 Internet Tablet starting at $249 MSRP for the 8GB version is effectively about to become a pocket-sized replacement for Blu-ray. With better features than Blu-ray since Youtube HD support basically is like HD quality video-on-demand.
A few things that I think Archos, Google and third party Android software developers should do to provide a perfect Youtube HD experience:
- Someone should create a YoutubeHD.apk application that should launch Youtube HD/HQ/Normal quality videos automatically in playlists and based on the Youtube user's Youtube account to list recommendations, subscriptions, add searches and tags, display overlay ratings and comments, even provide live overlay chat for videos and for Youtube channels. It could be called Google Watch, be the same as Google Listen, but for Video. Even provide clever podcatching storage and caching of videos and not only go onto Youtube but use any other video sources of the web.
- Archos should provide the user with a choice to limit the quality to HQ or Normal if the user does not want to stream HD quality for some reason, for example perhaps the bandwidth that is available is not enough for that user to have a smooth Youtube HD experience.
- http://m.youtube.com needs to be improved, I want to sort searches by date for example.
- Archos should provide overlay text input facility such as commenting and chatting around the videos and channels. The social features around videos can be really powerful to increase the value proposition of IPTV set-top-box video-on-demand.
- Archos should release a $150 screen-less set-top-box with Android, with only 8GB built-in storage, but possibility to connect any EXT3 formatted USB hard drive or a local NAS to expand storage for DVR functions and for Video downloads also using BitTorrent and RSS. What is cool that you can see in this video of the Archos 5 Internet Tablet, is that this is a proof that Archos certainly has the hardware and software know-how to make this happen. Once the easy-to-use Youtube HD set-top-box arrives with BitTorrent, RSS and USB hard drives storage support, for below $100 to $150, I think Video-on-demand and the real IPTV revolution will finally really happen.
You can discuss this video here http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=27221
Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android provides the worlds first 800x480 4.8" Android experience on an ARM Cortex A8 processor. It loads websites super fast and smooth. It plays all video codecs from DivX, WMV, Mpeg2 and H264 even MKV video files at up to 1280x720 resolution. There are thousands of compatible Android applications (now or later..) and more to test and to report on every day in the http://forum.archosfans.com as developers are optimizing their applications for Archos 800x480 resolution screen.
Why it's the best: (better than ipod touch, zune HD and other Android smartphones)
- The screen is 2x larger at 4.8" vs. 3.5"
- The screen resolution is 2.5x higher at 800x480 vs. 480x320
- The processor is 3-4 times faster with ARM Cortex A8 vs. ARM11 (the new ipod touch released last month does have ARM Cortex A8 as well though)
- It plays back every video codecs, including DivX, XviD, WMV, Mpeg2, VOB, H264, MP4, MOV, MKV up to 1280x720 and audio codecs Mp3, Flac, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, AC3 and WMA. Even RMVB might be supported (I have not tested RMVB yet)
- This device can stream Youtube HD and any other HD video format directly from the web over WiFi-N. It's basically also a 180gr $200 (street price for 8GB version) full Blu-ray replacement. On the 500GB version (soon $400 street price), you can basically walk around with 120 Blu-ray quality movies in your pocket to connect and play on any HDTV using the HDMI Mini Dock.
- Archos comes with up to 500GB built-in storage for the hard drive based models.
- MicroSD card slot on the Flash based models.
- HDMI output through the HDMI Mini Dock (price not known yet) or the DVR Station ($130 or lower)
- USB and Bluetooth keyboards and mice are supported
- WiFi-N provides more bandwidth and broader coverage for connecting to WiFi Internet
- 3G Bluetooth tethering through a mobile phone for Internet when you are outside of reach of WiFi hotspots
- Video-recording and scheduling with electronic program guide like a Tivo (with the optional DVR Station $130 or below)
- Real GPS built-in for Archos provided Android GPS application or for any other Android based GPS and location based applications
- FM receiver and transmitter built-in
- Samba and UPNP file sharing for streaming of HD movies and TV shows on your local network (I have not tested this feature yet, I am waiting for my Fonera 2.0n to arrive hopefully next week)
- 1280x720 Android Desktop experience when outputting the screen to a HDTV using HDMI. This is the worlds first 1280x720 Android experience. Apps could be optimized for this in the coming months, for example I am expecting to see the full high resolution compatible and optimized Google Chrome available for ARM Cortex A8 based Android devices in the coming few months.
- All that, and it still fits in a pocket, it does not cost more than the ipod touch or zune HD, it is much cheaper than the currently available HTC and Samsung Android phones (at least when bought unlocked) and it is only 1.5x heavier than the ipod touch.
The Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android is, I think, the most significant alternative to Apple's and Microsoft's portable multimedia consumer electronics products on the market for real tech geeks. In my opinion, Archos already has released the industry's best ipod touch and zune HD killer with what we have now. Even though I do look forward to them improving a few things in firmware updates to come in the next weeks and months.
What Archos can improve in the next firmware updates:
- They should fix the audio-synch issue with H264 720p HD video files such as MKV HD and Youtube HD playback. I am confident Archos can fix this in on of the soon to come firmware updates. Mostly the audio-synch issue I am experiencing is only very slightly noticable and the TV episodes as still very watchable and look fantastic using HDMI output from Archos 5 Internet Tablet to my 42" HDTV.
- They should try to support more than 3500kbit/s MKV high profile h264 720p so that MKV 720p 4GB+ movies will play smoothly and that MKV 720p TV episodes will not sometimes drop some frames (usually for 1-3 seconds) on the high peak bitrate scenes (see my tests of MKV high profile h264 720p playback in this forum thread http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=26603)
- Hopefully Archos can add support for the DTS audio codec, which is often used in 4GB+ MKV 720p movies.
- USB Webcams or Headmounted camera for live video broadcasting applications like Ustream and Qik.
- USB 3G Dongles would be really useful even though carrying and connecting the USB 3G dongle to a Mini Dock, HDMI Mini Dock or Battery Dock is not the most compact of setups.
- Archos has promised Android 1.6, Android 2.0 and Flash 10.1 support in updates. It'd be nice to see all these officially add support for all the Google apps such as Gmail client, Google Maps, Google Contacts, Google Listen and the Google Marketplace for apps, considering it should be possible for Google to just filter the apps for Archos's specific screen resolution and also filter out apps that require the Camcorder and the electronic compass, unless Archos does provide a Dock or USB webcam and headmounted camera add-on support that ads support for those features.
- It will be interesting to see if Archos specific hardware advantages will be taken advantage of by third party Android application developers. For example, it will be interesting to see if third party developers will be able to provide some apps that support HD video streaming, peer-to-peer downloading and streaming, video games emulation up to N64 and Dreamcast, advanced 3D games such as Quake3, and many other such really advanced things.
- It is going to be interesting to see also up to what extent Archos, Google and third party developers can take advantage of the 1280x720 output when using the HDMI output to a HDTV. I would like to be able to use my Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android as a full Desktop/Laptop replacement. That is, if the ARM Cortex A8 platform inside of it and with all the hardware acceleration can be powerful enough to provide me with the complete performance that I need for full screen, full keyboard and mouse computing.
If they can quickly improve the firmware with these improvements and added features, I believe the Archos Android Tablet could become the absolute must have product for all geeks.
Discuss this video:
You can discuss this video review in the forum http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=26754
In my next videos:
In my next videos that I will post here during the next few days, I plan to show you 3G Bluetooth tethering, Youtube HD playback (which now works in todays new Firmware update 1.2.03), some awesome Android apps that work, Bluetooth keyboard and mouse fun, remote desktop, local and remote file sharing and streaming and many more awesome features.
The next hardware:
For the next Archos Phone range due to be released or shown at CES in January 2010, I wish for Archos to integrate a Pixel Qi 3Qi Capacitative touchscreen (watch my video from Computex http://techvideoblog.com/computex/pixel-qi-screen-demo-live-from-taipei/), a 720p camcorder and an electronic compass together with the 3G HSDPA sim card modem. Archos is getting to be very close to absolute perfection in mobile computing.
Full disclosure: I am the biggest Archos fanboy in the world. I run the worlds biggest Archos fans community here at http://archosfans.com and at http://forum.archosfans.com and have done so for the past 5 years. Archos did send me this new Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android 4 days ago for free and have told me that I could keep it since I also need it to support the thousands of Archos users in my online community.
This little box only costs $30 when purchased in large quantities. There is also a $38 version with space for a 2.5" hard drive. optical audio output and USB slave connection.
Guangzhou Darling Industrial Co.,Ltd. presents the Darling VGA pico-projector with a built-in Windows CE, USB host to connect a keyboard and a mouse. But there is a built-in mouse and mouse boutons right onto the device.