Archive for October, 2010

Revised specifications for the Notion Ink Adam

October 27, 2010 7 comments

As the Adam is approaching its public release, some parts of the specification have changed compared to the originally published spec and there is now some information about the target pricing as well. Of course any of it is subject to change. Some of this information is not even corrected on the official Notion Ink website but was posted on their blog.

The bezel of the tablet has been slightly enlarged (as can be seen on the picture):

There will be four base variants of the Adam:

  • PixelQi screen, wi-fi
  • PixelQi screen, wi-fi, 3G cellular modem
  • Ordinary LCD screen, wi-fi
  • Ordinary LCD screen, wi-fi, 3G cellular modem

Both the PixelQi and the ordinary LCD screen will have capacitive, multi-touch interface and 1024×600 resolution, anti-glare coating (matte finish). This is especially useful for reading and outdoor use. PixelQi variant is usable in direct, strong sunlight.

There is no info yet on the HSDPA/HSUPA speeds for the 3G cellular modem.

For internal storage, 16 and 32 GB flash will be selectable.

Common specification elements:

  • Nvidia Tegra2 System On Chip operating at 1Ghz (dual-core ARM Cortex-A9)
  • 1 GB of RAM (DDR2, 667Mhz)
  • WLAN 802.11 b/g/n (previously it was not known whether it will have “n” as well)
  • Bluetooth 2.1 EDR with A2DP (for stereo bluetooth headsets)
  • External loudspeakers (expected to be good quality for enjoyable video playback), external microphone, headphone and microphone jack
  • 3.2 Mpixel swivel camera which will be usable for both taking photos and video calls
  • 2 normal size USB ports and 1 mini-USB port
  • HDMI output
  • microSD card slot
  • Docking port
  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • Ambient light sensor and automatic screen backlight adjustment (this will have a big, positive impact on the battery runtime)
  • Manual LCD back-light switch (most useful for the PixelQi variant)
  • Standalone GPS chip and antennea (with support for A-GPS quick positioning). The Adam will be capable for navigation without 3G network coverage
  • Sound volume keys
  • Backside trackpad (this is an interesting part, check the videos on Youtube)
  • 24 Wh battery (3-cell configuration). Expected runtime is 15 hours for wifi browsing (recently reported on the blog), 140 hours of listening to audio, more than a week standby
  • Operating system is Android Froyo (2.2) with a custom, tablet-enhanced user interface

It is not yet known whether the Adam will have a digital compass (for better navigation and augmented reality apps). It has been asked on the Notion Ink blog comments but no confirmation yet. It would be very much logical to have it in a machine with this hardware level but the long-time omission from the specs indicates otherwise.

Target end-user prices are between $400 and $500 for the 4 variants in the US. Their target is to keep even the fully loaded variant below the price of the entry level iPad.

Availability/release of the Adam is not finalized, but the Early Access Program winners (developers) are expected to have their machines shipped around November 15. Public release should happen soon after in order to make the Adam available for the Christmas shopping season.



My dream: Java SE on Android Linux

October 22, 2010 2 comments

Although the Oracle – Google Java lawsuit looks ugly, there is a possibility that something good comes out of it: full Java SE appications running on Android.

That would be an awesome success for Oracle since it is by nature (steward of Java) interested in running Java applications in Android devices. Devices shipping with Android (tablets with dual-core ARM processor and 512Mb to 1 GB of RAM) are powerful enough to run full Java applications, even with Swing. Desktop applications are quite common in the enterprise space and would make Android devices very appealing in this segment. Especially in the tablet form factor.

Due to the overwhelming success of Android, Oracle would gain a lot of possible support contracts for Java SE on Android (support contracts are the ones Oracle is usually after)

Oracle should get over the need for controlling where Java SE can go (it is currently not allowed on phones) and remove these restrictions. Most of them don’t make any sense anyway.

Google and Oracle should work together to create a flawless SE JVM for Android (the Linux runtime is probably a good basis for that) and make sure that graphical Java programs (Swing) run nicely and feel native on Android. Sun has made a lot of optimizations for ARM Cortex A9 level processors, that work should not be lost.

Synergies between Java and Android are already very strong, this step would correct Google’s original mistake of leaving out SE compatibility of Android (I know the reasons but still I think it was a big mistake nontheless).

Categories: java, linux

The biggest mistake Palm has made with WebOS

October 14, 2010 11 comments

Palm’s WebOS (a Linux variant) based phones have been out for a while but I haven’t had the need to consider them until recently (in the form of my Treo 650 broken down).

My Treo 650 was a real workhorse, containing hundreds of contacts, thousands of calendar entries (I use the calendar actively and like to keep entries for a very long time for reference), lots of todos and memos. As a long time Linux/Ubuntu user, I have synchronized and backed up my Treo with JPilot, which is an excellent Linux application. In the past, I have used several Palm devices and I was always able to migrate my complete PIM database with ease between the old device and the new one.

Now that my Treo seems to be dead, I was considering buying a Palm Pre. Researching the Pre, I soon learned that the old synchronization protocol (Hotsync) doesn’t work at all with the Pre and there seems to be no way to correctly synchronize the Pre with my Linux desktop. Since I store relatively sensitive information on the Treo, I would never synchronize my PIM database with a cloud service like Google. Thus, Palm’s new Synergy sync methods are practically useless for me.

This problem is not only related to the Linux desktop, Windows users are affected as well but they at least have existing third-party options for synchronizing the Pre with Outlook.

Now, this is a real show-stopper for me and lowers the Pre from a trusted Palm device to the level of the average smartphone in my eyes. Palm seems to have lost an avid user since if my workflow is broken anyway, I might as well switch to Android. Android has a much bigger community than WebOS, so there is a bigger chance that I find a well working syncing solution to the Linux desktop.

It is also ironic that although Palm’s new WebOS is a Linux device, Palm has decided to break compatibility with the Linux desktop since the only working way between them was HotSync.

It should have been of paramount importance for Palm to ensure compatibility with its own Palm Desktop software and all of the other desktop software which was communicating with Palm devices over HotSync. Currently, Treo owners don’t have an easy way to upgrade to the Pre/Pixi since their PIM databases cannot be easily migrated to the new device the way they are used to. As a fair chunk of Treo users were business people, I am sure, most of them are NOT comfortable with their PIM database stored in the cloud. Palm should understand that cloud storage with Synergy – while a good thing – is NOT a replacement for HotSync in a lot of user scenarios.

I believe that Palm’s lower-than-expected sales of the Pre and the Pixi can be amounted to this, incompatibility with the old ways and the well-working syncing solutions and desktop tools. Their established Treo/PDA customer base will simply switch to other phones and leave them. This way they loose all of their inherited advantage with this people.

If they want to save the customer base which is still on PalmOS, they should VERY QUICKLY create the HotSync client for WebOS or create a HotSync Synergy plugin and restore compatibility with the Palm Desktop and all of the other desktop software which are still using Hotsync.

Categories: linux, palm, ubuntu