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Old 06-05-2007, 04:44 PM   #1
tobinharris
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Many Devices or One!?

I've had a good read here, but before making a final decision I thought I'd see if anyone suggests something I've missed.

Basically, I have a few techie issues I'd like to address with one or more devices (the fewer the better).

Usage #1
I have loads of PDFs of technical books and guides that I want to read. I hate reading at the computer so would like something that lets me read whilst slobbing around the house or out and about. Note that these are usually large PDF documents with images and diagrams, and I'd probably want to search them (annotating would be a further bonus!)

Usage #2
I'm a guitar player who likes to download tab music for my jamming sessions. I usually print these out on to 1-2 pages of A4, but it would be nice if I could keep them on a device, and then not have to print them. I guess this would hint at a bigger screen, since I'm a few feet away from the music stand where it would be.

Usage #3
I often wish I could access the web from around the house (WiFo) without dragging my big laptop around with me.

How can I find my technological utopia! My favourite option so far is the Nokia 770, since it does WiFi, eBook reading and surfing. The only problem is that it's small. Anyone know of a 770 equivalent with a 10" screen!? I've looked at many tablets, but they all weigh 1.5KG plus, and I don't see why the technology I need should cost more than £200.

Any help appreciated!

Tobes
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Old 06-06-2007, 01:19 AM   #2
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General purpose devices intermediate in size between laptops and PDAs are typically UMPCs. The best single source for information about UMPC's is umpcportal. They have decided that the Nokia 770 and N800 are not UMPC's because they don't have a x86 processor, although they are still in umpcportal's tables. UMPC's (whether Windows or Linux) generally support mainstream software. So any UMPC with a 7" screen can probably do what you want, but not at the price you want. A (Linux) PepperPad 3 has list price of $700. The brand new Samsung Q1U lists for $800 and the soon to be available Raon Everrun is $600 (4.8" screen).

I have a PepperPad 3 and a Nokia 770. An 800 pixel wide screen is a must for web browsing (both have this), but the PP3 wins because its x86 processor can run a Firefox-based browser vs Opera on the 770. The Nokia is better for reflowable e-book reading (more portable, more book-like), but the PP3 is better for viewing PDF's because of its physically larger screen and its use of Adobe's PDF Reader. I don't know about the music, but I assume you can find a Linux app for the PP3 (check carefully for availability on the 770) or for Windows.

The Web DT 375 CE is a low cost wild card option with a bigger screen. The particular software you need may or may not be available, see high Contrast reader.
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Old 06-09-2007, 01:47 AM   #3
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Thanks wallcraft, good link to the umpc site too.

The Pepper Pad 3 has a great screen size, and I bet it would be almost perfect for what I want to do. As you way the 375 would also be good, but finding them in the UK isn't easy.

The Nokias look very sweet, it could do with a fold out screen though!

Finally, I wish someone had cracked the Archos 704, that would probably be a great ebook/pdf reader device with it's 7" screen!
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Old 06-10-2007, 12:39 AM   #4
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A4-sized dumb screen (VNC over WiFi)

I think there is a market for an A4-sized dumb screen that connects via WiFi. It would be touch-screen operated so you could select your application and reading material. It would sit nicely on a music stand or rest comfortably in your hand for reading.

The firmware would be nothing more than a VNC client (here or here). One would hope for a color screen so those PDFs would show up in their intended form.

All of the software support for this device would reside on the PC. The dumb screen would only show what was on the PC's screen. The touchscreen would operate the PC remotely. There are many passive PC applications for which this remote screen would be useful.

Would a remote screen be expensive? Maybe not. We have $100 picture frames that contain LCDs, though they are usually smaller. The addition of some firmware and a WiFi interface ought not cost too much more. If Asus can produce the Eee with WiFi for $200, we should surely be able to see one of these for the same price or less.

Hardware list:
LCD screen, color
Microprocessor with system flash and RAM
Battery and charging circuitry
Touch screen
WiFi

There would be no OS. The firmware would seek and establish a WiFi connection to the master PC. There would be a setup screen for establishing WiFi and VNC parameters. This would only be done one time.

The device would run off of the battery or as a plugged-in device

The case and screen would be ruggedized because it would probably be knocked off of the music stand frequently. Velcro backing would be convenient.
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Old 06-10-2007, 01:05 AM   #5
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I think ViewSonic tried something like this a few years ago, if memory serves (saw some in the local Fry's). I don't think they found a market that worked for them, though. It was right about the time the first Tablets hit the street, though, so they may have been washed out by the flood of folks looking for tablets, and ignoring them once they realized that these devices weren't tablets (I think that was my reaction, actually).
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Old 06-10-2007, 01:32 AM   #6
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Maybe there are some floating around used. Do you remember the Model?
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Old 06-10-2007, 05:35 AM   #7
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Bye bye batteries!

And I want this new power source for the dumb screen
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Old 06-10-2007, 06:07 AM   #8
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The Airpanel 100



The Viewsonic Airpanel approximates the dumb screen I was describing above. It is probably the one NatCh saw. You can read about it on Viewsonic's site. This site was last modified on Saturday, June 09, 2007 10:46:15 PM, so this must be something they are currently selling.

This device has a touchscreen. There are also cursor controls on the right of the screen. Those wishing to view PDFs will find them cramped into the 10.4" screen, though that might be OK for you if your eyes are good.

The reviewer had difficulty setting up the Airpanel as a remote monitor. Part of the problem is that Viewsonic is trying to do everything except make toast with this device. It could be much simpler. There should be a wizard that accepts the WiFi and VNC parameters. This product is more properly classified as a MID (Mobile Internet Device). As such it is a nice product, but pricier than some.

This review gives a price of $995. Yike! Here is another review.

It operates in portrait or landscape mode. Apparently the 10.4" display will do 600x800 resolution. It runs Windows CE, so it is more than a dumb screen. It supports a PCMCIA slot and Compact Flash. It has audio too. This is closer to a tablet PC than to a dumb screen. You must add your own WiFi card.

Processor 206MHz Intel® StrongARM™
Operating System Microsoft® Windows® CE .NET
Memory: Flash 32MB
Memory: SDRAM 128MB
Graphics Media-Q MQ200 Graphics Controller, 2MB
Display Memory, 128bit 2D Graphics
Video Resolution/ 800x600 in landscape mode
Built-in LCD Display 600x800 in portrait mode
Video Resolution/ 640x480 at 60Hz, 75Hz, 85Hz
External Display 800x600 at 60Hz, 75Hz, 85Hz
1024x768 at 60Hz, 75Hz, 85Hz
Display High Luminance SVGA 10" TFT LCD Display
Touch Panel Resistive Touch Screen
Expansion Slots One Type II PC Card/One Type II CompactFlash™
Audio 18bit A / D stereo, 48KHz sampling rate,
built-in microphone and one speaker
System Ports Universal Serial Bus (USB) port, microphone and audio-out jack,
cradle 16-pin connector, mini-VGA port
One-Touch Access Buttons Jog dial, toggle, four-way directional, enter
Wireless Connectivity Wi-Fi® enabled**
Battery Rechargeable 1800 mAh Lithium Ion Battery Pack
AC Adapter 90–264V AC 50/60Hz; 19.5V DC Output Voltage; 2.0A 40W Power Output
Dimensions 13.81" x 8.0" x 0.5" (W x H x D); 350mm x 203mm x 13mm (W x H x D)
Weight 2.5 lbs/1.1 kg
Warranty 1-year limited warranty on parts and labor

Conclusion:
I think most of the utility of this device can be provided for far less money using a dumb screen running VNC over WiFi. The Pepper Pad 3 provides MID functionality at less cost, though with less screen resolution. C'mon somebody, build a cheap dumb screen!

Last edited by mogui; 06-10-2007 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 06-10-2007, 08:38 AM   #9
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Sorry, mogui, I went to bed right after that post.

Yes, that is the one I remembered seeing. Airpanel. Even the name fits nicely back into my memory.
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Old 06-10-2007, 03:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mogui View Post
I think there is a market for an A4-sized dumb screen that connects via WiFi. It would be touch-screen operated so you could select your application and reading material. It would sit nicely on a music stand or rest comfortably in your hand for reading.
The Ricavision eReader is apparently similar to this, using Windows (Vista) SideShow, see More E Ink: Ricavision eReader for Vista is introduced. The Ricavision thread was the first time I had ever heard of windows sideshow, but maybe it is a viable approach. For Linux, you would probably just setup the device as a dumb X11 terminal - but that still might require more customization (on the server) than a sideshow device.
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Old 06-10-2007, 03:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
The Ricavision eReader is apparently similar to this, using Windows (Vista) SideShow, see More E Ink: Ricavision eReader for Vista is introduced. The Ricavision thread was the first time I had ever heard of windows sideshow, but maybe it is a viable approach. For Linux, you would probably just setup the device as a dumb X11 terminal - but that still might require more customization (on the server) than a sideshow device.
I don't see it selling well at all. I don't want some expensive device that forces me to have to use Vista. I'm happy with my XP Pro. But one problem as well is the specs for this have not yet been released. But if it needs Vista in order to be used, then count me out.
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Old 06-10-2007, 10:16 PM   #12
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dumb screen

A VNC server will run on Windows, Linux, whatever. The VNC client runs on the client as firmware. Given an existing connection, wireless or wired, the setup is trivial. If no password is used, the setup can even be canned.

Nice applications would let you use portrait mode.
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