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> Form Factor - Handheld Pc, Or Zaurus-style?
chiark
post Sep 26 2006, 01:26 PM
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Wow, this has really captured my imagination biggrin.gif !

For me, the zaurus is too small for comfortable use, both in terms of screen and in terms of the keyboard.

Perhaps I'm too old, but for me the sweet spot of form factor usability vs portability is in the shape of the Psion Series 5, and the Sigmarion 3.

The psion's keyboard is great, the screen is adequate if a weird shape...

The sig3 runs an 800x480 screen with a very, very capable keyboard. If it ran Linux, well, it'd be *awesome*.

I'd love the screen real estate and keyboard size of the old devices with modern hardware. Am I alone in thinking that that is about the right form factor for such a device? We're not going for PDA replacement after all, but general purpose pervasive computing platform biggrin.gif
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speculatrix
post Sep 27 2006, 03:28 AM
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I thought there was a port of linux (or netbsd?) to sig3, although I can't remember whether it's fully featured or only command line?
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bluedevils
post Sep 27 2006, 07:10 AM
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But wouldn't that put it in the same size as the umpc? I'm sure some manufacturer is going to make a keyboard version or sony's next version will have a better keyboard.

The zaurus is so much easier to lug around without a napsack.

QUOTE(chiark @ Sep 26 2006, 04:26 PM)
For me, the zaurus is too small for comfortable use, both in terms of screen and in terms of the keyboard.

Perhaps I'm too old, but for me the sweet spot of form factor usability vs portability is in the shape of the Psion Series 5, and the Sigmarion 3.

The psion's keyboard is great, the screen is adequate if a weird shape...

The sig3 runs an 800x480 screen with a very, very capable keyboard.  If it ran Linux, well, it'd be *awesome*.

I'd love the screen real estate and keyboard size of the old devices with modern hardware.  Am I alone in thinking that that is about the right form factor for such a device?  We're not going for PDA replacement after all, but general purpose pervasive computing platform biggrin.gif
*
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lardman
post Sep 27 2006, 07:56 AM
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I'm with chiark, the Psion series 5 was the ideal size, large enough to be able to get plenty on the screen without needing to squint plus a decent keyboard size, yet small enough to be portable.


Si
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BarryW
post Sep 27 2006, 10:29 AM
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QUOTE(lardman @ Sep 27 2006, 06:56 AM)
I'm with chiark, the Psion series 5 was the ideal size, large enough to be able to get plenty on the screen without needing to squint plus a decent keyboard size, yet small enough to be portable.


Si
*



I like the current SL-3XXX size. The eye doctor says that some day my eyes will start to go bad and go down to 20/20! Though if it was the Psion size it would be easier to get all the ports we want on it to fit.
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maxg
post Sep 27 2006, 02:09 PM
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I must agree. I have tried for a few days two UMPC (Q1 and the sony "UX180"(US) UX-90) and quite frankly, it isn't worth it when compared to some ultra portable laptops. There isn't any benefit given its size for most purposes, which isn't the case for smaller handleds like our much beloved zaurus. The right form factor really shouldn't be much bigger than a Cxx00, IMHO.
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Da_Blitz
post Sep 28 2006, 01:22 AM
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i have seen that many people regard the c3000 as the largest that they will accept, i dont really care what size it is however as alot more can be done with a bit more extra space than most people relise

on the topic of eyesight, i have a small defect in my right eye leaving my left eye to over compinsate, so a small Z screen is no problem for me at all smile.gif

even thogh i dont like to admit it, the new x86 chips arent bad in terms of power consumption and there is a nice thing or two you can do with xen when your laptop uses the same processor as you laptop.

basically you run 3 extra domains in addition to dom0
1. one to serve your HD over iSCSI
2. to interface to your video card and display things
3. one to do the processing

note 1 and 2 can be rolled into one.

basically you run X on 2 and tell 3 to display all your X windows on 2. 3 uses the harddrive exported by 1 to boot and is your normal / dir

when you get home you migrate 3 to your home machine porviding a nice speedup without any hassle and tarnsfer it back when you are done.

with a bit more hackery you could even make it so you can rsync 1 to the server so that you can hibernate the laptop but have your linux session still running on the server (or have its state saved with xen, wihch i belive is the futre of software suspend)
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chiark
post Sep 28 2006, 03:15 AM
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QUOTE(speculatrix)
I thought there was a port of linux (or netbsd?) to sig3, although I can't remember whether it's fully featured or only command line?

Not that I've found - there's one for the Sig2 tho.

The sig3 only has 64MB of memory anyhow, and the ROM isn't flashable so it's a tad crippled for serious Linux work... What I think is almost unbeatable is the Sig3's form factor. There's room to shave a fair bit off the sig3 and still keep the screen and keyboard... Let me see if I can explain why it's near perfect.

QUOTE(bluedevils)
But wouldn't that put it in the same size as the umpc? I'm sure some manufacturer is going to make a keyboard version or sony's next version will have a better keyboard.


The UMPC is a technical product looking for a marketplace. They don't know what people are going to do with it. What I wanted, and still want, is the Libretto u100 with a decent keyboard in that form factor.

Besides, the sig3 is nowhere near the size of a UMPC. When folded, it's depth (4" 5/8, or 117mm) is the same as the Z's width (4" 7/8, 122mm) IYSWIM. It's a few mm thinner, so fits better in a jacket pocket than the z. Widthwise, it's 188mm - about 7 1/2"... I find it easier to carry the Sig3 than the Z, but then again I use the Z in a Pdair case biggrin.gif . It also looks a hell of a lot more serious than the Z. Dunno why.

I tend to take contemporaneous notes with the Sig3, and the keyboard and screen on the Z means that that is decidedly uncomfortable if i try the Z. If you've never tried a sig3 keyboard, see if you can - my bet is you'll be impressed bordering on amazed. It's better than any other small device I've found, from the Psion 5 to the Jornada 720 to the libretto 100ct or u100 to the g138 to the foldable USB offerings or Pocketop . It's travel is damn near perfect, it's responsive, and it's big enough whilst not being too big.

I also have a Smartbook G138 which is slightly bigger than the Libretto 100CT and runs WinCE .net 4.2. That is too big for the intended use.

Form factor and ergonomics are to me number one priority, with battery life second. The Z is a brilliant device but doesn't get as much use as it might because of the cramped keyboard and small screen. The sweet spot for me would probably be a width of 15cm (6"), depth of 8cm (under 3") and a height of 2cm (under 1").

That'd be big enough to fit a 5" 800x480 screen into, a good size 5 row keyboard with a travel that feels great, give enough space for ports (please can we have integrated video out - I can ditch my laptop then!) and still be small enough to take everywhere I want to take it.

I wonder if it's worth mentioning your plans to the good folk at hpcfactor.com (I moderate on their boards and write reviews for them)? It's a WinCE site dedicated to handheld pcs, but there's people on there who might have valuable experience or input when it comes to ergonomics?

The tech sounds great, and it sounds like having a slightly bigger form factor could give you some real advantages... 6x3x1... hmm... biggrin.gif
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speculatrix
post Sep 28 2006, 03:21 AM
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hmm. Is there any way we could buy Nokia 770 tablet motherboards, hack them to add the hardware we want, and fit them into a clamshell case with a keyboard?
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zmiq2
post Sep 28 2006, 03:36 AM
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Da Blitz,

I totally agree with your view. I think xen is the next big thing, even today is too much of a hasle to setup. Another twist would be to have all info on an sd/usb storage, so you can migrate to whichever computer/system you plug your sd to.

I looked at mojo (windows only, sniff) and it seems great to me: www.mojopac.com

On the other hand, I have read in some other places that: 1) nokia is developing th 770 platform further, 2) intel may stop pxa270 production, so if we want a new zaurus, sharp would have to do a gret r&d investement in anothr chip, which could stop the zaurus line as we know it?

Take those two notes with care: unconfirmed and totally personal feelings.
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chiark
post Sep 29 2006, 04:30 AM
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Speculatrix:
Not quite what we're thinking of, but...
http://www.netscape.com/viewstory/2006/09/...html&frame=true

Dismantling:
http://www.uselessinfo.pwp.blueyonder.co.u...smantlen770.htm

I'd be happier with more memory, but hacking that screen and motherboard into something else ain't a bad idea at all smile.gif
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Da_Blitz
post Sep 29 2006, 06:04 AM
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that gives me an idea or two
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speculatrix
post Sep 29 2006, 06:08 AM
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QUOTE(chiark @ Sep 29 2006, 01:30 PM)
http://www.netscape.com/viewstory/2006/09/...html&frame=true
I'd be happier with more memory, but hacking that screen and motherboard into something else ain't a bad idea at all smile.gif
*


that's not exactly a handheld any more, is it? in fact it's pretty huge really, as big or bigger than a flybook, maybe not far short of a Sony TX!

but, I'm glad you agree with me that there's mileage in the idea. There are a number of PDA keyboards which are pretty small - expansys have a range of them as do brando. the hard part is the re-packaging into a neat case, not the components.
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MONVMENTVM
post Nov 1 2006, 08:22 AM
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While a friend of mine had a black Nintendo DS Lite, I thought about PocketPenguin. And yeah... it would be the perfekt shape for the PocketPenguin. The DS fits the pocket very well, as it is a bit longer than the zaurus but thinner and not so broad. Of course a longer shape makes it perfect for larger keys than the Zaurus ones and a widescreen display.

You can have a look here:
http://www.nettavisen.no/spillmagasinet/ds/article603034.ece
http://www.funponsel.com/blog/archives/200...-black-edition/

And here a pic made with gimp (it doesnt look very pretty but it gives an idea of how I think it could look):


In this pic you can see that it looks like an traditional handheld pc (like the hp jornada or the nec ones) but in a smaller dimension.


Size Comparison:

Zaurus Cxx00:
124 x 87 x 25mm

Nintendo DS Lite:
133 x 73.9 x 21.5mm

So the Nintendo DS Lite fits the pocket better as it is thinner (3.5mm is a lot in those dimensions) and not that broad.

I think this dimensions/look would be nice for the PocketPenguin.

Cheers
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speculatrix
post Nov 1 2006, 08:33 AM
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you can run linux on the DS, but it's not particularly useful!
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