Author Topic: Astroslide  (Read 2232 times)

vldmr

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Astroslide
« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2020, 12:06:34 pm »
Quote from: Daniel W
To stay in business, I think they pretty much had to launch another campaign, and hope it won't be quite as messy as the other ones. That may divert some resources away from fixing firmware bugs in the Cosmo and Gemini, but other than shutting down, I don't think they had that much of a choice.

What you describe here sounds very much like a variation of ponzi scheme. If the things are really this way, it can not be sustainable, and would fold up earlier or later.

Quote from: Daniel W
On the other hand, clever hinges has been a theme since the days of the Psion Series 3, so if anyone can dot it, I'd bet on Martin Riddiford.

Actually, if you watch closely youtube video of him manipulating prototype you can notice that the sliding action is not quite smooth, at one moment the screen looses alignment and stops sliding midway.

ArchiMark

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Astroslide
« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2020, 12:30:36 pm »
Quote from: vldmr
Quote from: Daniel W
To stay in business, I think they pretty much had to launch another campaign, and hope it won't be quite as messy as the other ones. That may divert some resources away from fixing firmware bugs in the Cosmo and Gemini, but other than shutting down, I don't think they had that much of a choice.

What you describe here sounds very much like a variation of ponzi scheme. If the things are really this way, it can not be sustainable, and would fold up earlier or later.


No, it sounds like what pretty much all companies do in order to maintain revenue stream, pay their bills, and stay in business.

Quote from: vldmr
Quote from: Daniel W
On the other hand, clever hinges has been a theme since the days of the Psion Series 3, so if anyone can dot it, I'd bet on Martin Riddiford.

Actually, if you watch closely youtube video of him manipulating prototype you can notice that the sliding action is not quite smooth, at one moment the screen looses alignment and stops sliding midway.

Actually, as you mention, he's holding a prototype.....NOT a final production version.

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Daniel W

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Astroslide
« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2020, 02:38:50 pm »
Quote from: vldmr
What you describe here sounds very much like a variation of ponzi scheme. If the things are really this way, it can not be sustainable, and would fold up earlier or later.
Ponzi schemes and such are unsustainable by design. I don't think Planet expects their products to keep running late and over budget.

Quote from: ArchiMark
Quote from: vldmr
Quote from: Daniel W
On the other hand, clever hinges has been a theme since the days of the Psion Series 3, so if anyone can dot it, I'd bet on Martin Riddiford.
Actually, if you watch closely youtube video of him manipulating prototype you can notice that the sliding action is not quite smooth, at one moment the screen looses alignment and stops sliding midway.
Actually, as you mention, he's holding a prototype.....NOT a final production version.
True, though, while I'd love to be wrong, I still predict it will be really hard to make the production version reliable. That's why I wrote "if[/b] anyone can do it". I think they'll make it work, but I also think wonky sliders will cause QA issues in mass production.

ArchiMark

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Astroslide
« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2020, 06:59:44 pm »
Quote from: Daniel W
Quote from: vldmr
What you describe here sounds very much like a variation of ponzi scheme. If the things are really this way, it can not be sustainable, and would fold up earlier or later.
Ponzi schemes and such are unsustainable by design. I don't think Planet expects their products to keep running late and over budget.

Quote from: ArchiMark
Quote from: vldmr
Quote from: Daniel W
On the other hand, clever hinges has been a theme since the days of the Psion Series 3, so if anyone can dot it, I'd bet on Martin Riddiford.
Actually, if you watch closely youtube video of him manipulating prototype you can notice that the sliding action is not quite smooth, at one moment the screen looses alignment and stops sliding midway.
Actually, as you mention, he's holding a prototype.....NOT a final production version.
True, though, while I'd love to be wrong, I still predict it will be really hard to make the production version reliable. That's why I wrote "if[/b] anyone can do it". I think they'll make it work, but I also think wonky sliders will cause QA issues in mass production.

You may be right....

Although about 12 years ago (boy, time flies.....) I had the HTC Shift for awhile, similar slide and tilt up screen....worked fine, but only had it for about a year, if that.....
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vldmr

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Astroslide
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2020, 01:34:17 am »
Quote from: ArchiMark
Although about 12 years ago (boy, time flies.....) I had the HTC Shift for awhile, similar slide and tilt up screen....worked fine, but only had it for about a year, if that.....
I probably had a sprint version of that same model at about that time - for sprint it was called just htc pro. I actually still have it. So i pulled it out from the box at storage and tested its sliding action. And here is what I found - it does get jammed in the middle of slide if you push on one side. Then I've recalled that familiar physical action pushing it forward with two thumbs on both sides - that works quite well. Pushing it in the middle with one finger has variable success - probably that is why two thumb push feels so familiar. The phone is much smaller though - gosh, it feels really small compared to modern phones.

The continuously variable angle of screen tilt on that phone feeled (and still feels) like a magic - that the only feature I think cosmo is missing.

Wolfgang

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Astroslide
« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2020, 09:16:16 am »
Quote from: Daniel W
Quote from: Rahab D
What a surprise!
I must admit I kind of saw this one coming. In a video interview from about the time of the Cosmo release in Japan, I seem to recall Dr. Janko hinting they were already thinking about 5G. No details were given, but when MediaTek, shortly after, revealed their Dimensity 1000 5G SoC, I was pretty sure Planet would use that chip. I didn't know it would be a slider, but as the Gemini was "a PDA", with phone support, and the Cosmo "a Communicator", i.e. a mini laptop-ish thing, it felt reasonable their third attempt would be "a smartphone", hopefully able to attract a slightly bigger market share.

I got upset at first, thinking they, for the love of decency, ought to get the Cosmo (and Gemini) actually DONE before lusting for new hardware. Thinking again, I realized their hands might be rather forced. Crowdfunding for fairly simple things, can get money, have perks made, shipped and (yes, I'm simplifying) mostly be done. Smartphones are not simple. They need to be maintained and repaired for some time, so Planet Computers needs to keep paying for a staff, an office and a repair shop. Ideally, their web shop sales would cover those costs, and give them some profit. As they're currently struggling hard to, at all, get their perks shipped in working order, their costs are reasonably through the roof, and I'm a bit surprised they haven't folded.

To stay in business, I think they pretty much had to launch another campaign, and hope it won't be quite as messy as the other ones. That may divert some resources away from fixing firmware bugs in the Cosmo and Gemini, but other than shutting down, I don't think they had that much of a choice. Also, the people designing the hardware, probably aren't same as those making and fixing the firmware. The Cosmo hardware is done and we are far away from needing the first beta firmware for the Astro, so I'm not so sure those projects will compete that much over resources. I do think the current state of the Cosmo is taking resources away from the Gemini though.

So, what do I expect? Mostly another premium-ish priced mid-market phone with a Planet keyboard, which I think is the best we can hope for, from a tiny vendor, in a market heavily stacked against smaller firms. They're not going to sell a million Astros. They're not getting access to Snapdragon chips or Samsung cameras any time soon. It is kind of interesting that the Cosmo has a Samsung camera *sensor* which, in a Samsung camera module with Samsung software, would likely be quite good, but without premium stuff on all levels, the end product isn't going to be stellar, in spite of its name. Though, with four A77, four A55 cores and the other parts, the Dimensity 1000, to me, looks like a decent part.

Am I going for it? Yes, I have backed it, but, much like Maki Jouni already said, I'm not in any hurry this time. The non-backlit keyboard and the barely-barcode-capable camera of the Gemini turned out so painful that the Cosmo couldn't come soon enough, and while not all that great, the Cosmo is my daily driver now. Unless it physically breaks, I expect to reasonably happily keep using it, until something better comes along. Yes, it crashes more than I'd like, the CoDi is wonky and the camera isn't up to spec, but I can live with those things. Even now, it's a lot more stable than my first smartphone, a 2003 Motorola A920, ever got (Swedish users may understand why I used to call it my "Tregelsten" - my brick from Three) and I expect the Cosmo to improve somewhat with time. In the best of worlds, I may have contributed a tad to give Planet some room to also improve the Gemini a bit. Even if mine just sits in a cupboard right now, I'm keeping it, if nothing else, as a spare phone, should my Cosmo fail.

One thing they might have learned, is that these things takes time. They thought the Gemini would be done in... was it nine months? And the Cosmo in... seven? This time, they're at least giving themselves eleven months. Had that not been the case, I would not have backed this project. If they could now ALSO learn to communicate on a strict schedule, things could be less nerve wrecking this time. I wouldn't mind if Planet got more open about how how much is done by their subcontractors. There's no shame in that. That way, their explanations, when subcontractors runs into issues, would sound less like excuses.

I hope they'll be done by June/July 2021, and I predict it will be really hard to make that novel RockUp slider reliable, based off of what East Aeon can do. On the other hand, clever hinges has been a theme since the days of the Psion Series 3, so if anyone can dot it, I'd bet on Martin Riddiford.


Totally agree with you.
Let's wait and see - meanwhile we've got time to get to know our Cosmo better  

cge

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Astroslide
« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2020, 03:23:33 pm »
Quote from: ArchiMark
Please note that you should not think that supporting an Indiegogo campaign is the same as purchasing a product at a retail store or online store.

You are making a contribution to support development of a product. Rather than the company giving you shares of company in return, they typically offer a 'perk'. Think of the perk similar to a thank you gift for making your contribution.

Once the company delivers their perk, they have satisfied their obligation to the contributors.

Again, this is very different than you purchasing their product after it is released to the general marketplace either at Planet Computers directly or through other retail channels. Many of the comments I read about product delivery, service, and support sound as if you purchased device through normal retail means. But as a contributor you did not do so and Indiegogo is very clear about this.

Adjust your expectations accordingly or wait to purchase later at retail price, which is generally higher price, but less risk.

While it is true that supporting Indiegogo campaigns is different than purchasing a product, PC does sell the Cosmo in their store as a retail product, and some of us did buy it that way; at least in my case, I did so specifically for the reasons that you mention.  I'm not sure that the experience for retail Cosmo purchasers has been any different than for Indiegogo supporters, and I too was mildly disappointed to see a new product announcement sent to me (not least because I never sign up for marketing emails...) while basic usability problems with advertised features (in their store, not the campaign) still seem to plague the Cosmo.  I remain hopeful that the problems will be fixed, but it is not encouraging.

TheLonelyRunner

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Astroslide
« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2020, 08:58:44 pm »
I just got the last early bird contribution right now. Contribution ID 2393 April 15th 20:46 EST. I've just now caught stride with my Cosmo and I believe PC can take this even farther with the Transformer. We need unique devices that can connect us now more than ever.

Daniel W

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« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2020, 06:04:37 pm »
Quote from: TheLonelyRunner
I just got the last early bird contribution right now. Contribution ID 2393 April 15th 20:46 EST. I've just now caught stride with my Cosmo and I believe PC can take this even farther with the Transformer. We need unique devices that can connect us now more than ever.
At the time of writing this, there are two more available again, but I'm not surprised. In the previous campaigns, Planet has kept adding more early-bird units when they run out. In the Cosmo campaign, I think they kept doing that for the first twelve days of the campaign, or thereabouts. Perhaps Indiegogo limits how many extra-discounted perks they can offer at any given time, or (which I rather think) perhaps Planet wants to make it look like the early birds are running out (and, in fact, one can't know when they stop adding more) to entice potential backers to act sooner rather than later.

NormMonkey

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Astroslide
« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2020, 11:46:54 am »
I think @DanielW is right, PlanetC will have to keep innovating and producing new products with IGG campaigns until a bigger player like Nokia buys them, or they fold.  Who knows what other cash flow sources they have, but I imagine their IGG campaigns are the majority.  I don't see their web site sales being all that significant.  Each successful IGG gives them a big bolus of cash which they survive on until the next.

Overall I think they're doing a really good job.  The Gemini is a really innovative form factor, and the Communicator improved on a lot of its shortcomings.  Now they've got another innovative form factor in the Astro Slide.  We must really hope that they've learned enough in designing the Gemini and Communicator that the Slide hardware won't need a second revision.

If they make it to being acquired by a bigger player, they'll have the resources to produce more polished and robust hardware, and more stable firmware.

In the meantime, their devices are capable of being daily drivers, but barely.  They really satisfy as devices for linux lovers and hackers, and for people that yearn for a physical keyboard.

In the meantime, your contribution gets you a device that's more than just a developer's toy, but something that's less than a shelf-ready retail product, while helping PlanetC on their journey to success.

Unlike true investors, we don't really benefit from PlanetC's success.  Our benefits are the perk itself and continued support e.g. firmware updates, while they continue to survive.  There's no other return on investment for us beyond feeling good about helping PlanetC succeed.



I'm honestly on the fence about the Astro Slide.  I like PlanetC and I want to support them.  That said, I wish I had the money to keep buying these devices, but I don't.  I took a chance on the Communicator when my last phone broke -- I kept using the broken one while waiting eagerly for the Cosmo for a year -- and while I don't regret it, I can't say I'm very happy with it either.  What I really wanted was something I could run linux on, and something with a good physical keyboard 'cos onscreen ones bug me.  

While I thought this keyboard would break in and become more usable over time, and while I thought I could get used to touch typing on the smaller keys, I still make enough mistakes and I still get a lot of double-keys and misses that it's not a great experience.  I rarely use it on a desk, so I mostly thumb-type with it.  It's just a bit too big and unwieldy for that kind of thumb-typing, it's just a bit too small for good touch-typing and the double/zero-keypresses don't help.  It's taken months to reach these conclusions.  In the beginning I was totally in love with the keyboard and I had a ton of enthusiasm for the Cosmo.

If anything, what I've learned from my Cosmo journey is that the Devuan method -- rooting and then running linux from an SD card via Termux and VNC -- seems like a great way to enjoy linux, and any rootable Android can do this.  As for the keyboard, I think if I'm thumb-typing anyway an onscreen keyboard is no better or worse than the physical one, and if I'm at a desk I'll use my Thinkpad BT keyboard w/ trackpoint -- it's what I use for my work and personal PCs and it's everything I want and need.

(I admit I haven't done the Devuan thing yet ... equal parts me being lazy about putting in the time and effort, some FUD about killing my daily driver with a rooting gone wrong, and a dried-up well of former enthusiasm about the Cosmo)

vldmr

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« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2020, 08:47:57 pm »
Quote from: NormMonkey
As for the keyboard, I think if I'm thumb-typing anyway an onscreen keyboard is no better or worse than the physical one
Not quite -- physical keyboard does not use screen space, which for me makes a big difference, especially when using terminal. But yeah, some bluetooth keyboards can complement the screen-only devices quite well, especially compact foldable kind. I used this one and liked it a lot.
Quote from: NormMonkey
Now they've got another innovative form factor in the Astro Slide.
I seriously do not feel Astro form factor is very innovative - its just a bar(brick) phone with keyboard slapped underneath. Does not excite me.

Cosmo is a different matter - I wish they (PC) would continue on improving that form factor. Just a bigger external screen, maybe with lower pixel density, a separate (but traditional) android launcher for that, a desktop like environment on internal one, internal screen with minimum (zero) edge, even without camera - external camera on top of functional external screen would do, keyboard with integrated pointing device like track point. That would be dream device. Alas, they just came up with boring slider.

Daniel W

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Astroslide
« Reply #26 on: May 03, 2020, 07:35:22 pm »
Quote from: vldmr
I seriously do not feel Astro form factor is very innovative - its just a bar(brick) phone with keyboard slapped underneath.
A screen sliding all the way to the edge of the device, has, to the best of my knowledge, never been done before. I'd call that quite an innovation, as it solves the problem with the limited keyboard-to-body ratio that has, thus far, kept me away from the slider form factor.

Quote from: vldmr
a bigger external screen, maybe with lower pixel density, a separate (but traditional) android launcher for that, a desktop like environment on internal one, internal screen with minimum (zero) edge, even without camera - external camera on top of functional external screen would do, keyboard with integrated pointing device like track point.
A bigger external screen would reasonably make the lid bulkier than on the Cosmo, and more expensive. I prefer a solution that doesn't require a second screen at all. If supported by the OS, the only screen could still go to a "desktop" view when the keyboard is opened, should the user so desire.

While I would regard an engineering solution truly removing the need for a second camera as an elegant innovation, video chat on a clamshell with no front camera could be quite lacking, I think, as I would either have to point the camera away from me, making the "video" part a bit pointless, or close the device and loose access to the keyboard, making the "chat" part awkward enough to force me back to the laptop I was trying to (partly) replace with a keyboarded smartphone in the first place.

Though Android in general doesn't seem to have very great mouse support, I would indeed like to have a trackpoint (I used to have one as my only pointing device for several years) for my Remote Desktop sessions, but I'm not sure where the mouse buttons could fit.

Quote from: vldmr
Alas, they just came up with boring slider.
Well, boring is completely fine for me. I just want my mobile devices to be compact, capable, secure, reliable and reasonably robust.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2020, 08:19:42 am by Daniel W »

NormMonkey

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Astroslide
« Reply #27 on: May 12, 2020, 01:47:26 pm »
Quote from: vldmr
Not quite -- physical keyboard does not use screen space, which for me makes a big difference, especially when using terminal.
...
I seriously do not feel Astro form factor is very innovative - its just a bar(brick) phone with keyboard slapped underneath. Does not excite me.

That's true about the screen space, a very strong point and I completely overlooked it when I was thinking about it.

As I use the Cosmo mostly in thumb-typing mode, I find its size awkward.  As well (on mine at least) the hinge spring while open isn't strong so the screen flops a bit as I type, but even if it were strong it's still awkward to use compared to on-screen kbd.

I feel like I would prefer on-screen keyboard in portrait mode for most cases, unless trying to use ncurses type interfaces like weechat - that would be rough.  Normal shell-prompt terminal stuff is fine in tmux on termux in my experience.

That to me is a strong point of the Astro: I'd be able to use my phone like a normal slab smartphone when I want, and use the physical keyboard when I want.  A slab phone with a keyboard slapped underneath would be great, assuming the slider is durable and the keyboard works better and fits me better than my Cosmo.

Using the Cosmo keyboard continues to be a pain for me with the increasing frequency of double-keystrokes and misses.  When I first got it I felt like it was getting better, but I was wrong.  I feel like part of that is keyboard quality and part of it is a mismatch of its size fitting my hands.  If I got an Astro and it was the same experience with the physical keyboard, I'd be sorely disappointed.

I'm also very unsure of the Astro's camera.  The Cosmo's 24MP camera was very hyped but what I have is a 24MP potato.  It's a disappointment to use, and I've no reason to expect better from the Astro's 48MP camera.

James Shields

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Re: Astroslide
« Reply #28 on: August 06, 2020, 05:08:07 am »
Though Android in general doesn't seem to have very great mouse support, I would indeed like to have a trackpoint (I used to have one as my only pointing device for several years) for my Remote Desktop sessions, but I'm not sure where the mouse buttons could fit.

I like this idea. Perhaps the mouse buttons could be on the front edge, in front of the space bar, and could double as volume control when the phone is closed.

I love my Cosmo, but the outside screen never lived up to its promise, and always felt rather clunky. Everything going to the second screen was going through an extra layer, so never felt as responsive as I'd like. Another phone with two screens would need to have the OS controlling both directly. Having a single screen seems a better solution. The only thing that might be better than the Astro solution is a mechanism that allowed the screen to spin 360ยบ, so it could either be closed with the screen protected against the keyboard, or flipped around to allow the phone to be used in portrait mode. I expect cables would be tricky to manage in that case!