Neo1973/OpenMoko as a laptop replacement

Mark wolfmane at
Mon Nov 19 19:01:14 CET 2007

On Sat Nov 17 18:22:12 CET 2007, Ted Lemon mellon at wrote:
>On Sat, 2007-11-17 at 09:29 +0000, Andy Powell wrote:
>> If I can manage to push aside the feeling that people should just buy
>> something like the Asus EEE PC rather than going this route...
>No bluetooth.   No DVI out.   Doesn't fit in your pocket, unless you
>have a really big pocket.

Also, no $1000.00+++ price tag like those ridiculous UMPC's - the
current top model is $400.00; $50 less than Neo1973 GTA02. UMPC's tend
to have more raw processing power and more different connections than
more compact devices, but make too many compromises and are much to
expensive to be attractive as a laptop alternative. Unless you're
running at HDTV resolutions (which this hardware will never be able to
handle anyway), DVI is completely superfluous. If you want heavy-duty
video, you should be looking at real "desktop replacement" laptops
anyway, not compact units. The Eee PC *does* have VGA out. A bluetooth
dongle is under $10.00 and takes very little space. The only real
advantage the Neo has (other than size) is the built-in GPS, but since
there won't be a useful navigation application for it for a very long
time, that's pretty much moot too.

Anyway, bluetooth GPS receivers can be had for under $40.00, USB ones
for even less, and I already have one with a serial interface that
only needs a USB to serial adapter (which I also already have) connect
in order to add that functionality. Even buying that stuff separately
you're still coming in at price at or below the Neo1973 GTA02. If you
already have a handheld GPSr, most of them can be interfaced with a PC
via USB or serial to supply that functionality. Even my 10-year-old
Garmin GPS III can do that.

The Eee PC is looking more and more attractive all the time. With no
hard drive to crash or wear out and 95% of the applications I need
already there, not to mention the competitive price, it has a lot
going for it. In fact, I may end up with both devices - they could
complement each other nicely. Rather than deal with the clunky "kits"
to turn the Neo into a pseudo-laptop, just use whichever device is
appropriate for the function and usage context. It should be trivial
to sync them. I'm waiting for the 8Gb version, but almost certainly am
going to get an Eee PC.

My interest in the Neo from the the beginning has been the possibility
of running Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice on it. All I would need
is a compact USB keyboard, which I would hack to be self-powered - and
hopefully power the Neo rather than the other way around. I can deal
with the small screen size - I've used my Visor with a folding IR
keyboard to take minutes at meetings for years, and the Web still
works at VGA resolution, even though many Web sites are hopelessly
overburdened with space- and bandwidth-wasting junk.

The phone aspect is irrelevant to me. With WiFi and bluetooth, I could
connect to the Internet as much as I need, and it being a phone is
actually a drawback. Phones go out of date quickly these days, and
even though my current provider is GSM and therefore compatible (but
that 850MHz fiasco is a deal killer for me), what if I want to change
to another provider that is CDMA or TDMA? With bluetooth, I could use
any bluetooth phone to connect to the 'net regardless of the wireless
phone provider's technology, and wouldn't have to worry about that
part of the hardware becoming obsolete. A cheap or free basic phone
would be perfectly adequate to act as a modem. Ultimately, though,
connecting to the Internet through a wireless phone system is a dead
end. (Especially when GSM providers charge by the Mb rather than
having a flat rate or per-minute charge.) Wi-Fi is much faster, much
more reliable and plenty prolific. It's also frequently free.

I would be very happy if the Neo would lose the phone transceiver and
get back the second speaker. From what I hear, that bizarre and
pointless hole in the case coupled with the unfortunate mic location
make it almost unusable as a phone in anywhere but the quietest
locations anyway...

If anybody cares, the Eee PC is also Windows XP compatible, and ships
with all the Windows drivers. Can you say, "dual boot"? ;-)

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