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Qi Hardware launches NanoNote

Qi Hardware launches NanoNote

The 本 NanoNote is an ultra-portable, ultra-hackable pocket computer with a 3" screen - but, sadly, no wireless networking.

Ex-OpenMoko employees have started their own company, and their first product is sure to turn heads: an ultra-portable, ultra-hackable Linux-based handheld.

The Qi Hardware 本 NanoNote - also known as the Ben NanoNote, and pictured over on Engadget - is a Linux-based palmtop with QWERTY keyboard designed to be hacked into anything your heart desires: a media player, a note-taking tool, a Wikipedia reader, an RSS aggregator, or whatever you can imagine.

While the size - with its teeny-tiny 3" display and pocket-friendly 126g weight - is pretty impressive, the specifications of the first model are likely to limit your options somewhat: the NanoNote is equipped with a 320x240 display, a 336MHz XBurst JZ4720 processor, 32MB of RAM, and an internal storage of 2GB of flash - although this can be upgraded via a microSD slot. Sadly - and this could be the killer - the device is lacking any network option, making it an offline-only gadget - although the official European distributor claims SDIO support.

While the power might be lacking, the flexibility is certainly there: designed to boot from USB, the NanoNote comes with a bare-bones Linux distribution originally developed for routers as standard, but Qi Hardware is keen for developers to replace it with their own, custom software to better tailor the device to their particular requirements.

The NanoNote is available now for $99 (£66) from the company's official shop.

Can you think of the killer app for a cheap, low-powered device such as this, or will the lack of wireless networking render it almost completely useless in a world populated with near-ubiquitous smartphones? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

12 Comments

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infered101 16th March 2010, 15:35 Quote
I can think of one amazing ap for it. A tool which enables it to have wireless networking so it can become a portable browser/ media player . I should patent that idea oh wait already done. Hmmmm nope out of ideas for a low powered un internet accessible device.

All bad things aside it is a cool step in a nice direction. I would love the thing if it had internet capabilities. Its small and cheap which is perfect for quick email access. Its like a really dumbed down netbook which for the price would be quite nice.
mclean007 16th March 2010, 15:51 Quote
It would make a pretty cruddy RSS aggregator / Wikipedia reader with no network connectivity! Why would you build something like this without wireless?
MaverickWill 16th March 2010, 16:04 Quote
Any USB ports? That'd let Wifi go on it.
Ta10n 16th March 2010, 16:04 Quote
I lol'd, I'll wait for OpenPandora thanks
shanky887614 16th March 2010, 16:07 Quote
if they just added wireless n it would be perfect
MaverickWill 16th March 2010, 16:21 Quote
http://en.qi-hardware.com/wiki/Mu_NanoNote_Specs - has USB, according to this. Wifi sticks, anyone?
Jamie 16th March 2010, 16:45 Quote
What's with the Chinese characters?
shanky887614 16th March 2010, 17:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaverickWill
http://en.qi-hardware.com/wiki/Mu_NanoNote_Specs - has USB, according to this. Wifi sticks, anyone?

i was thinking that but they are a bit bulky

now ive thought of soemthing why not internalise it

people have managed to internalise a lot more stuff in psp so it should be able to be done
eddtox 16th March 2010, 18:17 Quote
The only thing I like about this thing is the price point. That being said even £66 is too much if the device is of no use to me. Wifi is the bare minimum this should have.
Andy Mc 16th March 2010, 18:21 Quote
How about a GPS for navigation or location tracking
FaSMaN 16th March 2010, 23:21 Quote
Actually theres quite a lot you can do with it even tough its offline only, for starters it will make a great little open source portable console, with those specs it should run doom 1/2, duke nukem 3d , and a lot of other open source games just fine, not to mention emulators like nes, mame scummvm that might not be full speed but will run quite a lot.


PS does any one know what inputs it has, does it support usb as host mode(that could fix "internet-lessness")

Edit: Just noticed it only has a 8­bit RGB LCD that makes it pretty useless for GFX or picture viewing :(
BLC 17th March 2010, 07:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by FaSMaN
Actually theres quite a lot you can do with it even tough its offline only, for starters it will make a great little open source portable console, with those specs it should run doom 1/2, duke nukem 3d , and a lot of other open source games just fine, not to mention emulators like nes, mame scummvm that might not be full speed but will run quite a lot.


PS does any one know what inputs it has, does it support usb as host mode(that could fix "internet-lessness")

Edit: Just noticed it only has a 8­bit RGB LCD that makes it pretty useless for GFX or picture viewing :(

Indeed it does already run Doom & Quake. It does also have a MicroUSB host port, so in theory you could connect a USB wifi dongle - wouldn't look very good though, as you'd need adaptors/cables to go from full USB to MicroUSB... Plus, you'd have to port and probably heavily customise the drivers; that's not impossible, and exactly what the device was intended for - hacking :) (note the correct use of the term!!). Although it does have a MiniSDIO port and the manufacturer advises that it is compatible out of the box with several MiniSDIO WiFi chips already on the market. Although these cards are around £60-£80, from what I can see; which makes it very cost in-effective.

Reading the comments in the Engagdet link, I found a smaller Linux hacker toy already available that has WiFi built in and is cheaper: the Zipit Z2 wireless messenger (http://www.google.co.uk/search?rlz=1C1GGLS_en-GBGB368GB371&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=Zipit+Z2). It was designed to be a wifi-based IM device for "teens", but it can be hacked to run Linux quite easily. In fact it already runs Linux, but it's locked down so it's just a matter of replacing the kernel & software. Plus it's only $50. Although the only company I could find that will ship to Britain want to charge an extra $30 for shipping - can't really justify that. eBay was even more expensive.
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