February 8, 2008

Personal Area Network

Filed under: awesome,digital,interfaces,linux,toys — mhoye @ 2:21 pm

I’ve recently rebuilt my portable-computing setup, both because doing so has gotten ridiculously cheap, and because the world of portable electronics has changed quite a bit recently.

I now roll as follows.

  • A Nokia E51 cellphone. This is an astonishing phone, full of the various goodnesses that, I’m certain, people who live in countries with actual telco competition considered to be standard-issue kit years ago. Non-cripped Bluetooth that will pair with anything. Wifi, (In a phone! Jesus!) and the ability to install random applications and talk to the Exchange server while I’m at work. A 2 Gb MicroSD chip in the side that’s in there on general principles, now, because I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, and an interface that while-not-perfect doesn’t (and Motorola understand that I’m looking directly at you) make you wonder if you’d rather be having an epileptic seizure in the middle of your root canal operation than phone a friend. In year or two, when data-via-cellphones in Canada doesn’t cost fifty fucking dollars a megabyte, it will even be able to act as a wireless bridge for any other wifi or bluetooth devices nearby.
  • A Nokia N800 tablet which is also, I should tell you, a miraculous little device. About three inches by six, wifi, bluetooth and a shockingly beautiful, bright and fine-grained touchscreen. Runs Linux, takes 2 SD cards, has a ridiculous battery life, power management seems to work right, and it all fits in a coat pocket. If you’ve got one of these things, upgrade to OS2008 instantly – it’s a significant improvement over the OS2007 that comes in the box, and the available applications range from “well-adapted to the tablet environment” to “just shockingly great”.
  • A Wintec WBT-201 GPS widget that speaks the bluetooths, letting you pair it up with the N800 and act as a GPS map thing, but it also lets you just run it by itself, saving the route you’re running and points-of-interest you might mark in the device so you can download it later. All that, and
  • A Dell-rebranded iGo Stowaway bluetooth keyboard that’s perfectly acceptable for people who insist on real keyboards, talks to either the phone or the n800.

The only thing that saddens me about all this is that you can’t charge the Nokia stuff over USB. Which really ought to cost somebody at Nokia their job and arguably some teeth. But everything else about this setup is just so great that I’m willing to put up with it. That said: what the fuck, Nokia?

The only thing missing here is a decent camera that I can also talk to over bluetooth, ideally both to geotag pictures and pull them out of the camera sans wires, and I welcome suggestions.


  1. that’s a lot of freaking devices to carry.

    that said, I’m now researching the E51 on your advice. I have the krzr and it makes me angry.

    Comment by Oren — February 8, 2008 @ 4:07 pm

  2. Nokia’s Internet Tablets look very shiny. I was eyeing the one with the keyboard for when my current Palm TX gives up the ghost, just because I no longer trust relying on an on-screen input alone. (I figure by that point the price will have come down, though if the screen problems with my TX keep getting worse, I may be in the market sooner rather than later . . . )

    Comment by Kate Nepveu — February 8, 2008 @ 4:37 pm

  3. Wireless network using on a phone is soooo good. I use it all the time, perhaps obsessively.

    Comment by Ken Gerrard — February 8, 2008 @ 4:58 pm

  4. For the camera, screw bluetooth, you might be better off using a wifi SD card.

    Comment by Quotation — February 8, 2008 @ 5:05 pm

  5. Oren: It’s really not.. Altogether, this entire setup takes up less space and weighs less than the EEEpc.

    Comment by mhoye — February 8, 2008 @ 5:32 pm

  6. re point the first: $50 a Mb… yeah… it’s the best deal we’ve got and it will never change. WHy? Because every pock-marked sycophant at the front end of Telus, Bell, MTS, whathaveyou is DELIGHTED to tell you “but it’s so cheap” and calls you aliar when you tell ’em it’s better with t-mobile”

    stand up and complain, my brothers and sisters in WiFi cost chains… nothing to lose but a baaaaaaad deal

    le sigh

    Comment by Bella — February 12, 2008 @ 4:11 am

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