10 April 2010

Joggler, not iPad

Readers of my blog will realize that the iPad is basically the antithesis of everything I believe in when it comes to gadgetry: a shiny, slick, seductive trinket which is also a closed and proprietary appliance. I'm not saying that this is not right for many people, but for me, with my propensity to tinker and tweak, it is unsatisfying. And the suggestion that any company can decide what I run on my own computer once I've bought it is frankly downright insulting. I can't put it better than Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing, or Peter Bright at Ars Technica, but in short, Apple is doing its hardest to lock people into its own way at the expense of open standards. Bad, bad Apple!

This did not, of course, stop me from popping down to the Apple Store by the Licoln Center for a quick fondle, and I must say that it does swoop and swoosh with considerable aplomb, so the device is very appealing from an aesthetic level in terms of both the hardware and software. What really put me off though, in addition to the above, was the zealous fervour of the random member of the public next to me, trying to convince his friend about the wonders of this new device. It was as though he was a paid salesman who was regurgitating that ridiculous video where Jonathan Ives is going on about how "magical" the iPad is. Urk. She, on the other hand, was sensibly asking things like "Where is the keyboard?" and "I have a netbook, why do I need this?" If there is one thing worse than the smugness of Apple, it is the sumugess of its users.

Anyway, exposing myself to new tech makes me itchy to buy something, so I withdrew before I made a regretable mistake, but wasn't quite fast enough. When I got in, I chanced across an advert for the O2 Joggler and how it was going for just £49.99 for a limited time to celebrate the launch of the app store. Now, I remember the Joggler when it first came out: it is a rebranded OpenPeak Open Frame, but O2's customizations and firmware castrated its functionality leaving it as little more than a really expensive photoframe (it originally cost £149.99). Despite this, it really is a great piece of hardware with pretty good specifications including a 7" WVGA capacitive touch screen, WiFi, a built-in speaker and an Atom processor. The hardware alone costs more than £50, so at that price I could't say no.

A bit more reading, however, and I have now discovered that O2 have finally released an SDK and a style guide, which bodes well for new funcitonality. They have already added Google Calendar, Google Maps and YouTube. And there are other hackers out there who have managed to install Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Android and even Maemo Mer onto it. The joggler does not ahve batteries, so it may have been more prudent to have waited for a true Android tablet, but it wouldn't have been this cheap. Will give it a bit of a play and see where it goes. Delivery due any time now!

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