Monday, September 22, 2008

Neo FreeRunner

I recently got the chance to play with an OpenMoko Neo FreeRunner. It is a small linux computer made as a phone. With a touch screen and lots of fun hardware. GPS, WiFi, Motion sensors - and of course, mobile phone antenna.

However, my initial impression is that it is much more a toy than a phone. It can actually make phonecalls, but many things are wrong with the software that comes with it by default. It is slow, and misses programs for all the fun hardware. And this warning is really scary:

Can't boot with discharged or missing battery

Issue: Neo FreeRunner requires battery power to boot, because Neo FreeRunner consumes too much current while booting to boot with only a charger. Since charging isn't enabled until the Neo FreeRunner has booted, this means that a discharged battery can not be charged. One manifestation of this problem is a kernel panic (red LED flashes constantly) when trying to boot using the power button.

Fortunately the FreeRunner can be upgraded with a bit of effort. I'll try that soon. There is hope:  This guy is way ahead of me and seems to be enjoying his FreeRunner now.

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