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First retail Simputer runs embedded Linux

Apr 7, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 11 views

PicoPeta Simputers of Bangalore, India, has launched the first retail versions of the Simputer, conceived as a Linux based 'platform for social change' that could inexpensively bring easy-to-use computers to rural Indian villages. Three models are available, priced from $240 to $480.

(Click for larger view of Amida Simputer)

The “Simputer” was first described in a concept paper presented at the first Bangalore conference in 1998. Wholesale Simputer models have been available from Encore since July, 2002, but have been criticized for failing to meet the original $200 target price point.

Three Amida models

All three Amida Simputer models are based on a 206MHz processor, and include a three-pin RS232 serial port, two USB 1.1 host ports, and one USB 1.1 device port. They support Internet connections via a landline modem (PicoPeta sells a small modem as a Simputer accessory), or a Reliance CDMA phone.

The Amida can connect through a Reliance phone or a serial or USB landline modem

All models include an accelerometer, or “flip-flop motion detector,” which can be used to toggle between portrait and landscape viewing modes in the photo album, flip pages in the e-book reader, and for other functions.

The least expensive Simputer, the $240 Amida 1200, features 16MB of Flash, 32MB of RAM, a minimal software suite, and a 16-color greyscale QVGA (320×240) display.

The $300 1600 model features 32MB of Flash, and 64MB of RAM, and adds a full software suite, Infrared, built-in speakers and microphone, a SmartCard reader/writer, denim case, and 20-hour Internet plan with free POP3 email.

The $480 4200 model adds a 64-thousand color QVGA display and a black shell color (the other models are brown).

The Amida Simputer measures 5.6 x 2.8 x 0.8 inches (142mm x 72mm x 20mm) and weighs 7.3 ounces (206 grams) with the included rechargeable 3.7V, 2200mAH lithium-ion battery.


PicoPeta says its engineers have worked hard to make the Simputer very easy to use. The Amida simputer uses a 2.4.18 Linux kernel, and software layer called Alchemy, which is built above the tinyX framework. It includes the open source links browser, a fast text-only browser that supports tables and other advanced HTML features.

Software for the least expensive Simputer supports Web browsing and email. The email client supports notes written by hand using a stylus on the Simputer's touchscreen. An auto update utility is also included for firmware updates.

Software on more expensive Simputer models adds an MP3 player, photo album, games, movie player, e-book reader supporting English and Kannada, and educational material. It also includes a budget planner, a “paper” application for saving handwritten notes, a notebook with online keyboard, a Bhasha notebook supporting Hindi and Kannada, a voice recorder, calendar, conversion calculator, world clock, stopwatch, address book, and more.

Further details, and an online store are available at PicoPeta's Amida Simputer Website.

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