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Italian carrier ships Linux MID

Oct 6, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 45 views

BenQ and Italian mobile carrier TIM announced the availability of a MID with both WiFi and HSDPA mobile networking. Running Red Flag's Midinux Linux distro, the BenQ S6 Mobile Internet Device (MID) is equipped with an 800MHz Intel Atom processor and 4.8-inch WVGA touchscreen.

(Click for larger view of the The BenQ S6 Mobile Internet Device)

The S6 is now available from TIM, sold as the Alice Mobile MID S6. TIM is offering the MID with ten free hours of its 3.5G HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) service.

BenQ S6

The S6 is among the very first available MIDs based on Intel's Z-series Atom processor. It reached market about the same time as the Aigo P8860D. An “M528” MID from Gigabyte, which appears to be identical to the P8860D, is expected to ship soon. Meanwhile, WiBrain “i1” MID was recently demonstrated, but has yet to ship.

Like other early MIDs, the S6 offers built-in HDSPA cellular networking, along with WiFi connectivity. As with almost all of the many devices expected to ship over the next few months that identify with the Intel-defined MID format, the S6 is equipped with an Intel Atom Z500 clocked to 800MHz. Like the Aigo and Gigabyte models, it offers Red Flag's Midinux, which Intel has pushed for the format.

Front and back views of the S6
(Click on either to enlarge)

The BenQ's Atom processor is backed up with 512MB of SDRAM and a 2GB solid-state disk (SSD), as well as a MicroSD card for storage expansion, says BenQ. The 4.8-inch touchscreen provides 800 x 480 resolution, and the device is said to support HD audio, as well as a wide variety of video, audio, and image formats. Connectivity features include a mini-USB port, 802.11b/g WiFi, and Bluetooth.

At 6.2 x 3.5 x 0.9 inches, the S6 is slightly larger than the Aigo and Gigabyte MIDs, which offer screens of identical size and resolution. Weighing in at 13 ounces, however, the S6 is substantially heavier, despite the lack of keyboard. It also lacks those models's GPS and camera features, but stands out with its three-axial G-sensor accelerometers.

The touch interface makes use of the accelerometers to offer an iPhone-like rotation of the device to switch between landscape and portrait views. Users can also tilt the device to scroll web pages, or give the S6 a quick shake to display thumbnails of open files, says BenQ. A swipe of the finger is said to resize or flip through photos, and photos can be attached to email via drag and drop. Favorite function shortcuts to Google and other sites are also said to be available.

Specifications listed for the BenQ S6 Mobile Internet Device include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom 800MHz
  • Memory — 512MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Flash — 2GB SSD (PATA)
  • Expansion — Micro SD card reader (Push-push)
  • Display — 4.8-inch WVGA (800 x 480) TFT touchscreen with stylus pen
  • Audio — HD audio codec; speaker; 2.5mm headphone-out; mic
  • WiFi — 802.11b/g
  • Cellular — UMTS/HSDPA (2100 band); GSM/GPRS/EDGE (900/1800/1900) mobile data
  • Bluetooth — Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR
  • USB — 1 x mini USB 2.0 port (host/client)
  • Accelerometers — 3-axial G-sensor
  • Graphics formats — JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIFF
  • Video formats — Ogg, MPEG1, H.264, MPEG4, MPEG2, DivX 5/6, VC1, WMV9, MJPEG
  • Audio formats — WAV, Ogg, MP3, MIDI
  • Power — 7.4V 1880mAh battery; 1.65 phi DC-in
  • Dimensions — 6.2 x 3.5 x 0.9 inches (158 x 90 x 22mm)
  • Weight — 13 oz (370gr)
  • Operating system — Red Flag Midinux Linux

Side views of the S6

According to various industry reports, BenQ is expected to go global with the S6 by the end of the year. Although it appears that Taiwanese ODM (original design manufacturer) BenQ has never before shipped a Linux mobile device, preferring Windows Mobile for its smartphones, the company has yet to announce a Windows-based version of the S6. In July, BenQ announced that the prototype for the S6 won the Bronze Award under the Interactive Product Experience category of the 2008 Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEAs).

Stated Alberto Spinelli, product marketing strategy director, Intel EMEA, “Intel is very pleased to work with BenQ and TIM in bringing this exciting product, the first of its kind in Europe.”


The BenQ S6 Mobile Internet Device is available now in Italy for TIM customers, priced at 429 Euros ($626), VAT included. More information may be available at this BenQ page, as well as on this Italian-language TIM page.

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