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Tiny clamshell PDA runs Linux

Oct 20, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 76 views

A startup called Imovio has announced a WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled clamshell PDA that runs the Linux-based Qt Extended stack. Very similar to the Sharp Zaurus, the iKit is based on a Marvell PXA270 processor, with 128MB RAM, 64MB flash, and a 2.8 inch QVGA display.

(Click for larger view of the Imovio iKit )

Aimed at a teen audience, the iKit device is intended primarily for email, IM, web browsing, and personal information management (PIM). It can connect to the Internet via built-in WiFi, or via a Bluetooth connection to an Internet-enabled mobile phone. In addition, it offers a photo album, VoIP video chat, and music and video playback, says Imovio.

The iKit

Something of a throwback in a mobile device world fixated on larger mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and PMDs (portable media devices) and smaller smartphones, the iKit hews to a petite version of the classic PDA clamshell form factor. Although at 3.7 x 2.6 x 0.6 inches, it is somewhat smaller than the Zaurus SL-C1000, the iKit offers the same PXA270 processor, clocked to 312MHz, and it offers similar memory specs.

The iKit also shares with the Zaurus its 2.4-series Linux kernel, and Qt Extended mobile Linux stack and GUI from Nokia's Qt Software (formerly Trolltech). Other similar Linux-based devices that come to mind when looking at the iKit include the Zipit Wireless Messenger (also PXA270-based), and the Sony Mylo, which shares the same Qt foundation.

Hardware features include 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0, a 0.3-megapixel camera, a mini-USB port, a QWERTY/AZERTY keyboard, and a 1050 mAh, Li-ion battery, says the company. On the software side, the iKit runs a Linux 2.4.19 kernel. Its application environment is based on Nokia/Qt Software's Qt/E 2.3.8.

iKit application screens
(Click on either to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the Imovio iKit include:

  • Processor — Marvell PXA270 312MHz
  • Memory 128MB RAM; 64MB SDRAM; includes 12MB for user data and 23MB for user media files
  • Flash expansion– MicroSD slot supporting up to 8GB
  • Display — 2.8 inch QVGA (240 x 320), TFT, 260K colors, landscape
  • Keypad — QWERTY/AZERTY plus numeric keys; two soft keys; five quick-access keys
  • Audio — 16mm monophonic speaker; headset connector
  • Camera — 0.3-megapizel fixed-focus; 15fps viewfinder, 16-bit color depth; up to 3X digital zoom with seven steps
  • USB — Mini-USB 1.1 port used for charging and PC data exchange
  • WiFi — 802.11 b/g
  • Bluetooth — Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR
  • Status and alerts - LEDs; vibrator alerts
  • Audio formats — MIDI, WAV, MP3
  • Image formats — JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG
  • Video formats — 3GP, MP4, and AVI format; 25fps playback for QVGA-size video
  • Web software — Opera Mini 4.1 browser; Java (JTWI/JSR75 compliant)
  • Email and IM — POP3, IMAP, SMTP; MSN messaging
  • PC sync - syncs with Outlook 2000/2003 and Outlook Express v6
  • PIM features
    • 2,000-record contact list
    • 1,000-event calendar
    • Calculator
    • Media folder
    • Notepad
    • World/alarm clocks
    • Stop Watch/timer
  • Battery — 1050 mAh, Li-ion; 3 to 4 hours battery life with typical usage; 250 hours standby time
  • Dimensions — 3.7 x 2.6 x 0.6 inches (95 x 65 x 15.5mm)
  • Weight — 4 oz (113g) with battery


The iKit will sample in the fourth quarter and then ship commercially in 1Q 2009 for $175 (130 Euros), says Imovio. The company plans to ship a touchscreen version in 3Q 2009, followed by a “TV Pro” model in early 2010.

Imovio says that Android and Windows Mobile versions can be made available as special orders. Imovio is owned by Los Angeles-based Comsciences, which is said to offer consumer electronics consulting services for companies including Nintendo, Mitsubishi, Sanyo, Sony, Hitachi, and Microsoft.

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