Monday, January 14, 2008

MID for Programmers

Lots of MIDs were showed off in CES 2008. However, none of them satisfy my requirements. What I need is a device for web surfing, RSS feed consuming, programming, and of course blogging. The one closest to my criterial is from LG, however I shunned away from Windows. Following is a list of features I expect an MID to have, from a programmer's perspective.

Mandatory factors:

  • Around 5 inch touchscreen. Size matters. The screen size is the most difficult factor when making tradeoffs. We want it smaller for portability (otherwise why not a gorgeous 17 inch MacBook Pro?), but not so small to hurt our eyes. 5 inch seems to strike a nice balance. At this size, 800x600 resolution seems to be preferred.
  • Full keyboard (similar as that of laptop in terms of keys equipped). Interface is critical. I am an Emacs fan, and the main usage of the MID is to try interesting programming ideas within Emacs and to compose blogs as well. Therefore I need the keyboard to have Ctrl and Alt equipped as a minimum. I also hope numerical keys have their independent positions (e.g. not shared with QWERTYUIOP as my Dopod 838, which is really painful). Keyboard from LG prototype satisfies all requirements here, therefore I do hope other vendors could follow suit.
  • Fast CPU. Gentoo is my favorite Linux distribution, therefore I may try to install it (somebody has already done so on Q1 Ultra). In addition to satisfy a power-demanding distribution, a powerful CPU is also a right for programmer even on such a tiny gadget.
  • Linux based OS. Linux will shine on MID, which is actually an old news. However, there are also devices running Windows at least for Menlow based MIDs, e.g. the one from LG. The reason for me to mandate Linux here is that I can easily install other flavors of Linux distributions if the device itself comes with one. With built-in Linux, we can make sure that source code for hardware is readily accessible: every vendor should learn something from the event of Eee PC GPL issues.
  • WiFi access. Connection is important. Without WiFi access, I guess we can remove Internet from the name of MID.
  • Miscellaneous. We should match the fast CPU with at least 512 MB RAM. 8 GB internal storage is a minimum to fool around. SD card slot is a must to connect the MID with other devices, and Bluetooth with A2DP support is necessary to avoid hairy wires.

Optional features:

  • Phone capability. This feature is actually desperately needed. However I doubt whether I could find one MID if I insist on this feature. There are various reasons for vendors to drop this feature: maturity of the needed software, regulation aspects, and marketing issues (imagine the impact on N95 if N810 is a phone) etc.
  • GPS. This is always a nice feature to enjoy.
  • Nice camera. Just imagine the wow moment when you use your 5-inch-LCD-digital-camera.

Finally, is it possible for MID + Android?

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