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fw: Simputer: Ultra-cheap Linux laptop



Hi, I thought everyone would be interested in this new pordible computer.



Simputer: Ultra-cheap Linux laptop

TalkBack!
By
Ernest Khoo
ZDNet News
January 11, 2002 6:22 AM PT

SINGAPORE--Handheld computers are commonly seen as geek toys for affluent
mobile professionals. An Indian group hopes to change that image with the
Simputer,
a device designed to bring portable computing and the information age to
developing countries.

The
Simputer Trust,
a group of individuals from the Indian Institute of Science, and
Encore Software
are behind the device. Vinay L. Deshpande, CEO of Encore, said the machine
is expected to arrive in the second quarter.

The finished product, which will run the Linux operating system, will be
slightly larger than a Palm handheld but will operate as a simple portable
computer.
It will use 32MB of flash memory and 32MB of RAM.

Other hardware features include a built-in modem, infrared port and USB port
for connection with other devices.

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The interface comprises mainly icons and graphics on a 240-by-320-pixel
touch screen. The device also supports text-to-speech capability and will be
able
to provide voice feedback in local languages, according to specifications
provided by Encore Software.

Sharp Electronics Singapore has been engaged to provide its monochrome and
color LCDs, flash memory and smart cards for the Simputer. At a media
briefing
Friday, Encore said Sharp will also offer its engineering expertise to help
with the development of the device.

Sharp's Zaurus handheld, recently rereleased in the United States, also uses
Linux.

To use the Simputer, individuals will need to purchase a smart card to store
personal information. Once inserted into the device, the card will provide
access to private information, such as bank accounts.

The Simputer will initially be available for government organizations. It
will be targeted at businesses and consumers at a later date, Deshpande
said.

India will be one of the first countries where the product will be made
available, he said.

Bangalore, India-based Encore, which develops digital signal processor-based
software and embedded systems, began the project two years ago, working on
the idea of getting rural areas in India networked and connected to the
Internet.

The Simputer will be used in villages and districts so that small
communities can share the device for various uses such as sending and
receiving e-mail
and carrying out banking transactions.

Expected to cost about $200, the Simputer will be powered by three AAA
batteries that can offer 6 hours to 8 hours of continuous usage, Encore
said.


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