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The Dream Handheld

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the tricorder dept.

Handhelds 155

Reader samjam sent in an interesting piece about his dream handheld PC, sort of a cross between a subnotebook and a wireless web pad, with the kitchen sink thrown in. Mmmmm, light-emitting polymers. I can't decide if this kind of thing is right around the corner or just a fantasy - after all, normal notebook computers sell, and at a nice high premium - and web pads are less than successful - why would anyone spend the money to develop a device like this?samjam writes: "My dream handheld is not available though some things come close. The technology is becoming available.

Though it may take a few months, here is what I would put together if I had the chance. Including Bluetooth, IButtons, solar panels and light emitting polymer screens...

For links to other linux handhelds, try

My ideal handheld is the size of an A4 pad of paper, so I have to hold it on my left forearm with the fingers of my left hand curled over the end. A4 gives me plenty of screen space for watching real TV, reading real books, writing real emails, browsing real web pages and doing some real showing off.

The front cover is a solar panel, but I can't decide if the cells should be on the inside or the outside to help charge it while I use it or while I'm not using it. Hard one that.

The screen is not heavy-breakable LCD but LEP (brief technical primer, more on Google) or perhaps Xerox Electronic Paper seemingly available under the name Gyricon, pictures here and slight details here.

The choice of processor doesn't bother me much; I'd like to think there are many versions available of my handheld by many manufacturers (to drive the price down) and so many processors will be available but let's pretend the first release will run on a Transmeta just to keep excitement running high.

60 GB or so should be plenty of disk space, 2.5" IDE to keep weight down.

Input via stylus or sticky finger of course, with support for Graffiti, as used on the Palm and many others, also Quickwriting as featured on Slashdot as well as regular handwriting recognition (take your pick) and other pluggable input modules with popup keyboard for those times when you just can't manage to input a tilde (~) or backtick (`) properly.

Connectivity will be provided via a multitide of USB ports (where real keyboards can be plugged), Bluetooth (useless link) in action (good link), wireless ethernet as well as perhaps as many as 4 PCMCIA slots for things that change a lot like GPRS adaptors &c, or radio and TV tuner cards. Yeah! Why not add some Compact Flash while I'm at it? And boring 100 base T ethernet.

In fact I'm going to use the mobile phone card, along with my sound system to make the whole thing into a mobile phone for voice, not just data access. Talking of phones, the built in web cam can be used for video conferencing with (for example) Gnophone.

Better stick some firewire ports on there, too, for good measure, along with a few IRDA ports pointing in a few different directions for those more subversive inter-classroom networks as well as controlling my grannies telly to show off. And talking to my old non-bluetooth mobile which I can't afford to upgrade cos I spent it all on my handheld.

It will have integrated Ibutton support for security and authentification, maybe even built into the BIOS.

What more do I need? Oh yes, an Operating System. Pick your own.

I shall be running Linux with Ximian Gnome because it looks cool (and Bill Gates was nearly right, eye candy counts for a lot if only not to distract you by means of ugliness). I will be running redhat because I find up2date (or redhat channels of RedCarpet) invaluable effort-free way to remove those exploits, and I will finally get round to playing with Rebol.

The first thing I will need to develop is some network scavenging software to grab internet connectivity where it can for syncing imap folders and news, updating "offline web pages" [yikes! MS concept there]. Code to hi-jack available SMTP relays (*cough*). Does this smell a bit like Jini or something like it? I'll need to register my changing location for Gnophone so callers can find me. Perhaps the first thing for company visitors in the future will be to checkin their Ideal Handheld to the company network.

I will load all my favourite books into it as well as the entire classical Mormon works, copies of conference talks Doctrines of Salvation, Journal of Discourses etc, along with the Bible, Book of Mormon, and all of Project Gutenberg.

What will you do with yours? Have I missed any gizmos out? Or gadgets even?"

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How much would one of these bad boys cost? (0, Interesting)

abrink (153323) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518493)

Anyone got any ideas on the price of these, if say they could be marketed tomorrow?

Re:How much would one of these bad boys cost? (1)

sheetzam (454981) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518539)

Who cares! Unless it's over 20,000, I'd buy one just to get the market started.

Re:How much would one of these bad boys cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518565)

errrr, go ahead and place your order with me, delivery time is of course 6 months *L*

Re:How much would one of these bad boys cost? (3, Funny)

Colin Bayer (313849) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518574)

I can see the MasterCard commercial now:

"Next-generation PDA: $10,000
Micropile to power extraneous features: $500,000
Watching the person next to you trip and drop it on the subway tracks as the train pulls up: priceless."

Stop the bombing! NOW! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518609)

I saw a war widow in a laundrette,
Washing the memories from her husband's clothes.
She had medals pinned to a threadbare greatcoat
A lump in her throat with cemetary eyes.

I see convoys curbcrawling Afghanistan mountain valleys
Trying to pick up a war.
They're going to even the score.
Oh... I can't take any more.

I see black flags on factories,
Soup ladels poised on the lips of the poor.
I see children with vacant stares,
destined for rape in the alleyways.

Does anybody care, I can't take any more!
Should we say goodbye?

I see priests, politicians?
The heroes in black plastic body-bagsm under nations' flags
I see children pleading with outstretched hands, drenched in napalm, this is no Vietnam.

I can't take any more, should we say goodbye,
How can you justify?
They call us civilised!

Use bigger bombs! NOW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518706)

Well, that's made me want to go out and kill a raghead!

Cheers, you anus-sniffing liberal coward. Let's hope the next Jihad's on YOUR ass!

Add a built in camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518495)

Quick pictures
Data input

I we are dreaming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518497)

Why not the intelligent super-computer credit card with a hologram projector in it and wireless access to the Internet?

"Selma, get me a ticket to LA."

"Yes, sir. Done."

Re:I we are dreaming... (-1)

DivineOb (256115) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518641)

'f' you... har har

Hmm... one problem solved ;) (1)

Colin Bayer (313849) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518506)

For one thing, if you plan to sit it on your forearm while you use it, the solar cells can't be on the inside of the front cover (unless you live on some odd planet where the sun is underground and the dirt is transparent).

Re:Hmm... one problem solved ;) (1)

Colin Bayer (313849) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518517)

Holy shazbot, Batman! I need caffeine.

Anyway, what I was trying to say is that if you want the thing to work with a fold-up solar panel front cover (and something to wrap your fingers around), you won't be able to do it on the inside (the wiring would almost demand a solid hinge; it might break otherwise, and if it's a solid hinge, it's all too prone to slip out of clumsy users' hands... if it's a flip-and-fold-in cover, you'd have to hold it up to the sun, not the position most conducive to work).

Re:Hmm... one problem solved ;) (1)

trentfoley (226635) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518525)

With all of the cool tech being utilized, why not go for the gusto and require a Tesla style power transport system. No wires, no solar cells. Probably, no cmos either...

Re:Hmm... one problem solved ;) (2, Funny)

Colin Bayer (313849) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518530)

Better yet, we can power it entirely off the aura of smugness generated by the lucky user. Man, I'd like to see the battery life on this thing...

Why would anyone bother? Simple... (1)

raptwithal (134137) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518507)

Because as the technology becomes feasible this is what people will want!

Maybe it isn't 'round the corner' or even in the near future... but if it became possible, why _wouldn't_ someone develop this? It sure looks like a KILLER product to me!

What would make me happy. (2)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518866)

I haven't been impressed by the PDA/cell-phone fusions that I've seen yet, but I'd be pleased by one that incorporated some of the less bulky aspects of the original poster's dream machine with a cell-phone in a very small package.

My ideal would actually by a "soft" device - perhaps something that could be rolled up like a square of canvas and put into the pocket. Something I could stick into my back pocket without worrying about, with IC in the fabric. Instead of trying to be an all-purpose computer, I'd be happy with the tasks which I needed most: text input/storage, image display, network/web access, voice access/cell phone, PIM, maybe a little file storage for mp3's or such. A full-featured interface for general computing would be way too much.

I carry my cell and my Palm everywhere, and when I've got both in my pocket, I look *way* too happy to see people. I'd like to consolidate and lighten the load.

WOW I WOULDA THOUGHT: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518508)

Nice Job Bill Gates!

u rule .


DivineOb (256115) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518596)


you homosexaul penis sniffer

A4 size? (4, Insightful)

bogado (25959) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518511)

This size is good for using the handheld, with plenty of screen space and etc.But when you are not using it it would be a nigthmare. Where would you put it? Shure you you could keep a special pupose bag, much like the ones for laptop computers. But then it would be a laptop computer, not a handheld.

I think that a true hand held have to fit your pocket, this way you could take it wherever you go.

Re:A4 size? (2)

OblongPlatypus (233746) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518570)

Screen size is why I don't own a PDA. It seems to me that's the only thing keeping PDAs from being truly useful these days... you just can't do much on such a small screen. As a student, I carry around a lot of A4-sized stuff anyway, much of which could probably be more or less replaced by the Ideal Handheld. So an A4-sized Ideal Handheld would be just perfect.

But of course, if the big screen is the one thing making the Ideal Handheld huge and unwieldy, it'd be great to lose it, wouldn't it? Seems something like this [] would be the perfect companion for an Ideal Handheld. Losing the big screen would probably increase the battery life quite a bit as well.

Re:A4 size? (3, Interesting)

bogado (25959) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518620)

Well I not saying that the big screen per see is a bad thing. I realy think that big screen are cool . :-) But the way I use my PDA, carring with me where ever I go, they would hurt more than make any good.

Now if I had a laptop computer, that I would use in selected ocasions, like in work or in classes. Then I think that A4 screen is a must go. This device would not acompany me everywhere, only where it would probably be needed.

But there could be some solution for handhelds with big screens and protables also, a folding screen? How feasible is that?

Re:A4 size? (1)

vanguard (102038) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518685)

PDA screens are not too small (according to me). I use mine to store address/phone info, keep track of my calendar, and to read from (advantgo).

It does all of these things nicely. If it were even one cm larger it would build in the pockets of my jeans. (ok, no jokes here)

The thing that keeps it from doing anything more than that is that it's hard to input text into it, not that it's hard to get info out of it.

modular size increase key (2)

abe ferlman (205607) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518891)

I think that flexiiblity is what makes people want a handheld in the first place. Does anyone remember those old stereos with a walkman that popped out of them? My ideal handheld would be basically a 4-way folding palm V (thinner really).

Basically, it would have two screens, only one of which was visible before unfolding. When opened, it would have two screens aligned side by side, and a small keyboard which unfolds beneath them.

This way you can use it as a pda all day, but if you want to do some gaming/typing, you can sit down and unfold it and have a double-sized screen (think two palm IIIc's next to each other).

The trickiest parts are probably 1 designing the screens so that they can appear to be right next to each other, but still fold separately so you can go single-screen mode when you're in pda mode and 2. fitting a keyboard and two screens into something you can fit in your pocket. But I have faith that it can be done, and I'd happily allow my pocket to bulge twice the width of a palm III for the privelege.

Re:A4 size? (1)

CapnGib (31274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519230)

An A4 sized "armheld" would be pretty heavy first of all. As the "Ultimate Handheld," it is not something you would want to bring with you everywhere you go. Look to the current market for cellphones and PDA's and you will see quite generally that the smaller the device, the more successful it is. It should fit in your pocket easily. Handbags are for women and belt clips are for tools.

That said, I don't think a single device could fill the billing of the "Ultimate" or "Ideal" handheld, since everyone has different needs and uses for such a device. In fact the "Ultimate" handheld would have to be more of a complete product line of devices, with similar features, and possibly different form factors. I think this strategy is evolutionary and not too much to ask for today.

1) Entry level. Inexpensive (~$100), small form factor, basic functionality and expandability. Say 1 memory slot, possibly a PC-card slot? Palm m100 is a good place to look for inspiration.

2) Mid level. (~$250) Same form factor and features as above plus color screen, 1 PC-card slot, some form of wireless connectivity, audio (MP3 of course), + ?

3) High end (A) small. (~$300-$500) Same form factor (possibly a bit larger in size) and features as above plus video out, bluetooth headset for integrated phone (who wants to put this thing up to their face to make a call?), GPS, video

4) High end (B) notebook replacement. ($700+) Possibly your A4 sized monster. All the features of the rest of the line plus much larger screen, possibly a hard disk (and dvd drive?). The notebook market today is splitting into 2 main factions, the small and the powerfull. This device would be designed to overtake the small notebook by offering the same functions, with better portability and usability.

The key is that all of these devices should be similar in the sense that a user could trade up with a minimal learning curve, and not lose compatibility in accessories and software (ie same memory card type, etc.), and would gain some funcionality.

As for OS and GUI, there are really 2 options, MS or linux. Interoperability is essential here. All of these devices must be compatible with each other AND your desktop workstation. Palm has it's place as an organizer, but in its current state is at the end of its lifetime. An Apple OSX based product could possibly sweep the market here, as their design department is top notch. Like it or not, MS compatibility is perhaps the biggest requirement for any product these days.

As for my personal wishlist, I want to connect to a projector and show powerpoint presentations, track finances with MS money, throw away my cellphone, get directions via mapquest or MS mappoint using a gps (I get lost easily), and of course do email, keep track or contacts, browse the web, listen to mp3 etc. But i want it now.

Why IButtons? (2, Insightful)

theCoder (23772) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518513)

Why use IButtons instead of a standard smart card interface? In other words, what's the advantage of an IButton over a smartcard?

Otherwise, sounds neat!

Solar Cells and Bluetooth (2, Insightful)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518516)

I'd suggest making the cover clear, and using back-to-back solar cells, so the unit charges open or closed.

Skip bluetooth, and use low/high power 802.11b. Low power when you're close to the access point to conserve power, high power when you need range. Bluetooth seems redundant and unnecessary these days.

Re:Solar Cells and Bluetooth (1)

sheetzam (454981) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518549)

Actually, you want both. They do different things. If anything, you would be able to get rid of USB in favor of bluetooth, and just keep firewire for your high speed transfer needs. Check this [] .

Re:Solar Cells and Bluetooth (1)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518817)

I'm not sure I would agree with wanting both. Streaming IP based protocols, low power consumption and lower cost (don't need two wireless subsystems) means to me that Bluetooth is a lost cause. The intent of Bluetooth is easily achieved with a low power consumption version of 802.11b. There's no specification change needed, since the tranmit power is perceived as variable to the receiver anyway based on distance. Reduce the transmit power and you have the benefit of Bluetooth (dramatically reduced power consumption), but the advantages of 802.11b (increased range on demand and bandwidth).

By using well known and standardized IP protocols, existing wired (Ethernet) implementations can easily be extended to wireless with a layer 1 change. Little or no new development is required, depending on the supported protocols in the existing stack. 802.11b is already becoming widely deployed; what value would Bluetooth add?

I'll tell you why (-1, Offtopic)

Macaw2000 (103146) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518518)

why would anyone spend the money to develop a device like this?

Remember Linux is basically a temper tantrum thrown by the Unix community after Microsoft started eating their lunch. People will spent a lot of money and time just to remain in the spotlight.

Sounds fine (2, Offtopic)

redhotchil (44670) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518519)

As long as you don't come to my door on a bike with this thing in one hand and Mormon flyers in the other hand, its fine by me.

Star Trek (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518520)

Of course everyone wants a Tricorder, which could do almost anything. Or one of those other Star Trek devices.

Strangely enough the form factor on those was more like a 5x8 piece of paper. (about half the size of an A4, etc)

Strangely, I have not really seen a PDA in that form factor, although it is reasonable. Usually they are in pocket size (or so), or else migrate to an actual laptop.

probably would not mind something in that form factor although I would have to think about it.

Re:Star Trek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518556)

Remember Newtons? One reason they never became very popular was their size: about 4 x 8 x 0.5. They were just a little too big (and heavy) to hold in one hand comfortably or to fit in most pockets, and yet still too small to not feel somewhat cramped.

Re:Star Trek (1)

randal_hicks (447937) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518557)

I agree. This seems like a more reasonable size than an A4 pad. One would have plenty of room for any application, and still be able to have a video conference call in progress ... or perhaps watch the ballgame? It seems to be a fine compromise between form and functionality. I like PDAs, (don't get me wrong) but try to draw artwork for your webpage on one... it's just too cramped.

Oh, and one more thing. With the built in networking, you could upload your data to a larger more powerful computer. Or perhaps write a napsteresque app that Borg-a-fies all like devices into a dynamic Beowulf cluster. The onboard AI would have to synchronize with it's peers so that everyone could get what they wanted, or vote to toss the CPU-hog outta the cluster (but allow you to remain if you chose to because they were working on something 'interesting'...

I find it hard to believe that those devices on Star Trek are not taking advantage of some pretty sweeet computing resources on the Enterprise.

Re:Star Trek (1)

lrohrer (147725) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518597)

Tricorder: In less than ten years we will have the CPU power to take your PDA into the woods and have it identify every object seen in real time. Plus it could tap into the world net and download anything it could not figure out on its own. It could keep an automatic catalog of every *individual* bird/whale/tree/person you ever saw or heard.

Perhaps as someone once told me "I am surprised at how slow the pace of technology"

Re:Star Trek (1)

lrohrer (147725) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518603)

Oh an it should have a web server on it that can lease out space on a web-farm in case of a /. effect.

Re:Star Trek (1)

Demerara (256642) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518678)

about half the size of an A4

That'll be A5 - none of your silly Letter, Legal, Foolscap nonsense here please.

A1 is twice the size of A2 which is twice the size of A3 which is .. you get the picture.

A4 Paper / International Standard Paper Sizes []

Re:Star Trek (1)

BiggestPOS (139071) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518838)

Cool lonk, I actually read the whole damn thing, pretty interesting. I had no idea the ISO was doing such good work!

Re:Star Trek (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519095)

That'll be A5 - none of your silly Letter, Legal, Foolscap nonsense here please.

Ah the pleasure of being a provincial usian lost in the world.

just ignore the usians, they are just so much rabble anyhow ...


Re:Star Trek (1)

prot0vision (534151) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519264)

On a Star Trek note:

Part of Gene Roddenberry's last wishes was if any of the Star Trek technology becomes reality (or close in *spirit*), they would be able to licence the Star Trek names easily from is estate.

A company in Canada came up with an advance light meter, and was able to call it a 'tricorder' based on the above.

How is this different from a notebook? (4, Interesting)

ankit (70020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518521)

Thys would be a good description of a dream notebook.. not a handheld.

I would like a handheld that I can keep in my
pocket, and carry in my backpack easily. I dont really care much for the screen size. An A4 size is not really practical, and a smaller size would be suitable for must purposes.

This doesnt mean the idea is not good. It is a great idea for a notebook. A notebook without a keyboard... and the option for connection a standard keyboard. the keyboard is rarely used for web surfing, reading mail, and most day to day work. The only use of a keyboard is, well... coding. So, when you need the thing for coding, just carry a little keyboard along :)

more stuff... (2, Interesting)

lrohrer (147725) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518522)

First use solar panels that work in either a front or back direction: solar/bennies.htm

Micro accurate GPS. By triangulating cell phone and wireless ethernet you should be able track if the pad is "on the table" or "under couch". Further by placeing mems on all of your portable possesions you could then FIND anything you might have lost.

Airline seat mount bracket: A simple velcor device that allows hand free viewing in an airline seat.

tsk tsk, history must repeat itself (2, Interesting)

8bit (127134) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518527)

harddrives, PAH. The guy is on the right track though. A thin peice of work that contains little more than an LCD that size of a sheet of paper. EXCEPT, it's wireless, and it uses a mainframe/terminial paradigm. A lightweight processor impliments a very lightweight, compressed X11 protocol. A relatively small flash memory will provide sufficent space for the OS, and custom window management software. Everything will be stored and run from a mainframe, allowing access from anywhere, and limited loss if you happen to drop your pad. W/o a harddrive and all the assorted goodies of an overly powerful CPU, the pad would be much much lighter, and wouldn't need as much juice. Of course it could be docked into a cradle for charging, fast wired networking, and mayhaps a keyboard as well.

It think it's time for people to seriously re-consider mainframes. PCs are great, but if you're on the go, methinks having fifty thousand copies of the same document is NOT the way to go.

Re:tsk tsk, history must repeat itself (1)

blackbody (527070) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518586)

I totally agree. Some type of distributed, web based, storage system that is secure. And how about application servers? Why should we keep bloat-wares on our local drives? Why not have the manufacturers release their applications on their servers. If and when we need to use it, we simply download some applet and use the application over the web like we use applications over NFS, ofcourse for a small fee. This way we can eliminate harddrives all together from the laptop/webpad/pda/whatever ... and reduce power consumption, weight of the thing as well.

Remote access drives are fine and dandy, but... (1)

los furtive (232491) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519109)

...what happens when you leave the city, or try connecting from the subway? Being forced to pick and choose which files I carry around with me during offline moments is both a waste of time and effort. And if it's a waste of effort then it won't get done regularly. Besides, in the context of the original submittor, MP3 and video playback would be required, and that means mondo drive space requirements. I don't think this boat would float without a hard drive of at least 10gigs.

my dream handheld (1)

shd99004 (317968) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518535)

It would be much smaller than A4, maybe half that size. Some sort of holographic memory would be cool and also neural network built in.

Re:my dream handheld (1)

CapnGib (31274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518999)

"Holographic memory?" "neural network?" Aren't those buzzwords stupid people use to sound intelligent?

Season 8, Ep 14

Re:my dream handheld (1)

shd99004 (317968) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519330)

Maybe. Why, are you using them frequently?

I do not use words just to sound intelligent. Question is, why do you think I need to do that?

Now all i have to do... (0)

JohnHegarty (453016) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518538)

Now all i have to do is win the lottery, and then i can afford one...

This is really big news (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518540)

According to unrealiable and anonymous sources in washington d.c., the open source movement is taking a hold on our politiicans(like a cancer) who as reportedly shunned Jack Valenti's money and is reportable considering a bill that would change the pledge of Allegiance in America's classroom to this.

I pledge my alligance to my fellow bretheren in America and accross the Globe, and to our Future Generations, which may God's wisdom guide our decisions so that we be intellectually rich, healthy and an independent culture, who's loyalty isn't to flags and symbols, but to people and to ideas which are to be openly shared and debated so that our love for humanity may bless us forever, amen

Re:This is really big news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518599)

Excellent news!

I saw political intrigue, political lies.
Going to wipe those smiles of self-satisfaction from their eyes
I will wear your white feather,
I will wear your white flag,
I will swear I have no nation,
But I'm proud to own my heart
We don't need your uniforms,
We have no disguise,
Divided we stand, together we rise.

It's time to burn all the flags and symbols.

my version (4, Interesting)

macpeep (36699) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518541)

Nice.. A little too big for my taste tho. Even the Sony Picturebook is smaller - and that's a notebook, not a "handheld" really.

Here's my version:

A5 sized (half of the article describes), screen only with virtual keyboard and touch screen with a GOOD metallic stylus (obviously softer material for the tip). WLAN, Bluetooth, GPRS and tri-band GSM (900, 1800 and 1900 MHz) plus HSCSD are all a must in my dream handheld, but I'll add to this that the antennas for all must be internal. Also, for the times when no wireless connectivity is available, a normal phone and LAN jack would be needed. Basically, as you can see, connectivity is priority #1.

Moving along, I'd throw out your hard drive and replace it with a set of compact flash slots - say 4 of them and let's say two PC card slots. In those, you could put hard drive's (IBM microdrives in the CF slots and higher capacity drives in the PC card slots). You could also slam in 4 1GB CF cards in those for a total of 4GB. This is less than the hard drive in the article, but remember that this is a *handheld* and that it has net connectivity so it can use a drive somewhere else, like on a file server.

The device would have at least 64MB of RAM and a Strong ARM CPU. If battery was no issue, I'd consider a Transmeta CPU instead but the ARM based CPU should be better for a device like this.

TFT is fine for me. I saw some TOTALLY kick ass EL-screens on an exhibition in Tokyo last month tho. Maybe one of those.. I'd have to look more closely at the power consumption cause I'd like to get at least 24 hour battery life from this thing.

The OS would sit in ROM. What the OS would be is a little unclear to me. You can forget Palm OS right away. Pocket PC (especially 2002) is *great* on iPAQ type devices but this one would be larger than that. Windows CE, which Pocket PC builds on, is quite nice and stable too, contrary to what you would normally hear on Slashdot. EPOC is a bitch to code for, so I think I'd skip that. For a device like this, I'd pick Linux, I think, but the GUI would have to be something custom made especially for this device because I haven't found any existing Linux GUI to be good for handhelds yet.. :/

Speaking of GUI.. It would *NOT* be frame based. ;)

Re:my version (1)

selectspec (74651) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518845)

First off I'd want at least a dual CPU, 803.11b wireless, GigE, raid controller across a handful of micro drives, color plasma display, fold out keypad, 500MB RAM, and UPS with a backup battery.

less than successful???!@#$#$??? (2)

IceFox (18179) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518547)

"less than successful", I doubt it. More like they are *never* ever released. I keep looking every few months for webpads, but they are _always_ 6 months away. And every month they have more and more features, but still with a pda interface, when they have more then some laptops nowadays!!! It is crazy. What every happened to the $250 webpad that was nothing more then a X-terminal? No sound, hd, usb, 1GB cpu, fan, floppy, keyboard, serial, parallel, firewire, scsi, and kitcken sink. Back when web pads were the rage their was a good reason. They *were* cool. They were a thin as my Palm 3x. They ran forever because they only had to power the wirless network, a small ass 486 cpu, and a screen. I looked cool and it was cool. They ran QtEmbedded or some other embeded Xish thing and you could make cool little apps for it. As a X terminal you had as much power as your server did. You could write little gui apps that would control you mp3 server that pipes to your living room. (don't need no stinkin laptop speakers now!) I have been temped to try to build one myself, but I just don't have the money or the time right now. (see And if I was to do it myself it would be a whole lot bigger then some of the webpad/crappola laptops that are out there. So were are these? Does anyone know? One idea I had was to merge 3 or 4 palm into 1 and then write palm software for it, but there are still issues with that...

Re:less than successful???!@#$#$??? (1)

ehikory (323540) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518972)

I have such a webpad: A Fujitsu Stylistic 1000: 486 CPU (fine for simple X / browsing), attachable PS/2 keyboard(I use the Twiddler II [] ), VGA port (for CyVisor [] or Monitor) for when the 640x480 8" display isn't enough, radio pen, PCMCIA HD (270MB comes standard, 2GB available [] ), 2 additional type II PCMCIA slots, IRDA, Serial, Parallel, and a 3750mAh battery lasts four or five hours on a charge. I'm running RedHat 7.0, but the cleanest install [] I've heard of is Debian. One can often purchase them surplus for around $100. HSC Electronics [] is currently out of stock, but you may find them elsewhere.

I don't like hand helds! (0)

Unanonymous Coward (533955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518548)

BULKY desktop pcs forever baby ;). But it would be nice to have a small computer handy in certain situations!

A4? (3, Insightful)

delmoi (26744) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518575)

Isn't the definition of a 'handheld' something you can fit in your hand? Wouldn't that disqualify something the size of an A4 peice of Paper?

Basicaly what your asking for is a laptop without a keyboard. Not terribly exciting.

I'm all for features up the ass, but most of all give me something I can slip in my pocket without any trouble.

Re:A4? (1)

Guillaume Ross (517391) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518765)

I have a handheld desktop PC! The problem is I can't hold it for more than a few minutes...

My dream handheld (2)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518576)

In addition to what my palm pilot already does, would simply have:
  • 80x40 high resolution display in the same area as my current palm (I use mine frequently to telnet to another box to do things like read usenet while lounging around on the couch)
  • Wireless ethernet (goes hand-in-hand with bullet #1).
  • Voice navigation so I can browse the memo I wrote directions into while driving.
  • Programming manuals and compilers for popular platforms included with the pilot.

    All that other crap this guy mentions pretty much defeats the purpose of what a handheld is.

    For what he wants, he'd be better off with a toshiba libretto.

    Preview mode is broken. Ugh. Why can't these guys stop breaking the production system?

Re:My dream handheld (1)

telstar (236404) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518827)

So essentially, you want a PocketPC [] .

Handheld... err... Armheld (3, Funny)

DzugZug (52149) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518577)

Let me get this straight. He wants to send and recieve "real" email and browse the "real" web etc. He wants a full sized screen and doesnt want to have it fit in his pocket or in the palm of his hand. Ths new "armheld" would be big enough that it has to be carried in a briefcase. These things are on the market right now. You can buy them here []

Guess what. They are called laptops. Unless I missed something the point of a handheld is that it can fit in your pocket. If you want something that big then you might as well use a keyboard since it's faster than pen input anyway.

forget about electronic paper.... (3, Informative)

randal_hicks (447937) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518578)

...unless you are in advertising.

According to Xerox's Gyricon page, this technology is being geared for billboards. Their smallest font is a size 20! NOT adequate for use in anything that you can hold in front of you. By the time that they are ever able to create more reasonable font sizes, LEPs will be in full scale production.

Besides, electronic paper doesn't seem to be the perfect medium for video...

Re:forget about electronic paper.... (2)

Anonymous Freak (16973) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518871)

According to Xerox's Gyricon page, this technology is being geared for billboards. Their smallest font is a size 20! NOT adequate for use in anything that you can hold in front of you. By the time that they are ever able to create more reasonable font sizes, LEPs will be in full scale production.

Yes, but . . . Various 'e-ink' technologies hope to have 100+ dpi within 2 years, with one (sorry, no links, since I don't remember the names of the companies that I read about last week) hoping to have 300 dpi by 2005. Since LEPs will only (hopefully) be in full production for small-scale projects (car stereos, clocks, maybe PDAs) by 2005, you do the math.

Of course, all of the e-ink projects are made to be 'seldom-write' passive displays where you change the display maybe once or twice a day. They're not at all suitable for full-motion, full-screen video (including scrolling a static page!) They are meant to be electronically-rewritable paper, NOT a replacement for a computer screen. Think CD-RW vs. Hard drive.

Hello? (4, Insightful)

not-quite-rite (232445) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518583)

2.5" IDE to keep weight down


For god sakes you just included some very nice screen kit, but then asked for a 2.5" hard drive?

How is the size of an A4 piece of paper easy to carry? That is going to be at least the thickness of 2.5"(see annoyance above).
What he has described offers a laptop without a proper keyboard. It hasn't stopped my need to carry a phone, a palm, my wallet, keys etc.

Do you own a PDA let alone a HPC?
How much do you carry around with you?
At times I carry my Palm, 2 phones, wallet and keys. Why would I want to carry around any more crap, in particular a retarded laptop?

Ok stop. Relax. Breathe. Take pills.

The rant has subsided...

Re:Hello? (1)

Forrestina (120989) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518826)

i still think this is a bad idea, i'd rather have a subnotebook like the toshiba libretto L2, or the ibm thinkpad 240x, or the fujitsu FMV biblo Loox-S.

but, he means 2.5" wide. they are like .7" thick or somthing like that. i've got one in my thinkpad 240. and it's less than 1 inch thick.

Re:Hello? (1)

not-quite-rite (232445) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518868)

Sorry, I was talking about the thickness of the drive, not the width. I just got lazy and referred to the earlier subrant rather than finish the sentence properly.

I will be more dutiful next time.


webpads are not doing well? (2)

tswinzig (210999) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518600)

That's strange... I go to places like Best Buy, Circuit City,,, etc., and damned if I can find ANY webpad, let alone a well-designed webpad.

If someone designs a decent webpad, it will sell.

My dream hand-held (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518602)

Claire Danes and Angie Harmon

pft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518617)

yay. yet another uninformed, poorly thought out My Dream Not-a-PDA. whoop dee doo.

personally what i would find much more interesting would be an article on My Favorite PDA on the Market, written by someone who's used a lot. for instance, the samsung i300 just hit the shelves, and it's freaking sweet. how about hearing from somebody who has bought one? the good, the bad, the bugs?

you know, maybe it'd be nice to read some "stuff that matters" rather than some "stuff that stinks" and that's uninsightful and that anyone could whip up themselves in five minutes.

My Ultimate HandHeld (1)

faichai (166763) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518627)

As far as ideal portables go heres my take:

Methane powered fuel cell, which provides for at least a months worth of continuous use.

The Screen:
Light emitting polymer screen is good here. Nice choice. The screen should also have some mechanism for eliminating finger grease automatically.

Form Factor:
A6, there should be no border, so that the screen takes up the entire front. Perhaps with fanned screens like the Psion Protoypes. (can't find a link)

An array of Software Defined Radios [] , allows the device to keep in touch with the outside world. Depending on your current usage, they may be configured for Wireless Ethernet, BlueTooth, 3G+, TV, Radio etc. No need for multiple cards and slots. When a bug or security risk is found in any of the protocols, a simple software patch will fix the problem.

When data is huge, perhaps something like Infiniband [] over fibre optic would be useful.

Touch screen will be supported, along with a slide-out or otherwise concealed keyboard for when you actually want to enter some data. Voice recognition would also be nice, but only when your on your own.

Since were obviously way off into the future here, I would like a micro-distributed memory architecture, with approx 32 CPUs, each with at least 64 MB of memory. The CPU should probably be something like a 64bit ARM, running at whatever clockspeed is fashionable at the time. See this [] for similar stuff. The interconnects between CPU modules should use something like AMD's HyperTransport []

For linux fans, the CPU the architecture would support a micro-Beowulf style mode of operation.

For me, I'll roll my own Actor Model based system, running on a microkernel, like L4 [] but with better real-time response. Built in cryptography will keep ALL comms secure.

Re:My Ultimate HandHeld (1)

faichai (166763) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518661)

Bad form and all that, but I forgot about storage:
The ram should be static, such that when the power
goes down, the data doesn't. 32 *64 Gives us 2GB of memory. Perhaps a 100GB microdrive style disk would be apt for Films, Music and Pr0n. Along with the option of streaming data over the air, via a secure connection to my personally administered
server (none of that .net rubbish, but if makes sense e.g. in the case of locality, nothing will be placed on the local server, unless it is encrypted by me first!)

Motorola Social Engineering (1)

Demerara (256642) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518658)

from the Motorola link:

"As you enter an up-scale bar, you are handed a Bluetooth technology device. This device allows you to send messages and communicate with others in the bar, to order and pay for food and beverage, and to participate in games such as Trivia and Clue."

Doesn't anyone talk anymore? And what if some bright spark does a DDOS attack on the barman's device? Do we all DIE of thirst??

Somethings are better left said.

OT - Creative way to sell your cult. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518664)

Make up some insightful piece of fictional technology and then sell your religion to us.

For more info on the true nature of Mormonism, visit The Institute for Religious Research [] .

Freedom of religion on Slashdot too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518692)

Shut up, dickwad.

Ever heard of a thing called freedom of religion?

If you're not allowed to say a word about your own religious beliefs in public what kind of freedom is that, eh?

Wank wank wank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518684)

"Dude, I need to get an article on slashdot"
"I know post about an Uber PDA... we know they jerk off over ipaq's now"
"Okay, I have to mention Transmeta. Everything on slashdot has to be pro-Transmeta"
"Yeah, and Google. They're investors in Google."
"I'll scatter in some useless links to Linuxdevices and 'Open Source'(tm) projects like Gutenberg!"
"Dude... don't forget the critical factor!"
"Oh yeah, IT RUNS LINUX"

So, OSDN dropped the Sponsorship of Kuro5hin to make sure crap articles like this get posted?

Re:Wank wank wank (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518946)

i think the solution is obvious: we need to start a "fire michael" campaign. and while we're at it we should get cliff fired so we don't have to read his witless editorial commentary attached to askslashdot. timothy is on pretty thin ice- better show us you're worth keeping, bub!

GPS and/or DCF77 time signal receiver (1)

osolemirnix (107029) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518690)

Any mobile device would have a GPS receiver of course.

Alternatively it would have a DCF77 receiver to get the official (atomic clock) UTC time wherever I am, since the GPS time is inaccurate and I am such a perfectionist ;-).

For giants only (5, Funny)

Camelot (17116) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518698)

My ideal handheld is the size of an A4 pad of paper

Big hand have you.

star trek PADD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518739)

now THIS would be a great device. it seems to be small enough to hold in one hand, but also large enough to be more practical than a Palm for actual note taking and reading, viewing information...maybe i'm watching Enterprise too much :)

Can you imagine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518793)

a Beowulf cluster of these?

Panasonic (1)

howman (170527) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518804)

panasonic has a toughbook pad. it is a bit short on memory, HD space and peripheral xpansion, but it is a step in the right direction.

IBM has an interesting scratch pad sub notebook.
Unfortunately both of them are above the $4000 price.
I hope we see the price come down on them.

what... (0)

pinkelefant (471762) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518812) need , dear sir , is a good spanking .

My ideal handheld... (2)

Amokscience (86909) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518832)

.. would be the size of a credit card so I could stuff it in my wallet, which, besides a wristwach, is the one item I am sure to carry when I am travelling. It should also be durable and have an unbreakable display.

I'd also want to be able to store voice notes on it so it would have to record and playback audio. And it would have some sort of wireless transfer medium (bluetooth, rf, wireless ethernet, etc.)
It would have a couple solar panels and require as much power as a calculator.

Sooooo, basically I want a super shrunk Palm. I know much of the Slashdot crowd seems to want to have a desktop machine crammed into their handhelds but I don't need that. I want utility and longevity out of my device. When it can becomes just another accessory (like a wristwatch) then I will be happy with it... and so too will non-geeks.

Now, I think most of these requirements aren't here today, but if we're dreaming, I want to dream a while into the future.

My next "handheld"... (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518852)

The PDA is yesterday's technology. This is the future [] of portable, wireless computing.

Microsoft Tablet PC (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518862)

No offense, but you just described the exact specs of the MS Tablet PC. It's going to kick PDAs in the butt, for those of us who do shit for a living instead of talk about shit. (Talk about shit == need one of those little bookie things full of names & numbers at all time). (Do stuff for a living == need a terminal session into desktop PC for that and about a thousand other tasks you need to do).

Check it out.

My Idea (1)

Shook (75517) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518873)

I personally like the form factor of a Palm.

Now that I have a VisorPhone, I think it does what I want on a daily basis fairly well.

The features I would want are phone, e-mail, a useful GPS/mapping system, a couple hundred megs of MP3 storage, and voice recognition.

But if you could integrate all of that into something that was the thickness of a Palm V, with good battery life. I don't care if you use hard drives, flash mem, or other technology. Just as long as it has the capabilities. PalmOS, WinCE, Linux, don't matter either. Just as long as I can get stuff done on it, with a minimum of pen strokes/voice commands.

Light Emitting Polymers--a first hand account (1)

Wise Dragon (71071) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518917)

I have seen, touched, and played with LEP screens at the ACM1 expo last spring. The screens were about 3'x5', and the expositors said they would be shipping to OEMs in October (which is last month). There was a movie playing on the screen I looked at, and I noticed a slight shimmering effect, but I don't know if that was an artifact of the video codec or the screen. In any case, these screens looked damn good. I hope they aren't too expensive. If anyone has questions, reply to this comment.

My own dream (4, Interesting)

Salamander (33735) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518933)

You're basically confusing two concepts here: handheld and notebook. The requirements are different. A notebook should be very nearly equivalent functionally to a middling or slightly wimpy desktop, with weight measured in pounds and battery life in hours. A handheld needs to be much more extremely portable, with weight in ounces and battery life in weeks. The portability/power requirements basically dictate that a certain amount of desktop-equivalent functionality be sacrificed. That said, here are some of my ideas about what would be truly ideal for each, starting with the notebook (which more closely matches your description):

  • Size and display: A4 is a good display size, but a little too big for easy transportation when not in use. Fortunately, with a flexible medium such as LEP you could have both. Basically the screen could be like those portable projection screens that you roll up when not in use.
  • Power: solar might be nice, but you're typically not going to get that much out of it. Instead of a battery, though, use tiny methane fuel cells.
  • Processor: something like a Transmeta would be a good fit.
  • Connectivity: putting USB (including, I presume, USB2) and Firewire and Bluetooth and 802.11b (what about 802.11a) makes the base system too complex. Put one low-end (USB1) and one high-end (Firewire) interconnect on board, then provide four or more PCMCIA/CF slots so the user can customize the rest to suit their needs.

For the true handheld, things look a little different:

  • Size and display: it needs to be smaller (more portable) than today's handhelds, not larger, and the display needs to be instantly accessible without unrolling a screen. E-Ink is a good fit here, especially because it would be nice to have your agenda or to-do list still visible at a glance even while consuming zero power. The limit on screen resolution is the combination of the unit's physical size and the human eye; the dots can only be so small, so only so many of them can fit. I'd say that anything more than 320x320 is pushing the boundaries of usefulness.
  • Power: solar is definitely not going to get you anywhere. Fortunately, those methane fuel cells are small enough even for a PDA.
  • Processor: even a Crusoe might suck too much juice. I'd go with a super-low-power asynchronous-logic chip.
  • Connectivity: very limited options here. There's room for one CF card, but not two. The best hope is that they'll be able to fit connectivity logic onto something more like MMC so you can have more than one expansion slot.

One could well argue that we should be getting away from the idea of "handhelds" anyway. Maybe we should be thinking more in terms of an eyeglass-mounted virtual display (pick a resolution and color depth) connected via short-range wireless to a belt- or shoe-mounted CPU unit.

The one thing I haven't really talked about is storage. That's because I have some definitely "out there" views on that subject. Basically I don't think there's going to be a reason to have a lot of permanent storage in the user-facing device. Instead, the storage will be in the network - encrypted, fully distributed, accessed securely via our ever-improving network connectivity options. Sure, there'd be local storage, but only enough to boot and to serve as a cache of the data which still "lives" in the network. A modest amount of FMRAM should be entirely sufficient, with no need for rotating media and the costs - power, noise, mechanical fragility - associated with them. Maybe if you wanted to take your PDA to Antarctica you'd need something different, but before long the distributed-storage model should work anywhere in the civilized world.

Yes, I know some people hate the idea of data-less devices. Generally this is for one of several outdated reasons:

  • Diskless workstations were deployed at a time in the past when the network technology was really not adequate to support the same user experience that you'd get with a local disk.
  • To make things worse, a lot of diskless-workstation deployments were horribly underprovisioned, with insufficient servers and switching infrastructure.
  • Diskless operation used to imply ceding control of your data (and access to it) to someone else. With modern distributed-system technology that no longer needs to be the case; you can store your data on someone else's hardware, and access it via a third party's communications infrastructure, without giving up any control or privacy.

In short, none of these objections really apply any more. With the right technology and the right SLAs in place, there'd be no compelling reason to have a local disk.

PIM software (1, Interesting)

Comrade Pikachu (467844) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518936)

Outrageous demonstrations of technology should take a back seat to well integrated personal information management software. That is the case, anyway, if you want to make a functional handheld that appeals to people who have to manage contacts, generate ideas, and coordinate schedules (isn't that everyone, though?).

Unfortunately, most of these gadgets are just overpriced candy for geeks and executives. I still use a HP 200lx (80186 CPU, 2MB RAM, and kickass PIM software designed by Lotus, inc). The technology is ten years old, but was (and is) favored by doctors, lawyers, and anyone who had a serious need to manage their personal information.

What would I like to see in a dream handheld? I would like whoever owns the copyright on the 200lx PIM software (Lotus/IBM?) to release it as open source or integrate it into a next generation handheld. Yes, I am aware that The Palmtop Paper [] sells upgraded 200lx's. I would like to see basically a 200lx with Bluetooth, USB, backlighting, a touchscreen...

... no dependency on a stylus, though. A stylus is a clumsy solution compared with the efficiency of thumb-typing.

I'll wait for the wearables (2, Interesting)

SpeedBump0619 (324581) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518940)

So many possibilities...

handheld with projection system. It has the standard touch sensitive lcd (or LEP or whatever), but it uses a single chip reflective projector to put a *huge* picture up on any viewable surface. It's not very steady, so integrate some motion sensors in the device and some hardware to steady the projection (IR for distance to surface (image size), accelerometer for lateral stabalization).

When the projection is running, the touch screen on the device is still the input method.

But really, why not go all the way. I wear glasses, so give me a covert HMD. Something that can't be seen by the rest of the world, but that gives me unrestricted hands free access to my "handheld".

Then steal an idea from MIT and put a ring on each index finger. Radio connected, position sensing, and presure sensitive. Touch the left one with your thumb and the on-disply pointer tracks with movements of the right. Tap the right one, and it clicks, rotate the right one (around your finger) and it's like that little roller on your mouse.

Think all this is fantasy? I read too much science fiction? I think not.

single chip projectors []
accelerometers for displacement []
covert HMDs []
The One Ring [] (fictional, I think)

Wife Management Software (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2518957)

Being a Mormon and all, you will need software to manage all of your wives, make sure that two don't try do to the washing at the same time, for example. And to remember all of their birthdays.

Is it me, or do Mormons think they have it sussed (multiple wives) but in reality they don't (multiple ugly-dog-women).

Obligatory simpsons reference... (1)

CapnGib (31274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518976)

Couldn't resist...

The Simpsons, Season 2, Ep 15, "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" []

"Homer discovers that he has a long-lost half brother, Herb Powell, who is the wealthy CEO of a car company. When Homer and Herb meet, they instantly hit it off and Herb takes in the Simpson family as his own. Herb hires Homer to help design a car for regular guys, but Homer's design proves so disastrous that it bankrupts Herb's company and forces the brothers apart once again."

Now back to the wall...

Re:Obligatory simpsons reference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2519301)

Haaaahahahahahahhaahahaha. ha. If I had mod points, I'd mod this up. Wait, no I wouldn't. But I'd still laugh at it.

My dream laptop (1)

lvv (303530) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519062)

- No GUI or mouse, but real and good keyboard.
- No movable parts inside: solid state HD, no fans on CPU.
- Minimum spec: CPU 20MHz, RAM 32MB, HD 5GB
- Form factor: something similar to Sony C1 or Francklin eBook with foldable keyboard. Keyboard should be full size (C1 - 95%)
- Minimum IO: built in modem, 1x PCMCIA, 1x USB.
- Screen: Linux FB. LCD can be black/white if it will save power and price ( but hi-res).
- Manufacture should not make any attempts to develop custom apps. It should of cause have full open specs, and shipped with basic Linux (at list initially). More friendly non-slashdot type user environment, including non-X11 GUI, can be provided with ISVs (in dipandant software vendor).

- USB mouse.
- ether, IR, 801.2b, CF/SM slot, GPS, and so on.

Something similar was already made:
Cidco MailStation [] . B/W LCD, pseudo graphics, $100, 1.9 pounds. Cidco decided that it will be much more usefull if they will make it proprietary and put only one application on it :(
Psions [] have too small keyboards for productive work.

I believe it can be done under $300, 1.5 pounds, battery life 24h+

Target market:
- slashdot types (developers, admins).
- WP,
- Mail

Keep it small (2)

meldroc (21783) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519131)

I'm partial to the Palm sized form factor - a little larger than a Post-it note. My ideal handheld would be as follows:

  • Fuel cell or other power source that lasts much longer than current batteries.
  • A little more computing horsepower than the Palm's Dragonball processor - a StrongARM or Transmeta chip possibly.
  • Not Microsoft/Windows based - that rules out PocketPC - I will not give my money to Microsoft if they had the last computing platform on Earth.
  • An OS with modern features - proper multitasking/multithreading, memory protection, etc.
  • A UI that's designed from the ground up for this form factor. PalmOS is great as far as UI goes. Unlike a lot of people, I actually like Graffiti - I can always get a keyboard if I need to type lots of stuff, but Graffiti keeps things small.
  • An Organic LED screen (OLED). Granted we'll have to wait until the manufacturers give a decent lifetime to the blue pixels, but those are nice looking screens. Ideally the graphics controller on the handheld would be beefier than on the Palm - games are cool.
  • Lots of memory - 32MB or even 64MB is becoming a realistic option. While we're at it, install one of those one inch IBM microdrives, that should give us some breathing room for a while without making the device too big.
  • Expandability. Personally, I find that Palm's postage-stamp sized SD cards to be too small - they're too easy to lose. How about a very thin, credit-card sized card. We already have smartcards everywhere else, installing a smartcard style connector that you just slide the card into would make life easier. The Palm m505's universal connector is good for gadgets that can't be smushed into a smartcard - make things like GPS receivers & modems into sleds.
  • Wireless networking. A cellular modem (using the cool technology of the week) should be built in. It should be able to hook up with any of the major cellular networks that are available, and use the higher bandwidth standard of the week if necessary. Maybe a pen-sized module with the antenna, receiver, codecs, etc should be used, so if the user needs to upgrade, he can swap them out.
  • Built in audio. Unlike most Palms, this ideal device would have an audio DSP built in, ready to handle MP3, Ogg Vorbis, etc. It should be a general-purpose sound device not unlike a Soundblaster in desktop machines. Doesn't need a fancy speaker built in, headphones (& a mike) should be fine.
  • While keeping the device small is very important, even more important is sturdiness. Handhelds go through a lot of abuse, to the ideal handheld would be built like a tank. The screen should have a scratch-proof layer on top of it, the case should be heavy-duty plastic, at minimum, titanium would be nice. The buttons should be rated for zillions of presses, and be able to take hard hits. Water resistance (or waterproofing) would be very nice. If an IBM microdrive is in the thing, it should be in a very effective shock mounting. You should at the minimum be able to drop the device from six feet onto hard concrete without damage. Crush resistance would also be nice - people occasionally sit on their handhelds.

OK Palm, you have my specs, get to work!

Form follows function (1)

anerbenartzi (534142) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519136)

It's alwaus fun to dream about some product with all the top technology thrown in. It's even better when you draw it on paper. But I think this discussion (and all the companies developing these things) should focus on what a handheld DOES, not looks like. My ideal portable electronic device would keep me connected to a (fast) TCP/IP network at all times for web, ssh, mail, file transfers, and remote access to my PC. Data input (text, pointing, voice, images, or whatever it has) would be fast and accurate. Data output would not strain my eyes or ears. Compatibility with what I already have is good. It should last for a long weekend trip without a recharge. It should fit in my pocket when I'm not using it, and be usable immediatly out of my pocket -- maybe sooner with a satelite for the unit always on my wrist for immediate access to common functions. The UI needs to be flexible enough for me to map the unit's most accessible features to my most common tasks. It's not a replacement for my desktop. Beyond what it does, who cares how it does it.

But... (1)

warrior (15708) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519160)

does it have, of course, On Star (tm)? Perhaps if Mead starts making Trapper Keeper based portables...

My ideal PDA (2, Funny)

PoiBoy (525770) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519261)

...Is a pad of 3 by 3 yellow Post-It notes. They're cheap, reliable, and easy to use. Need to delete a message or the phone number of an ex? Just tear it up and throw it in the trash.

Seriously, do people really need to carry around electronic gizmos with them everywhere they go?

How about a "proxy" (1)

Woodie (8139) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519272)

While riding the train home from work - the following thought occurred to me...

I frequently use my laptop as an MP3 player. It's located securely in my bag - operating in low power mode, with just the wire of my ear-bud headphones coming out. It's great - when I get a new CD (I'm using Win2K at work) I drop it in and automatically copy it to my hdd.

However, it struck me that there was a flaw. I can't easily hit a "next track" button or see my playlists. However, wouldn't a bluetooth equipped palm/visor etc. be able to manage that?

Esentially it serves as a proxy UI for the media player of your choice. But, take that a bit further - why not leave the "heavy" computing equiment and comms in your bag (say 3 - 5 pounds worth) and have a stripped down "x terminal" type hand-held?

- Woodie

iButton (2, Informative)

OO7david (159677) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519274)

It will have integrated Ibutton support for security and authentification, maybe even built into the BIOS.
Let me, as an iButton user, tell you about some issues. First of all, I know you are speaking hopefully, but there currently are no Linux drivers for it, and the Windows ones I have yet to get to work under NT bases systems. That is not to say that it is a bad device, but from what I have heard (I'm connected very closely with one of the people holding the patent on the iButton) those issues are not going to be resolved soon. Before the Maxim buyout, they were, but not as recently are the issues being looked at.

While we're dreaming (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519319)

my dream handheld would not have a screen at all. It would be glasses, that project an interface to a computer on your arm (so it stays out of the way unless you want it to).

I'm really dreaming of something where you're finger (ideally any finger) is used to control the interface so that a multitude of interfaces can be provided, from a point and -well- point somewhat harder interface to a virtual keyboard and trackball

Ideally of course the handheld would be entirely contained within those glasses, and connectivity would be provided with built-in 802.11b(and a) and a bluetooth extension (with very good bandwidth) would provide the other connectors (firewire is a must, it beats the hell out of 100 mbit)

Disk space would be provided with a plastic band that goes around the back of your head, to avoid such a treasure falling off, and it could be filled with ibm microdrives. ;-)

It would contain a color camera with good resolution (a firewire camera with at least 1024x768) (actually i think 2 camera's would be cool, one pointed backwards and one pointed forward, and moveable by software to stabilize the picture)

It would contain an array (I'm not kidding) of other sensors, but specifically accoustic sensors (ideally both soud, radiowaves and everything in between (VERY ideally every frequency simultaneously)) both sending and receiving, so it can be used to listen to people standing miles away (cellphone replacement, peer-to-peer networking, but also snooping, radar, seeing what's behind a wall ...), and even to project sounds around you (such a thing just has to beat the crap out of even the best speakers you can find) (I know sound ... radio ... totally different things ... different sensors jadda jadda jadda, but hey I'm dreaming)

Of course, a decent battery life is a must, but if you can include some solar panels (or like those watches that charge themselves a you move) it would be a plus.

I've obviously taken the RED pill ;-)
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