iKit: Linux Netbook as Ultra-Mini

Oct 22, 2008

After the glut of netbooks on the market, Imovio, an offshoot of U.S. company Comsciences, presents the iKit Multimedia Messenger, a palm-sized netbook with Linux.

With a dimension of 3.7" x 2.6" x 0.6" and a weight of 4 oz. (including battery), the iKit is more like a PDA (the company calls it a pocket mobile companion). The device is equipped with Bluetooth and WLAN and is perfect for chats and email, although it brings along other applications. Included are those for multimedia such as graphic display and a video player. Its camera is 0.3 megapixels, it has a built-in mic, and a mini-USB port for a stereo headset. The browser provided is Opera Mini 4.1.

The Linux platform is based on Kernel 2.4.19 and the user interface works in a proprietary manner with Qt modules. Per vendor specifications, the CPU is Marvell PXA270 running at 312 MHz. Internal memory is 128 Mbyte RAM and 64 Mbyte SDRAM, rather scant when applied to OS and applications. A Micro SD slot accommodates external memory. The display is 2.8" at 320x240 pixels. The battery with 1050 mAh should last three hours.

The keypad is QWERTY with a numeric pad and a few hot keys for application startup.

The less than convincing reliance on Linux shows by the list of supported formats: WAV and MP3 are there, but not Ogg, and its PC synchronization is with flavors of MS Outlook. Imovio is also promising models running on Windows Mobile and the Android platform.

The playing field of the iKit device is clearly WLAN environments. The Bluetooth option links with the web over a GSM mobile phone. The iKit is priced at about $170. The company's roadmap shows the first quarter of 2009 as the official launch.

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