Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Favorite Things: NanoNote Edition

Since there's so much amazing technology out there and I haven't purchased any of it since my phone, I wanted to highlight one of my favorite pieces of technology, Qi Hardware's Ben NanoNote.  While I was initially drawn to it because it's diminutive size (half the size of my UMID M1 at 3.9" by 3.0") was unique for its form factor, a handheld clamshell computer.

I was on the fence initially, but the more I read about the project, the more I was intrigued.  The goal of NanoNote is not to be simply a pocket-sized computer, it's to be a launching pad for hardware design and engineering.  Manufactured by Qi Hardware, their goal is free software and to open up hardware using Copyleft.

I am a big fan of open source software and realized a while back that the opportunities for kids interested in learning about hardware engineering was significantly more limited.  While growing up one can search the web to learn how to program; how often do they gain exposure to hardware?  Sure, you can take appliances apart and often times learn the hard way, but that doesn't mean that you understand the schematics and calculations it took to get there.

The NanoNote can be taken apart, modified, redesigned, and even sold in its new form, so long as the licenses and terms are the same or equivalent as what was used initially.

The device itself is relatively rudimentary and slow compared to the machines we presently and most smartphones out power it.  It runs OpenWRT and there's a flavor of Jlime available as well.  Some members of the community were able to get Debian running on it also.

I eventually bought a couple to play around with off of Sharism.  I love the idea of spending my money with a vision that supports learning and openness.  One NanoNote I carry around with me constantly and use to play music while the other I use to play with the different software options.  Priced at $99 plus shipping (it ships from Asia which costs around $30 to the US), it seems a fair price for those interested in developing hardware.

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