Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 18th Oct 2015 11:10 UTC, submitted by Wi
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Solu might look like a drinks coaster but don't put your coffee on it; this is a four-inch wide block of curved, wood-encased computer with an edge-to-edge touch screen. Inside is a powerful 2.3GHz processor, battery and Wi-Fi capability. It can be used on its own or paired with a keyboard and a display up to a resolution of 4K. When paired in this way, the Solu acts as an input device instead of a mouse.

I'm obviously sceptical of this ever making any dent anywhere (see, sadly, that other Finnish mobile product), but at least they're trying, and I do wish them all the luck in the world. They'll need it.

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Oh no, not again...
by Riba on Sun 18th Oct 2015 11:20 UTC
Riba
Member since:
2006-02-12

I stopped reading the moment they mentioned Cloud (read: subscription service).

Reply Score: 4

RE: Oh no, not again...
by KrustyVader on Sun 18th Oct 2015 13:27 UTC in reply to "Oh no, not again..."
KrustyVader Member since:
2006-10-28

I stopped reading the moment they mentioned Cloud (read: subscription service).


I stoped when I read cloud (even if it were free).

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Oh no, not again...
by Riba on Sun 18th Oct 2015 16:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Oh no, not again..."
Riba Member since:
2006-02-12

Agree. Truth is, I did not stop reading when they mentioned Cloud, and regretted it twice when I found out it is a subscription service. ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: Oh no, not again...
by bassbeast on Mon 19th Oct 2015 17:12 UTC in reply to "Oh no, not again..."
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

To me what is really sad is what all this "cloud" garbage is gonna do to the environment. They are all locked down, proprietary as hell, so what happens when the company goes under or no longer supports that model? Yep into the trash it goes.

Reply Score: 3

The Pyra is coming
by benoitb on Sun 18th Oct 2015 11:28 UTC
benoitb
Member since:
2010-06-29

A 5 inches Linux computer with a keyboard, that I think might appeal more to OSnews readers:
https://boards.openpandora.org/topic/5600157-keymat-sample-pictures/

Think HL 200LX, or Sharp Zaurus, with much more current specs.

Edited 2015-10-18 11:29 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE: The Pyra is coming
by ssokolow on Sun 18th Oct 2015 11:48 UTC in reply to "The Pyra is coming"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

A 5 inches Linux computer with a keyboard, that I think might appeal more to OSnews readers:
<a href="https://boards.openpandora.org/topic/5600157-keymat-sample-pictures/...

Think HL 200LX, or Sharp Zaurus, with much more current specs.


The great thing is that their plan for "firmware" is bog-standard Debian with a package overlay and the closed-source parts of the GPU driver are purely userspace.

Given how satisfied I am with my 600MHz (older revision) OpenPandora (the device that takes the more primitive keymat they show for comparison in some of those shots), I'm really looking forward to it.

Edited 2015-10-18 11:50 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: The Pyra is coming
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 19th Oct 2015 14:01 UTC in reply to "The Pyra is coming"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I'm not sure I'd call omap current, but I guess its new-er.

In any case, you can do crazy good things with the hardware they have chosen. So it can work well. Best of luck to them. If they ever hit production I'll check it out.

Reply Score: 2

RE: The Pyra is coming
by TheNorseWind on Tue 20th Oct 2015 02:28 UTC in reply to "The Pyra is coming"
TheNorseWind Member since:
2015-07-21

I'd been very interested in OpenPandora years ago, but stopped checking since it was taking so to get to production. What are you using it for? The retro gaming features weren't the biggest draw for me - more the potential as a Psion Netbook/HP Omnibook replacement...

Reply Score: 1

Uneventful
by flypig on Sun 18th Oct 2015 11:28 UTC
flypig
Member since:
2005-07-13

I like the style and it looks like they're really trying to innovate with the UI, which I think is great. It's a shame the subscription model makes it more of a commitment to buy into though. I'd love to try one.

[I can't edit the title, which isn't supposed to be 'uneventful'!]

Edited 2015-10-18 11:46 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Looks interesting
by kwan_e on Sun 18th Oct 2015 12:12 UTC
kwan_e
Member since:
2007-02-18

I'm going to go Rodney McKay and say I actually had a similar idea for a node-based interface a few days ago. Obviously not as slick looking.

This is the first real smart device class thing that has made me think "that's interesting" but also "I might actually buy it".

Reply Score: 2

I don't see the point
by jgfenix on Sun 18th Oct 2015 14:18 UTC
jgfenix
Member since:
2006-05-25

It seems that it's different for the sake of it. I don't see the advantages. And being so different it will have a worse ecosystem problem than Jolla or Windows Phone.
Also the suscription model doesn't convince me. Perhaps it would make sense if you could access the whould Apple Store or Google Play Store but not for this.

Reply Score: 3

okay
by p13. on Sun 18th Oct 2015 15:54 UTC
p13.
Member since:
2005-07-10

It's good to see some innovation in this space ... although ... not entirely sure what space this is ...

Looks kinda cool in a "it's not an n900, but it should be just as hackable/open" kind of way.

I'm interested, but not for the cloudy neural collaboration network.
A clamshell version of this with a keyboard would be killer!

1) remove tacky superfluous UI thing
2) Install distro of choice or android
3) Play with it for a week and put it in the desk drawer to die alone

HA!
It's what happens to most of the things i thought were super cool (like my android wear watch).

Reply Score: 3

pay devs by use
by Adurbe on Sun 18th Oct 2015 15:54 UTC
Adurbe
Member since:
2005-07-06

They are mimicking the pricing model of amazon underground. The reason this will fail is (thanks to apple) we determine a platform by Number of apps, not quality, quantity.

Best of luck to them, but I think they bit off more than they can chew

Reply Score: 2

Number of apps == quagmire
by brion on Sun 18th Oct 2015 16:02 UTC in reply to "pay devs by use"
brion Member since:
2010-11-04

Number of apps, alas, is a terrible terrible metric for anything... especially when the vast majority of them on "popular" platforms are crappy games most people are never going to play. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Number of apps == quagmire
by p13. on Mon 19th Oct 2015 06:49 UTC in reply to "Number of apps == quagmire"
p13. Member since:
2005-07-10

Don't forget the fart apps.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by brion
by brion on Sun 18th Oct 2015 16:14 UTC
brion
Member since:
2010-11-04

The form factor is super cute, but I can't help but think this space (portable pocket computer that you can hook up to a monitor and keyboard) is going to be totally swallowed up by mobile phones -- the hardware's basically the same, the software's basically the same, and there's well-established players with billions in the bank.

Canonical promised us "Ubuntu for Android" years ago but never delivered.

Microsoft's bringing 'Continuum' mode for Windows 10 Mobile devices later this year.

Apple so far has kept its desktop world separate in terms of hardware/software... but is integrating the UX and app/document worlds with 'Continuity' features to jump back and forth. And they've been screaming "desktop-class CPU!" for the last couple generations of ARM-64 chip... Who knows what may come in future. ;)


The real transformative case will come when the 'computing brick' with your personal data cache & connectivity never has to leave your pocket -- wireless hookup to the monitor, wearables, whatevers.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by brion
by FunkyELF on Mon 19th Oct 2015 12:18 UTC in reply to "Comment by brion"
FunkyELF Member since:
2006-07-26

Canonical promised us "Ubuntu for Android" years ago but never delivered.


This was very upsetting for me. The idea of running a "regular" GNU Linux stack alongside (same kernel) the Android stack with interoperability seemed awesome. I wish they open sourced their work so the community could develop it if they're never going to release it.

Reply Score: 2

from the article
by Fergy on Sun 18th Oct 2015 17:36 UTC
Fergy
Member since:
2006-04-10

When paired in this way, the Solu acts as an input device instead of a mouse.

Because a mouse is not an input device?

Reply Score: 2

RE: from the article
by Hayoo! on Mon 19th Oct 2015 15:16 UTC in reply to "from the article"
Hayoo! Member since:
2013-04-13

A mouse is a rodent. You don't let mice get anywhere near electronics. Ever.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Bobthearch
by Bobthearch on Sun 18th Oct 2015 18:24 UTC
Bobthearch
Member since:
2006-01-27

I'd be interested in a small portable computing device, something that could be used with a hotel room television monitor and would connect to a standard mouse and keyboard.

But I absolutely have no interest in these so-called 'features':

Collaboration... Subscription... Cloud...

---------------

I agree with the skeptical comments at the end. Seems like a smartphone performs all of the same tasks as this Solu, except the Solu is totally dependent on Wi-Fi, and it can't make phone calls.

They also need to explain this much better, "Solu, on the other hand, is designed to work offline. Any changes made offline are synced as soon as the device goes online." So all of the available cloud apps and user-created files are also located on the device's onboard storage? An office suite, Adobe apps, PDF creation, CAD/CAM design software, media players? Does any of this software actually run on a Solu yet, and does the Solu have enough onboard storage to make such a claim?

And if all of these apps can be installed on the device, is it somewhat functional as a stand-alone device without a subscription and access to it's cloud servers?

------------------

Since this is OSNews, I'm curious what sort of operating system they developed for these devices. Is it something new and interesting, or a custom Linux distro?

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by Bobthearch
by shotsman on Mon 19th Oct 2015 05:53 UTC in reply to "Comment by Bobthearch"
shotsman Member since:
2005-07-22

Exactly. Hotel WiFi is secure right?

Cloud? Nope
Subscription? You have to be joking. I subscribe to more than enough things already.
Collaboration? Ah, does this mean with other users of this device?

Purchase one of these? Are you having a laugh?

This might have been a cool device 10years ago but the world has moved on since then.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by re_re
by re_re on Sun 18th Oct 2015 23:12 UTC
re_re
Member since:
2005-07-06

It looks cool in its own way, but where is the market. Dont get me wrong, i would buy it. But I'm not yiur average consumer either

Reply Score: 2

Consensus
by Alfman on Sun 18th Oct 2015 23:39 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

I agree with most of the other posters so far, it mostly looks like a cellphone, abeit square and without the phone, and a new "cloud" subscription model.

Unless the "cloud" is unlocked and open source, it doesn't appeal to me. However I wanted to highlight a different aspect of the discussion:

“This is something I’ve been thinking about for 15 years, but back then the technology that would have allowed us to do this would have been so complex and expensive – particularly the hardware – that it would have been impossible,” says Lawson in a disorienting Belfast-Finnish accent.



I've also found this to be the case. Ever since I was young and throughout the years, I'd have many ideas. I'd spend much of my time designing things on paper. But then I didn't have the resources or technology to go build them.

Even in college we designed and implemented the software for a bluetooth mesh network, we created peer to peer routing and APIs to take advantage of the mesh network's connectivity, scalability, and discoverability. It was a great CS project, one I would have liked to see go further. But alas, it was much neater in principal that it actually turned out to be since the school had no means to produce working hardware. Without hardware, what's the point.

I'm curious, how many others here would spend time designing new things even though there was no means to actually build them?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Consensus
by shotsman on Mon 19th Oct 2015 05:58 UTC in reply to "Consensus"
shotsman Member since:
2005-07-22

I think you should modify your point about the cloud being unlocked and open source

Open Source yes but unlocked?
That could mean that everyone (including the NSA etc) can get free access you your data.

IMHO (and I am not a cloud supporter) any data stored there should be secured from each and every possible unwarranted user access. Triple DES on top of triple DES is just about the minimum level of security I'd accept. That is just my opinion so it does not really count.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Consensus
by Alfman on Mon 19th Oct 2015 07:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Consensus"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

shotsman,

I think you should modify your point about the cloud being unlocked and open source

Open Source yes but unlocked?


Sure I can clarify. "Unlocked" in this context means that the user is free to replace the vendor's programming/services/etc. There's really no implication that an "unlocked device" need be any less secure.


That could mean that everyone (including the NSA etc) can get free access you your data.


To be honest I think surveillance is equally if not more likely to occur when devices are locked to centralized providers. By contrast, unlocked devices would permit users to choose alternate service providers in preferential jurisdictions, or even on their own servers using their own keys where they don't have to rely directly on any third party.


IMHO (and I am not a cloud supporter) any data stored there should be secured from each and every possible unwarranted user access. Triple DES on top of triple DES is just about the minimum level of security I'd accept. That is just my opinion so it does not really count.


If you wanted to go that route it would be much better to choose two completely different encryption standards such that both would need to get broken. For example: Twofish + 3DES.

Also, even "unbroken" encryption ciphers can leak information depending on the ways they get used. And unfortunately some goals, like dedup, file seeking, indexing, etc are in conflict with effective encryption. These are so problematic because these are most naturally implemented at the server rather than at the client. If you run your own server, then it's not a problem, but otherwise implementing these kinds of basic features typically implies using block ciphers in a less secure way, to say nothing of features that need access to the data itself, like searching for text in files.

Reply Score: 2

Not much real information
by ThomasFuhringer on Mon 19th Oct 2015 08:37 UTC
ThomasFuhringer
Member since:
2007-01-25

Would have cared to know about the internals. What Kernel? What is the software stack apps are supposed to be built on?
Can I jailbreak it?

Reply Score: 2

avgalen
Member since:
2010-09-23

They keep saying that this thing is not a smartphone but much more powerful...but it doesn't seem to be more powerful at all. Not more powerful in hardware specs, and not more powerful in available software. They also provide no explanation for how their device is going to make software available. They promise "no installations, no updates". They also promise that software can be developed by anyone and that revenue would be shared on a 'appreciation by user' based algorithm. Everything sounds great...too good to be true...so it will not be true. They even admit so themselves: "The exact method on how to install and update legacy Android applications has not been determined. At the moment we are still using the way developers use, i.e. using the adb command line interface."

It is competing with things like Continuum, Compute Sticks, but just as well with smartphones, chromebooks and laptops for the "mobile cloud connected environment". They basically try to reinvent everything (hardware, software, UI, payment) and compete with everything without having any track record.

And then they blurb out something as unrealistic and hyped up as this:

Despite these challenges, Lawson remains extremely bullish. He’s says he’s not looking to be bought by Google for $40m. “We want to build it into a real company with a business model.”

He referred to a prediction by venture capitalist Fred Wilson, who said that by 2020 the top three technology companies will be Facebook, Google and something else – not Apple, the largest company in the world by market capitalisation. “We’d like to see ourselves in that top three,” Lawson says.


This is the kind of product that all those big players develop in their research labs and don't put out into the market...because there is no market for it. Some of those features might eventually trickle down into mainstream products. Thinking that all of this is possible on a consumer level scale with a team of a dozen people in the next few months is really misleading possible backers.

I really love all of their ideas and their device looks nice and seems to actually work. But they will have to explain one thing before they go anywhere: ecosystem.

Reply Score: 2

They are all insane
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 19th Oct 2015 13:43 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

Or this is a pump and dump scam by someone. There is no hope of success. Its a terrible interface, a terrible sales model, a terrible app selection, a terrible price point.

This is worse, actually worse!, than the juju pad, the i am + camera or anything else that Chandra Rathakrishnan has produced.

Reply Score: 2

The Solu computer uses Solu OS...
by jello on Tue 20th Oct 2015 03:32 UTC
jello
Member since:
2006-08-08

...which is not Solus OS.
If I'm not mistaken they might have a trademark problem on the British island.
AFAIK Ikey Doherty owns the Solus OS trademark ( https://solus-project.com ).
Really hope Ikey doesn't have to change the name of his OS again.

Reply Score: 2

"It's a UNIX system! I know this!"
by ichi on Wed 21st Oct 2015 13:38 UTC
ichi
Member since:
2007-03-06

It's nice to see people trying different paradigms, but this specific implementation seems to be so focused on the aesthetics that it's disconnected from the actual use cases for general purpose computers (at least from what I've seen so far).

It's like buying a "futuristic" hollywood OS to find out that pretty much all you can do is move stuff around in cool animations, and where anything actually productive is either non existant or shoehorned into the UI in a completely fugly and unpractical way.

All I have seen in the presentation that wasn't nice pictures or videos was some kind of simple text editor and something that resembled a slide, both of which looked kinda crappy both as apps an in their integration with the OS flow.

I can see something as simple as copying some text between text docs in different projects involving a lot of node navigation.

I can't say I'm sold, even less so when there's a monthly fee and as soon as the online service is discontinued you'd apparently get stuck with little more than a paperweight.

Reply Score: 2