Dec 14, 2013, Sebastian Krzyszkowiak
Time for some news about what's going on in the project - phase V reached, dual-touch support, new test boards, discussions about user privacy and more!
A few hours after publishing our last update, the counter on the website reached the magic number - 200, causing the transition from phase IV to phase V! Thank you once again! This means that the current goal is to reach at least 1 000 customers wanting to ensure that they'll get the device from first production batch. The closer we are to reaching it, the easier are some components to get (like 1 GB RAM chip, with minimum order quantity of 1 000 units) and the cheaper every single device will become. Right now we're at about 235 devices. Please spread the word about Neo900 - everyone benefits from that counter reaching a high value!
In other news, we're happy to announce that Neo900 hardware is going to support dual-touch gestures like rotating and pinching, without replacing the original, resistive screen from N900! Though we originally planned to see if we can implement this principle with discrete components, the chip that has been suggested by user wentknweqt_ on IRC allowed us to greatly simplify our design. Thanks! You can read more about how it works in Joerg's TMO post.
We've made some progress on our proto-boards. We have finalized one PHS8-P based set of boards, featuring the LEDs to test keyboard illumination. We will also use the boards to run further tests - voice calls (with analog audio for initial testing), GPS and keyboard itself. Our next step will be to do a redesign of the boards based on all experiences (e.g. moving some holes and components by 0.1 - 0.5 mm) and to add more functionality for the next round of engineering tests. We expect to have something more to test in January.
Side by side with nice successes there also always come some inevitable problems, always willing to arrive at least expected places (Murphy's Law, §42). Our biggest headache right now is Molex 5000246471 connector (used to connect the display part) which is officially obsolete since Feb 2013. We're also looking for complete N900s in good quality (though possibly with broken mainboard) as well for as sources for spare parts. We'd like to kindly ask our community for a little bit of help there - especially for sourcing the display connector. If you know some way to help, please contact us!
In the past few days we've seen many questions from users concerned about their privacy when using the Neo900, coming also from FSF-related people and even Mr. Richard Stallman himself. The Neo900 is very likely going to be the best phone you can find to take care about protecting your privacy, but we'd like to clarify that while we share the spirit behind Free Software Foundation and their consumer privacy concerns, and our design takes into consideration majority of their recommendations, there are some differences in our approach where we disagree with FSF and we believe that in fact our concept is better for user privacy and freedom than what FSF suggests.
We are going to use Neo900 too and we are as concerned about our own privacy as many of our users are about theirs. Therefore, in next few days we're going to publish a comprehensive article about our views on this topic, clarifying in detail why exactly our views differ from FSF point of view and what we are going to offer instead - information that's currently spread across various IRC logs, e-mails and forum posts. Stay tuned!
Last but not least: our sister project, GTA04, started the fundraiser for producing new revision of this Openmoko Neo Freerunner replacement board - GTA04A5, enhancing some stuff and fixing a few minor issues found in earlier revisions. The campaign has already collected 1 930 EUR for 16 devices and is now heading for 5 000 EUR, which would translate into 50 units. If you're interested in upgrading your Freerunner or getting a whole device, pre-order now! You can also order used Neo Freerunner now and get a rebate on GTA04 when it's ready. The success of GTA04 campaign will also positively influence the Neo900 project, as both boards share the majority of their components.
Thank you for tremendous support and interest we've received so far and see you in next update!
The Neo900 project aims to provide a successor of N900 Nokia Internet Tablet™ device, with faster CPU, more RAM and LTE modem, basing efforts on an already existing, mature and stable free platform - the OpenPhoenux GTA04, following the spirit of freedom known from Openmoko devices.