June 15, 2010
Ben NanoNote First Impressions
Recently unboxed my Ben NanoNote, and I am impressed. The packaging was top-notch and classy as hell. I would not hesitate to put my name to it.
The NanoNote itself is tiny, and feels fairly solid despite the shiny-appearance which I have come to associate with cheapo devices. It's a nice little package, the only issue being the lack of cover of some sort for the micro-SD card slot, which is odd considering the USB port does.
For those wondering, the keyboard has good tactile feedback, though there is no way you are touch typing on this.
There is a microphone opening and a speaker grill, though I have no at this time exercised any of those functions.
If you are wondering what the Ben NanoNote is, here is a little background:
Ben NanoNote is a $99 device which runs OpenWRT. In and of itself this is nothing special. What is special is the copyleft hardware - you can download the schematics off qi-hardware. For hardware meddlers like myself, this is a boon: we can do many interesting things when we know exactly what is available to us and how.
The copyleft nature of the NanoNote hardware is that anyone else can build their own 100% compatible NanoNote variant. This allows immediately opens the platform to competition, and it also gives product developers peace-of-mind: you can always make your own Ben NanoNote, even if qi-hardware stops making them.
In many ways, the Ben NanoNote is like the arduino: here is some hardware and schematics along with a software platform/SDK with source. Now go wild.