Ya nanonote

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Sat Mar 2 11:08:46 EST 2013

On Saturday 02 March 2013 01:34:06 lee jones wrote:
> Me personally I must say I quite like the ben nanonote overall. It has
> quite a good battery life and for its size I cannot even think of
> another device which is even remotely similar. Those are pretty good.

It does stand out against the backdrop of touchscreen devices of different 
sizes, continuing the tradition of the palmtop.

> One thought did occur to me though. If the ya nanonote is not going to
> be possible how's about doing something like this for the interim
> perod until a new device is made. First of all .... well, are there
> any large quantities of ben nanonotes still lying about unsold at all?
>  Would it be worth upgrading and selling them?

I think the previous discussion about this concluded with people disagreeing 
about how this would work, but accepting that it's obviously up to Wolfgang 
to decide what to do with the remaining stocks. Look at the archives for 
December for a few different threads about this and other ideas:


> Here's the idea - and I don't know if it is at all possible. How's
> about (say) doing an upgrade to the existing (unsold) ben nanonotes,
> let's say do something important such as (say) removing the usb
> controller chip and making it a usb host chip. Then prehaps - say
> 50-50 you sell half the upgraded nanonotes  as - let's say "nanonote+"
> and the others you sell the boards so others can upgrade existing
> nanonotes, with the screens/cases/keyboards/batteries being kept back
> as spares. Good or bad idea, or not possible?

My impression is that you cannot upgrade the USB capabilities on the board 
because they are part of the Ingenic SoC, and although the SoC actually does 
support USB Host, it isn't exposed in the package used on the Ben. See here 
for some information, at least (as I don't have the other details to hand):


I've been playing around with a USB Host controller via the 8:10 port, and I 
hope to get a bit further with this than my previous efforts, but I don't 
really see an easier way of getting USB Host. See here for details of the 
8:10 port and its use for experiments:


I seem to recall issues related to upgrading the screen involved things like 
the sizes of screens for different resolutions, so if you want VGA there may 
not be anything compatible in the same size/shape as the LCD currently used, 
and thus any replacement necessitates a change to the casing, which is 
probably the least convenient thing to change.

> But going back to the ya nanonote if some hardware should ever emerge
> for it that would be good :) . Only thing I'd wish for is half decent
> battery life and some sort of CPU which isn't horribly slow as soon as
> you use it. This seems to be the problem with a lot of ARM based
> devices (the other problem being mandatory propietary drivers) - take
> your pick -- cheapo chinese tablets, netbooks, arm computers on a usb
> stick they all have similar problems.

As I said before, I don't think there's a shortage of hardware that you could 
put together as a concept, but the challenge is to make it into a product. I 
remember the defunct computer manufacturer Acorn Computers having to settle 
for previous generation laptop cases from Olivetti (their sister company) in 
order to ship a laptop based on their own hardware back in the early 1990s, 
and I don't think the situation is too different today: people who can do 
electronics are quite able to make that part of the hardware, but completing 
the physical product seems to require larger investments.

All this having been said, I hope that someone can point out something I have 
overlooked that makes such endeavours a lot easier (and cheaper), and by that 
I don't mean 3D printing, which is promising but not really suitable for even 
moderate levels of production or for every aspect of the physical form of a 
device, as far as I understand it.

> It is possible though to produce some sort of usuable computer which
> is reasonably good, has wifi, usb host, decent battery etc. Just look
> at the open pandora. While it isn't 100% on being exactly open, it
> does have all those things. I bought one of these, one of the old
> 256MB early devices the first ones made a few years back now and it
> proves very useful being a) small and b) long battery life.

I think there's a lot that everyone can learn from each other. One sees 
remarks of minor ridicule about projects like Open Pandora and the mistakes 
they've made, but if you can't learn from other people's mistakes, you're 
likely to make them yourself at some point, and quite probably they'll be 
mistakes that you didn't even notice.


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