phone

Motorola A780 - My Shiny New Linux-Based Smartphone

Motorola A780
Motorola A780 Accessories

TuxMobil - Linux on Laptops, Notebooks, PDAs and Mobile Phones

It seems that I have become quite a gadget-whore lately. I'm spending all my money buying one gadget after the other, no end in sight...

Anyways, I finally got one of those fabulous Motorola A780, a Linux-based smartphone. Getting one turned out to be way more complicated (and expensive!) than what I thought it would be.

In the beginning, all sounded quite good: my cell phone contract with o2 is two years old soon, so I can get a new (cheap) cell phone. Stupidly enough, o2 doesn't offer the A780 in their shops and there seems to be no way to order one either (they do offer other Motorola phones, though). After asking the same questions in different o2 shops multiple times (and almost giving up), I accidentally saw the A780 in the local Saturn (a German electronics store).

And indeed, they sell the phone, and they can even prolong my contract with o2 (there's a dedicated o2 employee working in the Saturn store), so that I can profit in the form of a cheaper phone. Or at least that's the theory... In practive, however, I have a student-contract (saves me some bucks) which has the stupid "feature" that it can only be prolonged in o2 shops. Guess what, the Saturn guys cannot give me the A780 as they can't prolong my contract, and the o2 shop simply doesn't have the A780 at all. Argh!

After grumbling, asking around, googling, and even more grumbling, I finally decided to do the following: I got a new "dummy" o2 contract in the Saturn (yes, I'll have to pay that for 2 years) which enables me to get the A780 and to get it cheaper. I'll keep using my old contract and my old SIM card for simplicity and leave the new one untouched. If you take into account the money I'll spend on the new contract it doesn't save me too much money, but at least it's distributed across two years... I'll terminate my (new) o2 contract tomorrow, to make sure I don't forget about it (I don't want to have it any longer than the 2 years I'm forced to live with)... Stupid, stupid world we live in. Nobody should be required to perform such "hacks" in order to get the phone he/she wants...

Enough ranting now, here's some juicy details about the phone:

  • ARM CPU (at 400 MHz, I think)
  • 48 MB RAM, 48 MB on-chip flash memory, 256 MB Transflash card
  • 240x320 touchscreen
  • 1280x1024 built-in digital camera (can record videos, too!)
  • USB (device, host, OTG)
  • Bluetooth
  • GPS (+ it comes with CDs with maps of Europe)
  • Plays MP3s and videos
  • Can send SMS, MMS, emails, and has an IM client
  • and lots more great stuff...

For details on the hardware see this wiki page.

The only thing which I'm missing is WLAN, but once USB host support works (the hardware does support it), you can easily use a WLAN USB dongle...

I'm pretty sure I'll be having lots of fun with this thing, and I'll quite probably be contributing to the OpenEZX project, which was started by Harald Welte (of gpl-violations.org fame) and tries to create the first 100% Free Software GSM-phone using the Motorola A780 and similar phones. Judging from these blog posts by Harald, running your own 2.6 kernel on the phone is not too unrealistic anymore, and telnetting into the phone (via USBnet) seems to work fine already...

Expect more spammingblog posts about the A780 in future...

Phonecaster.de - Listen to podcasts via telephone or cell phone

PhoneCaster.de is a nice service which offers podcasts via telephone. I received an email from them today which told me that someone had added my music podcast to their site (thanks anonymous stranger!).

This means that you can now listen to my podcast from your telephone or cell phone by dialing
Phonecaster.de
(in Germany). I'm not sure if it works from outside of Germany, but you could try to call +49 931 663927 408. Please leave a comment and report whether it works or doesn't work.

There's quite a bunch of other podcasts available which you can listen to while in a train, on a bus, or while you're somewhere else without Internet access. This opens up some nice new possibilities...

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