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About this Domain:
Long before there was an iPad or an Android Phone, I saw the promise of Portable Tablet Computing combined with Open Source and UNIX-based Software. In the late 1990's I, along with others, did some work to modify existing XFree86 pen tablet drivers to support Fujitsu, Ricoh, and IBM pen-based PC's. 
Linuxslate.com was registered in 2000 to distribute, document, discuss, and support these drivers and related software.
Today, all Android Phones and Tablets are LinuxSlates, and Linuxslate.com continues to provide relevant software and hardware development, commentary, and reviews, with occasional commentary and reviews pertaining to other technology and gadgets.

About Me:

I am an Aerospace Engineer, Technology Hobbyist, Technology Consumer Advocate, and Open Source Evangelist.  I  enjoy discussing technology and educating others about technology and science.  To this end, I occasionally write articles and post them on the Commentary Pages or the Review Pages.
I also do presentations for small groups (Local computer users groups, business groups, etc.)

About this Server:

Linuxslate.com has moved to OnNow.net.  OnNow supports Open Source Projects, so Linuxslate.com Supports OnNow.  Check them out for your hosting needs.

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News
09 August 2014
Much G2Linuxslate.com does not review the iReadyGO MUCH G2 Android 4.2 Gaming Phone (and we don't review the Much i5/i5s either.)  Why is Linuxslate.com not reviewing these really cool Android Gaming phones?  Because there are already great reviews by FreakTab user Deen0X located here (Much G2) and here (Much i5).  OK... Well maybe we did review the Much G2 just a little... Read my comments after Deen0X's in this thread on FreakTab.  "If you are in the market for a Chinese phone in this price range, the MUCH G2 will not disappoint you even if you are accustom to phones from the major manufactures. You also get some game controls (basically for "free") as a nice additional aspect to an occasional game. Just don't expect it to really support every function of serious racing/fighting/flying games."

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05 August 2014
USB Charging USB charging isn't actually Evil, It's just misunderstood.  Let's learn a little about these so-called wall-warts, and we'll answer a few questions like:
  •     Why does it sometimes seem to take a phone hours to charge, and other times it seems to charge up rather quickly.
  •     What's the difference between a slow charger and a fast charger?  Will a "Fast Charger" charge all phones more quickly?
  •     Will I burn out my phone or it's battery if I charge it with the charger that came with my tablet?
  •     Can I use my friend's charger for his HTC phone on my Samsung phone (or vise-versa)?
  •     Can someone steal the pictures and other personal data from my phone if I use an unknown charger?
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02 April 2014
WW3SSIIIt's my latest "invention"!  I call it the WW3SSII (Washer With 3 Screws Stuck In It), what what good is a WW3SSII?  It helps you take over the world.... OK well, it probably won't really help you do that, at least not directly, but it will help you make Cloverleaf Antennas that are closer to commercially built ones.  Cloverleaf antennas are used for FPV flying of Radio Controlled aircraft.

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27 February 2014
RCA_AndroidIt's the First New Review in Quite a While:  The RCA 7" Android Internet Music System. The best way to explain it is to simply list out why this is such a poor Android tablet -- and then I will explain why it doesn't matter. This unit, combined with an HD TV, and a Google Chromecast make a great bedroom or spare room media masterpiece. It's not quite ready for Joe consumer, but it's a must-have for the true Android affectionado.

05 November 2012
Android-HDMI-StickNew Guide Posted - The Linuxslate.com Buyers Guide to Android HDMI Sticks, Set-top Boxes, and Mini-PC's.  Seemingly thousands of small, Android-powered mini-PC's have appeared on the market recently.  Media Players, Set-top Boxes, Smart TV Sticks, Mini-PC's... call them what you want, but essentially, they are miniature computers that run the Android Operating System. But buying one of these devices can be an intimidating step, especially if you are not an Android "Pro".  This article will explain these devices, and cover various features.


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20 July 2012
Z1 Android Phone BoxNew Review Posted -- The Z1 (Aka Rock) Android 2.2 GSM Watch Phone.
An Ipod Nano can be worn like a watch, but what if you want more capability, connectivity and customizability?  You'd need Android on your wrist.  Well, such a thing does exist, but is it practical?

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20 March 2012
OK, it's been a while since I've posted anything to this site.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but that is because too much is going on.  Since almost every* Android device is a Linux Slate, there are now hundreds, if not thousands of them, and they are the sold in the largest quantity of any platform. Thousands of sites provide reviews, forums, and advice.  This site was the first (That I know of), and it's time has passed.  We really do live in an Linuxslate world now.

I'll keep maintaining the site, and when I have something to say, I will.  I'm also on Google Plus, so ad me to your circles there for quick updates and news.

I also want to give one last (for now) bit of advice.  When deciding what Android device to buy, make sure that there is a mature and well maintained community firmware, such as Cyanogen(mod) available or in serious development for it.  Unfortunately, with things like CarrierIQ, and so much bloatware being installed by the carriers, this is a necessity.  It does not mean you have to use a community firmware, it just means you should know you can fall back on it should you need to.  A list of devices currently supported by Cyanogen(mod) is listed here.

Lastly, I want to mention Linuxslate.com's new sister website, CarCynic.com.  Like the tag-line says, "Modern Automotive Technology, and other Absolute Nonsense".  There's not much there now, but hopefully we'll have some fun, humor, and just a little bit of actual useful information.
Please hit CarCynic.com.

* So what Android devices are not Linuxslates?  There are several Android set-top boxes and media players that do not have their own screens at all, so they are not slates.

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25 November 2010
G-Tablet vs iPadNew Review:  The Viewsonic G-Tablet.  It's a Good news - Bad news - Good news story with thisTegra logo NVidia Tegra - based 10 inch Android Tablet.  Really great hardware is ruined by poor firmware.  Fortunately, again the community comes to the rescue with a largely fixed firmware. Read the detailed review here.

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16 October 2010
Arctic Spyder III LaserBack in the days when I was a laser tech, I worked on a 500 mW air cooled Argon laser.  I remember being impressed that it plugged into a standard outlet, and did not require water cooling. The laser head and the power supply could both fit on a moderately sized table.  Back then, the idea of a hand held laser that could run on a single, small rechargeable battery and produce nearly twice that much power was pure fantasy. But in one of the most impressive cases of science fiction becoming reality I have seen in my lifetime, it's now true. The Wicked Lasers Arctic Sypder III 1 Watt Blue Hand Held Laser is a revolutionary product, but as is often the case with such cutting edge technology, the first generation (G1) of these products are widely reported to suffer from early failures.  Mine was one of the first ones shipped, and it lasted only a few days of sporadic use before failing. Rather than deal with the cost and time involved with returning the laser to China, as well as the risk that a replacement laser may be delayed or confiscated by US Customs, I decided to attempt to diagnose and repair the laser myself.  My findings, and a technical description of part of the circuitry of this controversial and revolutionary product can be found in this technical paper (PDF format).
Article Anchor
Forum Discussion Link

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14 October 2010
USB OTGTo go along with the Dell Streak Mini USB adapter listed below, I have made a USB OTG cable.  This allows not only USB keyboards to be used with the Dell Streak (host mode), but also some other USB devices such as USB Flash Drives, and even Hard Drives.  My cable also works with the Dell Streak Home Dock.  Root access, and the O2 2.1 firmware is required for USB Storage Device support. Details of what's needed to use USB Storage Devices on the Dell Streak is detailed in this post on the Linuxslate.com Forums.  I'll update this post with pictures in a day or so.
Article Anchor
Forum Discussion Link

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21 Aug 2010
I have made my own mini USB adapter for the Dell Streak.  Here's a short video demostrating this device.  A Dell USB Charge/Sync cable gave it's life for this since I have not yet been able buy the connectors.
Click Here to See the Video on Youtube.
Article Anchor

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18 Aug 2010
PDMI LogoInside the Dell Streak DockA brand new Dell Streak Home Dock has gone under the screwdriver in the name of science.  Based on this tear-down, Linuxslate.com can confirm that the Dell Streak is using PDMI as mentioned below. Pin-to-Pin testing shows that the Dock Connector pinout is in agreement with what is shown in this Pinout Diagram. I cannot confirm presence or absence of the USB 3.0 Pins as these are not brought out to any connector on the Dell Home Dock. With the exception of one tiny 6 pin component associated with the HDMI connector, a few small filter capacitors, and some 0 Ohm protection jumpers, there is no actual circuitry in the dock.  Click on the picture for a larger view, and click here for a closeup of the board.  --- Oh, and how did the story end?  It lived.
[Additional Tags: Disassembly, HDMI, DVI, Display Port]

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30 July 2010
Augen_7_in_TabletSometimes it's good to be wrong.  My local Kmart just got the Augen 7" Android tablet, and I just picked one up.  I have a quick review here, which I'll update as I gain more experience with this unit..

 

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27 July 2010
Augen_7_in_TabletAs the Dell Streak US Launch Fiasco continues, I get news of more cool technology you can't buy,  Kmart is advertising this Augen 7" Android Tablet in this week's sales flyer, but you can't order it on line, and the local Kmart has not seen them.  No one else has yet either, apparently.  Kmart says they are issuing "Rainchecks" for the so-far nonexistent unit at a sale price of $149.99.   Even at the non-sale price of $169.99, it would be a great deal if true.  The specs are much better than similar units sold through the direct from China places: 800MHz processor 2MB of internal storage, SD Card Slot, and Android 2.1 on board --  I sure hope I'm wrong, and these units actually show up at the store.  If they do, you'll see at least a mini review here, but until then, count me as a skeptic.

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27 July 2010
Updated: 02 Dec 2010
At first glance the Dell Streak seems to have the same 30 pin connector as the iPhone/iPod.  However, this post on StreakSmart shows that such is not the case.  So what sort of connector is that?  Is it proprietary?  Why use it instead of Mini or Micro USB? What signals are available?  Can we home-brew some cables and adapters?  Well, I don't even have my Streak yet, but I have a suspicion.  I think the Dell Streak is one of the first major devices to use the PDMI standard, or at least a variation of it.  PDMI stands for Portable Digital Media Interface and is an ANSI/CEA standard. It defines a 30 pin connector with the following features:PDMI-pinout
  • USB 2.0 Port, including limited Current Charging and USB OTG
  • High Current Charging (for faster charging of devices with higher capacity batteries)
  • Stereo Analog Audio
  • USB 3.0 Port
  • 2 Lane Display Port (Digital Video and Audio, with Aux channel)
The page on the right from the CEA PDMI Technical Overview shows the Pin-out.
Click for a larger view or get the document from the links below.

Of course this does not mean that the Streak supports all of these.  In addition, 1080p Video requires a 4 Lane Display Port, so the Streak is hardware limited to something less i.e. 720p.
Update:  A reader points out that 2 Lane Display Port is capable of 1080p (albeit with certain color and scan rate limitations), but the overall point is still the same -- the Dell Streak is still likely hardware limited to 720p video out.
Wikipedia Page on PDMI (Source for this article)
DisplayPort Technical Overview (PDF) (Includes Pinout on Page 74)

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02 July 2010
Dell StreakWhy am I so anxious for a Dell Streak when Dell is getting another round of bad press from the capacitor issue?  Basically, there are 2 aspects to this.  First is the issue of trust and goodwill toward the company, and Second is the Streak itself. I believe Dell did not behave properly when the capacitor issue hit. But who exactly am I going to buy a phone from?  Apple has had issues in the past, and arguably is not doing the right thing now with the iPhone4 antenna issue. Then there was the Sony "RootKit" debacle. There's HP's little spying scandal; and how about Motorola and possible GPL violations? I could go on.  To be clear, I am not saying any of these actions are OK, but it's not a choice of Dell vs. "Good Company", it's buy or don't buy, and I want -- arguably need -- a phone.  As far as the capacitors themselves, it's true that this was not just a Dell issue.  I know because I've replaced bad electrolytics in many devices.  I expect that the build quality of the Streak will be better than off-brand Chinese stuff, and probably better than HTC, but less than the Motorola Milestone or the iPhone3GS. Building one of these things is not like building a PC.  In a device with this high a parts density, and this type of SMT, there is just not that much variation in build. The story is the same for the parts suppliers. The device has also shown to be pretty durable. I think is is very nearly as nice looking as the Motorola Milestone, but has better specs, and is likely to be cheaper than I can get a North American version of a Milestone for.   I like the slate form factor (I wonder why?), and if I am going to have nearly 4x the pixels of 1st gen Android Phones, I'd actually like to be able to see them. I almost always wear cargo pants, so carrying it will not be a problem.  If I want a large screen Android phone with replaceable internal storage, and a front facing camera, my choice of alternatives pretty much goes to zero. Will I look silly holding something so large to the side of my head when I make a call?  Nah... I have a Bluetooth Banana, so I won't look silly at all!

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30 June 2010
BoxNew Review Posted.  Read this full review of a Chinese iPad style unit that runs Android 1.6.  This device is known as the Eken M003, but is sold onder other names as well.


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28 June 2010
Confused AndroidThe Dell Streak is now on sale SIM-Free in the UK.  The cost is 449 with VAT and UK Shipping (365.11 Without VAT or shipping.)  As far as a US price, the number $500.00 has been circulating around the 'net based on a comment made in a video posted on All Things D.  A Dell Media Contact has informed Linuxslate.com that Dell has not announced a price for an unlocked Streak in the US.  What was meant in the video is that typically, unsubsidized, unlocked, smart phones cost about $500 more than the subsidized price  (2 year contract, locked phone), and that the Streak would likely not be significantly different. (Watch the video and see what the Dell guy actually says.) So, if the Streak is (My example) $99 w/ a 2 year plan on AT&T, them we might expect it to be $599 unlocked on Dell.com, If it's $199 With a 2 year plan, it may be $699 unlocked (My numbers again).  As of this writing,  449 is approx. $678, so those figures are in line with the UK pricing.
Additionally, The UK version has only 900/2100 MHz UMTS support.  This means that  if you buy a unlocked UK Dell Streak and try to use it on AT&T in the US, 3G will not work. (Edit: Removed possibly incorrect T-Mobile Statement) Rumor has it that the US version will have 850/1900/2100 MHz UMTS.
Oh... One other thing about the Dell Streak... I WANT ONE !!

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11 May 2010
CitroenMy latest article has nothing to do with Linux, and nothing to do with slates.  As forum readers know, I am a Citroen automobile enthusiast and owner.  I'll have more posted about my car eventually, but for now, here's an article on Citroen - Related Music.  Even if you don't have a Citroen, you may discover some interesting new music.

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13 December 2009
Bluetooth BananaMini Review:  Bluetooth Banana sold by DealExtreme:
Essentially a Bluetooth headset in plastic banana, it can be paired with anything that supports the BT handsfree or headset profile.  Yes, it's silly, but its useful too.  

Advantages:
  • Inexpensive
  • Makes a great VoIP handset for your PC, Laptop, MID or UMPC.
  • Reduces RF exposure as compared to holding your mobile next to your brain.
  • So realistic looking, I've reached for it thinking it was a real banana.  The slightly rubberized paint makes is almost feel real too.
  • Buttons work well; not likely to make inadvertent calls.
  • Multicolor LED gives clear indication of status/pairing, etc.
  • Good range and battery life.
  • People who see you use it will think you are CrAzY.  (No, I did not get this point in the wrong place.)
Disadvantages:
  • Can only be paired to one device at a time.
  • Charge connector is not standard Mini-USB.
  • Tin-ey sound quality.
  • The let down that occurs when you are hungry and realize you can't actually eat it.
  • The fact that the above may occur too late.
  • Shipping time from Hong Kong.
Today, communications is essential.  In a world like that, you've just got to have a Banana. DealExtreme, US$17.70 Free Shipping.

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See older Articles in the
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