Tiny Imovio iKit Handtop Computer is a Decade Too Late

At first glance, the iMe (sorry!) iKit handtop computer sounds pretty fandabbydozy: it's a tiny, folding, 2.8-inch screen, QWERTY keyboard, Wi-Fi-enabled, webcam and Bluetooth-packing, multimedia-playing computer. But then you learn that it's got just a 3-hour battery life in operation, doesn't have 3G connectivity and if you even want to connect a mobile broadband dongle you'll have to get one with an "optional" internal USB connection. It's basically the tiny portable PDA computer we all fancied back in the 90s.

Sure, it can take up to 8GB of memory via an SD card expansion, and its version 2.4.19 Linux-based OS will make it pretty bloody hackable...but if you line it up against modern smartphones, or even handheld games machines, it doesn't actually live up to the "the ultimate, portable multimedia device" banner it's being touted under by makers Imovio. Then you discover that it's cost will be around $US170, and the Eee PC and its ilk loom over it in terms of cost, specs, battery power and only slightly lesser portability.

Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, possibly expecting a lot from a device with such a lofty name, and maybe it'll appeal to people after really ultraportable not-quite-a-BlackBerry, not-quite-an-iPod computing needs—read the press release below to make up your own mind.[viaGadgetLab]

London, 20th October, 2008: A device that offers consumers an alternative to a smartphone or mini-PC has today been launched by IMOVIO. The iKIT is a Pocket Mobile Companion that at 95mm by 65mm and only 15.5mm high is as portable as a mobile phone. Yet the WiFi enabled device comes with a full QWERTY/AZERTY keyboard, an 8GB SD card slot, a 2.8 inch QVGA display and an option to convert the USB for use with an HSDPA dongle, making it a fully functional communicating and browsing device and a viable substitute for a laptop.
iKIT open
iKIT open

The stylish iKIT is a dedicated chat, email and internet accessory and unlike smartphones it is fully optimised for that purpose. The clamshell design provides users with a full keyboard and landscape screen that don't have to be compromised for voice calls. Dedicated hotkeys for all of the applications, including a music and video player and webcam, coupled with the elegant design mean that iKIT is the ultimate, portable multimedia device.

The suggested retail price of approximately £99 or €130, combined with the functionality, make the iKIT a very attractive device for a youth audience, as well as appealing to travelers who need a quick and easy-to-use messaging alternative. By buying the iKIT, consumers will be able to save up to £500 on an iPhone* or mini-PC** and with potential operator subsidies the savings may be even greater.

"Many consumers can't afford the latest smartphone or mini-PC gadget, while others simply can't use or just don't like the existing form factors. This means that large groups of people still don't fully utilise mobile data," said Dr Jack Torobin, CEO of IMOVIO. "These users, mainly women and teens, still want to have the ability to send emails, browse the web and update their on-line profiles whilst they are out and about."

"We designed the iKIT to be an alternative to a smartphone or mini-PC," said Nigel Newby-House, Head of Design at IMOVIO. "It's a beautifully designed mobile device that provides all the multi-media and messaging capabilities a mobile consumer needs. But at a much better price."

For mobile and broadband providers, the iKIT is the perfect device to complement their existing range and can be offered to consumers as an add-on device to go with the existing choice of phones, laptops or HSDPA cards. Alternatively, the iKIT can be used to increase customer retention or reduce churn by offering it as a subsidised device for users signing up or renewing broadband or mobile data packages.

Dr. Torobin continued, "the iKIT will allow operators to target the demographics that are currently not well served for mobile data. And as an HSDPA enabled device, it offers a great entry level product for operators to increase usage of their high-speed networks."

Some of the many operator benefits of the iKIT include:
- The iKIT is brandable to match an operator's existing portfolio of devices
- For mobile operators, the iKIT will increase take up of new unlimited data plans on the new high-speed networks, without users having to change from their much-loved handset
- For broadband providers the iKIT is the ideal second device that can be used to share the home network, providing the messaging capabilities needed without the high cost of a new laptop
- The iKIT opens up a market to a previously disenfranchised demographic that can neither afford, or fully utilise a smartphone or laptop
- The suggested retail price of approximately £99 or €130 means that the iKIT is the perfect device for consumers to purchase as an add-on device - increasing the number of transactions and therefore loyalty
- Operators can now offer teens and other key demographics, like senior citizens, a device that offers exactly the right amount of functionality without the price, commitment or unnecessary processing power of either a laptop or smartphone

On top of the Linux 2.4.19 operating system (OS) the iKIT runs the multi-media and communication tools required by the teen and youth audience. Browsing is optimised for the form factor with Opera Mini 4.1 and the device uses a standard mini-USB port for headphones, charging and synching the device. With storage for over 2,000 contacts and a stand-by battery life of up to 250 hours, the iKIT belies its lightweight, stylish appearance.

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Notes to Editors

Price comparisons are based on the following information, current as of 17th October, 2008.
*Apple iPhone on an 18-month contract at £30 per month, plus £159 handset purchase gives a total cost of ownership of £699
** Vodafone Notebook (Dell Inspiron Mini) on a 24-month contract at £25 per month gives a total cost of ownership of £600
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iKIT Specifications


- Processor: Marvell PXA270 312MHz
- Operating System: Linux 2.4.19
- User Interface GUI: Proprietary plus Trolltech QT/E 2.3.8

- Bluetooth® 2.0 with EDR, supports wireless stereo headset
- (A2DP) & DUN profile
- WIFI® IEEE 802.11 b/g
- Optional USB connection configured for HSDPA dongle

- QWERTY/AZERTY + numeric keys, other languages optional

Memory Internal
- ROM: 128 MB, RAM: 64 MB SDRAM
- User data: 12MB, User media files: 23MB

Memory External
- Micro SD (up to 8GB)

- 2.8 inch QVGA, TFT, 260,000 colours, landscape

Dimensions & Weight
- 95mm (L) x 65mm (W) x 15.5mm (H)
- 113g (with battery)

- Mini-USB 1.1 used for charging, PC data exchange and wired stereo headset.

- 1050 mAh, Li-ion
- Standby Time: up to 250h
- Power-up Time: up to 3h (25% data download per hour)
- Gaming Time: up to 4h (java game)
- Charging time: 2.5-3.5 hr to full charge from flat with device power off

- Velvet Black, Satin White - other colours available to order


- Web browser Opera Mini 4.1

- POP3 / IMAP / SMTP email protocols
- Supports MSN IM

- Supports MIDI, WAV and MP3 formats
- 16mm speaker built-in, monophonic

- Supports JPG, BMP, GIF and PNG formats
- 0.3 MP fixed focus camera (Option)
- Digital zoom: Up to 3X smooth digital zoom with 7 steps

- 3GP, MP4 and AVI format, Maximum size QVGA
- 25 fps video playback for QVGA size video clips
- Support full-screen display

- JTWI / JSR75 compliant


PC Sync
- With Outlook 2000/2003 & Outlook Express v6 (emails, contacts, calendar)

Personal Features
- Calculator
- Media folder
- Notepad
- World clock
- Alarm clock
- Stop Watch
- Countdown Timer

Contact List
- Maximum 2,000 records

- Maximum 1,000 events

In the Box

- iKIT
- Battery
- Mini USB / USB cable
- USB stereo earpiece
- Charger
- User guide and CD

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