Gone are the days when a laptop looked and weighed like a attaché case and a mobile phone had no other purpose than to make and receive calls. These days, ultra-portable netbooks are all the rage; as mobile phones can do everything from taking home videos, managing your calendar and finances, and even hook up to your TV for a home theater experience. That’s not even counting the tablets that have become part of everybody’s must-have list with the release of the Apple Ipad.
Just as these portable gadgets become more complex and multifunctional, so do the demands of a strong, fast, connective yet non-demanding operating platform become more pressing. With Android steadily dominating the mobile market, and Apple still fiercely secretive of its own, a new mobile platform has just rolled into the block. Meet MeeGo.
Power-Packed Portable Linux in a Pretty Package
MeeGo was first introduced in February 2010 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Intel and Nokia wowed the techno world by revealing that they’re joining forces to create the brand-new, Linux-based mobile operating platform. This new portable platform is a mixture of Intel’s mobile Linux system, Moblin, and Nokia’s Maemo platform, also based on Linux. The open source project promises to deliver cross-platform flexibility and availability because of its mini-architecture. This means that it can run on Intel and ARM chips, or as an API between Windows, Mac, or Symbian platforms. It also has potential to deliver in terms of computing power and speed, blending Moblin’s core software platform with the impeccable graphics delivered by Maemo’s Qt UI toolkit. Based on developers’ statements, the MeeGo is geared for use not just on mobile phones and netbooks but also in other handhelds like tablets PCs, mediaphones, and even in-vehicle screens.
MeeGo for Netbooks
MeeGo v.1.0 for Atom-based netbooks first rolled out in May 25. The operating platform, available for download at the project site (http://meego.com), was a visual tasty treat that came built-in with a synchronized calendar, social networking aggregator, Google Chrome/Chromium, email app, multimedia-playing music player, and full integration with the Intel apps store. All these are centered on the Myzone, which was MeeGo’s launchpad which reveals at a glance appointments, tasks, social networking updates and thumbnails of recently opened files and/or applications. Programs are organized into tabs for convenience. Under the hood, the system runs on kernel 2.6.33 of Linux, relies on DeviceKit and udev for interacting with hardware devices, has a modern 2D / 3D graphics stack including Kernel Mode Setting and non-root X, voice and data connectivity with Connman connection manager, Ofono telephony stack, BlueZ Bluetooth, and Universal Plug and Play. The stunning visuals were courtesy of the Qt 4.6, an upgrade from Maemo’s UI toolkit. Another brand-new development to this netbook OS is the use of the next-generation Linux BTRFS file system. To date, MeeGo 1.0 has been tested on a variety of netbooks, namely the Asus EeePC 901/1000H/1005HA/1008HA, EeePC 1005PE, Eeetop ET1602, Dell mini10v, Inspiron Mini 1012, Acer Aspire One D250/AO532-21S, Revo GN40, Aspire 5740-6025, Lenovo S10, MSI U130 /AE1900,HP mini 210-1044, and Toshiba NB302.
The First MeeGo Tablets Roll Out
This June at the widely anticipated Computex expo in Taiwan, MeeGo made waves again with the debut of the first MeeGo-based tablets. Running on a prototype of the MeeGo v.1.1, the platform was seen on a Qanta RedVale Tablet and the Wistron W1 and CZC P10T tablets. The Qanta Redvale and Wistron W1 both run on the new 1.5 GHz Intel Atom Moorestown, one of the fastest mobile processors to date. Although both Wistron tablets were kept behind glass displays, hands-on tests with the 10-inch resistive touchscreen Qanta Redvale held much promise. The interface was responsive, the layout customizable to grid or panel views, and comes with a variety of core applications that can be upgraded or updated through the built-in connection with the Intel app store. The Redvale tablet was able to play up to 720p video impressively, and can support five-finger multitouch and multi-touch pinch zooming of images. The tablet is not due for release until mid-2011, though, so there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Although pretty impressive, the MeeGo still has a long way to go before it topples Android or makes serious inroads in the mobile device market. With version 1.1 for handsets, netbooks and tablets set for release in October, though, we’ll just have to wait with bated breath for the new features and improvements the platform has in store.