December 29, 2006

Nokia 770

Well, I saved up a bunch of little on-the-spot-but-only-convertible-into-gift-card-bonuses and splurged on a Nokia 770. I've been reading forums and testing applications for about a week now. The verdict is in, this is one cool device. It has bluetooth and wi-fi built in, both with good software support. The display is quite impressive. Apart from a lack of SVG support and antiquated Flash 6.0, the browser is fantastic. It plays video and audio very nicely. There is a very good mplayer port with support for the 770's audio and video hardware, so it's possible to play video in the megabit bitrate range. Here is the kicker. Wait for it... USB host mode. This is pretty much unheard of outside of Laptops/UMPC devices. PDA's and such just don't have it. It's a bit of a hardware/software hack, but nothing I couldn't drum up with existing parts I had around in an hour or so. In fact, I spend more time in Fry's buying a USB flash drive (all of mine are on apparently permanent loan) than it did to get it working on the 770. Read on for more...

The USB port on the 770 is a Mini-A Female port. Since it's designed for use as a client-only USB port, it isn't powered. A simple command (./flasher --enable-usb-host-mode) to enable the USB host mode in the driver combined with a power injector is all you need. The 770 expects power to the port as does the device you are connecting to it. I read several plans for power injectors. Although I was impressed, I'd already looked down the 9V + 7805 voltage regulator road. Not only do 9V batteries suck, you're waisting so much power with that regulator. I already had two of Ladyada's fantastic MintyBoost! kits assembled and in use. They've served me very well. I decided to convert one into a USB power injector for my 770. I'll get an instructable up as soon as my cameras get back from vacation with my Wife. The basic gist is this:

Sacrifice a cable with a mini-a male connector. Solder each of it's leads to the corresponding lead on the MintyBoost's USB connector. Plug your USB device into the MintyBoost port, and the new cable into the 770. Yes, it's that easy.

Watch dmesg for the device created for the USB device and then mount it up. I'll be looking into USB NIC's, keyboards and mice sometime in the next few weeks. I've successfully mounted and used a USB Flash drive and my iPod mini so far. I'll be doing a study on the cheapest high-capacity flash memory too. I can just connect a USB reader and get support for media types than the nobody-carries-it RS-MMC. And in capacities higher than 2GB to boot!

Posted by wschuller at December 29, 2006 09:46 PM