SIEMENS SIMpad SL4 - Tablet PC

SIEMENS SIMpad SL4 - Tablet PC

Postby Hendz » June 1st, 2010, 9:17 am

REF: http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/6733
Aug 25, 2003 By Guylhem Aznar
(Guylhem Aznar is the coordinator of the The LDP (www.tldp.org). In real life, he is a consultant, a 6th-year medical student and a PhD student in Computer Science. In his little free time, he enjoys playing with his Zaurus and SIMpad. He can be reached on www.externe.net.)

If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then the SIMpad is a Tablet PC.

Product: SIMpad SL4 | Manufacturer: Siemens AG | URL: www.my-siemens.com/simpad | Price: less than $400

Siemens is known to the public mostly for the cellular phones it builds. But Siemens has other interesting hardware that one should discover--like the SIMpad SL4.

Image

Apple-Like Design

The SIMpad SL4 is a beautiful machine. A sleek and polished look is an important feature for such machines, which may be used on the go. It also feels solid and is easy to use with only one hand. The big buttons are placed conveniently on only one side of the screen.

Measuring 10.35 x 7.08 x 1.10 inches, this piece of hardware is incredibly light--only 2.2 lbs.. Forget your heavy laptop; only my Sony C1V Picturebook is as light. All of this makes the SIMpad an excellent companion for long work days, where every ounce matters.

Another interesting feature is the LiIon battery life, up to seven hours according to Siemens. But my tests with a PCMCIA 802.11b Wi-Fi card lasted nearly seven hours, which means the SIMpad without any PCMCIA card may last longer. Now you can really leave the AC adapter at home.

A Grown Up Zaurus 5500

Powered by a 206MHz StrongARM processor, featuring 64MB of RAM and 32MB of Flash memory, a microphone, a speaker, a serial port, an infrared port, a smart card port, a PCMCIA port and a USB slave port, the SIMpad SL4 looks like a grown up Zaurus 5500. Only two details are different--the SL4 has a beautiful 800x600 TFT touch screen, with 65,000 colors supported. While not as bright and crisp as the Sharp Zaurus C700 screen, the SL4 can be used perfectly outdoors.

The other difference between the Zaurus and the SIMpad is the missing keyboard. The SIMpad is not a PDA or a laptop but a tablet PC, and tablet PCs do not have keyboards. Too bad; even a small 5500 keyboard would have been welcome, say, below the screen. You can, however, purchase a serial keyboard, such as the iBiz serial keyboard, which is reported to work with the SIMpad. It connects to the sync cable, but iBiz was not able to provide me such a keyboard for tests.

Perhaps the tablet PC label should be discussed here. Some say only i386 hardware capable of running Windows XP and featuring a touchscreen which cannot be activated by fingers or other objects truly can be called tablet PCs. I think this is far too restrictive; i386/XP requirements are due to the heavy usage of not free operating systems coming from Redmond. In fact, the SIMpad can and does run Linux. As with an iPAQ, you can remove Windows CE to use a handheld distribution, including OPIE or GPE. You also can run standard Linux applications if you have a PCMCIA hard disk on which to store them all and if you can find ARM binaries. But many distributions now release ARM packages, and you can cross-compile from your PC any missing application you may need.

Personally, being unable to use my fingers on the touchscreen is not a feature but a bug. I want to be able to click on the screen with anything I have nearby, like a closed pen. Restricting the use of the touchscreen to fingertips sounds like a bad idea to me.

The First Linux Tablet PC

Initially announced in January 2001 at CES, the SIMpad SL4 was not immediately on the market. An initial $1,500 price tag, when the first Windows XP tablet PC were announced, meant the SL4 was not a big seller in the mainstream market. Now it can be found in Germany and Switzerland for much less, as little as Eur. 199 for the Windows CE version (called Sinus Pad) and Eur. 385 for the Linux flashable version (SIMpad SL4). The SIMpad SLC, an SL4 with DECT cordless phone support, is sparingly available. If you have a DECT compatible cordless phone, go for it because you will not need Wi-Fi. Otherwise, forget the SLC because of possible collisions on the unlicensed 2.4GHz band.

An SL4 itself still can be hard to track down. Be prepared to read and write German (or use Babelfish) if you want to get one. I was able to purchase one from NRG Systems, an Augsburg-based company operating mostly on eBay.de. The service was excellent, and I received my SIMpad by COD in only a few days.

The first thing I did was flash a Linux image from simpad.sf.net; I recommend image-opie_0.9.1 to get a Zaurus-like OPIE environment. OPIE support is being actively developed by Chris Martin, who also helped me with OPIE support.

Image
Figure 1. The very same Qtopia user interface from the Zaurus is available on the SIMpad in its free software version called OPIE.

Real Life Tests

To get started, download the serload application and an image from simpad.sf.net, connect the SIMpad to your PC using the serial cable and start the 20 minute upgrade process. I had to do that twice, because the first flash with the cpk1sp1 image failed--a bad start.

When it finally succeeded, I was greeted with OPIE boot screen. But bad news again: OPIE 0.9.1 is buggy. You first have to change the default theme to get title bar buttons. At that very moment, for no reason, OPIE crashed and I had to reboot the SIMpad--a very bad start indeed.

The lack of jffs2 support on the SIMpad is a real problem for now. It means you cannot install applications besides those on the image. Every Zaurus 5500 .ipk application should be supported, but because the filesystem is not rewritable, nothing can be installed. jffs2 journalized and rewritable filesystem support should come soon, with OPIE 0.9.3 (used in OpenZaurus 3.2) support, to fix this #1 drawback. This improvement also would let the Eur. 199 Sinus Pad support a Linux flash. I also was disappointed when I noticed my Intel Wi-Fi card was not supported; it works on a GNU/Linux desktop machine with a pcmcia-cs patch.

Now the good news: you can find and use the traditional OPIE tools and the Konqueror browser. PCMCIA works, the USB slave port works and a pre-alpha smart card driver exists, but there's not yet such a driver for the Windows CE SIMpad. Moreover, a SIMpad with the ck1sp1 OPIE image was shown at CeBit this year, where a very active German community is working on Linux support.

Currently, the SIMpad has no sound support for OPIE. If you prefer TinyX over OPIE, however, sound should work. I could not manage to play or record sound, a problem I attribute to my lack of knowledge of the SIMpad hardware and the current state of the project. I intend to spend more time on it to at least get fullscreen video playback with mplayer and a correct hardware support for jffs2, the sound abilities and PCMCIA. It should not be impossible as the SL4 uses the same hardware as the Zaurus 5500.

Daily Usage

Given these limitations, one may wonder what can be done with a SIMpad under Linux/OPIE besides establishing the classical PIM? The big screen makes it perfect to read documents, far better than a Palm or a Zaurus. The instant-on feature also is convenient; the SIMpad can be started and stopped in a couple of seconds. This feature comes in handy when you want to use the SIMpad for short durations, say between two subway stations, when the boot and suspend process otherwise would eat most of the time.

I find that reading documents is becoming a more and more central part of my PDA usage. For example, my research work currently requires reading a lot of publications. Most of them are in PDF format, and qpdf display them on the SIMpad. I don't think I could bear the eye strain caused by reading these tiny prints on a Zaurus screen.

Likewise, I do not enjoy the smell of newspapers and I do not have enough time to read them on-line--but I cannot live without the NY Times. My solution? Plucker creates a .pdb archive for off-line reading with opie-reader. I previously did that on the Zaurus tiny screen, but now that I have the big and comfortable 800x600 SIMpad screen I don't want to go back.

The seven hours of battery life also helps make the SIMpad an excellent device for on-line browsing, well, as soon as my Intel 2011 Wi-Fi card is supported.

I hope video support and sound support will evolve to let me use my SIMpad as a portable media center, so I can encode DVDs to a PCMCIA removable hard drive and then watch them on the SIMpad. If I can do this currently on a CompactFlash on my Zaurus, it certainly will be possible to do on SIMpad's identical hardware.

Get One

In spite of all the problems I encountered while trying to run Linux on the SIMpad, this is a very promising device. Now that I have one, I don't want to be without it, if only for the big screen perfectly suited for reading. The SIMpad currently is being pulled from the market and therefore is selling at only a fraction of the original price. I strongly advise anyone with good Linux knowledge and a will to hack to get one. NRG Systems still have some, but not for long. Finding a dealer with SIMpad in stock is going to become harder and harder.

While the SIMpad may not be as consumer friendly as the Zaurus because of some important features currently missing, these problems should be fixed soon, as new OPIE images are released. Then, you can show your neighbors who spent $3,000 for an XP Tablet PC your Eur. 300 Linux tablet PC.
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Re: SIEMENS SIMpad SL4 - Tablet PC

Postby Hendz » June 1st, 2010, 9:21 am

SIMpad Technical Details

The SIMpad is a portable computer developed by the company Keith & Koep by order of Siemens AG, with an 8.4" TFT touchscreen. Commonly used with wireless network cards, it was marketed as a device to browse the World Wide Web. Initially announced in January 2001 at the Consumer Electronics Show, the SIMpad was not very popular in the mainstream US market.[citation needed]
SIMpad SL4.

There are five known model variants, all out of production:

* CL4: The low-end model with 32 MB RAM and 16 MB Flash ROM without PC card slot but with DECT modem.
* WP50: A variant sold by Swisscom. Same as the CL4.
* T-Sinus Pad: A variant sold by Deutsche Telekom. This one is the same as the CL4 but with a PC card slot.
* SL4: The high end model, with 64 MB RAM and 32 MB Flash ROM. This one also has a PC card slot.
* SLC: Identical to the SL4, but with the addition of a Siemens MD34 DECT modem, allowing connection to certain Siemens ISDN telephone systems.

All variants contain:

* An Intel StrongARM#SA-1110 SA-1110 32-bit RISC processor with a clock frequency of 206 MHz
* An 8.4" TFT LCD with an SVGA resolution (800x600 pixels)
* 4-wire analog resistive touch interface
* A single 16-bit PC card slot (not included in some CL4 models designed to use the Siemens MD34 DECT module)
* A standard ISO/IEC 7816 SmartCard interface
* A USB 1.1 client interface (not fully functional in production releases, but see Mullenger.org below)
* An IrDA interface (V1.3, SIR)
* A serial interface (proprietary Siemens "Lumberg" socket)
* A 7.2 V 2800 mA·h Lithium Ion Battery (~4hr life)
* A built-in mono speaker
* A built-in microphone (not on CL4 models)
* A headphone interface (proprietary Siemens "Lumberg" socket)

All devices weigh approximately 2.2 lb (1 kg) and measure 10.35 x 7.08 x 1.10 inches (263 mm x 181 mm x 30 mm). The SIMpad was initially released with the Handheld PC 2000 (Windows CE 3.0) operating system, while later units (mostly SL4 and SLC) were released with Windows CE.NET (Windows CE 4.0). Since the SIMpad was discontinued in 2002, all manufacturer support was also discontinued, no future updates are likely to appear.

The OpenSIMpad project offers SIMpad related Wiki where you can find information about Linux, Win CE, hardware and mods.

The Mullenger.org commercial site offers a licensed Windows CE 4.2 ".net" bug fix and upgrade for all SIMpad models.
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Re: SIEMENS SIMpad SL4 - Tablet PC

Postby mamed_3279 » June 1st, 2010, 4:32 pm

SIMpad tuh apaan yah? :">
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Re: SIEMENS SIMpad SL4 - Tablet PC

Postby kokakokbrut » June 1st, 2010, 5:38 pm

wah pake linux X desktop environment.
tar lah gw cari yang pake X11 biar 3D tablet pc nya
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Re: SIEMENS SIMpad SL4 - Tablet PC

Postby jaketmerah » June 1st, 2010, 6:24 pm

masuk Indonesia gak?
HTC Snap + SL45 perawan
Informasi beasiswa dan software
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Re: SIEMENS SIMpad SL4 - Tablet PC

Postby Hendz » June 1st, 2010, 6:45 pm

mamed_3279 wrote:SIMpad tuh apaan yah? :">
Ituh maz kyk smacem SIMpad-ti gt =))
Aq jg gatau, megang jg lom pernah maz. Dari deskripsinya sih PC tablet, mksdna PC touchscreen yg segede MOUSEpad gt dah :))

kokakokbrut wrote:wah pake linux X desktop environment.
tar lah gw cari yang pake X11 biar 3D tablet pc nya
Yoooooi, sikat ae,,, yg versi Windows jg ada tuh.
Hehe,,, jd inget Handspring-Treo

jaketmerah wrote:masuk Indonesia gak?
Produk 2003-an itu maz, kykna sih smpt masuk, cuma pasti ngumpet ,,,,, coz kuota produksina cm dikit, dah gt smpet ditarik ama Siemens AG wkt itu mnurut sejarahna yg pnh make :D
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Re: SIEMENS SIMpad SL4 - Tablet PC

Postby kokakokbrut » June 1st, 2010, 10:47 pm

klo gitu kluarna bareng sama sx45 dong klo launching 2003 mah
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Re: SIEMENS SIMpad SL4 - Tablet PC

Postby Hendz » June 2nd, 2010, 12:40 am

Diperkenalkan taon 2001, sorry bkn 2003 :D Dan ga bgitu ngetop di Amrik coz dijual $1,500.
Dua taon kmudian, di Jerman ama Swiss di bandroll €199 yg versi Windows CE (alias Sinus Pad), €385 yg versi Linux Flashable (SIMpad SL4).
(menurut Guylhem Aznar yg hobi Zaurus + SIMpad, dari www.externe.net)

Initially announced in January 2001 at CES, the SIMpad SL4 was not immediately on the market.
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Re: SIEMENS SIMpad SL4 - Tablet PC

Postby Hendz » June 2nd, 2010, 12:45 am

Diperkenalkan taon 2001, sorry bkn 2003 :D Dan ga bgitu ngetop di Amrik coz dijual $1,500.
Dua taon kmudian, di Jerman ama Swiss di bandroll €199 yg versi Windows CE (alias Sinus Pad), €385 yg versi Linux Flashable (SIMpad SL4).
(menurut Guylhem Aznar yg hobi Zaurus + SIMpad, dari http://www.externe.net)
Initially announced in January 2001 at CES, the SIMpad SL4 was not immediately on the market.


Di 2002, produksi SL4 dibikin mandeg. Dukungan jg mandeg & ga ada update.
Since the SIMpad was discontinued in 2002, all manufacturer support was also discontinued, no future updates are likely to appear.

Kykna SL4 jd cikaL bakaL SX-45 di 2003 dg msh pake WinCE
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