Selective Mini-Review with a technical bent:
Cool addition, especially for future software/Linux expansion.
Can play MP3 files. Unclear on the quality or robustness. I noticed a
few skips in my limited testing.
Song installation is somewhat lame. All music must be in a
flat "Music" folder. It tries to use MP3 tags to sort by album/artist
etc. Like many music players it doesn't always work the way you want.
BUGGY: in some cases it put bogus songs in the playlist. ie. valid
MP3TAGs, but the ZipitV2 couldn't handle them (I think related to
Unicode song names). Selecting the song makes the unit hang.
Non-streaming music doesn't make sense IMHO, especially with the
plethora of music players out there at similar prices, a not
having to deal with mini-SD card. Unfortunately the audio
streaming options are lacking as well (see below).
Connector in back
Non-standard connector with a lot of pins (I count 36). Similar in
style to an iPod or Zune connector (but bigger).
Details TBD. May be promising, but likely will have to wait until
there are official accessories.
They look a lot like the ZipitV1 features, with a few tweeks. Not a
feature I use much.
Online customization, Internet Radio
You can customize the background, color scheme/theme and internet
Their server associates your online account with your device (after
you register it). Setting are selected on the server, and the device
is updated later.
Unfortunately you must use their website (no other option) and you
are limited to their canned choices.
The current choices are: pick one of 20 Backgroundz (background
bitmap), pick one of 2 Themez (color scheme)
And you can pick up to 8 of 44 possible internet radio stations
IMHO that's too limited since there are tens-of-thousands of Internet
radio stations out there.
They may never let you can pick your own radio stations, to keep
their kid friendly status.
They claim you can play music from your local UPnP server like
Windows Media Connect. It didn't work for my setup, but they may
require a specific version. UPnP server detection can be tricky (the
Zipit2 claims to do it automatically). A manual setup/test mode would
have been nice.
BTW: Assuming it works for you, for the more technically inclined you
can setup your local PC as a UPnP server to rebroadcast radio
stations to the ZipitV2 (several free programs available). That can
get around the intentionally limited Radio stations, but defeats
their stated goal of "Lose the PC".
Linux and GPL:
As mentioned, they aren't meeting their GPL responsibilities yet. You
may recall it took them a while for the ZipitV1.
Even if/when they release the GPL parts, that alone won't help us
because the system is locked to custom firmware.
Technical note: the Zipit is polling the zipitwireless.com server
every so often to check for updates. It can take around 10-15 seconds
for customization changes to appear.
As expected they are using HTTPS to talk to the server (NOTE: the
original Zipit firmware was standard HTTP, but after a while they
changed the firmware version check to HTTPS)
Depending on their security checks you may be able to pull of a man-
in-the-middle attack to reverse engineer and re-implement their
server PHP scripts etc. IMHO that's not worth the effort.
(also remember they can easily change the way it works to break any
open Linux approaches - just like they did for V1)
Will be interesting to see if they deliver on any official open-Linux
support (ie. I'll believe it when I see it ;-)
It looks like the PCB needs at least one more revision to get rid of
those extra yellow wires. No obvious useful pins/pads. Most of the
chips are high density BGA packages (even the flash ROM chip, almost
impossible to tap).
FWIW: The ZipitV1 hardware hackability (3 or 5 wire mod) relied on a
specific boot feature of the old CPU.
If someone is up to the challenge of finding something similar on the
V1 hack, good luck, you will need it ;->
Bottom line: A promising device. Signs of being rushed to market.
Software and hardware need some improvement, even to use it as-is (as
an IM and music playing device)
If someone succeeds in finding a viable exploit to break into the
system, or the company releases something to open up the closed Linux
box (something they hinted at, but have not promised) then things
would be great.
As for now, I can't recommend the ZipitV2 unless you really like it
as a closed IM and media playing device.
If looking for an open source Linux platform, look elsewhere. The
ZipitV1 is cheaper. A Linux PDA like the Nokia N800 is only ~$100
more (it has a real SDK).