The Archos PMA430 kind of overshot the market in 2005, but on leftover pricing, has an interesting niche as a wearable, hackable data-tank.
The PMA430 survived a european trip, as an image tank (at 700 pictures in one particular day, that was a good thing, though that means I could have made do with a handful of cards, having the pictures in two places was comforting.)
As a web browser, it didn't do so well - mostly because, it turns out, that there's a lot of manufacturing variation in the quality of the connection of the antenna to the motherboard - so it makes sense to open it up and just solder it in place. In the meantime, I only really had coverage in hotel lobbies, not in rooms... so I mostly used it to check on the outside world. I didn't really have time to code a captioning tool, or even upload individual pictures to flickr with the browser, and ended up doing a lot of captioning back on the laptop with the copy I made before the plane ride home.
(Note that checking the outside world wasn't really a win, either; CNN was in the midst of a Paris Hilton droolfest, I think I'm just going to take them out of my bookmarks altogether and start reading IHT intead :-)
Also, now that I'm back, one of the OpenPMA developers has dug up the
flash image builder tool source code - as I thought, they're simple
enough to just rewrite as python scripts (using the
module) and that will help make the buildsystem more portable, as will
genext2fs (looks like we might not even need fakeroot,
genext2fs -P -U and all.)
After poking around OpenPMA a bit, I picked up a PMA430, and immediately installed the Boothack and the "OpenPMA 0.2 Giraffe" firmware. The directions were clear, the only thing missing was any hint as to where to find the forced-reset hole :-) Page 14 of the manual that came with it points it out, though, it's on the "bottom" (not back) near the speaker.
Generally positive points:
Next steps: actually sync from the camera, and make arrangements to build ipkg files myself.
For a trip in Europe where I really won't be working, and want to be camera-oriented and not laptop-anchored, I'm considering a travel "image tank" that isn't the Thinkpad.
My use cases are clearer than usual:
The backup case is, actually, covered by the market in a few ways:
The upload and caption cases are more special. The productized versions seem to amount to "hook the image-tank hard drive to a real computer and do everything there" where "real computer" might be something small like the Oqo, or the Kohjinsha SA100. The more hackerly approach is to notice that anything with USB Host (which is must have to talk to the camera) should also be able to talk to a USB Keyboard, and a USB wifi or bluetooth dongle... however, except for OpenPMA and the old Archos PMA430, none of the iPod hacks seem to be moving in this direction.
Another approach is to find a phone that can talk to the drive, and run code; none of the Nokias have USB host, in fact only the FIC1973 is even alleged to have (unpowered) USB host, and it'll probably be next year before I can actually use one of those... and the N770/N800 have a simliar port, and would provide wireless and bluetooth, but would still be a "third device" (lacking any real local storage and not being a phone.)
(Third device: I can totally justify wearing a phone. I can also (as a geek :-) justify wearing another device that provides different value, typically a PDA. A third device starts moving over the line into cumbersome, and needs a lot more justification, or needs to be very small...)