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Bluetooth support for A9home mulled

By Chris Williams. Published: 4th Apr 2006, 23:14:20 | Permalink | Printable

Meanwhile Ad6's client gets it first

Bluetooth logoAdvantageSix have added Bluetooth support to their range of ARM9 powered embedded RISC OS computers. An A9 designed specifically for an unnamed client can communicate with wireless keyboards and mobile phones using the popular Bluetooth standard. Ad6 hope to show off their work in a demonstration of the technology at next month's Wakefield event.

The A9home, aimed at desktop users and dubbed the 'retail version', does not currently feature the hardware to provide Bluetooth functionality. However the A9 team have hinted that the work could make it into desktop users' hands if there is enough demand.

Ad6's Matt Edgar said: "Traditionally the Wakefield Show is where we take the opportunity to demonstrate the potential cross-overs between our OEM and the retail market - and 2006 will be no exception.

"This year we will be focusing on connectivity, and the first item which is confirmed to be a part of the demonstration will be our A9 with integrated Bluetooth proof-of-concept."

There's no word on this new focus on connectivity, and AdvantageSix declined to reveal who their OEM partners are.

Matt said: "We have a few other things in the pipeline and some of them should be useable, but for various reasons we can't talk about them just yet."

He added: "There isn't a Bluetooth chipset in the A9home. The core design of the A9 variant which includes Bluetooth is, however, very similar to that of the A9home.

"Releasing Bluetooth support for desktop users is something that I'd like to see happen, which makes it more likely, but it does have to make sense from a business point of view too."

From mobile phones to mice to printers to PDAs, Bluetooth is a radio-based system that allows devices to talk to each other and a computer.

A quick poll drobe.co.uk readers showed that 60% of voters wanted Bluetooth support, while 28% weren't interested. Meanwhile, it's understood sound support is nearing completion for the A9home and a Flash ROM upgrade is being prepared for beta testers of the machine. The team are hoping for an official launch this May, one year on from when the A9home was made available to selected users.

Links

AdvantageSix website

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Discussion

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Surely a USB dongle would do the job nicely for those desperate to have Bluetooth, rather than messing around revising chipsets. Open source drivers are widely available for such dongles, too.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 5/4/06 12:49AM
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I would love to have Bluetooth support on my RISC PC. Any chance of this happening?

 is a RISC OS Usermfraser on 5/4/06 7:00AM
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Porting the USB driver for a Bluetooth dongle would be very useful. We would also need built-in support for HID (wireless keyboards and mice), serial over Bt (lots of devices), TCP over Bt (internet access for PDAs) and audio (hands free headsets) would be usefull too. Bluetooth is a nightmare however, and we definately need to ensure we end up with a single common API on this one.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 5/4/06 9:05AM
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Whilst Bluetooth is great, would WiFi not be better?

Such a tiny box tucked away and silent, a video feed through a TV (with Risc OSs special abilities here), wireless streaming, wireless internet, wirless USB keyboard and mouse.

All you need is hardware capable of handling TV input & MPeg Codec_ing. Throw in some DVix, PVR software and a pretty OLED display and that's pretty close to the current PC holy grail. A silent fanless media centre. Although you could add a blue LED fan I suppose :cool

I've no idea what the technical and legal barriers are though.

 is a RISC OS Usersnapper on 5/4/06 10:04AM
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someone randomly speculating on drbe? what's the world coming to?

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 5/4/06 10:30AM
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Where would the world be without dreamers :)

 is a RISC OS Usersnapper on 5/4/06 10:41AM
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Wi-Fi would be good on the A9, but only it it was built in, or there was some way to integrate a laptop PC card unit in to the case. Otherwise you might as well just plug an access point in to the eithernet, and the jobs then done. There are now some very small access points which wouldn't look out of place with an A9, and wouldn't be much more expensive than a PC card version.

As for a PVR unit, I don't think an ARM9 has anywhere enough horses. On a PC system running Myth you can get away with using a very low spec Celeron for the basic recording and playback as long as your PCI capture card and ATX graphics card does all the MPEGing for you, and the processor just has to set up the bus mastering and handle the front end. The A9 doesn't have PCI and USB most capture devices require 2.0 to get any sort of quality and the A9 only has USB 1.0, but that does mean the processor and integrated graphics may be able to keep up with the low rate MPEG stream.

While the A9 is underspec'd for Video, it would fine as an MP3 server with an attached Wi-Fi access point to allow other devices round the house to use them, being small and quite enough to be left permenantly powered up. Its a shame the audio isn't working, or it could also be connected to the hi-fi to play them too. Then you'd need a USB IR remote receiver too...

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 5/4/06 10:46AM
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In reply to Druck: I spoke to Advantage6 the other day and they told me that they now have the audio working on the A9.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 5/4/06 11:33AM
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> we definately need to ensure we end up with a single common API on this one

Hah, unlikely. Adv6 will do the A9 stack and API. Castle might do another one later. Isn't free market competition great?

About the blootoof being internal - if there is a usb header on the main board they could hang a standard bluetooth dongle off that. Surely the software is the main task? -- Sprite

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 5/4/06 12:33PM
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I have bluetooth on my iMac and I regret having paid extra for a bluetooth keyboard and mouse. It takes such a long time for them to link up to the computer that I've replaced them with a keyboard and mouse that cost less than £20 for the two - the whole family prefers the cheap keyboard and mouse to the expensive ones that came with the computer. Until this experience I had always wanted a cordless keyboard and mouse for my Iyonix, but I've changed my mind!

And then there's the issue of security - your next door neighbour might be able to pick up what you're typing.

I'd like to see Ad6 working on software that would allow me to download files from my PalmOne PDA to my RISC-OS desktop computer. But if 60% of people who responded said they wanted bluetooth, Ad6 have to do what the majority of customers want.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 5/4/06 12:48PM
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I would very much like Bluetooth but for file transfer with 'phones and PDAs, not for wireless peripherals. The file transfer would be a genuinely new capability for RISC OS. For me, that would need to be a USB Bluetooth 'dongle' as I'd want it on my Iyonix.

I'm not personally convinced of the need for wireless keyboards and mice on conventional computers - the wires don't bother me whilst batteries and RF (with its privacy/security and interference issues) seem too high a penalty. Set-top boxes and the like that will be in non-traditional (for a computer) locations are a different matter, of course. On that note, I see that Apple are now bundling a remote control with their Mac Mini, presumably in a bid to capture some DVD player (and PVR etc) market-share.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 5/4/06 9:14PM
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I'd like to see Bluetooth available for RISC OS. I would prefer it to be via a dongle (most of the dongles out there seem to be just the one Broadcom design, which should simplify things). If A6 are doing it on the A9, I think they ought to do it via a dongle there too.

Give the A9 USB2 - that would be an improvement. Give it BT support via a dongle. Sell BT via a dongle to users of UNIpods and Simtec USB podules. They should be able to make some money on that :-)

 is a RISC OS Userdavehigton on 5/4/06 10:44PM
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davehighton:

are you offering something again?

If not - pretty please?

:-D

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 5/4/06 11:41PM
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davehigton: I totally agree. USB2 support opens a lot more doors than just Bluetooth.

Anyone know if the audio quality on the A9Home will be better than on the Iyonix?

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 6/4/06 2:34AM
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In reply to ROHC:

Unfortunately I have nothing to offer except that I've done a bit of background work on Bluetooth dongles. I wish the Linux drivers weren't such a sprawling mass of impenetrable C...

 is a RISC OS Userdavehigton on 6/4/06 7:56AM
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In reply to timephoenix:

I'm not sure that USB support would open a lot more doors than Bluetooth; but it would open some different doors. Notably, whatever USB flavour is offered, it needs to support the isochronous transfer mode. That opens up the door to high quality digital audio with external devices; and, if the overall system is fast enough, it would open the door to webcams.

Bluetooth via a dongle would open up the Bluetooth door to far more people than Bluetooth via built in hardware special to the A9, which in turn would open up more sales to Ad6. Or so it seems to me, anyway.

 is a RISC OS Userdavehigton on 6/4/06 8:03AM
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timepheonix: "I totally agree. USB2 support opens a lot more doors than just Bluetooth." Someone has already paid A6 for the Bluetooth connectivity. It is a shame that that same customer did not want USB2 connectivity at the same time.

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 6/4/06 9:48AM
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In reply to timephoenix:

>Anyone know if the audio quality on the A9Home will be better than on the Iyonix?

I downloaded and re-flashed the OS last night and was delighted to find that sound now works. So far I have only had time to test it with !Maestro, but it sounds good through my lo-fi desktop amp and speakers.

 is a RISC OS UserJohnR on 6/4/06 11:05AM
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JohnR: Woot? You got sound so you used /Maestro/? Oh dear. Go play with AMPlayer or SF3000, playback is beautiful. Media Player never gets a look in now; fanless MP3 playing is definitely the future :-D.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 6/4/06 12:36PM
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JohnR: I take it that this new flash is not yet generally available as I cannot see it on the ad6 support page?

Dave

 is a RISC OS UserDS1 on 6/4/06 3:17PM
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USB on the A9 is provided by the Samsung ARM9 based SOC (System On Chip), and I beleive the varient currently used in the A9 only supports USB1.1. However there are now other variants with USB2.0 which could be used via a replacement processor daughter card, and driver update. So I think there is a good chance it could be supported in the future.

The release of audio support for the A9 is great new news, and I'm reliably informed that MP3s sound pretty good.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 7/4/06 10:00AM
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druck:

MP3 sounds ok, but Ogg Vorbis is MUCH better ;@) <Digital CD plays them>

I would imagine once the infrastructure was there for RISC OS to use bluetooth, then dongles would follow shortly.... It has impressed my Uni mates, that RISC OS is of an actual concern, because they used the "Ah but does it have bluetooth support?" as the excuse for calling it Lame.

I have to say this is one more step to me saving up for an A9Home All i need is digital Audio support ;) and it will be my music player :@P

nice one ad6!

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 7/4/06 11:31AM
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em2ac: PC users used to look down on the Amstrad PCW because its printer was tied to the PCW software - and mock Mac and Acorn machines as needing sissy mice. They don't need a real reason - just something to latch onto. It's a male pre-teenager thing that they should have grown out of once they recovered from being spotty year 9 boys. But it's good to give them one less excuse! ;-)

snapper: WiFi? Like this:? www.stdevel.com/wlan.html

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 7/4/06 3:04PM
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In reply to jc:

Brilliant.

Of course once you get one thing you always want more; MIMO and USB2 / IEEE 1334 please ;-)

And another thing that's wrong with the A9, where can I fit one of those decent sized pizza ovens and kitchen sinks that Acorn put on their RPC? [link] Will it need a seperate power supply? ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usersnapper on 7/4/06 3:37PM
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