Tim Riker’s Saygus Vphone Shown Off at the Big Android BBQ

Ever think how nice it would be if the engineers and handset manufacturers actually listened to the feedback of the Android community? Ever wonder what a truly “open” phone would look like? Well, look no further than Tim Riker (Saygus) because he wants to put the Saygus Vphone in your hand. And if he gets his way, it will be sooner rather than later.  I had a chance to sit down with Tim at the Big Android BBQ and talk with him about the Vphone.  Read all about it after the break.

Tim saw a need for an open device running Android, and he’s trying to fill that need.  Software features out of the box include:

  • Open bootloader and root permissions
  • The ability to run entire ROM distros from the sdcard (think Linux live CD, i.e. no changes to your device)
  • Hopefully Android 2.2 when released
  • Saygus’s proprietary video chat app (which sounds nothing like traditional bloatware)

General hardware specs include:

  • Marvell PXA 310, 806 MHz processor-1500 mA battery
  • Flash: 512 MB, SDRAM: 256 MB, Mass Storage up to 16GB SDHC
  • 3.5-inch capacitive touch-sensitive screen
  • 800 x 480 (WVGA) resolution
  • Front facing VGA camera
  • 5 megapixel rear camera with flash and autofocus
  • 4 row hardware keyboard
  • WiFi, bluetooth, gps, fm radio
  • USB host control out of the box via a mini USB
  • -usb modem capable

Obviously, this device is not about the high screen resolution, the crazy processing speed, or the highly detailed camera.  Instead, its about the possibility of giving the Android community a powerhouse modding device.  Take a look at some of my blurry cam pictures and make sure to follow @timriker on Twitter for up to the minute details.

  • Frank

    Me wanty!

  • kstagg

    How is this being talked about?

  • Bob

    Glad to hear SOMEBODY is doing this! I’d venture to say that 800mhz is quite acceptable but I’d like to suggest the following:

    *Switch D-pad to left side for gaming/emulators
    *HDMI and analog TV-out (Lots of analog TV’s still out there, works great in a pinch on Samsung Galaxy S and Droid Incredible through the 3.5mm headphone port)
    *3-axis gyroscopes to augment the 3-axis accelerometers (Galaxy Tab will have it)
    *Infrared LED for home entertainment (Demand has led to several third-party solutions on iPhone)
    *7-Color LED for notifications

    Most of these should cost pennies to add.

  • max nicks

    I’ll take one too

  • Gary

    I will take one on preorder if you ship to UK. Looks very nice and open. I would just wonder if it would need some added security to encrpyt passwords etc.

    Its one thing lacking security in a device you have hacked, its another in a device off the shelf.

  • somebody

    Needs more RAM.
    Keyboard is TOTAL CRAP — keys are NOT supposed to be lined up like that!!!

    Why can’t ANYBODY GET THIS RIGHT???? It is NOT HARD to devise proper phone specifications!

    • Clayton

      Actually, the keyboard is really nice — I’ve played with it. It’s not like the original Droid’s keyboard with is cramped. (helped them with PR)

  • I want one. 🙂

  • Aimless_E

    I got to talk with Tim Riker at the “Big Texas Android BBQ” and got to play with this little gem. I must say it feels pretty good for a pre-release everything functioned as expected, there were no visible deformations, etc, etc. From a developers point of view this phone is nearly perfect. It has all the usual bells and whistles that we expect from a smart-phone but it’s (some what) modest specs keep us from writing shabby code (its a big problem on PCs [ask MS]). Strangely he or Saygus opted to not include a opengles enabled chip-set which means that all ogles programs run in emulation mode and thus may as well not run at all. I say its strange because Tim is project lead on the ever popular BZflag which if you ask me would be freaking awesome on android, and who better to release it than the man himself? Still I think I might have found the non-droid Ive been looking for.

    I better start saving my pennies

    Aimless_E out.

    • george

      seriously no opengl?! I was sooo excited for the last 5 minutes, that’s gone.

  • Thanx for the comments and the article. 🙂

    Marvell committed to supply OpenGL-ES drivers for this chipset (PXA-310), and midway through the project informed us that they would not be living up to this commitment.

    We may be able to improve OpenGL-ES performance after we start shipping. I certainly am eager to do so.

    Note: 2D acceleration is working (IPP). It’s the 3D that is slow.

  • Nick

    Only 256MB RAM? That’s a big fail, when leading phones come with 512 and Android uses a fair amount of memory.

    If you increase the memory supplied, it looks like a good phone. Sorry, but for now I will look at ones with 512…

  • ZeroPhone