Computers

Introduction to the O2 Joggler

o2joggler

I have recently purchased an interesting new toy via E-bay that I am having a lot of fun with… an O2 Joggler

O2, the communications company released the Joggler onto the market place in 2009.  The Joggler is a low powered Linux powered box that O2 marketed to potential customers as a lifestyle communications device.  The basic premise from O2’s marketing team was that the Joggler was an ideal device for your kitchen. 

I have no intention of using my Joggler as a kitchen based device, read on to find out more on what I expect to do with this funky little device.

Always on (in fact it has no off button at all) the Joggler allowed you to:

  • Listen to your favourite radio station. Powered by Pure, the
    internet radio includes around 100 stations.
  • Add events and appointments to your interactive
    calendar. The O2 Joggler will then text reminders to
    everyone on O2
  • Send text messages to and from your O2 Joggler*
  • Watch videos, listen to music, and look at photos**
  • Keep up-to-date with news and sports headlines
  • Get weather reports and traffic updates

Originally priced at £149 the Joggler was a limited device that did not fair well. 

There the story nearly ended sharply for the Joggler, amongst its woes were that the critics didn’t like it, and the intended customers mostly just did not see the point at all.  Who really needs a dumb kitchen computer?  In this day and age smart mobile phones are ubiquitous, laptops cheap and higher quality digital radios are a dime a dozen.  The hole that the joggler tried to fill (if it ever existed at all) was already filled to the brim with technologies that households owned already.  This was a device that was destined for obscurity.

Redemption

Then O2 had a £49.99 Joggler fire sale and the device took on a second lease of life…

See the O2 Joggler is really a rebranded OpenPeak device and one with a reasonable specification:

  • Processor:  1.3GHz Intel Z520 Single-Core, Hyper-threaded, Atom CPU
  • Chipset:  Intel® SCH US15W
  • Graphics: Intel GMA500 (with hardware acceleration for H.264, MPEG2, MPEG4, VC1, WMV9)
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Connectivity:
    • Wi-Fi B/G/N based on the Ralink RT2870 chipset (connected to the internal USB port)
    • Wired Gigabit Ethernet. Realtek RTL8111C
  • Screen: 7in Sharp LQ070Y3LG4A 800x480 LCD, 16m colour (24-bit), LED backlit,
  • Input:  Capacitive touch-screen
  • Resolution: 800 x 480 pixels
  • Storage: 1 Gig onboard, expandable via USB.
  • USB
    • 1 x external USB2
    • 1 x internal USB2
    • Chipset supports a potentially 8 ports through hacking
  • Audio: IDT STAC9202X5 Audio with 2 speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Power: 5v DC via Wall Wart style mains adaptor
  • Software: Ubuntu-2.6.24-19.37 lpia kernel, running Busybox and Xorg with a proprietary flash-based frontend
  • Video formats: MPEG-2, MPEG-4 part 2, MPEG-4 part 10 (H.264), WMV 9, DivX, Vc1, FLV
  • Audio formats: MP3, WAV, WMA
  • Size: 180 x 130 x 115mm.
  • Weight: 700 grams

Its not hard to see why at £49.99 this device garnered more than a little interest.  The specs are comparable in many regards to some netbooks that would cost several times this price.  Being a Linux capable device, not only is the software on board readily hackable, but well documented.  Needless to say the O2 Joggler sold out quickly at it’s new bargain basement price point, but examples can still be bought in new condition from E-bay albeit at a little higher prices now.  Even at £90 delivered for an unused Joggler you get a nifty device for your money.

No discount in the world though would make up for the poor usability of the Joggler.  The Ubuntu based software on board really is of limited use although the user interface is slick and finger friendly.  The main issue is the quirky use that O2 thought suited this device.  All hardware platforms require a killer application to save them from failure and O2 (or OpenPeak to be exact)  just fell very short of the mark with the Joggler.  Luckily for the Joggler there are a few people out there working hard to repurpose it.

Software hacking, the Joggler hackers fall into two camps, those that are working within the confines of the original touch friendly OpenPeak OS and those that are booting full blown Linux distributions via USB sticks.  The former group already have their killer app sorted out thanks to Tarkan’s port of Squeezeplay, many Jogglers are now performing as budget squeezebox devices. 

The latter group are also finding themselves drawn into performing hardware modifications particularly to cool the processor of the Joggler.  It seems that OpenPeak designed the cooling hardware to support a processor that was never intended to run at its full potential.

So what do I have planned for my Joggler?

Well it wouldn’t take much to guess that I want to use mine primarily as an audio playback device.  Thanks to Tarkan's install script, I already have Squeezeplay working on my Joggler and am streaming music to it as I write this.  I have also managed to tweak the Joggler to operate with a USB LittleDot DAC_II and LittleDot MK V Headphone amplifier. 

I have still some work to do to optimise the audio output of the device, I will post guides here as I make improvements. 

Whilst I do not intend to use the Joggler daily with anything but its propriety software and Squeezeplay, I am intending to do hardware modify the Joggler to improve it’s cooling.  This should allow it to run a more complete version of Ubuntu from time to time.  I think that I may use it as a temporary web server occasionally.

As well as some cooling modifications I also intend to add:

  • Additional USB ports:
    • 1 hardwired cable to attach the DAC instead of the current side mounted port
    • 1 Internal to add additional storage for photoframe use.
    • 1 external high powered port for fast charging of my mobile phone
  • Possibly a power switch
  • Possibly a serial port for connection to a X10 Controller

As I find Useful Joggler related websites, I will add them to my links section of Justblair’s Audio Pages