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damion

The crowd funded other new keyboarded phone

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I joined the backing for the f(X)tec pro1 shortly after backing the "Cosmo communicator" 

https://store.planetcom.co.uk/products/cosmo-communicator

This phone is available now for me and I received mine a day or so back!

Here is a brief first impressions write up:

The keyboard is really nice to type on on a desk, however as a result this device is cumbersome to use as a phone.

(Pasted from a different thread - updates afterwards)

It's weird how much it bothers me that there is no large front display, because I've previously owned loads of clamshells (pretty much all the good Nokia clamshells 9000, 9110, 9210, 9500, 9300i, E90).  Their front display was more functional, and most were smaller and lighter.  I think as soon as I got the n97 onwards (n900, n950, galaxy s relay) I started to grow used to some non-keyboard use.  Maps and camera, glancing at incoming messages, recently input without a keyboard using voice.

The Cosmo is inconceivably heavy, it doesn't fit in my pocket and the keyboard is difficult to use when not resting on a table.  This is probably the nail in the coffin, as I need to be able to walk along typing.

I'll possibly give a follow-up first impressions message once I've given it a fair chance, I've been quite busy at work and not even synced my normal login over yet, so I can't even do basic things like logins to websites, use an SSH client etc.  I'm confident it'll be comfortable to use watching YouTube whilst propped up, using for notes in meetings (where there is a table), SSH etc.  But as a phone?  Unlikely.

I have a former colleague who also went though a very similar list of clam shells when we worked together, but ending: E90, galaxy s relay, Gemini communicator.  They are overjoyed with their Cosmo due to its  improved firmness of the hinge and functional front display to show who is calling compared with the Gemini.  I fully intend to show him my my Pro1.

Update:

I've now used the phone for another evening... I'll start with the pros:

Several games I installed fitted the screen nicely and work without modification with the keyboard without obstructing the view of the game, this is pretty nice to find.

It's marvellous how much I had forgotten how useful having a direct control key and shift key when SSHing.  This too was quite nice and lacking on the last few keyboarded devices I've used.

There are multiple brightness settings for the keyboard.  The phone feels very robust it has quite high specs across the board.

The cons:

It really is nearly impossible to use when walking and even if lying in bed, due to its weight and size.  Multiple choices of certain keys are not shifted but another function key away and inverted for my opinion of frequency of use, for example "/" making typing paths in, a pain in the arse.

Every press of the keys is quite loud which my wife hated when trying to sleep.  It's generally hard to use as a touch screen device.

Having left it pretty much straight out of the box fully charged, the battery was flat the following evening.

In summary:

I think I need to keep giving it a chance to find a good use, but I'm very much looking forward to the Pro1 which I've already had my hands on some months ago for a bit and know many of my issues with the Cosmo aren't there.  I think the most use I'll find for this will be to not have to carry a laptop round between meetings at work.  I may try and install ChromeOS (byod policy) or other random OSes to play with.

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Nice, thanks.

As a compare the Pro1 (AFAIK) only got on/off for backlight. Not even a setting relating it to the ambient light.

I have not yet found a situation where I found it too bright, nor one where it was too little.

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I think i would be hard pressed to live with the cosmo as a daily driver phone and @damion's comments solidify that thought for me. That said, if the linux support improves I will likely pick one up as a pocketable laptop.

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I simply don't get why they did not give it a double hinge, so it could 'bend over' Yoga-style, as more serious laptops do now. They could then ditch the secondary screen, and save size and weight. Had they done that, I most likely would have been interested.

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3 hours ago, cerialphreak said:

I think i would be hard pressed to live with the cosmo as a daily driver phone and @damion's comments solidify that thought for me. That said, if the linux support improves I will likely pick one up as a pocketable laptop.

There's a reason I bought Pro1 not Cosmo, even though I did know about it. If I were a world traveler who needed a UMPC, and I could afford two devices, I definitely would. As it is, the Pro1 is plenty for my usage (I assume, based on the fact that my Droid 4 is.)

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46 minutes ago, silversolver said:

As it is, the Pro1 is plenty for my usage (I assume, based on the fact that my Droid 4 is.)

Pro1 is far more powerful in almost all ways, the style of keyboard is just different, Pro1 is for thumbs where cosmo is for fingerpoking really... There's also the Unihertz Titan phone if anyone cares for it, HUGE and waterproof copycat of blackberry passport basically.

Edited by netman
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42 minutes ago, netman said:

Pro1 is far more powerful in almost all ways, the style of keyboard is just different, Pro1 is for thumbs where cosmo is for fingerpoking really... 

I use left thumb & three or so of my right hand fingers for almost all of the phones I've mentioned previously.  The Cosmo has two type-c ports and when on a table can by typed on extremely quickly.  With practice I'd not make 35% errors 😉

I'm not sure Pro1 has higher specs, they seem pretty similar.  But for portability comfort, definitely.

42 minutes ago, netman said:

There's also the Unihertz Titan phone if anyone cares for it, HUGE and waterproof copycat of blackberry passport basically.

That looks awful IMO

I hadn't heard of the Pro1 when I paid £450 as an early backer for the Cosmo.  

I decided the cost was acceptable to have two devices, so also signed up for the Pro1.  I understand from the whining on the shipping threads that there are those less fortunate so I'll just stop right there.

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1 minute ago, damion said:

I'm not sure Pro1 has higher specs, they seem pretty similar.  But for portability comfort, definitely.

The past has taught me to avoid Mediatek like it was an illness, I'm confident the SD835 is better. No numbers though so take my words with about half a bag of salt 😂.

3 minutes ago, damion said:

That looks awful IMO

I somewhat agree, but with how cheap & cheerful it is I may buy one eventually as an extra phone (not as pre-order tho, I'll await the reviews). What bothers me is the humongous size, mediatek SoC and lack of a control key and some other keys probably. But it is a keyboard phone in 2019 (or i guess 2020, iirc they are only planning to ship early next year, could be mistaken) so it gets a shitload of cool points still.

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What I am wondering is... if you want to type on a table (that's the only real usecase of the Cosmo), why don't buy a small laptop? There are many laptops with a 10" screen (many of them with a 180° hinge or detachable keyboard) which would be WAY more usable for typing but still very small to carry around.
I don't see how one would type with 10 fingers on a 7" keyboard, but I definitely think that it would be possible with a 10" one.

Apart from the missing functionality a mobile device and system has, I just don't see an optimal usecase for a Cosmo Communicator.

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maybe someone who uses a smartwatch and bluetooth headset and keeps it in a backback/briefcase/purse, for the occasional time they need a terminal/computer when they didn't expect it but happy to have it? 

It seems cool, but I don't want one myself, I prefer a decent sized laptop (17" w/full-size keyboard)  and a small keyboard smartphone (5.25-5.5" Pro²). 

Edited by Craig
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3 minutes ago, Craig said:

maybe someone who uses a smartwatch and bluetooth headset and keeps it in a backback/briefcase/purse, for the occasional time they need a terminal/computer when they didn't expect it but happy to have it? 

It seems cool, but I don't want one myself, I prefer a decent sized laptop (17" w/full-size keyboard)  and a small keyboard smartphone (5.25-5.5" Pro²). 

People using a purse might also find it easier to fit in than even the smallest laptop.

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I saw Cosmo Communicator earlier and I would have been bought (I mean pre-order) it if the idea of Pro1 would not existed...
...but I find Pro1 much more suitable for me (as a nearly perfect device).

I saw earlier advertisements of Cosmo and found it a bit too large - it is an interesting project anyway, but it seems to be somewhere between a phone and a laptop and its use case for me is missing. Maybe if I would travel a lot by plane or other transports then it may be relatively convenient but I think it is also true of Pro1 especially if a power bank is nearby.

Another interesting project (for me) because of being a Linux phone is Librem, but I find its price is too high for a device without keyboard.

Another interesting project is PinePhone which is also a Linux phone, cheap (however, its hardware is not strong), but it also does not have keyboard and a Linux phone without a keyboard is a bit strange anyway.
Otherwise, for testing, it is still an interesting device.

However, I would also like to have more devices of Pro1 for testing, but for this purpose, its price for buying multiple devices is very high.
Especially I would like to try Sailfish, maybe also contribute, but I would like to use Pro1 as my main device which should be stable, so that way it is not suitable to test Sailfish or LineageOS or anything else but maybe use it if it works well.
I'm thinking on buying a spare one later of Pro1 anyway, but I still don't know when.

So, for experiencing with other OSes, I think I will use PinePhone, for daily use, I will definitively use Pro1 and I will continue to support them how I can.

Edited by VaZso
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22 minutes ago, VaZso said:

I saw Cosmo Communicator earlier and I would have been bought (I mean pre-order) it if the idea of Pro1 would not existed...
...but I find Pro1 much more suitable for me (as a nearly perfect device).

I feel very much the same way. And rather than seeing them as competitors as such, I see it as variety, and that is the most important thing.

Different people, different use cases, different needs&wishes. And thus different devices best suiting those.

And frankly I see more potential Cosmo users that could use a Pro1 instead, than the other way round.

Had they had a double hinge for bending over and no secondary screen, then they would have targeted an audience that want/like a hard shell protected device and a landscape keyboard device (plus a slab) in one. I could have been interested in that, as it would be less vulnerable than any device with an exposed display. But the price would be that you could not see notifications directly. For some that would be acceptable, for others not.

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6 minutes ago, EskeRahn said:

I feel very much the same way. And rather than seeing them as competitors as such, I see it as variety, and that is the most important thing.

I also feel they're for a different use case or perhaps different type of user, I think majority of people would think that way... Competitor does come to mind as a term regardless for anyone else selling a phone but i could certainly imagine owning both a Cosmo and Pro1 for different time of the day, although I would probably first consider something the likes of a GPD pocket as competition for Cosmo.

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20 minutes ago, EskeRahn said:

I feel very much the same way. And rather than seeing them as competitors as such, I see it as variety, and that is the most important thing.

Different people, different use cases, different needs&wishes. And thus different devices best suiting those.

And frankly I see more potential Cosmo users that could use a Pro1 instead, than the other way round.

I feel the same.

If I would feel a real use case for me, I would buy both (the same like I have also pre-ordered PinePhone).

...and as of F(x)tec, if their quality is the same what I saw and it remains high quality, I will buy further phones from them when they have successor of this form factor.

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1 hour ago, netman said:

I also feel they're for a different use case or perhaps different type of user, I think majority of people would think that way... Competitor does come to mind as a term regardless for anyone else selling a phone but i could certainly imagine owning both a Cosmo and Pro1 for different time of the day, although I would probably first consider something the likes of a GPD pocket as competition for Cosmo.

Rather than the "GPD pocket" I would consider something like this type. Add: Exists in more than one variant, see e.g. this review.

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3 hours ago, SchattengestaIt said:

What I am wondering is... if you want to type on a table (that's the only real usecase of the Cosmo), why don't buy a small laptop? There are many laptops with a 10" screen (many of them with a 180° hinge or detachable keyboard) which would be WAY more usable for typing but still very small to carry around.

I don't see how one would type with 10 fingers on a 7" keyboard, but I definitely think that it would be possible with a 10" one.

I own an OQO but didn't want to carry that plus a phone.  Being able to be a meh phone, and /just/ about being able to squash into a pocket* is quite valuable compared to a laptop that would require a bag or for me to have to carry around.

*I said before it doesn't fit in my pocket, but technically it fits in by roughly 95%.  I wear blokes jeans, I need to make sure my belt is tight because the phone is so heavy!   I wouldn't trust its safety whilst cycling.

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1 hour ago, EskeRahn said:

Rather than the "GPD pocket" I would consider something like this type. Add: Exists in more than one variant, see e.g. this review.

Yes, an Intel chipset which can run "real" programs would be more suited to me as a laptop replacement; that said, there are certainly very few cases where I would run "real" programs on a 7" machine, given the option of something with a bit more screen real estate.

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6 hours ago, damion said:

I own an OQO but didn't want to carry that plus a phone.  Being able to be a meh phone, and /just/ about being able to squash into a pocket* is quite valuable compared to a laptop that would require a bag or for me to have to carry around.

Well, that's the thing.

If we talk about 7" laptops, those wouldn't be much bigger than current phones. And you can achieve the same functionality of a phone with a desktop OS nowadays.

Calls and internet are possible, communication apps offer desktop interfaces or programs, so there isn't too much to miss. Battery management will be a thing of course, but there should be ways to keep notifications with minimum battery usage.

That's what we are aiming for with desktop systems on phones: more functionality while having the functionality of a phone.

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2 hours ago, SchattengestaIt said:

....while having the functionality of a phone.

...and this especially includes portability.

We could be on the edge of a new revolution in usage with foldable and rollable screens within the next five or so years.

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4 hours ago, EskeRahn said:

...and this especially includes portability.

We could be on the edge of a new revolution in usage with foldable and rollable screens within the next five or so years.

Fruit rollups are sooooo last century......now we have SCREEN rollups! :O That sounds durable......

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1 hour ago, silversolver said:

Fruit rollups are sooooo last century......now we have SCREEN rollups! 😮 That sounds durable......

Well it depends on the materials. The current ones are not good enough, but if it can be a more elastic base, it might be durable

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On 11/30/2019 at 3:02 PM, damion said:

the keyboard is difficult to use when not resting on a table

Not so difficult to use that keyboard without a desk if you use thumbs only. I own a Gemini PDA (which has around the same keyboard) and I use it daily (in the car, too)... :) 

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On 12/1/2019 at 7:37 AM, SchattengestaIt said:

Well, that's the thing.

If we talk about 7" laptops, those wouldn't be much bigger than current phones. And you can achieve the same functionality of a phone with a desktop OS nowadays.

Calls and internet are possible, communication apps offer desktop interfaces or programs, so there isn't too much to miss. Battery management will be a thing of course, but there should be ways to keep notifications with minimum battery usage.

That's what we are aiming for with desktop systems on phones: more functionality while having the functionality of a phone.

I don't see much great functionality on a Linux (don't even consider suggesting Windows, MacOSX or ChromeOS) desktop other than its form factor.  I do like a mouse and monitor separate to the keyboard for comfortable work, and do work all day like this.  80x24 XTerm for 90% of stuff (vim, bazel, email, IRC, etc), browser for some other stuff and an adequate set of other X11 apps/games (steam, quake...) etc.

I'd actually go as far as saying I dislike Linux laptops due to the physical layout, and smaller doesn't exactly help here.

I'm sure I could find a VoIP provider to get phone stuff working, but realistically an actual phone these days is just so much more.

Camera with pinch zoom, maps with voice input, smooth scrolling and pinch zoom, literally thousands of games and apps designed for that form factor.  Not to mention actually being a phone in your pocket to receive calls for at least a day.

I've changed my style despite being a old timer Unix nerd, to appreciate the modern Android user experience and treat it differently to my day job on a desktop.

Starting in the late 1900s and into the naughties I grew faster and faster over the years at typing on phones using ~5 fingers across two hands on a flipped open phone.  This meant after working all day at a desk, I'd use my phone whilst walking, or lying back on couch/bed.  If I needed to nip anywhere it'd be in my pocket and perform as a phone for phone stuff.  Laptop was not an option for any of this, even if tiny.  As mentioned I have an OQO, but this I'd use only in an emergency and ideally with vga to a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

So... I think the Cosmo /may/ replace my work provided Chromebook as it'll squeeze into a pocket, and it's still a phone with Android ecosystem.  So will have other apps beyond what a 7" laptop would bring.

There was a slight chance it'd have become my phone had the Pro1 not existed.  To my horror I'm actually typing this on a spare pixel2 in preference to the Cosmo as I'm lying flat and have become proficient at Swype.  My keyboarded phone died a couple of months ago and the Pro1 didn't ship in time 😞

Edited by damion
Typo fixes
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