A first look at O2’s new Joggler home appliance

O2 UK has unveiled it’s new family oriented Joggler device, a 7″ touchscreen photo frame based on Openpeak’s OpenFrame platform and I jogged along to take a first look.

The screen on the Joggler is incredibly bright and crisp and the device itself feels very solid and well-made with a fixed sturdy stand on the back. Also on the back of the unit is a power socket (No batteries here, this is a wired device), an ethernet port and an audio out jack. On the side is a USB socket and on top is an LED but I didn’t see any applications taking advantage of this. Inside the device is powered by an Intel Atom processor, has WiFi connectivity and runs an O2 branded version of the OpenFrame software (which appears to be based on Ubuntu linux with hacking opportunities aplenty!).

Overall I found the Joggler to be a bit of a disappointment. I’m familiar with the OpenFrame platform this is based on and was expecting to find the same Flickr, YouTube and RSS content included. Unfortunately the only place the Joggler can show photos from is the built-in 1GB of storage or a USB stick. O2 are definitely downplaying the photo frame aspect of the Joggler and concentrating on the O2 Calendar integration which itself has a few disappointing aspects such as not having any sync capabilities. I think it’s safe to assume that any family that’s tech-savvy enough to buy one of these on launch has someone in it that already uses an online calendar such as that provided by Exchange or Google and it would make sense to sync with that calendar. The kids might not need to know that Daddy is in a meeting with his boss but at least some availability information would be useful. The biggest disappointment of all is that I know the OpenFrame platform has a Dominos Pizza button and the Joggler does not!

I think the Joggler is a good start to what is essentially a new market for MNOs but I can’t help but think that an untouched OpenFrame device would be more appealing to a wider audience. I certainly know of some other MNOs that are working on similar device offerings so this should be a very interesting market to watch over the next 12 months.

Alongside the Joggler, O2 announced the O2 Calendar, a free family oriented web-based service that is available to anyone in the UK regardless of them being an O2 customer or not. For those users who are O2 customers the service provides free SMS reminders of appointments and integrates with the Joggler device. O2 also announced a family bolt-on for existing customers allowing one person to pay a monthly fee to add a number of other O2 customers to their family group. Once part of the group every family member can make calls or send SMS or MMS to other members of the group completely free of charge.

The O2 Joggler will be available in April from O2 stores and their website priced £149.99 or free if taken instead of a handset when upgrading or signing a new 18 or 24 month contract. Pricing for the O2 family bolt-on has yet to be announced.

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