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Nokia unwraps Linux Net appliance

Phone maker very keen on open source

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Mobile phone maker Nokia today unveiled its entry into the Internet appliance market. Called Media Terminal, the device - the first in a series of consumer electronics units - is based on Linux.

Media Terminal has been designed to hook up to the Net through digital TV services, though an ADSL version is in the works to take advantage of that broadband connectivity technology as and when it becomes widespread.

In addition to Internet access - provided through the Mozilla open source Web browser - Media Terminal also operates as a TiVo-style digital VCR and an MP3 player.

The unit is based on an Intel 366MHz Celeron, though it could easily be upgraded to something faster by the time Media Terminal ships, in Q2 2001. We note, too, Media Terminal's ability to play "3D games", and while Nokia does say the box contains "accelerated 3D graphics and special effects", there's no mention in the blurb of which chip will be used.

The machine also ships with a 20GB hard drive - Nokia hasn't released a memory spec.

More interesting is Nokia's support for open source. Rather than simply using Linux and Mozilla just because they're free, the Finnish company said it will release its own code to the open source community, the better to encourage Media Terminal application development.

"To be successful in the fast-moving Internet environment we need to aim for an open Internet community with a multitude of players," said Rickard Nelger, Media Terminal's product manager. "Nokia's first step is the co-operation with Convergence Integrated Media [of Germany] to develop a standard low-level DVB API for Media Terminal."

That API will be released soon in the LinuxTV Web site. ®

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