For a while the future of mobile computing was very much up in the air. UMPCs were heralded as the next big thing but never took off, then Palm tried to convince us that all we needed was a laptop that wasn't a laptop, in the form of the disastrous . Then arrived and settled the argument once and for all.
But if you thought the concept of a mobile phone companion was dead and buried, think again. Enter the Imovio iKit, a portable messaging device that runs on Linux and is being touted as the next big thing in mobile communications. It's not a phone, and it's not a laptop -- think Psion.
It's equivalent to a very basic netbook that fits in your pocket. It lets you send IMs, emails and browse the Internet usingwithout needing to get your laptop out. You can either use a Wi-Fi connection or hook it up to your phone via Bluetooth.
With products such as the iPhone 3G in the market, we're struggling to understand whose needs this meets, but according to Imovio, the iKit is all about pricing. It's set to sell at around £100, which would make it more affordable than most smart phones and Imovio thinks that will make it a hit with teenagers.
Imovio has yet to sort out any retail channels and is apparently in talks with network operators. We're stroking sceptical cat on this one, but we haven't played with it yet so we'll keep an open mind for when we see one in the flesh. The iKit is set to launch in shops some time next year -- for more info visit the Imovio Web site. -Andrew Lim