A joggler is a welding tool, known in the US as a 'panel flanger'. We looked it up. We love a good flange. It's also the name of O2's new attempt to drag people-carrier-driving, welly-boot-wearing parents into the digital age.
O2 is hoping to replace the tried-and-tested family kitchen calendar with a device that looks like a souped-up digital photo frame with a 179mm (7-inch) touchscreen and a suite of family-oriented applications.
We let our fingers do the walking with the panel flanger -- sorry, Joggler -- and found it easy to use. O2 wants to recapture its romance with the mums-and-dads market from when it was BT Cellnet, so it's keeping things so simple even a sleep-deprived parent with a full-time job can use it. There's no battery, stylus or keyboard, just a touchscreen with an iPhone-like home screen and a limited number of applications.
There's free news and weather from Sky, games -- currently just Sudoku, with more on the way -- and a handy traffic map that shows delays on A roads and motorways. It also fulfils its photo frame promise with a photo slideshow screensaver, and can play music (MP3, WAV, WMA) and videos (including MPEG-4, Divx, FLV and H.264). O2 also says that at launch, it will stream some pre-set Internet radio stations. But shockingly, there's no Web browser, which O2 says it excluded in the name of kiddy safety.
The Joggler's main event is O2's new shared calendar application. It's built into the Joggler and can also be accessed online. Parents who manage to escape their kitchen for a few hours can add appointments or check it by text.
It's very much targeted at busy families who need to keep track of little Jimmy's football matches. But like the humble kitchen calendar it's intended to replace, there's no way to import or export events, or sync with other calendars.
The Joggler connects to your home network by Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable, for the millions of us with Ethernet in the kitchen. There's also a USB2 port for a flash drive, along with 1GB of onboard memory. It doesn't take a SIM card, but O2 says it will have a messaging app that can send up to 50 text messages to any mobile in the UK for free. You can also send texts to your Joggler to let the kids know you're late for dinner, as if they don't have their mobiles glued to their ears anyway.
The screen is sharp and glossy, which makes it a great-looking digital picture frame. But at £150, it's a pricey one. The real question is whether a digital device can ever match the scribbled-on glory of the kitchen calendar, even if it adds handy features such as text messaging and weather reports. We're not sure if we're willing to spend the time typing events on to the Joggler, rather than just sticking them to the fridge -- especially when we'll have to do it all again in our work calendar because there's no syncing.
The Joggler is being released in April and it'll be free in lieu of an upgrade for O2 customers. For gadget-mad families due for an O2 upgrade, we can just about imagine the Joggler replacing that cheesy digital weather station on the kitchen windowsill. But with its laser-like focus on the family market, locked-down suite of applications, and lack of Web browser, it won't be much use to anyone else.