Turbolinux Wizpy

If you’re used to hopping from PC-to-PC throughout the day, you may be accustomed to many different operating systems and desktop environments, but there’s still always the comfortable, familiar one that feels like home. Unfortunately, if you don’t have access to that computer, you’re forced to navigate through some less-personal accommodations in the meantime. Turbolinux offers a solution with the Wizpy, a 4GB portable media player that doubles as a totally portable version of the Linux operating system. It allows you to bring your tailored operating system with you wherever you go, and boot it on any PC with a USB 2.0 connection.

Although many Linux distributions already offer this kind of functionality through “live” distributions that can be booted off of USB thumb drives, Turbolinux appears to be the first to roll that flexibility into a device that can be used as a portable media player as well. This might seem frivolous until you consider that all of the media files you would want while you use a desktop computer are also available on the go – without ever transferring them to a separate device. Like most Linux distributions do, the Wizpy comes with preloaded software for surfing the web, mail access, office use, and viewing images. The company also notes that the device leaves no trace on host computers; all your private information down to cookies and passwords is taken with you when you unplug it.

Turbolinux Wizpy
Image Courtesy of Turbolinux

The Wizpy has a rounded rectangular profile, which is slightly reminiscent of an iPod thanks to its white plastic construction. At 12.2mm thick, 84mm tall and 42mm wide, it is much smaller than a regular iPod, and might be better compared to a double-thick iPod Nano. The extra bulk doesn’t hurt it much on the scales though; it still only weighs 60 grams compared to an iPod Nano’s 40 grams, or an 80GB iPod’s hefty 136 grams.

As a media player, the Wizpy’s main attraction may be its versatility. It can play OGG, MP3 and AAC audio files, as well as the popular DivX movie format, among others. It also allows MP3 recording with an integrated microphone, and an FM tuner gives users one more choice when the music they’ve loaded gets stale. The company claims that battery life should be 10 hours. As a movie player, it may, however, be crippled by its puny 1.7-inch screen. The iPod’s 2.5-inch display already seems to garner plenty of complaints, so it’s hard to imagine that the Wizpy’s could be tolerable for anything more than occasional viewing. It does, however, win some points on quality: the Wizpy’s OLED screen can display 256,000 colors, compared to the iPod’s LCD’s 65,000.

While the Wizpy is only available in Japan right now, the company promises that it will arrive stateside and in other parts of the world by the end of 2007. Its price of 33,800 Yen is expected to convert directly to local currencies, meaning it should cost around $277 USD at current exchange rates.

*Editors note 6/10/07 – While the Wizpy is supposedly available in Japan right now (released February ’07), we noticed that the images they use on their website appear to be “mockups” rather than a real photograph. We are waiting for the company to get back to us with some final images of the Wizpy. We will post them here once we get them.

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