I am more used to reviewing routers and network webcams from D-Link than reading about the company launching a cellphone, let alone one which will run on a Linux OS and be populated with open source software. But apparently that is exactly what it is going to do, and do in the early part of 2007 if my sources are correct.
The V-CLICK sounds pretty good from the geek perspective: switchable tri-band (900/1800/1900) GSM, GPRS and WiFi connectivity, 24Mb of memory, a 176x220 pixel full color 2” display, dimensions of 4.17 x 1.73 x 0.75" and weighing in at less than 3.5 ounces.
Although I have not actually held a pre-production model in my own hands, so don’t take this as proper review copy gospel, I am told that battery life is around 5 hours talk time in GSM mode although this reduces to no more than 2 hours when switched to WiFi usage. And it’s that WiFi switch, courtesy of the v-click button, that makes it an attractive option: one flick when near a hotspot and SIP-based VoIP calls become a reality, as does web browsing via the Opera Mobile client that will be supplied.
But this is hardly new territory, my T-Mobile MDA Vario II, which I have in my hands right here right now, has this kind of WiFi support built in as do many other modern handsets.
Even that doesn’t account for why am I not exactly wetting myself over this announcement. Two things stick out like sore thumbs, firstly D-Link is not a brand than springs to mind when thinking of mobile phone hardware and so selling into a notoriously brand aware market is going to be extremely difficult. Secondly, as it is likely to be marketed towards pre-pay customers the expected price tag of $599 seems extremely excessive. Combining both these factors leaves me wondering just how D-Link can make the V-CLICK a success, and selling a few units into the early adopter geek market really won’t cut the mustard I am afraid.
What really seals, or rather sours, the deal has to be the striking similarities between the V-CLICK which you can see here and the Wistron NeWeb Corp GW1 as reported on here and which can be bought rebadged as a Neuf Twin as reported here.
All of which suggests that the D-Link could be nothing more than a rebadged GW1 itself, but coming late to the party and costing more than twice as much as the Neuf equivalent. No doubt all will be revealed in time, and the proof of this rebadging pudding will be in the reviewing upon release. But for now, my excitement remains firmly under lock and key...