Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mintpad to be released outside Korea

A few days ago Marmot mentioned new efforts by the Lee Myungbak administration for Korea to produce a signature company that would produce "creative" products like the Wii or PlayStation 3. Essentially, a Korean Nintendo.

It appears that there are already a few products out there that have the interest of the gadget-buying public outside Korea, by they might not be getting the love from Seoul that they deserve.

At any rate, the buzz I've been reading in the American media about the mobile device known as a Mintpad (a product of Korean company Mintpass) reminded me of how hot new products might simply be the result of unfettered creativity rather than government committee. In other words, if this gadget gains widespread popularity, it might be a sign that not only do some companies not need government intervention, they might actually be hindered by it (though I suppose it depends on the type of support and intervention).

These people seem excited about it's pending release outside the Korean market. The video they show, of a Korean-speaking casual demonstration of the Mintpad's functions, reminds me of the functions of my own iPhone, but with a stylus-operated interface that's not quite as cute (and you don't always need the stylus). Judging from what I saw, I would rate it similar to my Garmin: compact, highly functional, not as aesthetically pleasing as an iPhone, but clearly gets the job done.

Late last year the same people sort of gushed about it:
We can't remember the last time we stealthily scribbled a note to a coworker instead of shooting an IM, but Mintpass (a Korean firm founded by former iriver minds) believes some folks want to do both at once with Mintpad, a wireless handheld that's one part Nintendo DS, one part iPod, and another part Post-it note. Yes, it surfs the web on 802.11b/g WiFi and plays 4GB (or more with a microSD card) of music and videos on its sub-3-inch 320 x 240 display, but the draw is handwriting with a stylus.
Some of the commenters in the second link suggest this device's note-writing function might make it more popular with people who have to write Chinese characters instead of the limited 26-letter Roman alphabet. It certainly wouldn't be the first time a technology was popular in East Asia that never took off in North America or Europe (and I have an audio disk to prove it).

Anyway, I don't recall seeing this while back in Seoul over the past few years, but I wasn't looking. It's brought to you by some iRiver defectors, so maybe it has some promise.

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