I have been following the story of Meet Earl since early 2013. It started as a crowdfunding project with a goal of 250,000 dollars to bring the product to reality. The response was immediate from people looking for a more robust tablet than what is currently available on the market. By the time the crowdfunding was complete, the total amount raised was jut over 620,000 dollars. I would say people were pretty excited about the projected goals of Meet Earl.
Earl is a Kindle Fire on steroids, an Android-powered, solar-charged, gps, weather station, two-way radio enabled, waterproof tablet.
Earl is running Android Jelly bean 4.1 and will work with thousands of Android apps already available. With support for EPUB, MOBI and PDF e-reader formats, you will be able to take all your favorite books, files and music into the woods with you. Developers will have access to a range of new sensors to create apps and interactive guidebooks built specifically for Earl using their open api. You can even upload, share and sell your creations through Earl’s gear shop.
Let’s talk battery life. Most tablets on the market you need to purchase a separate solar charger to be able to take it into the woods with you. Not with Earl. Earl has a built in Laminated solar panel that provides up to 20 hours of battery that can charge the device in 5 hours of direct sunlight using high efficiency solar cells. It also has a durable usb cable for data transfer and as a second means of charging if so needed.
When you carry Earl on your outdoor adventures you won’t be playing a real life version of where’s waldo? With Earl’s GPS chipset you have a precise reading of your location, direction and elevation. Combine Earl with everytrail.com and have access to over 300,000 trails at your fingertips. Connect ANT+ or Bluetooth 4.0 devices to measure your heart rate, pace and cadence. You can even share your routes with friends using Android Beam™ technology.
Ever start out on a day trip and have the weather turn sour creating a hazardous and potentially deadly situation? Earl has you covered. The device uses a thermometer for measuring temperature, hygrometer for measuring the water density of air (humidity) with dew point, barometer for measuring air pressure and altitude and an anemometer (micro hot-wire) for measuring wind speed.
Communication can mean the difference of life and death in a wilderness environment. The tablet has a two-way radio that lets you to send text, voice messages, weather, location, and even route information via Walkie-talkie. It also has a FRS, GMRS, and MURS transceiver that allows it to connect to both digital and analog signals up to 20 miles away. Not only that but you can access Worldwide FM band (64–108 MHz). Worldwide AM band (520–1710 kHz). Shortwave band (2.3–21.85 MHz). Longwave band (153–279 KHz). NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather Band using SAME technology (162 MHz). You will also be able to combine the heart rate monitor and it can send out an alert when sensing a loss or extreme change in BPM.
Current Android tablets you can’t even spill a soda on without being concerned about the damage you just created. Not with Earl, Earl is Water, Dust, Shock, and Mud proof. It can be fully submerged in water for 30 minutes and come out with the only result being that it is really clean. It is operational at temperatures of 32-122 degrees Fahrenheit even up to altitude of 40,000 feet. One would assume that the temperatures at 40,000 feet is well below 32 degrees so this would be a concern for people that live in cold weather environments.
The only downside I see with Earl is the operational temperature range. For people in cold weather areas such as us in New England our use of the device will be severely hampered for a large part of the year. I would love to be able to take this out ice fishing with me.
Some people with more fashion sense than I might be disappointed there is only two color options available at this time. Personally, I would go with black. Black goes with everything.
From reading their forums and update page it seems there are two hold ups right now. One being FCC approval and second being that it’s Chinese New Years right now. I’m not joking.
Our Chinese team will be out of the office for the next couple weeks observing Chinese New Year, providing me an opportunity to fly home to spend time with my team, family and Earl.
I landed in Salt Lake City on Tuesday morning after a marathon of flights. HKG – SLC, 26 hours in total, by way of Guam, Honolulu and Los Angeles. Needless to say I’m exhausted, only now have I finally adjusted from jet lag.
One of my main objectives while back in the states is to prep my team for the next few months. We now have a dedicated community liaison to handle future updates and communication with backers. He will be relocating to Hong Kong at the end of February which will help tremendously in the final stages of production.
The team is currently heading to the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market to chat with some industry specialists and potential retail partners. (Source: http://www.meetearl.com/updates/)
You can currently still pre-order Earl through their website for 299 dollars with the only choices being color, a map upgrade for 50 dollars and how many you want. I can’t wait till this hit’s the market, there will be one in my go-bag for sure.
(All images via: http://www.meetearl.com/)