Since October 2010 forum members slade and nik1105 have been working hard on porting Rockbox to the Samsung R0. While this port isn’t ready for prime time yet, the developers recently started to take advantage of the R0′s open source Linux-based stock firmware as well – by attempting an Android port.
While the advantages of Rockbox are obvious on any portable music player, Android might seem strange at first on a device that a) has no Wifi or other Internet connectivity and b) has no touch screen but is controlled via tactile buttons. In the end, despite the lack of Android Market accessibility, one could still install .apk apps manually on it. If the developers manage to map Android’s touch screen controls to the plethora of tactile buttons available on the R0, some apps and games might actually be easier to operate than with their intended control scheme. I for one am excited to see where this goes – especially since other Linux-based Samsung players might benefit from this effort as well in the future.
The R0 seems like the perfect candidate for such experiments – it’s very affordable, has good sound quality, a decent screen, a MicroSD expansion slot, and a fetching full metal housing. For its low price, the R0 is a top notch player – just held back a bit by its basic (and sometimes buggy) stock firmware. If the developers succeed with either Rockbox or Android, I’m sure a lot of people would be happy about having the choice between three systems to run on the thing.
Watch the forum thread for further developments.