There’s a friggin’ cellphone in the most recent Entertainment Weekly

Hackaday readers were stumbling over each other to send in a link about this Android cellphone inside of an Entertainment Weekly magazine. Thanks to all who sent it in, and keep them coming. We’d rather get too many tips than none at all!

The first thing we should address is the discomfort you will feel while watching the video after the break. If you’ve got any experience tearing open electronics to see what’s inside you will be physically uncomfortable watching this pair bumble through it. It makes us want to do some MST3K-style overdubbing of the video, but their content ownership claim in the description makes us sure we’d get an immediate take-down notice if we did so.

At any rate, what we have here is some really cool tech you almost certainly will not be able to get your hands on. In the image above you can see the small LCD screen to the right. It comes to life when the page is opened thanks to the sliding switch being pointed to in the image. A few television show promos will play before the device starts scrolling items from the CW Twitter feed. When the hardware is pulled out of the pages there’s some interesting tinkering to be done. Shorting the contacts on the keyboard overlay (about 8 minutes into the video) brings up an Asian-language menu which is pretty obviously Android.

This is not the first time the magazine has done something like this. CBS embedded video a few years back but we’re pretty sure that one didn’t use the full guts of a cellphone. It’s just too bad these issues are so rare (only 1000 are available in two cities) as we had a lot of fun hacking that Esquire issue with the epaper in it.

130 thoughts on “There’s a friggin’ cellphone in the most recent Entertainment Weekly

    1. If this dude is their “Senior Tech Analyst”, I don’t even want to know who would be the junior one? I know some 14yr old kids that know more tech then this guy. Pathetic.

    2. well the guy seems more like a primary school teacher to me. woopwoop.. there is a cellphone in it.
      Its pretty cool but FFS it was pretty obvious from the outset..

      Cellphones are quite common in all sorts of places, We have even found them in Fisher and Pykel refrigerators. They were put there in the first generation units so that the tech’s can keep an eye on the performance in the real world. They were using a 1 year prepay SIM with 20.00 credit on them then polling all the units to collect the data.

    1. I was kind of hoping he would puncture the lithium cell when cutting the magazine open. That would have been fun to watch… :)

  1. That has to be the worst tear down I’ve seen…

    She is dumb, he is dumb, they couldn’t even name the type of usb port it was…

    Senior Tech Analyst? Me thinks she lied on a cv…

    1. omg…what is that?
      omg…i think i know what that is!
      omg…i know what this is!
      omg…is that a battery?
      omg…you know what this is?!
      omg…is that a sim card?
      omg…is it a cellphone?

      omg…i want to bludgeon both of them to death with a cellphone circa 1980.

      1. so true! it’s like watching some primetime live coverage of some event where the announcer(s) are obsessed with talking every second of the broadcast, even if they don’t know what they’re saying. just wanted to tell ‘em to relax and stfu.

    1. Looks about right to me, This is a cool ad campaign on many levels. I wonder how much time or data the sim card has allotted to it.

      1. JAVA support? On a cheapo phone like that? How do I get full JAVA support on my Epic 4G? Annoying that Android uses JAVA for so much but can’t actually run JAVA apps or applets.

        Can’t access my printer’s built in print server from my phone because the print server runs on JAVA.

      1. “It’s a phone.
        It’s a PHONE.
        It’s a PHONE!
        It’s a phone.

        Yes!

        It’s a PHONE.”

        When the video gets to that incredible epiphany afte several minutes of intense scrutiny, I was *completely* floored.

        ‘WTF’, I thought to myself. ‘It’s a PHONE?!?!?’

        Just incredible.

        I cannot wait for their next episode, “It’s a Calculator!”.

  2. cut-apart ABO 810, a budget smartphone running Android 2.2 FroYo and costing right around $40 USD if you buy one yourself.

  3. Well you were right about one thing, extraordinarily annoying people. OH MY ITS A PHONE!!!!!! What did they think could receive tweets cheaper? Developing software custom would take money of course it is a cheap phone.

  4. anyone call 821-938-6877 yet?
    Also, what if you didn’t know about this and tried to take your magazine onto a plane?!

    1. I think you’d have a hard time getting a magazine with a bunch of electronics and dodgy wiring hidden inside through security.

      1. I’ve walked through several airports dressed all in black with a fedora and trench coat while carrying two large duffel bags brimming with half-assembled electronics and didn’t get a second look. I didn’t get stopped by security, everything was routine. Here in the US we don’t live in a police-state. A magazine with a cellphone in it isn’t going to cause a problem. In fact, I’d be surprised if this issue of entertainment weekly wasn’t sold in airports across the country.

  5. I just went out to the store to get a stack of these. Well whoop-de-f**king-doo, apparently it’s for subscribers only. There were NONE inside the magazine. Do you know the looks people give to you when you show that much excitment about “Entertainment Weekly?” Not. Fun. At. All.

    1. LOL… I was about to go to Hays City, thought I’d stop by the bookstore, then it dawned one me probably just sent to subscribers & just a random few at that.

  6. Neat “surprise”, but a total overkill and waste.

    Has anyone figured out what the service restrictions are? Probably limited to X MB’s of lifetime usage, but how much. I’d buy the magazine just for the temporary SIM if the data plan is worthwhile. Also they made a call so there might be some sort of phone plan.

  7. “Why does that look like a CCD?”
    “It does! Unless that’s what they are using for the LCD part of the display…”

    oh god

  8. Of course it’s only in NYC and LA, because those are the only places that matter, right? Have the people who came up with this been anywhere else?

  9. Wow, what a decadent waste of ressources. You can get the content with devices 99% of the customers that buy this magazine already own. But instead use electronic litter that 95% throw in their thrash can and pollute the environement with heavy metal and toxins. Nah, too much for a marketing-gag.

    1. You have a good point: not so much the waste of resources as they only did a run of 1000, but this isn’t going to get recycled correctly. What’s the battery chemistry they used? I guess if the phones are intended for China domestic market they’ll be using Pb bearing solder.

      1. Lipos are landfill-safe once they’re discharged (throw them in a bucket of saltwater overnight) – there’s nothing environmentally hazardous in them.

        Proper battery disposal is more important for the battery types that have heavy metals in them (NiCad, Lead Acid, etc)

  10. Back in late 1980s there were those hi-tech “musical postcards”. Inside was a PCB with lithium battery, plastic strip^Wtab actually turning thing on, and a piezo speaker with plastic resonator. After 20+ years cellphone is nothing special actually, given the price. Possibly it’s cheaper to write an android app and buy 10k modded Raspberry clones than design such a thing from scratch. Overkill, possibly, as using Arduino for blinking LEDs.

  11. It’s really heartwarming that someone let these retarded people tear apart this magazine. It’s a phone! It’s a phone! It’s a phone!

  12. Im glad this story is on here but i do regret watching the video. i should have listened to the 2nd post. now i have no tongue, and half my IQ.

    granted, that’s still more than both these fools put together.

  13. This is the same level of excitement my dog achieves when receiving a new toy. To me, the $3 toy is insignificant; to her dog-brain, the experience is exhilarating.

    Coincidence? I think not.

    1. They’re not alone. I spent an hour in a meeting where an SA explained why the hard drives in our office could not read the 5.5″ floppies.

      I would’ve piped up and said something but I’m not paid enough.

  14. At least it was a backwards facing camera.
    I wonder if they left the microphone conected? Can you imagine if for “consumer research” they used the phones as bugging devices? Totally do able.

  15. It really gets in my nerve that the woman keeps saying it is a blackberry. It is like she have never seen a phone with keyboard other than blackberry.

    BTW, I think the phone has some sort of prepaid voice/data-plan.

    1. To be fair, that looks uncannily similar to a bold 9000 board. The keyboard layout and CCD are a bit different, but at first glance I assumed the same as them.

  16. I couldn’t watch the whole thing…Senior Tech Analyst, O RLY? “Old school USB port” WTF? I can’t think of a worst teardown than this…even that times when I was 3 yr. old and used to disassemble things with a blind knife or a hammer can’t be worse than this…

  17. Uh excuse me sir. The magazine in your carry on luggage has some wiring and a battery in it. Do you
    know any thing about that.
    Me scared No I just bought it from the new stand.
    Sir put your hands behind your back. Click
    Come with me.

  18. Credit for a main stream magazine to make steps to improving the general population’s electronic literacy.

    Although the video is painful for most of us to watch… I think they did a good job for thier skill and comfort level. Props for stepping out of the house-mom dentist office crowd and making an effort to bridge the gap between technology and Apple-style “magic” so many seem to accept.

    Like watching a grown adult ice skate for the first time… This is new and I hope they get the hang of it (or see value in hiring a better expert :-) )

      1. Give ‘em a million years and they might evolve. I’d still sooner put my money on worms evolving into a society capable of industry and space-flight before these 2 goons and their offspring could manage it.

  19. Next step, Elroy Jetson’s box of Moonies cereal with a TV on the back, but it’ll only receive the Nimbus the Great show.

  20. I’d like to dump the core firmware just to look at in IDA and look for hidden features..

    Looks like a programmable display, media via USB program via something else..

  21. A person at my current job always redundantly repeats whatever other people just said. I’ll advise him to seek employment as senior tech analyst.

    1. A person at my current job always redundantly repeats whatever other people just said. I’ll advise him to seek employment as senior tech analyst.

  22. I recently got a video in print magazine here in the UK that is almost identical CBS magazine a few years ago but with updated hardware and micro SD. I couldn’t find anything on hacking it other than replacing the videos on board but some Russian guys (google sites) https://sites.google.com/site/vogeeky/ seem to have managed to get linux running on it. I’m goimg to try and work it out at when i get a chance.

  23. Interesting, even if its a low resolution display and a modern “core” running Java this is still amazingly cheap for a disposable product.

    It could be possible to sell a future RPi in this way, have it display its “Buy Me!!” adverts as someone walks past via light level driven switch.

    Rumour has it that the Rev 4 might have an onboard display socket suitable for the cheapest displays such as the Nokia ones and others, or even two sockets.
    Adding a video input would also be handy or simply use a flat solar cell and sensor behind the LCD and rely on “active” pixel scanning to capture a colour image.

  24. “I wonder where the port goes into the battery”
    USB never connects to a lipo directly…
    “That’s also a battery” *points to empty coin-cell holder*

    The list goes on and on, I cringed when he blindly stabbed the page before even knowing what was really underneath.

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