Sometimes the cheapest way to learn a new technology is to see where it is adopted. Most of the boxes on this list will not strike the reader as the source of learning, but they have taught me a great deal. Its also fun to convince the SO that I really need that new PS3 :)
Model: PSP Slim 2000
Nick’s Take: Great little console that was too far ahead of its time. I run Linux and WinCE on this device and play retro games. This was the first machine I cross-compiled a ton of code for and loaded over a NFS boot using the ethernet adapter it has.
Model: PSP 80GiB Wifi
Nick’s Take: When I heard they were removing the Linux option on the new PS3 I knew these would become very hard to get. I ran out to the store that night and bought one. I cut my teeth on cell programming and clustering with this machine at the house. It now plays video and netflix while being on backup for any geek needs.
Model: Messenger Z2
CPU: Marvell XScale PXA270 @ 312MHz
Nick’s Take: 40 dollars at target bought me a debian porting effort! Its amazing where you will find Linux support and this was a great catch. I wanted to learn more about XScale programming and porting. My last hands-on with the architecture was on WinCE handhelds and this was a cheap way to get back into it. Right now the little guy is running Linux in the drawer. Battery lasts forever on it :)
Manufacturer: Texas Insturments
CPU: Super-scalar ARM Cortex TM -A8