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Second Prototype of the $200 Open Source Tablet

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the bringing-the-tubes-to-every-coffee-table dept.

Handhelds 259

holy_calamity writes "TechCrunch blogger Mike Arrington decided last year to invent a new class of low-cost internet tablet using open source hardware and software. The second prototype has been unveiled, sporting a 12-inch touchscreen powered by a Via Nano processor, 1 GB of ram and a 4 GB flash drive. It runs a browser and nothing else on top of a custom Linux build. 'Resolution is 1024×768, which means the vast majority of websites are viewed in full width without scrolling. The device also has wifi, an accelerometer (so when you turn the screen on its side you can view more of a web page), a camera and a four cell battery.'"

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Desktop Holder (1)

IceCat12 (442300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515193)

I'm wondering if the Lego desktop stand comes with the device or is an optional item??

Re:Desktop Holder (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515311)

I don't know much about Second Prototype of the $200 Open Source Tablet, but here's my story:

I dropped a brown rope this morning the size of a small black child. At one point, I wasn't sure if I was taking a shit, or it the shit was taking me. And while I'm on that point, what's the deal with taking a shit? Shouldn't it be leaving a shit? I'm certainly not taking anything with me when I'm done.

But back on topic, Second Prototype of the $200 Open Source Tablet sucks ass

Re:Desktop Holder (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515491)

AFAICT, those are not Legos.

Re:Desktop Holder (2, Informative)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515717)

It's Duplo.

BOM? Dev cost? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515201)

How are these guys figuring that price?

Re:BOM? Dev cost? (2, Informative)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515215)

If you RTFA (WTF? I know) it says they really think it is going to be $299.

Re:BOM? Dev cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515275)

>> How are these guys figuring that price?

> If you RTFA (WTF? I know) it says they really think it is going to be $299.

Call me obtuse, but I don't think you really answered his question.

Re:BOM? Dev cost? (1)

ilovegeorgebush (923173) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515231)

It's called addition. Simple mathematics my friend.

Re:BOM? Dev cost? (1)

Falstius (963333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515585)

Total cost of the device, when we include estimates for the case, codecs and other miscellaneous items, is just over $200. Prototype B is actually much less expensive because the screen we used isnâ(TM)t very good. The price estimate includes a much better, more expensive LCD.

Sounds like bill of materials (BOM) plus a decent profit margin for an electronics device. It could be a reasonable estimate, especially since they're already building them for around $200 without economies of scale.

Re:BOM? Dev cost? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515639)

I'm wondering about investment cost. If they are taking $100 USD for each unit, how many before they recoup initial costs? How many units are they expecting to sell?

These devices are great /. fodder, but in reality, most of these initiatives fail due to lack of business acumen. Besides the coolness factor, what are these webpad guys providing?

Re:BOM? Dev cost? (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516759)

we need another .com bubble, that'd get these "well it would work, but we never found the initial funds to lower the cost with bulk orders!" projects off the ground.

Its VIA! (2, Informative)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515211)

So its going to look great on paper, and will be fine for the first hour, but sooner or later the thing will lock solid because Via have cut some corners in the drivers or not fully implemented a standard.

Previous owner of a kt133 (usb lockups), current owner of a CN400 (video lockups).

Re:Its VIA! (2, Informative)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515327)

I have no idea if current stuff is as crappy as you say buy yes I had to run my KT400 board at 100 MHz FSB instead of 133 since it locked up all the time if I didn't.

May also have worked like crap in Solaris, or if that was my MSI board (which is K8T800 in any case ..)

All crap =P

Re:Its VIA! (1)

JSchoeck (969798) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516523)

And my KT400 board with a VIA chipset worked really well at a FSB of 133 MHz. :)

Re:Its VIA! (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516055)

My VIA M10000 system has been solid as a rock. Uptimes in months, even when pushed to the limit with 20+ BitTorrent sessions.

Re:Its VIA! (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516461)

My HP2133 netbook uses a VIA chipset, and I haven't had a single problem (Ubuntu). I even got hardware accelerated 3D and Compiz operating on it without too much pain. Suspend and Hibernate work correctly. The only problem is the power consumption of the last generation VIA devices, which restricts the battery life.

Re:Its VIA! (2, Insightful)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516595)

try playing a video with xvmc acceleration. I think thats where VIA have been screwing up recently.

E.g.
xine -V xxmc dvd://

Re:Its VIA! (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516879)

Yeah, video performance sucks it has to be said.

Re:Its VIA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26516617)

As a previous owner of a Via Processor, I must agree. Via CPUs suck! For $100 more you get a dell mini.

P.D.: It was a tablet PC and tablets I have to admit to also suck... Unless you get all your applications customized for a tablet (which you don't) they usability is bad.

Re: It's a 25$ epod from ebay that's spraypainted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26516657)

Honestly, this thing looks SOOO ridicuously similar to an epod / epods one that I'm tempted to write it off - and even if it's not, the device itself costs 8x the going rate of an epods one from ebay.

major suck (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515239)

put an ARM in that thing. VIA is a turd.

Re:major suck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515413)

Put an ARM in this! [85.17.11.89]

Re:major suck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515603)

she needs to shave that pussy.

Re:major suck (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515661)

Sorry, but the VIA Nano processor is much better than the Atom, and way faster than an ARM processor. Do some reading.

Re:major suck (3, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515739)

"Way faster" is not necessarily the best way to prove a chip's value.

Does it have good cost/performance?
Is a certain level of performance required?
Can the package fit on the board?
Is there application support for the instruction set?

There's no reason you need to have the fastest chip on the block if you're only interested in showing webpages and playing web-video.

Re:major suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26516041)

better than the atom? That's like saying cowboy neal is skinnier than michael moore. Maybe you should do some reading, and think about instruction efficiency and power usage.

Re:major suck (1)

aonaran (15651) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516153)

The Nano is faster than the Atom, but faster != better. Atom uses less power.

For some applications faster is better, for some longer battery life is better. Your choice.

Re:major suck (1)

howlingmadhowie (943150) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516453)

unfortunately it needs to support flash and that means i86.

Re:major suck (2, Informative)

dj51d (20536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516713)

If you need x86 for flash, why does the Nokia n810(TI OMAP 2420, an ARM11 SoC) have support for flash?

Re:major suck (1)

howlingmadhowie (943150) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516877)

i presume it uses gnash or swfdec. why don't you go look?

Tablet using Ninnle Linux! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515243)

It seems that the OS on this tablet is a derivative of Ninnle Linux, complete with a simplified version of NinWM and Ninnle Office. They've been working in cooperation with Ninnle Labs for some time on this project. A full release is expected shortly.

Re:Tablet using Ninnle Linux! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515349)

OK, what is this Ninnle thing that keeps popping up on Slashdot? Some elaborate joke or 4chan meme?

Re:Tablet using Ninnle Linux! (2, Funny)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515835)

I do not know.

However, I would urge moderators to mod the grandparent down; TFA clearly mentions Ubuntu Linux.

Re:Tablet using Ninnle Linux! (1)

ChrisMP1 (1130781) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515483)

Maybe I haven't been following Slashdot memes closely enough (I've only seen this a few times), but what the fuck is Ninnle Linux?

resource sucking (4, Funny)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515255)

Because the device skips the resource-sucking parts of the operating system and focuses on one application - the browser

skips resource-sucking parts of the operating system and focuses on the browser?

skips resource-sucking parts of the operating system and focuses on the browser?

skips resource-sucking parts of the operating system and focuses on the browser?

What alternate reality is this guy writing from!

Re:resource sucking (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515419)

The point of the design is to give as much resources to the browser as possible. And allow a small system to run a Fat Browser well.

Tablets are rather useless without internet and a web browser. The hardware is too under powered for games, or heavy computing. The UI makes it difficult to type or the random letter generator called handwriting recognition. It is only good for apps which are mostly point and click and type in a few words and point and click again.

Most of those apps are now web based or going to be so soon. So allowing a Fat Browser to run smoothly is important, and should be a focus.

Part of Apples success with the iPhone is that it can run a Fat Browser like Safari, which has the modern standards built in. Vs. others who have a reduced browser which makes it useful for work only on an elementary level web applications, which are normally hard to use and slow. So Yes I would say "skips resource-sucking parts of the operating system and focuses on the browser".

Makeing a real product that is useful is different then those thought exercise in Computer Science. Modern business needs and user requirements conflict with intellectual purity.

Re:resource sucking (2, Insightful)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515627)

So Yes I would say "skips resource-sucking parts of the operating system and focuses on the browser". Makeing a real product that is useful is different then those thought exercise in Computer Science. Modern business needs and user requirements conflict with intellectual purity.

I wonder if any of us in computer science, with our bastions of "intellectual purity", could possibly address a business problem such as this -- how can we keep only those parts of an OS that are required for specific tasks and still be intellectually pure [wikipedia.org] and stable too [wikipedia.org] ??

I agree with the principle of what you're saying, but concluding with a silly troll about computer science makes you seem like someone who flunked his OS class.

Re:resource sucking (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516415)

The only important part is that it doesn't generate a phone bill and it downloads porn at lightening fast speeds. All else i trivial.

Re:resource sucking (4, Insightful)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516565)

I would rather have a low-cost art tablet (drawing surface with an LCD screen) than a low-cost web browsing tablet.

Current LCD screen tablets are over $1500, which weirds me out because my freakin' 24" widescreen LCD was only $500. Stylus technology (most use passive induction) can't be THAT expensive can it?

I would love it if someone came out with a $200 1024x768 thin digital sketch pad. Put all its computing into running GIMP (or better yet, photoshop) or Inkscape, make it able to plug in directly to my desktop to download my images from it (or use it indirectly as a tablet for my PC).

That's something I'd easily drop $500 on. Easily.

Hope the market is ready... (5, Interesting)

vidarh (309115) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515257)

I worked on a similar product [linuxdevices.com] ten years ago (it was covered on Slashdot twice in '99 or '00) which unfortunately stranded because of perpetual delays (I left at the end of '99) and lack of commitment from distributors and customers, and several rounds of re-engineering everything.

Today it should be a lot easier, given that they can rely on much cheaper off the shelf components and don't have to squeeze everything into minimal amounts of RAM and flash (for the first version we were working with Opera to get it running with a custom GUI in 16MB or 32MB of RAM total, and about the same amount of flash)...

Hope they make it - I want one.

Re:Hope the market is ready... (2, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515425)

QNX + opera would have worked nicely in that small of footprint. I had one demoed to the company I was working for in 2 weeks from a mock up of OTS parts I got online. the prototype works solid for 2 years, I used it daily in meetings.

I'm betting your ex company screwed up based on internal mismanagement more than anything else. That's where my project ended. The managers that loved it, refused to make decisions and it died 6 months later when upper management pulled the plug due to lack of progress. Managers are the biggest problem to getting anything done.

and yes I was a manager, I hated my fellow managers because they would dwell on really stupid crap for hours at a time in those meetings.

I hope this company can pull it off, they have to compete with the Nokia N810 and it's already selling and 98% open.

Open Source Tablet .. (0, Flamebait)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515261)

I guess since it's not using billgs OS, the tech press will have to rubbish it ..

Nothing else? (3, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515269)

Excuse me if this is a stupid question, I've not played with such toys.

It runs a browser and nothing else on top of a custom Linux build.

When it ways "and nothing else" does it mean "nothing else except the linux build, fully featured and usable to do whatever you need including changing the browser, upgrading using the toy to read documents in whatever format you download readers for, etc."?

Re:Nothing else? (3, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515461)

Obviously the tablet won't be locked to that distro. If you want a more full-featured distro, you can install one.

Re:Nothing else? (1)

etwills (471396) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516155)

It runs a browser and nothing else on top of a custom Linux build.

When it ways "and nothing else" does it mean "nothing else except the linux build, fully featured and usable to do whatever you need including changing the browser, upgrading using the toy to read documents in whatever format you download readers for, etc."?

The summary is a little misleading. While the article does indeed state they are currently "running a full install of Ubuntu Linux", it is the Fusion Garage blog [fusiongarage.com] links which suggest the final install will be considerably more slimline. There certainly won't be much space in the 4GB storage once a fully-featured Ubuntu is in there!

I'm not (3, Insightful)

mikesd81 (518581) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515299)

not going to pay $300 for a device just to surf the web. But it's a cool piece of equipment. I see it's running a full installation of Ubuntu. That's cool. I'd like to be able to open an ssh client and use the on-screen keyboard and maybe a notepad of some sort. It doesn't have to be a full blown computer, but something other than just surfing the web should be included. Imagine the business use of this type of open source hardware and software device. Add some kind of notepad software you can write notes quick and immediately send it out to another device/computer. I can't see many people just buying it for a web browser when notebooks are so readily available that can use email client software, not just web mail. And have other usable apps. Remember the web devices that were around in the past? There used to a white one that Staples sold, I don't remember the name, but they didn't hit off to well.

for 300 bucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515379)

go get an eee. I'm running opera, thunderbird, WoW, and SQL server right now.

Re:for 300 bucks (3, Insightful)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515523)

I've got an Eee. It's not the same thing. Laptops force you to a particular body position to use them, it's just unpleasant to use a laptop/netbook when lying on your side, for example. You can be as free using a tablet thingy like this as you can be while reading a paperback. I'd prefer something a little more compact than their prototype though - an 8 or 9" screen should be plenty if it's light enough to hold in one hand.

Re:for 300 bucks (1)

SausageOfDoom (930370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515937)

I want a small tablet pc with a fold-out keyboard.

I'm waiting to see where netbooks go next; the natural progression is to add touch-screens and fold-away keyboards, and there were already some that had done this at CES this year.

If they can manage a similar price, I just can't see who would be prepared to spend $300 on a portable web browser when you could pay a bit more and get a full OS. Well, apart from the yes-men who worship Arrington just in the hope he'll give them a bit of publicity when they start up their twitter/pornotube mashup.

Re:for 300 bucks (2, Interesting)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516777)

I have an Eee, and use it for reading rather frequently. Have you ever tried turning it on its side? (Either with screen rotation, e.g. xrandr, or a program like FBReader which includes a rotated mode?) The Eee 900, at least, is even balanced such that you can lay it with the back of the screen flat against a horizontal surface (when it's not plugged in). Also, unlike most paperbacks, it actually stays open on its own at whatever angle you choose.

A matte-reflective screen (e.g. e-Ink) would be an improvement, but otherwise I generally find FBReader on the Eee to be just as readable as any printed book.

You're not (3, Insightful)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515459)

the audience this is designed for then. Seriously, go get a laptop.

Re:I'm not (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515609)

not going to pay $300 for a device just to surf the web.

But a lot of other people will, and have.

I agree though, the price point for this is $100-200.

Re:I'm not (1)

mrvan (973822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515675)

TFA says it's running a full ubuntu install, so I'm sure you can get evolution and a pdf viewer running

Another use case would be uploading pictures etc to a shared drive via USB and SD slot

If you can create a nice looking charger/docking station, this would be great in the living room as a browser, picture station, and remote control for a mythtv installation; the price seems to be about the same as those fancy remote controls that they sell and being able to browse in the living room without interrupting the TV can be a plus. I'm sure there are very nice web interfaces to control a myth tv install, otherwise they can be made...

Re:I'm not (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515709)

"Add some kind of notepad software you can write notes quick and immediately send it out to another device/computer." Um... if thats what you want, write a web app to do this (hell there probably already is one). Provided it has the proper support for user input, this could be a really good mobile thin client. A custom browser than knows when you select the text input field it should pop up a box that interprets your handwriting and translates it. oh yeah and cloud computing... just for the added 2.0 effect.

Re:I'm not (2, Interesting)

Eponymous Bastard (1143615) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515763)

From TFA:
The software: currently weâ(TM)re running a full install of Ubuntu Linux on the prototype with a custom Webkit browser.
Maybe they'll cut it down later, but I don't see why they should. They probably don't boot Gnome or any services, but it should be able to run random executables.

I wonder if they have tried to incorporate the setup from the 5 second boot project.

Give it pen input and I'm sold. (2, Interesting)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516017)

I would love a device like this with pen input, so I can use it to take notes in class.

Notebook computers are great for textual classes, because I can type like a demon.

But much of my engineering curriculum is math, and keyboards don't lend themselves well to that.

I would ABSOLUTELY JUMP for a $300 tablet computer that let me write on it like digital notebook paper.

I paid about this much for my first engineering calculator (HP32S).

Re:I'm not (2, Insightful)

JPierce924 (1456431) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516027)

I agree, I may not pay $300 but I would for sure pay $200. The thing that makes this web browsing portable device different than the others is timing. With the birth of Web 2.0 and Cloud Apps this becomes an essential tool. Why use notepad when you could Google Docs, Zoho, etc... The top two places I could see this taking off is in schools and in the average Joe's kitchen. I am jsy starting my blog on Cloud Computing and devices just like this. I will post more later when I have time. There is a need for a device like this but as to how well it does is based on the Web Apps that are available to enhance it.

Re:I'm not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26516423)

Wake up people! You can now use WWW services like Goto Meeting or the free alternatives to control your desktop with this thing. How cool is that!

TV Tray? (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515301)

Is it just me or does this look at lot like a TV Tray [youtube.com] ?

It is you... (1)

BerntB (584621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515653)

it looks like a large-screen version of an iPod Touch. But with fewer features.

An accelerometer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515317)

An accelerometer? That'll be great for support.

"So your tablet just stopped working?"

"Yes."

"You didn't drop it or anything like that did you?"

"No."

"Well that's not what the accelerometer says."

"Doh!"

Screen enlargement (4, Funny)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515333)

an accelerometer (so when you turn the screen on its side you can view more of a web page)

I need a larger screen too. Must get myself one of them accelerometers.

hm, not sure (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515337)

While it does look interesting, I do wonder whether the core idea, that a browser is enough, really is solid. I knew it was Netscape's dream once, but did it work out?

When I think about what I do, certainly Firefox gets a lot of time. However, there's a lot of PDF content out there that I want to view and/or print - does this device do that? That's not an unusual usage scenario, btw. - when you book online tickets, or buy stuff online, very often you get the ticket and/or receipt in .pdf format.
Then there's the whole "download" scenario. Does it do that? Lots of people come across cool stuff they want to download. It doesn't have to launch Keynote, sorry OpenOffice or whatever the external App is, but at least ''saving'' something to an external shared device would be a requirement.
Then there's mail. There are still people around who don't use webmail, you know?

So, I quite like the idea, but I do wonder whether '''just''' the browser isn't a little too little.

Re:hm, not sure (1)

Nicolay77 (258497) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515467)

Well, the people at Google seem to believe that the browser is really enough.

I'm not saying they are right, or wrong, just that people in a big company believe it.

Re:hm, not sure (1)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516547)

Apparently not. Google does create quite a bit of standalone software that you can download.

Google Earth
Sketchup
Picasa

just to name a few.

So even Google seems to think that for some things, the browser alone isn't enough.

Re:hm, not sure (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515877)

Well, Google is kind enough to let me view PDF files... at least those I get in my e-mails. Haven't tried any others.

Re:hm, not sure (2, Interesting)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515887)

I imagine that their marketing budget will have to dwarf their development budget, since they'll have to create a new market segment.

First problem: how do you sum it up in a short, punchy marketdroid phrase, without making it sound like it's either a overly weedy laptop, or an overly expensive toy?

Second problem: having boasted about how it's a "$200" device, how do you then get early adopters (us!) to pay more than that for it? Or if it has to retail for $200 from day 1, how do you persuade retailers to commit to carry it without a fat margin to balance their risk?

Top marks for their technical prowess, but I fear that they're about to pull an OLPC and EPIC FAIL the delivery-to-market part.

Have you heard about this revolutionary technique? (2, Insightful)

jotaeleemeese (303437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516679)

It is called browser plugin.

Awesome stuff man, really awesome and cutting edge.

ur doing it wrong (4, Interesting)

savuporo (658486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515355)

Why go with X86 if you want low BOM cost ? Any ARM/MIPS/PowerPC SoC with decent Mhz will do it better for lower bill of materials. Try TI OMAP35xx line for instance, one with Cortex ARM and PowerVR graphics all in one chip. Works out way cheaper than anything x86-based. Getting a Beagleboard [beagleboard.org] is a good way to start.
And now with Canonical throwing official support for ARM-based Ubuntu, you have got your opsys covered as well.

Re:ur doing it wrong (1)

anonymous donor (1440447) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515721)

Actually, that's not true anymore. I wanted to tell them so when this thing was announced, but after some research it turned out I was wrong. Low-cost x86 CPUs and chipsets are comparable to mobile platforms, at least as far as we are comparing prices, because they still have higher power consumption.

Just **ONE** simple answer: (1)

hummassa (157160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515793)

Flash.
Explaining a little:
YouTube.
An experience that is _similar_ to IE/Firefox under Windows.

Re:ur doing it wrong (2, Insightful)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515855)

The reason (imho) for x86 is compatibility and ease of development.

The dominant platform in the world for web browsers is x86, be it Windows, Linux or Macintosh.

That means that your best odds for getting a plug-in or similar (or at least one that is current and supported) is x86. And that's true for your end users, too.

I understand that you could build open source stuff yourself for that architecture, but ARM is weird. You will probably have issues and have to figure them out yourself. It's a much bigger development and testing effort than if you download Firefox and Flash for Linux x86 and install them.

"Louis left Cuil in the Fail" (1)

dogsbestfriend (755362) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515363)

oh wait. thats Fall. same thing. :)

Why x86? (3, Insightful)

Kegetys (659066) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515365)

What reasons are there to put an x86 processor in a device like this? The Nano is not exactly low power, with an ARM based solution (Nvidia Tegra would seem pretty great for this for example) you could have many days of standby power without needing to reboot it all the time. Only reason for x86 I can think of is that it could run Windows, but is that really needed for this type of device?

Re:Why x86? (1)

savuporo (658486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515619)

Well windows runs on ARM as well .. at least in my HTC it does.

Re:Why x86? (1)

Kegetys (659066) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515677)

Windows CE, yes. I was thinking "Windows" as in desktop PC Windows (xp/vista) that is able to run your normal Windows desktop applications (Windows CE requires Windows CE applications)

Re:Why x86? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515791)

Right, as if vista would run on a normal desktop... funny.

Re:Why x86? (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515761)

Maybe because it's cost effective, fast, and low power enough to get the job done and still have some battery life?

Re:Why x86? (1)

coldmist (154493) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515789)

Flash.

Re:Why x86? (2, Interesting)

loudmax (243935) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516207)

Flash.

Dead on. Flash is a huge part of the web nowadays. Nearly all of the big video sites deliver their content using Flash. There's also Flash-based games, and when the devs have no idea what they're doing, even navigation.

Flash is the only piece of proprietary hardware on my Aspire One netbook. Without it, that thing wouldn't need x86 either. Hopefully gnash [gnu.org] will soon become good enough to replace Flash entirely. In the meantime, better Flash than Silverlight.

Re:Why x86? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26516819)

Nearly all /big/ video sites support mobiles streaming too, which does not require flash. Flash was a huge part of the web 2 years ago. Today, not so much. And it is because of devices like mobile phones.

And all the doctors rejoiced (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515391)

I have never seen these things in the wild except at a very high end doctor's office (read: cardiology care center @ HMO flagship regional hospital). I'm quite certain that, except for a few nerds and a few boutique users out there everyone will look down their noses at the cheaper alternatives.

Question (1)

Willy's Warp (1314013) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515417)

Is that cool lego stand included? I need some more blocks!

Why is this taking so long? (4, Funny)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515447)

I'm just utterly amazed it's taken this long for somebody to have a serious stab at a device like this. I've been asking for one for years. I got a Nokia Internet Tablet, but it's just too small. When Asus brought out the Eee and then everybody copied them within months I though they'd get the hint a build web tablets with the same kind of kit. But they haven't. Weird. This is exactly the kind of thing I want for browsing the web around the house and they will sell even faster than netbooks have, just as soon as somebody vaguely credible brings a reasonable quality one to market.

As to all the people wondering what else it will be able to do other than run a browser: It's an x86 box running Linux. It'll do whatever the hell you want it to do. Yes to PDFs, yes to ssh, yes to media player, yes to OpenOffice, yes to IM, yes to blowjobs on the beach, yes to absofuckinglutely everything you can do on any other Linux box. It's just a keyboard-less tablet netbook (not that that's not awesome).

(I lied about the blowjobs)

Re:Why is this taking so long? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515487)

For between 20k and 60k USD, you can get a Taiwan ODM to build you a prototype device to your specification with a baseline OS image to work from.

If you think that it'll be that popular and profitable, I recommend you to scrape together the cash and get the prototype made.

Hint: there's no sustainable market for an internet webpad like this.

Re:Why is this taking so long? (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515803)

Then all I'd need would be another couple of million for production and marketing. Oh, and some idea of how to run a consumer electronics business and the desire to do so.

Hint: there didn't used to be a sustainable market for ultra-cheap laptops or mobile phones with no buttons either. Until someone made them. Then suddenly there were markets - big, lucrative markets. I bet you twelve internets that within two years these things will be selling like hot cakes.

iPod Touch (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515913)

Hint: there's no sustainable market for an internet webpad like this.

An awful lot of people are using the iPod Touch (and iPhone, aside from the phone part) for exactly that. AFAIK, music/video is actually a relatively small part of its common use, with the dominant "killer app" being "internet webpad". Personally I've largely abandoned my ultraportable laptop in favor of surfing & email via the iPod Touch; music playing is nice, but the right-now pocket email/net access is almost life-changing. A larger version would be even more "killer app".

The market for such an internet webpad may not be huge, but it's certainly sustainable.

Copmatibility issues (1)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515489)

I use Lego rather than Duplo. Compatibility with my existing devices may be a problem.

[Insert distro "build" pun here]

$299 is a world away from $199. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515515)

the article [techcrunch.com] says

(we were aiming for $200, it looks like $299 is more realistic)

But let me tell you something: the difference between $199 and $299 is worlds. There is no LAPTOP near $199. but $299? You are now competing with full laptops. It is now a luxury item, since it would be like asking someone to buy two laptops - one that does almost nothing except surf the web. DONT MAKE PEOPLE MAKE THAT CHOICE.

This is what I think you should do:

  • let go of 1gb ram / 4gb flash drive: you don't need that much.
  • Let go of the camera if you have to.
  • Let go of the accelerometer if you have to.
  • Go with wussier batteries.

Batteries dont matter as much as you think, because it's okay to leave the thing plugged in, like digital picture frames. In fact, that's how I read in bed: with an old LCD monitor connected to the desktop next to me, in my hands, with the power and VGA cables going off to the side. (I scroll with the mouse, in my other hand). I am your real target market. If you need to have a $199 version that has a 1-hour battery do it. If you can't, do it without a battery, so it only works while plugged in (like a digital picture frame). Do whatever it takes. You need to get this thing down to $199, no matter what.

I can spend that much for it just to read my bookz (scanned books from the net) - it's the price of 10 hardcover books. But $299 and I can't justify it.

And you don't need RAM. You need video RAM. I know, because I use a 500 mhz desktop with 128 MB of RAM all day - with a video card that has more RAM than it does. Flawless web use - flawless youtube etc. I'm waiting to upgrade until I drop about $2000, which I'm not doing in this economy. Meanwhile I get flawless web use out of this old POS.

Lower your standards until you can squeeze this thing out for $200. Have a $199 version with a sucky battetry (or none at all if you must), no camera, or accelerometer. And then a $299 version with all that, if you want to.

Do you want to know what will happen if you price this thing at $299? All your customers will settle on something smaller for $229. [apple.com]

Just my 2 cents.

Re:$299 is a world away from $199. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26515637)

In fact, that's how I read in bed: with an old LCD monitor connected to the desktop next to me, in my hands, with the power and VGA cables going off to the side. (I scroll with the mouse, in my other hand).

You share your bed with a desktop computer? I hope she has the appropriate interfaces.

Barely boots (2, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26515681)

"Barely boots" ... What? What does this mean? Either it boots or it doesn't. It's like being 'a little bit preggers'.

As for the screen size, you don't want a massive screen on a little tablet PC. I have a 12" tablet right now and other than weight, it's about perfect.

$300 is an okay price. HP has a $350 8.9" laptop with 1.6Ghz processor. If they can afford to do that for a 'real' laptop, I think $300 is a bit on the high side for a laptop that can only run a web browser.

Having said that, I paid $1200 for my tablet and felt I got a really good deal at the time. Previous tablets I looked at were in the $2500 range.

Very impressive... (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516081)

I worked on a touchscreen system used on airplanes built by Panasonic Avionics and this thing seems years ahead of what their latest hardware was doing... ie: it was a POS compared to what I'm seeing here. On top of that, the Panasonic hardware didn't do much more. It's two big advantages was that it could be updated remotely from a server, (big whoop) and had a Texas Instruments DaVinci chipset in it for handling Video and Audio streaming and could play emulated games (SNES, etc).

I imagine this thing could do the same using Flash player with a Red5 rtsp server available for H.264 and MP4... and the game emulator would be nothing on that CPU either....

I'm pretty sure they said each unit was around 10k ;-p

Hope they get this done before Apple (1)

conchubhair (1453303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516387)

Michael Arrington already speculated that Apple will be releasing a large iPod touch [techcrunch.com] this year. I guess he's expecting it to be much more expensive (but multi-touch would be cool!).

I think the first thing everyone will want for this will be an external keyboard (seeing as the on-screen one obscures half the screen), and as soon as you do that, you could argue that you might as well be using a laptop or EEE notebook.

On-screen keyboard means either putting it down while typing ("ouch, my back!") or typing with one hand (hmmm... maybe that has some merits). I'd worry about the cost of the device creeping up as the final finish comes around - nice case, bluetooth (?), power supply etc. If it tips over $300 then it's into the same arena as notebooks.

Though if they manage to solve the keyboard problem, and keep the price down then maybe they can succeed where tablet PCs have failed.

"Resolution is 1024Ã--768... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26516433)

... which means the vast majority of websites are viewed in full width without scrolling"

Slashdot not included.

Re:"Resolution is 1024Ã--768... (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516849)

Resolution is 1024×768, which means the vast majority of websites are viewed in full width without scrolling.

I remember when "full-width" was 470 pixels, that being the default usable browser width of Netscape, and the first banner ads being 470x60 (or 468x60 if they were to display a link border).

The last thing I did for the last web design company I worked for was finally give them the frameset they wanted (despite repeated explanations why they didn't) that constrained the displayable area of a browser window to 640x480 with fields of black on all four sides. They republished their own website in that frameset and went out of business.

Does the lego stand come with it? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516447)

If so ill take 2!

Seriously tho, if they can do this at about 200, i'm sure it will sell well. I do hope they give the option of a card reader for those that want a little more then 4g ( who knows what tomorrow holds...) and not having to use a external USB device.

If it starts to approach 300, it will have to compete with the big guys and wont survive.

I'm a big fan of the Amazon Kindle... (1)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516651)

but this is *nice*. If they manage the $200 price they'll sell them by the millions.

What are they talking about (1)

foo fighter (151863) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516769)

Why would I buy this thing and not and iPod Touch?

have to ask (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26516825)

but does it run windows?

I seen better (1)

Lexible (1038928) | more than 5 years ago | (#26516829)

My Etch-A-Sketch has knobs.
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