TechCrunch Tablet Updatex2: Prototype B

CrunchPad Prototype B

Although I wrote about prototype B almost two weeks ago, Michael Arrington finally decided to post about the new prototype which includes much more information than my post did.

They are now calling it the CrunchPad internally but that may not be the official name when it launches. The goal was to build a touchscreen tablet for $200 but they now say that $299 is much more realistic. The device plays Flash video “flawlessly.”

Back when I wrote about Prototype B we knew that it had a 12″ touchscreen but we didn’t know that it had a 4:3 aspect ratio (yuck, 16:9 or 16:10 would be worlds better for video playback) with a resolution of 1024 x 768. The processor they use is a Via Nano processor which performs very similarly to an Intel Atom processor and it also features 1GB of RAM and a 4GB flash drive.

The device has Wifi (of course), an accelerometer (which I find to be incredibly useless since the aspect ratio while on its side would be 768 x 1024, incredibly thin to say the least), a built in webcam, and a 4 cell battery.

The price estimate they have for manufacturing this device is just over $200 (probably the $222 that I claimed in the last post). This price estimate does include a much better display, which they will hopefully use since the resolution and aspect ratio isn’t ideal.

The current design (in my opinion) is fairly ugly but the final product will probably be thinner (they say they made it twice as thick as it really needed to be just in case there were heat issues or a problem with its sturdiness. The current hardware weighs 3 pounds.

The hardware is running a full install of Ubuntu Linux with a custom Webkit browser, but most of the software development to date has gone towards drivers and the virtual keyboard (which looks incredibly primitive so far).

The device looks really good so far but what worries me is that the few things that they have done that I don’t like (such as the accelerometer, the terrible display, and the weird virtual keyboard) either won’t change or will get worse. Obviously they are going into this with the best of intentions but I hope that the guys they have working on it know what they are doing.

TechCrunch Tablet Update: Prototype B.

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