According to a Comercial Times report Wintek is supplying touch panels for an upcoming Apple netbook which should ship in 3Q 2009.
Wintek revealed that it is currently working with Apple to develop some new products, but it said it does not know what applications the new products are for.
There doesn’t seem to be any real indication that it is going to be a netbook other than what DigiTimes titles their article, so although it could be a netbook there isn’t any reason I have to believe that it isn’t for a tablet device.
Other than tablet form factor devices (iPod Touch and iPhone) Apple hasn’t shown any interest in touchscreen devices. The only other touch based devices that they have are the touchpads on their notebooks and I think Apple has realized that if you are going to be using a touchscreen you want it on a flat surface, not proped up like a monitor or notebook display.
I just can’t see myself reaching over my keyboard and mouse to touch the screen, that just isn’t how I use a computer and I don’t see any other computer maker coming up with any innovative way to change that.
Bottom line is, unless Apple comes up with a radically new way of doing touchscreen netbooks I don’t think Apple is going to release one.
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.
Although this hasn’t officially been announced on TechCrunch, Michael Arrington announced on the latest Gillmor Gang that on December 29th Prototype B of the TechCrunch Tablet was finished.
There wasn’t a lot of details mentioned about the new prototype but Arrington did say that the tablet has a 12″ touchscreen and was capable of playing back Hulu and YouTube videos open across 3 tabs in a browser (presumably Firefox) with no skipping.
Arrington also mentioned that the device costs about $222 to make and is “pretty fuckin’ kickass.”
TechCrunch claims to have 3 independent sources telling them that Apple is expected to release a 7″ or 9″ tablet to be released this Fall. One of their sources even claims to have seen and handled the prototype and also says that Apple is talking to OEMs in Asia about mass production.
Apple has been experimenting internally with large form tablet devices for years, one source says, but there was concern that users wouldn’t like the device.
Rumors like this come and go but the fact that Michael Arrington would have 3 independent sources on the subject seems a little bit more concrete. I would have to say though that the idea that anyone close enough to the Apple “inner circle” to actually see or handle this yet to be released tablet wouldn’t be the kind that would go telling people about it.
I’m not going to rule out the idea of a device like this being made, in fact I’m sure Apple has experimented with it in the past and is probably doing so now, but I don’t know if I believe that Apple would be releasing one this year. I think the iPhoneOS is just too early on in its life span to be able to handle both a 3.5″ screen and a 7-9″ screen. And, certainly Apple wouldn’t want to take developers away from developing specifically for the “funnest iPod ever.”
If Apple was to make a tablet it would make much more sense for it to be running a full version of OS X modified enough to run a bit easier with just a touch screen.
The TechCrunch tablet first appeared about a month ago and seems to actually be moving along. The first prototype has been built. The current design is in an aluminum case that a local sheet metal shop put together for them but the final design will most likely use plastic and be almost twice as thin as the current prototype.
They booted the hardware for the first time today and were able to use it to navigate to a web page using the touch screen. The hardware specs are practically final and the rest of the work is going to be done on the design of the case itself, the software, and UI.
They have a team working on the project and Michael Arrington also said: “We’ve learned a lot about building a hardware device over the last few weeks, and it’s clear that it is quite possible to build a high performance web tablet in the price range we anticipated.”
They originally suggested a price range of about $200 and I think it might actually be possible. I was a little down on the project originally but I’m getting a little bit more hopefully for the project, the picture below doesn’t exactly get me excited but I sure as heck would love to have a 10″ (or so) touch screen that I can surf the web on while I’m sitting on the couch.
Michael Arrington has asked for help building a web tablet the idea is to have an open source tablet that runs Linux with Firefox or Skype on top of it as it’s main apps.
The tablet would be “as thin as possible, run low end hardware and has a single button for powering it on and off, headphone jacks, a built in camera for video, low end speakers, and a microphone. It will have Wifi, maybe on USB port, a built in battery, half a Gigabyte of RAM, a 4-Gigabyte solid state hard drive.”
The tablet would be turned on with it’s single button and would open Firefox automatically in a modified kiosk mode basically bypassing the operating system. Firefox could have Google Gears for offline syncing and Skype for communication.
Arrington has asked to have volunteers help build the Linux distro that would go on the tablet and a small team of people would help spec out the hardware of the device.
As much as I would love to have a nice tablet like this (especially at their purposed $200 price point) but honestly I think the iPhone works pretty well already. A larger touch screen would obviously be nicer but the fact that I can put the iPhone in my pocket and carry it anywhere I want is a pretty great feature and I don’t know if the extra screen real estate is worth the lack of pocket-ability.
I do think this is an interesting project and am interested to know where this goes but am worried that since the largest person backing this project (at this time at least) is Michael Arrington himself, if this product was built by someone like Nokia or Asus I think it would have a little bit more push behind it but hopefully their $200 tablet will actually see the light of day.
I’ve been looking for some time now for a little tablet like device that I could surf around the net on while I’m sitting on my couch. My MacBook is great but sometimes I don’t want all the overhead of a laptop I just want a browser to check some things real quick.I think I might have found what I want, the Archos 604 30GB WiFi, Ultra-Slim Portable Digital Media Player and Recorder. I really like this thing and I think this could become what I will buy.
“This player sports a 4.3-inch TFT display, 30GB HDD, photo/PDF viewer, built-in speaker, voice recorder, and 15 hours (audio) / 4 hours (video) battery life.”