TechCrunch Brings Dream of Dead Simple Web Tablet to Life

by Mielle Sullivan, Janus Networks

In July of last year, Michael Arrington posted on TechCrunch that he was tired of waiting for someone to produce a simple web tablet computer for “couch computing.” So, he asked readers to help him build one. Now, a year later, the blog is on the verge of announcing how to get your hands on just such a tablet. Not bad for people that until now have only written about devices.

The original idea was simple: a thin, light, computing tablet with the sole function of surfing the web. A single physical button would power on and off the device. All other interaction would be done through a touchscreen. When turned on the device would go directly to Firefox. The price goal was $200 and, originally, the end product was to be open sourced to “let anyone build one that wants to.”

Well, Firefox was nixed in favor a Webkit based browser and the cost will be closer to $299, about the same as the Kindle 2. But the CrunchPad, as the tablet is now called, does indeed exist — in a very proprietary form. Presumably it will be sold by a company spun off from the blog.

The near-finished Crunchpad is 16mm thick with a 12 inch full color touchscreen encased in aluminum. Exact details of the other specs will be released in a press event later this month or early August, but presuming it is like the previous prototype it will have: a 1024×768 resolution screen, 1GB RAM, 4GB flash drive, a camera, speakers, four cell battery and will be powered by a Via Nano processor. The whole thing will weigh about three pounds.

The Cruchpad is an interesting development consumer electronics, aside from being born from a blog. It competes on one level with netbooks, laptops, the Kindle and the iPod touch. Essentially it’s a netbook with bigger screen, no keyboard and no internal storage. For a lot people, is all they need. For web browsing, it works just as well as a laptop. The CrunchPad is web dependant, while Kindle functions entirely off of internal memory, but it is as portable as the Kindle, and in full color. Apple is rumored to have a tablet computer in the Pipeline, but it’s a safe bet the cost will be more than $299. It will be interesting to see if the sleek, simple CrunchPad can compete will Apple, Amazon and Dell.

You can contact the author at press@janusnetworks.com

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