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Portables Hardware

CrunchPad Will Be a 'Dead Simple Web Tablet' 145

Posted by Soulskill
from the tablets-going-crunch-is-usually-a-bad-thing dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "TechCrunch's Michael Arrington has been talking for a year about building a touch-screen tablet for Web surfing and now it appears that the CrunchPad is close to becoming a reality. 'We're going to make some really big announcements,' said Arrington, who predicted a prototype would be ready for unveiling by the end of July. The purpose of the CrunchPad will be very simple: surfing the Web. Turn it on and up comes a browser — 'an Internet consumption device,' for reading, checking e-mail or watching video. The CrunchPad will not have a hard drive or keyboard and photos of the latest prototype show a device with a 12 inch screen. 'The screen is now flush with the case and we've decreased the overall thickness to about 18 mm,' writes Arrington. 'The case will be aluminum, which is more expensive than plastic but is sturdier and lets us shave a little more off the overall thickness of the device.' The CrunchPad boots directly into the browser with a Linux-based operating system and a WebKit-based browser. A video of an earlier CrunchPad prototype in action shows a device which, unlike the iPhone, runs flash. 'The next time we talk about the CrunchPad publicly will be at a special press and user event in July in Silicon Valley,' writes Arrington. 'We're full on. These prototypes are real.'"
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CrunchPad Will Be a 'Dead Simple Web Tablet'

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  • by da5idnetlimit.com (410908) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @12:04PM (#28580619) Journal

    Then please add a strong (8\10 meters) IR interface.

    It can then become my universal remote AND my (potato) couch web browser.
    Otherwise, I already found some solutions to browse from the couch (aka iphone)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sam0737 (648914)

      Build an embedded system, hook to your LAN that serve an Remote Control Webpage...Emitting IR when command is received.

      • An embedded device with an IR transmitter..

        I'm off to the patent office to file for protection on this! "Remote controller," I'll call it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by bjwest (14070)

      An iphone for general browsing? You're kidding right? There is no way a device with a 3.5 inch display could be used for serious browsing. A quick lookup or banking transaction maybe, but if you're doing your daily browsing (news sites, research, what ever) you need more than a couple of five or six word lines at a time, and forget about serious posting. A remote replacement, yeah, general browser replacement, no way.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        It works great for reading RSS feeds or flipping through Slashdot comments (before the redesign started putting them all over the place). I wouldn't want to use it all the time, but it works quite well for on-the-couch type stuff.

        You're not going to be doing any "serious posting" with this thing either. It doesn't have a keyboard.

      • by node 3 (115640)

        An iphone[sic] for general browsing? You're kidding right? There is no way a device with a 3.5 inch display could be used for serious browsing.

        You've clearly never used an iPhone. The 3.5" screen is very high resolution, so the text is quite sharp and readable at smaller sizes. Safari's ability to zoom the page (scaling everything, not just increasing the font size), its ability to zoom to specific sections of a web page, and the overall speed and smoothness of the multitouch interface makes it a very viable web browsing device.

        Coupled with the fact that it's always with you (pocketable, which is not possible a larger display), and always connecte

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Assuming this crunchpad thing has some sort of wireless internet connectivity, wouldn't it simply be possible to create a dedicated webserver on some tiny computer have it deal with the technicalities of communicating with the rest of your house? A new type of wireless router could be an ideal computer for this purpose.

  • Obligatory... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @12:07PM (#28580643)

    It's not a netbook and I don't see why anyone would possibly prefer a larger screen in a format that is easier to hold to something with a keyboard.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not a netbook and I don't see why anyone would possibly prefer a larger screen in a format that is easier to hold to something with a keyboard.

      I hope i'm missing your sarcasm. The 4th of July alcohol is getting to me.

      Sony Reader [google.com]
      Amazon Kindle [google.com]
      TC1100 [google.com]

      For certain applications, a tablet is often an ideal device for human interfacing. (for me) It's easier to curl around a tablet on a bed, in a chair, on a hammock with a tablet than a laptop. It's also more enjoyable for me to read comic books and other full screen files on my tablet (Tc1100) than on my netbook or my 17" laptop.

      If it isn't expensive, the tablet format is great. My only concern with any de

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)

        Yes, the 'larger screen in a format that is easier to hold' was supposed to be a dead giveaway to the sarcasm.

  • "Browsing the web" also involves buying online. For this to be useful for many users, it needs a reasonably efficient means of basic text entry that is not some horrible onscreen keyboard. A small Bluetooth keypad/touchpad combo would be better.
    • by tiananmen tank man (979067) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @12:17PM (#28580729)

      ... so you would hold some small keyboard in your hand and your other hand could be holding the tablet? Sounds horrible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      that is not some horrible onscreen keyboard

      As someone who uses the Ipod touch onscreen keyboard, and has huge gorilla hands, an onscreen keyboard on a 12" screen will be a piece of piss. Of all the criticisms of the Crunchpad, this is the one that baffles me the most.
      • by maxume (22995)

        Do you thumb type on the Ipod? A 12" tablet may not be conducive to that, especially to people with normal monkey hands.

        (I don't think the lack of a physical keyboard matters, but I don't think the devices are directly comparable either)

        • Yes and no. Thumb typing works best in landscape mode, but not all apps provide that, so sometimes I do a one-handed, 2 to 3 fingered hunt and peck. I suspect that method would work best on the Crunchpad for me, although, with my hands, thumb typing would probably be quite feasible.
      • by FlopEJoe (784551)
        "an onscreen keyboard on a 12" screen will be a piece of piss"
        Way to sell it! Are you in advertising? :p
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Soul-Burn666 (574119)

      I've got a 8.9" tablet-convertible netbook installed with Windows 7.
      Even with this relatively small screen, the built-in onscreen keyboard is really quite nice.
      While I can't easily touch-type on it, I can definitely "hunt-and-peck" with 2 hands. On a 12" screen I should be able to use all my fingers.

      In a previous video of the Crunchpad, they used some clunky looking onscreen keyboard and I hope they switch to something better (like the Win7 one).
      A multi-touch screen will make it even better.

    • How about making a detachable touch screen. Oh wait, these guys have done it [alwaysinnovating.com].

      I know I'd prefer to use a design more similar to Always Innovating, as:

      • I can get the same usage from it as the CrunchPad, if I want
      • I can use the keyboard if I keep the screen attached, and use it like a normal laptop (with a fully feature OS)
    • by zarzu (1581721)
      i am still waiting for a small tablet with a keyboard on it's back. that might sound kind of crazy and it probably is, but i imagine it being absolutely awesome. a keyboard that doesn't take any additional space and can be used by just normally holding the device, it would be split, one keyboard-half for each hand (stuff that already exists for desktops) and obviously would be rotated some. the only problem is that you can't see it and need to actually know where the keys are, but any frequent user wouldn't
      • by edittard (805475)

        the only problem is that you can't see it and need to actually know where the keys are

        Just stand in front of a mirror. And, er, learn to read miror writing or hack the screen driver to reverse the image.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      This thing is obviously designed to be your lounging-on-the-couch, don't-want-to-have-your-notebook-in-your-lap machine. Have we degenerated so far that any new device is useless if it doesn't allow us to buy stuff and that we're too lazy to get off the couch and walk over to our regular computers when we want to buy stuff?

    • Forget buying, it needs some way beyond pre-loaded links of entering target destinations.
  • CrunchPad (Score:4, Funny)

    by Renderer of Evil (604742) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @12:10PM (#28580667) Homepage

    A $300 digital photo-frame that runs Firefox.

    Sign me up.

    • Yes, isn't this a step backwards? Do we really want to go back to carrying three different single use gadgets around?
      • It's a browser, e-reader, and ssh client. If the Flash support is sufficient, it's a TV. So it's not a phone. You try to cram too much crap into one device, all you get is something that does none of its intended tasks well. I would probably just use this thing around the house so I don't have to bother with my more power-hungry computers.

        • by tolan-b (230077)

          Unfortunately Flash's video performance in Linux is awful, and I'm doubting the Crunchpad is going to be sporting a very fast processor, so I wouldn't hold out for full screen video. A video linked from the article shows it doing fullscreen flash video (not Flash's idea of HD either) and it looked like it was managing a few FPS.

          Still, I'm quite tempted by one of these. I was considering getting a netbook for the livingroom / kitchen, or just to hand to my girlfriend when she wants to look something up onlin

    • WebKit, not firefox.
    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Well, more like it run Chromium (WebKit-based, not Gecko-based). Still sounds pretty cool. Quality of the input is going to be the real gotcha, though - on-screen keyboards can be done well, but usually aren't. They have enough screen real-estate it shouldn't be too hard, though.

  • Old News (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Article originally posted June 3rd. Old news.

    • Article originally posted June 3rd. Old news.

      Someone apparently can't tell the difference between June and July.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by maxume (22995)

        The newspaper articles/blogs are from July (one is even from 2 days in the future), but the TechCrunch article (arguably the 'original') is from June.

        • So the incorporation of Crunchpad, Inc. and the mention of prototypes by the end of July are supposedly sourced from that "original" article, even though it makes no mention of either of those? Interesting...
  • flash video (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    A video of an earlier CrunchPad prototype in action shows a device which, unlike the iPhone, runs flash.

    Yes, it's quite impressive. I like watching my YouTube videos at 1 frame every 3 or 4 seconds.
  • Will it have a virtual keyboard though? I cant wait for these to be released to use for watching baseball games and chatting on http://www.livebaseballchat.com/ [livebaseballchat.com] but the only problem is that with a netbook and wifi i'm not sure what additional value this is going to be offering. I think i'd miss the keyboard for typing. Cheers, Dean
    • by 1 a bee (817783)

      Will it have a virtual keyboard though?

      Sort of. About 40 seconds into the demo video [youtube.com] cited by the story, you see a so so virtual keyboard overlayed on top of a dimmed background.

      It's a shame that the virtual keyboard is so small that the user must type with one finger. There's plenty of screen real estate there to have a very nice large (virtual) keyboard. (I imagine this single finger text input interface might be deliberate--e.g. multiple fingers touching the screen might confuse the touch-screen hardware?)

  • vapourware (Score:1, Troll)

    by ionix5891 (1228718)

    perfect for the cloud computing age...

  • But, but... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It has no tabs!
  • Why? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by skreeech (221390)

    Looking past the very basic needs of searching and typing addresses I find that most web use today involves typing something

  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @12:27PM (#28580777)

    Overall cool - iphone with big enough screen

    But they really should focus on design of a virtual keyboard that is large and ergonomically laid out.

    We have to avoid trending toward encouraging passive web surfers who are only "channel surfing"
    just like the advertisers want you to.

    The internet is way more interesting and useful when it is truely two-way, peer-to-peer.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Really? I've found that it's particularly inane when it's too easily two way. Publishing something should at a minimum involve getting off the couch or picking up and opening your notebook.

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Dont' forget Flash support. I don't personally *like* Flash, but it's a pretty important part of the modern web. The fact that the iPhone lacks it (and don't give me any of Jobs' crap as to why; lower-spec ARM devices support it) could be a big deal in promoting this thing. Additionally, the larger (and presumably much higher-res) display should make a big difference... except it's too big for a pocket.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tlhIngan (30335)

        Dont' forget Flash support. I don't personally *like* Flash, but it's a pretty important part of the modern web. The fact that the iPhone lacks it (and don't give me any of Jobs' crap as to why; lower-spec ARM devices support it) could be a big deal in promoting this thing. Additionally, the larger (and presumably much higher-res) display should make a big difference... except it's too big for a pocket.

        Yeah, they support it poorly. Jobs has a point.

        I have two ARM-based devices (Archos 605, Nokia N810) which

    • To me, this looks far from an iPhone with a big screen. At least in this demo the hardware seemed unresponsive, sluggish, and several attempts had to be made to get a gesture to work properly. And it was being used by someone who was already used to the device. Notice how much trouble he was having just exiting full-screen mode in YouTube, which was displaying a video that was clearly choppy (Flash uses no hardware acceleration for video).

      Having said that, if they *did* manage to get the production model to

  • It must come with velcro on the back to hold it to your lap like in the picture.
  • by westlake (615356) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @12:31PM (#28580799)

    With each new generation of hardware the geek seems determined to re-invent the web appliance.

    Which no one wants and no one buys.

    Not in the numbers which matter to WalMart.

    The Kindle stores 1500 e-books for your off-line reading pleasure.

    The Atom netbook running XP or Win 7 can play hundreds of MSDOS and Windows games - available as dirt-cheep downloads from places like Gog.com [gog.com] ["Good Old Games"]

    • by maxume (22995)

      No one wants a shitty, expensive web appliance.

      I would guess that the market for a nice, affordable web appliance will surprise you (I'm not sure this device will meet either of those criteria...).

      • This sucker's a portable smart screen big enough for two people to view comfortably.

        If you can't think of a dozen awesome uses for this, you must consume very little media (or lots of it, but all alone)

        • by maxume (22995)

          If the software is slow and cumbersome, it will fit the definition of shitty. If I am broke, $300 (for what is mostly a toy) may not be affordable.

          The first of those questions is yet to be answered, and the $300 is what they sort of hope they can charge for it, not the actual launch price. So I agree that the general idea has lots of potential, but 'this sucker' isn't something we can have a concrete discussion about just yet.

    • Not just MSDOS games, my netbook can run counter strike source.
    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      The Kindle stores 1500 e-books for your off-line reading pleasure
      The Atom netbook running XP or Win 7 can play hundreds of MSDOS and Windows games

      A pitifully small library of crappy books, and games I didn't want to play when they were state of the art? Where do I sign up!

      I seriously can't believe there are people who don't understand that there is a market for lightweight, touchscreen tablet. It's the fucking Internet, stupid! How much time do people spend on their ass, surfing the web? Who wouldn't rather

    • by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @02:31PM (#28581729)

      With each new generation of hardware the geek seems determined to re-invent the web appliance. Which no one wants and no one buys.

      It's a challenging use case. For the form factor we're talking about, lacking a keyboard but being very thin, having limited proc, and being only marginaly cheaper than a netbook, the real competition in its market is paper. If this thing isn't as useful as paper, why bother getting this for someone to use when an actual nominal "computer" is only marginally more expensive.

      I think it's clear that someday something like this will replace a lot of paper, not all of it, but lots of ephemera. I already use my knidle to read my screenplays, and that's already saved 500 sheets in the past 3 months. If something like the kindle had better searching and browsing, and could actually read HTML documents in the manner they were intended, I could be keeping phonebooks full of film codebooks and sound library stuff in their right now.

      Something I've noticed with my iPhone, on the other hand, despite the fact that it's a little small to use properly as paper, is that it's extremely difficult to be browsing something on my computer, and then to continue my browsing session on the phone, or vice versus. The only way to do it is to email links to yourself, and that's a supreme pain.... Something I still think about from Minority Report were the larger pad-like storage devices they used to move files from one rig to another, like when Tom Cruise's assistant would look up a series of mugshots on one machine and bring them over to his. The assistant would collect the mugshots, drag them off his screen and ONTO the screen of the pad, as if the pad, by nature of touching the computer, were an extension of his monitor, and then he could take the pad, which had a display and could show everything it held, and carried it to the other computer. From there, the pad then became an extention on Anderton's monitor, and he could look at the material directly on the pad or drag it to his system, completing the loop. Why the fuck can't someone build an internet tablet that can do that? All that haptic stuff was cool, but for some reason, in my work, I'm constantly wishing I could take something I'm working on at this moment, drag it to a pad, and carry it somewhere, perhaps to move, perhaps just to work in-situ on the pad.

      • You know what I remember about that scene? Wondering why the future had reverted to Sneakernet.

        • by iluvcapra (782887)
          Yeah that's the tradeoff. On the other hand, it was perfectly secure. The storage medium could be walked anywhere and acts as a physical token.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      With each new generation of hardware the geek seems determined to re-invent the web appliance.

      It's exceedingly clear that people want a computer which:
      A) Works better (fast, responsive, stable).
      B) Is simpler (UI & maintenance).

      Which no one wants and no one buys.
      Not in the numbers which matter to WalMart.

      You could have said the same thing about MP3 players, before the iPod came along.

      • by westlake (615356)

        It's exceedingly clear that people want a computer which:
        A) Works better (fast, responsive, stable).
        B) Is simpler (UI & maintenance).

        I'm not so sure.

        There have been many attempts to make a go of an alternative UI. Sugar, The Simputer, and so on.

        But the traditional school desk has been around at least since the 1890s - and I have a strong suspicion your great great-grandad would have found the desktop UI easy to understand and easy to learn.

        His dad's "secretary" was most likely a great walnut cabinet w

        • by evilviper (135110)

          There have been many attempts to make a go of an alternative UI. Sugar, The Simputer, and so on.

          Just because all attempts have failed doesn't mean the desire isn't there.

          But the traditional school desk has been around at least since the 1890s

          Computers don't work like a desk, and trying to make the fit stretches the metaphor to the point of ridiculousness, and adds tons of unnecessary overhead and tedious human-computer chores that need not exist.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Netbooks and 'pads' are different markets.

      Lets hope they don't price themselves out of their target market.

    • by lawpoop (604919)
      My thought exactly. Didn't Nokia have a somewhat unpopular product in their web tablets, which did slight more than just surf the web?
      • by JesseL (107722)

        Yep. The N series of tablets. I just got an N810 from buy.com fro $179. It's got an 800x480 touch screen, slide out keyboard, 802.11b/g, bluetooth, GPS, flash enabled browser, webcam, mini-sd for expansion, huge battery life, can function as a USB host, etc. It also has a nice selection of free software available. And it fits in a pocket.

        For something with a 12" screen like the subject of the article, I'd rather just use a netbook.

  • I can buy a laptop that will do everything this does and MUCH MORE for like an additional $100. Seems like this device is a dead end niche minus the niche. Without a keyboard, how much email can you do ? Read but not reply ? While a virtual keyboard might work for a few keystrokes, a simple 2 paragraph email becomes torture using a non-existent KB.

    • by quasigenx (843945)
      It's probably not for you, then. Buy I netbook. I'm getting two of these things.
    • by maxume (22995)

      I award myself 5 points and hand you a pickle:

      http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1291861&cid=28580643 [slashdot.org]

    • I can buy a laptop that will do everything this does and MUCH MORE for like an additional $100.

      A $400 laptop isn't one pound and a quarter inch thick (my estimate from the pictures). A $400 laptop can't be easily held like a clipboard. A $400 laptop doesn't have battery life nearly as long as this ought to have. And even if a laptop did manage to have one of these characteristics, it sure as Hell wouldn't have all three and still be $400!

      Without a keyboard, how much email can you do ? Read but not reply ? W

  • Sounds like a natural for http://www.android.com/ [android.com]

  • Compared to my screen, my keyboard is awfully dirty. It's shiny with grime, even though I clean it about once month. I'm thinking if I had a touch screen, I'd have to wipe that screen clean about once an hour, at least.

    Either that, or stop licking my fingers.

  • Is it at all possible to close the browser and use the tablet as a proper computer? That would be magical.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drgould (24404)

      Is it at all possible to close the browser and use the tablet as a proper computer? That would be magical.

      It runs Linux and I find it difficult to believe that they are making any serious attempt to "lock it down."

      If you can't access at least a shell prompt out of the box, I'm sure someone will post a youtube how-to video within 5 minutes of release.

  • For users like
    - Simple Jack
    - President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho
    - George W. Bush
    - Joe Sixpack
    - The drooling guy in the wheelchair.
    - Your baby that is still in the womb.
    - And even Flippy the chimp!

    Nobody has to feel left out from the forums because he can't even enter some simple letters. The possibilities are endless!

    With just one clickwheel, you can wheel all day long! Whooo! Wheeee! *lisping* It's so simple!

    Company Boss (deep voice, huge pack of muscles, looks like a peasant in a suit):

  • by Anonymous Coward

    it was double the price and had an apple logo on it.

  • by jacksonyee (590218) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @02:45PM (#28581805) Homepage

    Between waiting for the Pandora and the Crunchpad, I found a real tablet at BetaMacs - the Motion Computing M1300 with a USB keyboard for $310 including shipping (They no longer have any stock here at the time of this writing, unfortunately, but GainSaver still has a couple). The battery only lasts about two hours, but I can run a full Windows XP/Ubuntu installation with almost 640x480 x264 playback (stutters a bit during busy scenes).

    Thanks for the concepts, Mike. If you had used a Cortex A8 with a 7 inch screen and slide-out keyboard, I might have had a niche for you in my gadgets collection. See you next time!

  • John Markoff in the NY-Times in March 2008:
    "Apple's multitouch technology began life not as a cellphone, but as a notepad-sized skunkworks project internally dubbed Safari Pad, run by Tim Bucher, then Apple's head of Macintosh hardware. To his credit, Mr. Jobs seized on the technology and morphed it into the iPhone.
    At Macworld, when I asked Mr. Jobs about the idea of an iPod Touch in a larger "Safari Pad" format, he snapped at me, "I can't talk about unannounced products.""

    Originally at http://bits.blogs.ny [nytimes.com]

  • A dead-simple web tablet. That's like saying that the iPhone will be just a simple to use phone.

    I believe the real appeal of the thing will be in the simplicity and elegance of its design, but also in its ability to do just about everything once one installs add-on apps to it. After all, it has a CPU and Linux - why woundn't one do other things on it?

    Now if only it can eventually have a super low power display (like the Kindle, but color), so that we are finally free of the tyranny of being near an electric

  • The UI gestures on this thing are terrible. They're not at all obvious. I don't imaging anyone will be able to figure out how to bring up, say, text entry without being told. It's also unclear how some of the gestures (such as the upward swipe) are distinguished from scrolling. Just stick an address bar and a few buttons in there, it'll make all of your user's lives easier. There's definitely room. Sacrificing usability for a "full-screen-web" aesthetic isn't a good idea.
  • If I can get it to read the various ebook formats - mob, lit, pdf, htm (you'd be surprised how many devices with web browsers won't let u load a html file from disk) I'm sold.

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