While Apple hides itself in a cloud of rumors surrounding the launch of its first touchscreen tablet PC, Michael Arrington and Singapore’s Fusion Garage are putting the pedal to the floor in an effort to get a working touchscreen tablet device in the hands of consumers by the holiday season. Dubbed the CrunchPad, this Web-centric tablet PC throws conventional storage to the cloud: Instead of a hard drive, you run programs and save files via a Wi-Fi or 3G connection.
The Singapore Straits Times got its hands on a CrunchPad but — more importantly — a first look at a larger version of the specs list. Here’s what you’ll be able find in this unique tablet PC:
Dimensions: approximately 12.8 by 7.8 by 0.7 inches (That’s a screen size of two inches larger than Apple’s rumored tablet PC)
Weight: 2.6 pounds
Guts: 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor and 1GB memory
Software: Open-source Webkit browser/operating system, developed by Fusion Garage
Connections: One USB port. No more, no less.
Network Connectivity: Wi-Fi, 3G, mobile broadband
The CrunchPad’s rumored (but still unconfirmed) price point of $400 would put it in direct competition with netbooks and, heck, even Apple’s iPhone. I only mention that last fact, as the CrunchPad’s built-in features — a large virtual keyboard, gesture-based controls, and an accelerometer, among others — alongside its lack of an ability to really store information on the device evokes the image of a giant alternative iPhone.
Now here’s the big question: What happened to the earlier specifications that included an embedded microphone, headphone jack, and Webcam? Are these inputs and devices still there? Can one use these, or an attached USB headset, to make a call or two on Skype? I don’t foresee the CrunchPad replacing a mobile phone any time soon, but these features would certainly sweeten the allure of a portable, connected tablet.
What do you think? Would you buy a pricy new smartphone or opt for a lesser mobile device combined with a wireless, fast-booting CrunchPad? Is the open-source background of the CrunchPad a tantalizing alternative to the concept of a proprietary application store?
[image courtesy dchieng.com]