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Open-source Linux tablet slims down

Apr 10, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

After an accidental photo leak of the latest prototype of TechCrunch's WiFi-enabled tablet PC device, the technology blog site has revealed more details about the revision. The “B.5” version (pictured) of the “CrunchPad” is sleeker, and runs an Intel Atom instead of the previous Via Nano.

(Click for larger view of Crunchpad Prototype B.5)

TechCrunch doesn't list the new dimensions of the open-source CrunchPad, but it certainly looks considerably thinner than the Prototype B version (pictured below, right) from January, which weighed three pounds and measured 12.5 x 9.7 x 1.3 inches. At the time, project leader and TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington noted in his blog that the case was “about twice as thick as it needs to be without further engineering.”

Previous CrunchPad rev:
Prototype B

(Click for details)

Announced last summer, the open-source project was intended as a “dead simple” touchscreen web browsing device that was light enough to sit on one's lap while watching TV. At the time, TechCrunch was targeting a $200 device, but Arrington now writes in a blog that the device “can be built for less than $250, including packaging,” and that one could “sell it for $300 and probably not go out of business.” He also notes that “if you want more features, this ain't for you.”

Aside from the switch to the Intel Atom, Arrington did not let on to any other hardware changes in the device. The previous Prototype B configuration offered 1GB RAM, 4GB flash, WiFi, and a 12-inch, 1024 x 768 touchscreen. Other features of Prototype B included a camera, Ethernet and USB ports, speaker and mic jacks, and accelerometers that can automatically adjust the screen from landscape to portrait.

On the software side, however, Arrington notes that the CrunchPad has switched from Ubuntu Linux and a custom Webkit browser to a “bottom-up” Linux OS, and a new version of the browser. The total software footprint is said to be around 100MB, which Arrington dubs “a solid achievement.” Developed with the help of Singapore-based Fusion Garage, the system software boots directly to the browser for fast access, and offers a virtual keyboard. Media capabilities are said to include Flash video, as well as video from Hulu, YouTube, and Joost.


TechCrunch did not say when the final CrunchPad would be available, but it appears to be soon. Michael Arrington's latest blog post on the CrunchPad may be found here.

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