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Leaked Pics of CrunchPad Elicit Progress Update 85

TechCrunch has released a few more technical details, pictures, and general comments about their CrunchPad project as a recent accidental leak saw a new round of images posted to the web. It seems that the tablet has continued to grow and evolve with the help of an Intel Atom chip (as opposed to the Via chip previously used), new software from Fusion Garage, and a bottom-up Linux install. "I wanted something I couldn't buy, and found people who said it could be built for a lot less than I imagined. The goal — a very thin and light touch screen computer, sans physical keyboard, that has no hard drive and boots directly to a browser to surf the web. The operating system exists solely to handle the hardware drivers and run the browser and associated applications. That's it."
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Leaked Pics of CrunchPad Elicit Progress Update

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  • by mdm-adph ( 1030332 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @05:03PM (#27536383) []

    I like the philosophy behind the Chumby, but if the CrunchPad is cheaper, I'd get that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) *

      According to the article:

      Price? it can be built for less than $250, including packaging.

      I hope that means $250 retail and not $250 manufacturer's cost. If it sells for $250 retail, this could be an excellent satellite device for the home. Assuming it performs well enough, that is. The real failure of many "web surfing" devices has always been poor usability caused by poor performance. Many also shipped with sub-standard browsers, which presumably wouldn't be the case here.

      (As an aside, does anyone else thin

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by davester666 ( 731373 )

        For $250, this would make a great peripheral for a full-fledged computer. If the host computer could use it as an external display AND touch input device, I think that would make for some more interesting possibilities than a standalone device with an underpowered CPU and a mediocre OS/apps.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Given that it is running x86 linux, I suspect that making use of X11's remote capabilities would be quite trivial. For extra credit, synergy and DMX would be quite interesting in a touchscreen device.

          If what you actually want is just a desktop LCD with a touchscreen, than this isn't really the way to go. You can get those already, without the whole computer bit grafted on.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Read a little further along the article for your answer;

        Price? it can be built for less than $250, including packaging. Add in fixed costs and other stuff you have to deal with (like returns), and you can sell it for $300 and probably not go out of business.

        • by agristin ( 750854 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @06:23PM (#27537063) Journal

          Read a little further along the article for your answer;

          Price? it can be built for less than $250, including packaging. Add in fixed costs and other stuff you have to deal with (like returns), and you can sell it for $300 and probably not go out of business.

          I'd like to see that business plan. I suspect if you build it at 250$ the least you could sell it for and not go out of business is 500$. That might be normal.

          83% cost of manufacture? At a price point of a few hundred dollars, it is almost impossible to break even, much less turn a profit.

          You could survive 80%+ cost of manufacture if you had a very low price point (1$ or less), had no support or return costs, and very low advertising and could sell millions or billions of them. Even then you would want to get down to 50% or less.

          • by ConanG ( 699649 ) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @02:46AM (#27540039)
            The thing is, this isn't a normal business venture. He mostly wants it to be built because he wants one himself. He's not motivated by profit, but desire to realize the product. A lot of the initial work was done openly by volunteers which drastically cut engineering costs. I don't think there's going to be much of an advertising budget.

            My guess is that he's done the math and probably has a better idea of what he can sell it for and not go out of business. Note that: NOT GO OUT OF BUSINESS. Not become a millionaire. Not become a business tycoon. Simply stay afloat. I think that's all he really wants.
      • (As an aside, does anyone else think this looks like something Rodney McKay should be toting around? :-P)

        If Apple had provided the tablet computers, yeah.
        Although I haven't seen a logo on the tablets, every laptop I've identified has been a Dell.

    • Except they don't make the claims of "Hackability"...
    • by vrmlguy ( 120854 )

      I made a similar comment on TechCrunch's site, calling it a Chumby's big brother. I'd love to see some Chumby-like widgets that would run as screen savers when the Crunchpad is being charged.

      I notice that Web 2.0 devices are coalescing around a semi-standard hardware platform: WiFi, touch screen, accelerometers, stereo speakers, and a microphone; USB ports and SD slots are common additions. The Nintendo DS adds a bunch of buttons, the Wii adds Bluetooth and rumble (and loses the touchscreen), and the iPh

    • Kinda reminds me of my very own Open Slate. [] Only my concept calls for a full-featured mobile computer that can do a lot of useful work without a network connection. Think e-book / web browser / PC in a pen-based package. As for the price, students build their own so cost is cost, unless a student chooses to pay a more advanced student to make them a custom unit. The design, construction, and maintenece of slates would be core subjects in fields like art, industrial art, and science. Every slate would be a p

    • Since a Chumby is ~ $200 and he says the tablet is going to be ~ $300, what you waiting for?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So far, they remain quite sucessful.

  • wait... what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @05:17PM (#27536515) Homepage Journal

    I seem to remember there being such things in the first web bubble... net appliances they were called, souped-down computers used for just browsing the web.

    I seem to recall the hackers and linux users working hard to get them to be MORE than just browsers and work more like a real computer. I also recall them failing miserably in the market.

    Sometimes I begin to think that people just don't know what they want.

    • Re:wait... what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SectoidRandom ( 87023 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @05:49PM (#27536783) Homepage

      Ever heard of a NetBook?

      Circles I tell ya, it all goes around in circles.

      • Ever heard of a NetBook?


        It has an ATOM CPU, 1 GB RAM, a 9" screen, a 160 GB HDD and runs Win XP.

        Desktop specs not so very many years back.

    • Re:wait... what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fallingcow ( 213461 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @05:59PM (#27536859) Homepage

      I'd love this thing if it could do a bit more than just browse. Hardware's beefy enough, just give it a few more apps--NFS/SMB file sharing support, a video and music player (surely it's already got a headphone jack), and an ebook/pdf reader.

      It's the first "netbook"-like thing that I've seen that I might actually be interested in. All the others were too much like laptops for my taste, while lacking the horsepower of a real laptop. It'd work great as a main interface for a computer-based home-theater setup. Play music remotely anywhere in the house, control your MythTV box from any room, take it to the bath to watch a movie while you soak (laptops are really inconvenient for that task), etc. Oh, VNC or similar would be nice, too.

      As just a "net appliance" it's every bit as stupid as the last generation of those (though at least it's not almost the size of a real PC, like a lot of those were) but as a "anything networked that doesn't require local storage or a real mouse+keyboard" appliance... holy shit, that's pretty cool, especially at that price.

      • by dindae ( 24490 )

        If was only a little smaller, had a great interface to play music and movies, and you could run VNC, access the device with WebDAV, and you could install inexpensive apps on it (say $0.99 and up) from an online store. Yeah, if only there was device like that.

        Well until then, I guess I'll keep using my iPod Touch.

        • Re:wait... what? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Fallingcow ( 213461 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @07:07PM (#27537413) Homepage

          I don't want it to be smaller, though. The screen's the perfect size. The iPod is something for carrying around with you everywhere, while this seems to be something for carrying around your house (or office, I guess). I also have zero interest in the app store; existing, free apps could do everything I'd want on this device (I read somewhere down the comments that it's Linux based, so just take your pick of the applications that would do the things I mentioned)

          This'd be much better for toting around the house to watch movies or browse in odd places (bed, tub, etc.) than a laptop is. It could be a portable home media center control interface and media access device. I'd certainly much rather watch movies, browse, and read books on this thing than on an iPod or iPhone, though clearly those would be the better ultra-mobile choices for those tasks.

          In short, it's the first netbook-like device I've seen that is sufficiently different from a full-fledged laptop or a much more portable solution like the iPod Touch you mentioned to capture my interest. IMO, it looks like it might nicely fill a niche between those two.

      • by Daengbo ( 523424 )

        You should install XPUD [] on it. It boots fast [], too.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful) appliances they were called, souped-down computers...

      Yes, please.

      Real-world users don't need a fraction of the horsepower in today's laptops. What they need (or at least what I need) is a drastically reduced feature set and concomitantly less demand from the hardware.

      I use an Alphasmart Neo--700 hours of battery life on three 2As--that doesn't do enough to qualify as a Netbook, but it comes close.

      A full-blown Linux OS seems like overkill, and Windows Vista is asinine.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rickb928 ( 945187 )

      I had an iOpener, a V5 that I got a hard drive onto, split the keyboard connector for a mouse, added a low profile fan to keep it from smoking, and loaded XP (or was it 98, so long ago) to replace the custom QNX install. Explaing the pizza key got tired. A USB Ethernet dongle got me online. woot!

      But you could buy one for $99, 'forget' to use a credit card, and never log into the service that was supposed to subsidize the device. They show up on eBay sometimes now, but it ain't a touchscreen.

      I actually wi

      • I bought an I-opener on eBay to make a digital picture frame before those became commonly available (and affordable). I got a late revision - by the end they were trying to lock down the OS (no loophole to get down to root after it connected to the main service, unable to modify bios settings to change boot order, etc).

        It was a fun engineering challenge, mostly aided by patience in chipping the epoxy off of the bios chip and buying a flashed one so I could boot an external drive and continue the process.


    • Actually, nobody ever really produced a machine which was only a web browser except the iOpener, which failed because the browser sucked. I have a WebDT 366, they're $1250 and up and only really sold for point of sale and similar.

    • And 'thin-clients'. And 'remote terminals'. And 'X terminals'. And doubtless dozens of other cute names for lowend, remote clients to a more centralized set of resources: what's changed is that those resources are now at Google and Wikipedia, not in your local computer room.

    • by ogdenk ( 712300 )

      net appliances, palm-sized PC's, handheld PC's, PDA's, etc.

      They keep reinventing the name but they keep failing to kill the desktop computer.

      Personally, I liked every single one of these devices but when people realized there was no good JVM or Flash player to play Sudoku and other gay, stupid online games tailored for a full-fledged PC with a bloated browser and a library of plugins, they shunned them.

      That and the Windows expert next door told them they were useless and sucked. Never mind that this Window

    • The net is a lot more entrenched now in the "normal" world. You can do a hell of a lot more with web apps now, as well.

      Get one of these things with autoupdating firefox+java+flash+xpi extensions, and that will be enough for many normal users.

      It won't be the only computer for most people, but it may be a nice secondary computer to keep in the livingroom or kitchen for casual browsing.

      Someone can create an extension to pipe video to it via a browser extension, probably.

  • Getting closer... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @05:37PM (#27536677) Journal

    It's too big. Cut the size in half and add mobile broadband options in addition to wifi. Otherwise it should be good.

    It's essentially a PADD from Star Trek, and once someone figures out that copying that design will result in huge profits, we'll see some really cool gear.

    • Try this one:

      Nokia 770 Internet Tablet []

      I've played with one that a friend bought, not bad, if web browsing in a small-medium size is what you want.

    • Know why? I would like a really good web-type pad to use as a master remote control with my HTPC (currently using Ubuntu/Boxee and some home-grown Prism stuff). For that matter, it'd be a great remote entry to all my machines in the house.

      I've tried using my Nokia 800 and my Pepper Pad 3. They both come close, but are clumsy at both higher resolutions and text entry (well, the PP3 handles text entry fine, really). If I could get something that does 1280x800 resolution with a decent virtual keyboard, a

      • Precisely what I was thinking. My first thought when I saw this thing was, "holy shit, it's not just a smart remote for an HTPC, it's possibly the smartest remote ever!"

      • I'm doing same as you. An N800 as remote for MythTV, XBMC, etc. and trying to use PP3 for custom IR stuff. The N800 is also great for custom web pages to control sprinklers, lighting and security system. The PP3 I think has the most potential due to builtin CIR (a/v infrared). I wish they'd put CIR on more devices. Why do you need higher resolution than what's on N800 or PP3 if you're using them as "dumb" remotes though?
        • by IANAAC ( 692242 )

          Why do you need higher resolution than what's on N800 or PP3 if you're using them as "dumb" remotes though?

          Well, I'm not using them as "dumb" remotes, per sé. I would really like use them as full remote clients, mimicking the entire screen as shown on my TV on the remote (N800 or PP3), making text entry easier. And vncviewer is a bit slow on the N800, due to processor speed, I would guess. But, yeah, if all I'm doing is tabbing, moving up or down, etc, they both do an OK job. Boxee can cause s

    • From what I recall from another article they are planning on releasing the schematics open source. So the thought of other companies getting in on the action is much more probable than you might think.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fallingcow ( 213461 )

      I think it's the perfect size. Big enough for "real" websites and a large-ish touchscreen keyboard. Big enough for 2 people to watch Hulu on without eye strain. Still small enough to tote around the house with ease.

      Half the size? Just buy an iPhone. Mobile broadband? C'mon, this thing isn't for watching movies in your car. Again, just buy an iPhone, or any number of other devices that already cater to that market.

      IMO, this is the best "netbook" concept I've seen yet. If it can do just a bit more tha

    • It's too big. Cut the size in half and add mobile broadband options in addition to wifi.

      So...a slightly larger iPhone or iTouch, without the AT&T or Apple tethering.
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      Cut the size in half, keep the aspect ratio, and you have an iPod touch or any other touch based device.

      The issue with mobile broadband is that at least in the US, it is clear you have to work with the cell providers. I do believe this is going to the next growth area for the Verizon ATT and the like. If these things can be sold for $300, they can be almost given away with a $60 a month broadband contract. How many people who have little need for a full blown computer would buy one of these. Of course,

  • they should try thinning out the form factor a bit, at least something on the scale of an iphone or or better, with a screen the size of a piece of a4 with no more than 3mm case border.

  • Elicit? Nice. I guess it's a refreshing change from the usual lose/loose etc.

    • There is no typo.

      One entry found.

      Main Entry:
      transitive verb
      Latin elicitus, past participle of elicere, from e- + lacere to allure
      1 : to draw forth or bring out (something latent or potential)
      2 : to call forth or draw out (as information or a response)
      synonyms see educe

  • by mikael_j ( 106439 ) on Friday April 10, 2009 @06:00PM (#27536863)

    For years I've been trying to find a fairly small (10-13" monitor) tablet which would essentially be a Wacom Cintiq with a built-in computer just fast enough to run apps like Sketchbook Pro, Painter or other "creative" applications, but apparently there are no machines like this.

    There have been a few tablets with a good stylus but these have generally been sold as "high-end" machines meaning they've been expensive, overpowered and too big, I'm looking for what could be described as a digital sketchbook, any performance-intensive image editing could be done on a regular laptop or desktop.

    I've tried to look for good tablets all over the place but apparently this particular kind of tablet isn't interesting in the eyes of manufacturers (even though I've seen way too many threads on various art/graphics/design forums where people have been looking for just this kind of machine).

    Oh well, the more tablets that are on the market the bigger the chances of me eventually finding what I'm looking for.


    • by vrmlguy ( 120854 )

      How does this tablet miss the mark? Are you afraid that the touchscreen resolution isn't high enough for your needs? Just because it's designed to respond to your finger doesn't mean you can't use a stylus.

      • The quality for input with a stylus needs to be pretty high, and I suspect you wouldn't be able to rest your hands on the screen surface while using a stylus which would make it very awkward.


      • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

        And if this tablet won't do it, many current tablets on the market license pen technology from Wacom. They don't have the full range of sensitivity of the standalone Intuos tablets, but that's true of the Cintiq, also.

        One criticism of tablets I've heard from artist types, though, is that the screens that ship with tablets are inadequate for graphics work for various reasons. For example, the extra layer of plastic required for the touchscreen makes the image look "off," or the color response is poor. It may

    • Doesn't exist yet. I have a 2ghz athlon Turon tablet which runs ArtRage as a mobile sketch application and it JUST BARELY keeps up with ArtRage or Corel Painter.

      The little Atom just doesn't have it in it yet to handle advanced paint apps at reasonable resolutions. Not to mention if you're working on a big painting you want at least 2GB of RAM.

  • iPad

    Now wish me luck against Apple's attorneys.
  • Is it only me who is surprised (because of ignorance) that the s/w footprint stands at 100MB, when evidently they just want to control the h/w & for an application they want only a browser? Well, for practical uses, the browser would need flash plugins, etc. and most obviously would need addons if the browser supports it. When a Linux distro like DamnSmallLinux provides much more than a browser in just 50MB why do these guys need double of that?!
  • Did you want something you couldn't buy, or was what you wanted not available to buy?
  • Well?

    What, exactly, is "a bottom-up Linux install"?

    Forgive me for thinking it sounds like giving a piece of hardware an enema.

  • A piece of hardware like this is badly needed, but the key is that any such device should be totally independent of the software installed. People then could choose to install anything they want on it. My ideal tablet would behave exactly like a notebook computer without the need to have custom software or modify existing desktop environments. One way to achieve that would be to have a touchscreen plus 3 additional hardware buttons that interact with the OS at the lowest level possible (maybe even below dri

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