Netbooks and mobile Internet devices are the next big thing, according to some observers. They will even be preferred over smartphones that do everything. So Tech Crunch's Michael Arrington is right on the money with his touch-screen open source tablet, called the Crunch Pad.
Prototype B sports a 12-inch, 1024x768 touchscreen, a 4:3 aspect ratio, and a Via Nano processor. [It] has a gigabyte of RAM, and a 4GB flash drive for the operating system, browser and Web cache. Other features include Wi-Fi, an accelerometer that lets the device reposition a Web page when the machine is turned, a camera, and a four-cell battery. The weight is about three pounds and, although his original vision was for a $200 price tag, Arrington said something under $299 is more realistic.
The device runs Ubuntu and includes a "custom Webkit browser." AltaVista founder and CTO Louis Monier is serving as the project lead, and FusionGarage is responsible for the user experience and feature set.
It sounds really cool and like a lot of fun, and I'm sure there are many who absolutely cannot wait for the specs to be released so they can build their own. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. Not yet, anyway.
Unlike many who have experienced the iPod Touch, the iPhone, the BlackBerry Storm, or the Google G1, I am not at all sold on the touch-screen keyboard. In my experience, they are annoying. Unless you have hands the size of a first grader's, you think you're typing one letter and a completely different one pops up in the search field. Or you think you're pushing a certain button, but the one below it is the one that activates.
It seems I spend more time backspacing and retyping than I do actually searching. Maybe my fingers are larger than most, or maybe I haven't mastered the art of the touch-screen keyboard, but I do not find them easy to use or particularly speedy. Perhaps a stylus of some sort would help?
Maybe the Crunch Pad's 12-inch screen will be large enough to make a difference. We'll see.