Fusion Garage JooJoo Tablet Hands-On

From the webcast yesterday, the JooJoo (previously named Crunchpad) seemed flimsy and barely working. But now that we spent a good deal of hands on time with it, we can say that Fusion Garage executed an internet tablet quite well.

Specs Here are some new facts I gathered from the meeting. First, the device runs a 1.6GHz Atom processor with 1GB RAM. The guys at JooJoo said they weren't ready to reveal specs yet, but I saw the bootup sequence—a standard BIOS setup that displayed what it was booting to—and saw the specs. Chandra, CEO of Fusion Garage, says that the demo hardware was basically the final hardware, so it's easy to put two and two together.

As for the graphics card, it's probably an Nvidia Ion. They claim that it handles 1080p YouTube video fine—we only got to see a few seconds of 720p and 1080p HD YouTube video because the internet connection was acting up—so it's probably an Ion. But the HD video we tested looked just fine on its 12-inch, 1366x768 resolution screen. Again, the Ion is just an educated guess, but there are few other hardware options that can handle 1080p video smoothly.

There is a headphone jack, a microphone jack, a built-in webcam at 1.3 megapixels, a charging port and a USB slot. The external card slot present in the prototype isn't going to make it to the final version, but they are thinking of making it available to put a 3G card in there in the future.

Performance The tablet actually handled pretty well, with browsing web pages, transitioning between tabs (windows) and opening up new web pages working fine. There's an accelerometer in there to detect between vertical and horizontal orientations.

The body is solid, sturdy and graced with a bright 12-inch screen. The back is curved and made of a plastic that feels nice in your hand, and the whole thing doesn't feel too heavy to prop up on a bed or a toilet.

In short, it's an actual web browsing tablet that you'd be perfectly fine using.

The software The entire system is basically a gateway to your browser, which is based off WebKit, the same code that powers Safari and Google's Chrome. It's fast, and handles gestures (pinching to go back a level, swiping to move up and down) just fine. There are other gestures that will be included in the final build, like two finger swiping for going back and forth in history and a bookmark swipe, but we didn't get to see that.

JooJoo's keyboard looks like this, and takes up only a portion of the screen. It's usable, but you don't want to use it to bang out a blog post; this is mainly for consuming media.

Fusion Garage's concept for the product is that the "internet is the application", which means you can't save photos or files locally and you can't access any of the 4GB of storage to do any user level stuff. The most you can dictate is how much each internet application (e.g. Gmail or Google Wave) can have for a local cache.

Your home screen is composed almost entirely of icons—shortcuts—to web applications. The screen is customisable with your own applications, eventually, and has a weird feature where it displays a different colour background whenever you go back to it. Fusion Garage is thinking of taking this out, or swapping it with some other feature.

As for multitasking, Fusion Garage says that they will have specific APIs available to webapps to incorporate in order to pass notifications up to the user. For example, if Twitter refreshes in another window and you're watching a YouTube video, a popup will show and tell you you have something else going on. The APIs will be available at launch, but it's up to websites to support them.

How good is it? Despite its weird birth issues this past week with all the Arrington trouble, the JooJoo is surprisingly solid. You can tell Fusion Garage spent a good deal of time polishing the hardware, by the fact that they managed to include a 12-inch screen that's decent enough to not have lousy viewing angles, plus support 1080p HD video playback.

The only trouble right now is software, which is only about 75% done. Fusion Garage plans to ship devices about 8-10 weeks after preorders, which start this friday. If FG can manage to finish the software and get it to a point where it's transparent to the user who just wants to get online, $US500 isn't too outrageous a price to pay. Decent netbooks are around that price, and it's about the price you'd expect Apple to charge for their tablet, if not even more. We'd of course be very happy if it were down at $US300 or $US400, but it's basically a new device in a new market, and you'll have to hand over a little extra for being an early adopter.

So right now we're at a wait and see status. The JooJoo seems good, from our time with it, but it really needs to be taken home and thoroughly tested with different webapps, watching a lot of HD video and streaming music. At the very least, we'll see how much of that 5-hour battery life stands up to constant use. You can pre-order it yourself this Friday. [JooJoo]


Comments

    Ah that sucks that it doesn't store photos! I wanted it to be the perfect coffee table companion. Ready to be picked up to browse Gizmodo or emails at any moment, but able to sit there acting like a changing photo frame when not in use (although with only 5 hours of battery life it wouldn't do well as this)

    Nathan, all you need to do is setup a basic webserver on your home network and serve the photos through a slidshow interface, lots of free products out there already. Add link to favorites then bam, picture gallery for 5 hours (less with wifi and screen on full I bet)

    I was thinking the same for accessing your videos etc over the network - one of those media extender type things that convert files on the fly.

    A netbook does a lot more for $300 (http://preview.tinyurl.com/y94f87m). If I want a polished "I'm cool" device, I'll wait for the Apple tablet and pay $500-600. Apple will have finished their product and throw in some cool innovations too before shipping. If I want to stiff arm Apple, then I'll wait for the Android tablet.

    ...and the Arrington / Crunchpad debacle smells and doesn't make me eager to support this company on an OK product. Social media and reputations matter.

    I'd like a web only tablet, and this seems big enough for what I'd like to use it for. I have a phone and a desktop PC, so I don't want it to fit in my pocket, or have 3g I have to feed, or be a GPS, or have 5 million apps that aren't applicable to where I live, or have a fold out radio beacon that glows in the dark. I just want a big touch screen 12 inch+ and wi-fi.
    Also, I recall seeing a website that will stream a slideshow of your uploaded pix somewhere, so it can do most things off the web anyway.

    haha...No that Apple IPad is confirmed, this product is dead.

      The problem with the iPad (is that a feminine product?) is that it has no flash (yet) and is locked into Apple's way of thinking.
      Just like they locked the iPhone, the iPad too will be locked until we find a way to jailbreak it.

      However, if the iPad came with a version of OS X, being comparable to a mac mini media center setup, then I would no doubt get at least 2 of them, but not being able to browse and watch the video I have painstakingly setup the dedicated home network for, well, that just makes me want to go somewhere else.

      Give the consumer the control over their own products and we will be happier to spend more money.

        and about the JooJoo:

        Sweet!!

        I absolutely encourage competition, especially when it is against a giant that can't see the consumers under it's giant ego.

        I am an Apple fan, but I am beginning to wonder if that is because I am an even louder anti-windows advocate.

        If *nix was on the level of software choices and ease of use like Mac OS or windows, then I would be there; it's not, but it's coming along nicely.

        Hopefully JooJoo will be able to do more than just be a web browsing machine (give us network browsing). If it does, I'll be one of the first to buy 2.

        Good Luck JooJoo
        Good Luck Fusion Garage

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now