The Techcrunch Web Tablet Project


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Today at Techcrunch we announced that we are building our own web tablet hardware device. This all stems back from a conversation a few weeks ago when we were discussing the ultimate web browsing/cloud computing client hardware. The iPhone is nice but too small, and most laptops are over-powered for the task. With applications on the web most of us just need a web browser most of the time, so the ideal device would be a light-weight small tablet running nothing more than Firefox on a decent screen and with a WiFi connection.

The software development aspects of the project will be managed here from TCIT. Our goal is open source from top to bottom (including the full design, eventually). Leave a comment and we will get in touch with you and send you an account on the project management system we will be setting up (I am also nik at techcrunch on email which might be easier than flooding comments). It would be interesting to hear general feedback and ideas – we really want to open this up to everybody.

The planned stack so far is to run BSD or Linux, with the Gnome desktop. We will probably take the Gnome Onscreen Keyboard project and adapt that as the primary input device (the hardware design includes multi-touch under the LCD screen, I will have the full specs shortly and will post them to the wiki). Then there will be Firefox, running in a stripped down interface mode with a simple system tray showing battery life and wifi (and simple settings for the device). Plugins would include Gears, Flash and probably either VLC or Mplayer with open codecs for media.

Once the stack comes together and we can set the hardware spec in stone, we will do a small manufacturing run and ship some devices out to developers so that we can work on specifics. Once that is done there will be a larger manufacturing run with hopefully a retail price of $300 or less. If you are excited about this as we are, please get in touch.