TechCrunch just released new photos and specs of their internet Tablet prototype B, which for $299 features a 12″ 1024×768 touchscreen, Via Nano processor, 1GB of RAM, 4GB flash drive, wifi, accelerometer, camera, four cell battery, and Ubuntu with a custom WebKit browser. Arrington says the 12.5″ x 9.7″ x 1.3″ device weighs three pounds.
What TechCrunch is trying to do is create a 4x larger version of the iPhone centered around the browsing experience. To do this they need three things: a good price point, intuitive user interface, and beautiful industrial design. They’ve made good progress, but they are clearly not there yet; $299 is extremely close to the full-featured HP 2133-KX869AT 8.9-inch Mini-Note PC (C7-M 1.2 GHz Processor, 1 GB RAM, 120 GB Hard Drive, Linux) for $350. Consumers would probably rather buy a netbook–miniature notebook–than a browser-tablet at the $300 price point.
To improve their price, the TechCrunch team needs to throw away all components adding cost–the external ports, the webcam, and anything else that gets in the way. They’ll have to aggressively negotiate manufacturing contracts. But, if they can hit their original $200 target, they’ll have a winner.
The next ingredient is the killer UI. That’s what made the iPhone into an overnight hit, something Gizmodo reader KVirtanen noted:
Simply think through everything. Make it look and work like it’s worth over 300$ and people will be all over it. Listen to your potential customers when making decisions. Make it so that it almost slips on to your hands and your fingers just automatically finds the on-screen buttons (and maybe also some physical ones). Let people with good eye comment on the design.
This way it’ll be a long-lasting tool, not something you’ll end up replacing after you get fed up with the way it works or after it breaks.
Finally, the design of the case in prototype B sucks. It’s thick and unwieldy. Mike says that “It’s about twice as thick as is needs to be without further engineering – we just built in a safety thickness in case of heat or other issues.” Getting it down to .7″ thick and removing much of the unnecessary border around the screen will go a long way to making it consumer friendly. From the screens, it also looks like the bezel rides quite a bit higher than the screen surface. The iPhone face is one smooth surface, something that make it feel like a quality product a person would want to own.
If prototype C can be profitable at $200, throws away all the components not central to the TC Tablet’s mission, has a great user interface, and looks 100000x sexier than prototype B, I’ll be willing to revisit this headline. Otherwise, competing with the netbooks, it’s doomed.
Update: Sad to hear that due to an intellectual property dispute with their partners, the CrunchPad is dead. I was looking forward to seeing it compete in the marketplace, and die a more noble death.
Yes, reassigning the src attribute of an img will cause the image to keep animating, even when in the process of loading the next page. Note–this doesn’t work as well in Firefox. For that, you should either (a) upgrade the application to load data through AJAX, not URL redirection, or (b) use an iframe pointing to the image.
PS, if you need some ajax loading indicators, there’s a bunch!
Bloglines, please stop sucking. It’s been a couple weeks now. I don’t want to have to move to Google Reader. Sigh.
According to Michael Arrington, the major problem with Bloglines is that it doesn’t update feeds with any frequency. But that’s not the only thing; the site itself is slow, hard to navigate, and hasn’t been updated in literally years. Here’s the UI that’s been in use since at least 2006:
Ask, please update me to something modern!
The beta design that Bloglines has been cooking up is nearly entirely worthless; it takes a bad design, and essentially reduces the amount of on-screen contrast. It’s also still pretty slow:
Here’s an interesting, funny blooper from their homepage refresh (it looks like Ask, when they bought them, finally figured out the homepage was extremely ugly):
That’s right, the “screenshot” for their mobile bloglines interface is actually of an iPhone checking voicemail? What?? How is that possibly related to an RSS reader’s mobile interface…