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CrunchPad is now the $500 Joo Joo

Posted at 08 December 2009 00:14 CEST by Jared Newman

What was supposed to be a $200 Web tablet backed by an influential blogger is now a $500 device from a previously unknown startup.

The Joo Joo, by Fusion Garage, was previously the pet project of TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, and known as the CrunchPad. It’s a 12.1-inch tablet with a capacitive touch screen and virtual keyboard, plus a 4 GB solid state drive and accelerometer. Powering up in nine seconds, the Joo Joo runs a Unix Web-based OS and is capable only of browsing the Web (including HD video), with no apps, windows or menus. It has Wi-Fi, but no 3G or other mobile broadband, and it will cost $500. That’s more than twice the device’s initial intended price, and enough for several tech watchers to declare it dead on arrival, scheduled for December 11.

joojoopad_1

In July 2008, Arrington declared that he’d be building a “dead simple Web tablet for $200.” For a while, things seemed to be moving along at a steady clip, with a company¬†formed during the summer to oversee the CrunchPad’s manufacture. But things took a turn for the worse when an article in the Straits Times said the CrunchPad’s estimated price would be $400. Then, there were rumors that high prices had derailed the project. Arrington stayed mostly silent, only saying that the CrunchPad was moving along and would be priced in the high $200’s.

Last week, however, Arrington said Fusion Garage would be splitting off and selling the tablet on its own. He’s threatened to sue, claiming TechCrunch jointly owns the device’s intellectual property. In a press conference today, Fusion Garage founder Chandrasekar “Chandra” Rathakrishnan revealed his side of the story, alleging that “TechCrunch didn’t contribute one line of code” and that no contracts over intellectual property were ever signed.

The drama has helped to give this device lots of publicity in the tech world, but skepticism is in the air. In general, the argument for tablets is that they fill the sofa-browsing hole between smartphones and netbooks, but that argument only holds water if the cost isn’t significantly higher than either of those two products. At $500, the Joo Joo is a niche product for tech enthusiasts, and even they might want to wait and see if Apple releases a more capable tablet.

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There are 1 comments

Zband
MyCE Rookie
Posted on: 11 Dec 09 01:55
    Is it me or does 500.00 seem somewhat of a really high price for a device that only connects to the net. I don't think that the people who ended up with the Crunch Pad realize that a little net book from Walmart for outstrips this device. My point isn't to promote Wally World but rather to point out that a net book, and the wait to get on the net itself, not to mention the many other features of having an actual computer that you can choose for your self what you do and don't want to put on it, is far more worth it in the eyes of many in the masses.
    The reason I dare state this so dogmatically is that I for one would go nuts not having the ability to more directly control what's on my computer. It would make me want to throw the computer in the trash or sell it.
    On the other hand if you could afford it, it might be worth doing a tear down with an intent to hack it and see what good could come from it. 500.00 for a tablet net book.

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