Neofonie’s WePad tablet came out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago, but raised skeptical eyebrows because there was no evidence of the product in action. Now, the company has demonstrated its Android-based user interface on actual hardware, and it works.
There are two YouTube videos recorded by Netbooknews.de, and another from AndroidPIT, showing what appears to be the tablet’s final design. I don’t speak German, so I can’t understand what’s being said in the video, but the WePad is clearly a functional tablet.
At the core of the WePad is a home page that users can scroll through with a thumb along the side of the screen. It seems that this side bar is the main method of navigation, as I don’t see anyone actually swiping across the screen to scroll through the home page or Web browser.
Scattered along the home page are widgets for things like Web pages, e-mail, weather and Facebook. The act of scrolling appears responsive, and the home screen is a free-flowing arrangement of widgets rather than distinct pages like Apple’s iPad. (Actually, the iPad is shown multiple times in this video. I’d be really interested to hear what’s being said about it.)
Multitasking is shown early in the AndroidPIT video, as the demonstrator opens a Web page, a photo viewer and a grid of news postings. On the sides of the device, where navigation menus are located, the demonstrator hit a button to show all open in a grid, which can be closed by hitting an “X” in the corner, much like Windows.
A full screen YouTube video was somewhat choppy in the AndroidPIT demonstration, but I’m not sure whether this was the basic WePad, which has 16 GB of storage and Wi-Fi, or the 32 GB 3G model which supports 1080p video. The former will cost 449 Euros ($610), and the latter will cost 569 Euros ($775).
Given that the WePad supports USB and Flash (though the only Flash I see demonstrated is YouTube’s full Web site), and that we’ve now seen the actual hardware running real software, the WePad is looking like another iPad alternative to watch for.