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WePad Tablet Will Use Linux To Rival the iPad 536

Posted by kdawson
from the open-period dept.
cypherdtraitor writes with news of an iPad rival being prepped in Germany for a June launch. "A German company, Neofonie GmbH, has set out to provide an alternative to the iPad, according to Neofonie's founder, Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen. The WePad will boast a Linux-based OS, USB ports, webcam, and Wi-Fi, as well as other features. The 16GB edition will cost €449 ($610), and the 32GB €569 ($773). A more expensive model will include a 3G modem. This PDF compares WePad specs with the iPad. There are also hints of cheap, available software. For example, OpenOffice.org will be the primary office suite, and you may use 'any application that pleases you' to play music and video, a clear edge over Apple's limitation to iTunes." The WePad will also run Flash.
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WePad Tablet Will Use Linux To Rival the iPad

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  • WeeWeePad (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:46PM (#31836528)

    First, there was the iPad for those nerdy chicks..

    Now our children will have the "WeeWeePads"?

    Who comes up with these names? And more disturbingly, what did they name their children?

  • Why am I suddenly reminded of the days in the 70's and 80's when everything ran CP/M and everything *had* to run CP/M? I know that Apple II *DID* run CP/M of some flavor, but CP/M *sucked*, and Apple showed nearly no support for it.

    Now we're stuck with Flash, which everyone tolerates and does a lot, but again, it *sucks*. Adobe hasn't put together a decent Flash interpreter for ANY OS(well, the Windows version is debatable), and everyone puts up with it because of it's ubiquity.

    Folks. Ubiquity is never a reason to keep a shitty idea around. Particularly when it comes to the mobile space.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by viridari (1138635)
      The Apple II did not run CP/M out of the box. You needed a Z80 card to do that.
    • by Serenissima (1210562) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:51PM (#31836638)
      You're right, but it's going to take time to move on to new ideas. HTML5 is awesome, but certainly not ubiquitous. ANY internet enabled device that does not provide users with the ability to view content that is EVERYWHERE on the internet is going to give the customer who purchases that device a limited internet experience. Sure Flash sucks, but it's out there, and it's all over the place. It's just plain stupid to not give customers the ability to view that content.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And yet the iPhone was the best 'internet experience' mobile phone on the planet when it came out. In spite of the fact that it didn't have flash.

        • by hoggoth (414195) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:21PM (#31837222) Journal

          > And yet the iPhone was the best 'internet experience' mobile phone on the planet when it came out. In spite of the fact that it didn't have flash.

          "These aren't the missing features you're looking for", Steve Jobs waves his hand.

      • Flash is indeed everywhere.

        But I've found the number of places where something I WANT to see is not in Flash, is in practice very small. I installed Click-To-Flash about a year ago because I could no longer handle the omnipresence of flash ads.

        Now I like ads on sites, because I like to see sites with content I enjoy stick around. But flash ads were everywhere, distracting and sucking up CPU. Finally I said, ENOUGH!, and flash was blocked except when I needed to see content.

        You know what? I can still bro

    • by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:20PM (#31837188)

      Okay. What about money. Is money a good idea to keep something around? Businesses tend to think yes. "Throw away all your flash formatted content" is not really something you want to hear as a decision maker who's heavily invested in the format. And considering the iPad device is geared towards things like video, it's a no brainer to support what is now become a standard. Okay so you support HTML5, but what about the meantime as everyone converts?

      But let's skip the bullshit. This is a corporate game and the end user suffers for it. You can pretend Apple has your best interest in mind if you like, but the facts speak for themselves. They have limited functionality to poke a competitor in the eye. A competitor that basically kept their Mac platform alive with their creative tools. It's pretty messed up IMHO.

    • That's not why. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Civil_Disobedient (261825) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:49PM (#31837734)

      everyone puts up with it because of it's ubiquity

      No, everyone puts up with it because:

      1. Unlike everything else on the web, It Works.
      2. Define works? Sure, no problem. It handles:
        • Vector animation
        • MP3 support
        • MP4 support
        • TrueType fonts

        ...all out-of-the box.

      3. Define works, in developer terms? Sure!
        • You don't have to fix cross-browser issues. It is truly write-once, play-anywhere
        • If you know JavaScript, you know ActionScript

      As of 2010, these bullet points have all been true for nearly fifteen years. Meanwhile, HTML5 will still be playing second-fiddle even when the language is completely formalized (no fonts, MP4 is questionable, MP3 is questionable, and you'll still have to test twenty different versions and have plenty of hacks up your sleeve to get everything to look correct across all platforms & browsers).

  • by jimmyhat3939 (931746) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:48PM (#31836582) Homepage

    Obviously competitors have realized that it's worth it to come out with clone or me-too products much faster than they did in the past with the iPhone. This suggests to me that they'll be at least somewhat more successful than before in taking market share from apple.

    • by belmolis (702863)

      It sounds like this has been in development for some time, so I wonder if it is really a "me too" product. It doesn't look like a clone.

    • by Altus (1034)

      They might be somewhat more successful but there is more too making a me too product than getting it out the door quickly. You need to get it in front of customers who are currently considering buying an iPad and that is not an easy thing to do. Right now everyone knows about the iPad, not just geeks here on slashdot. In 6 months, how many people outside of geeks on slashdot will know about the WePad.

      It could be a vastly superior unit but it wont matter if most people don't know about it.

      • What I've read is that the WePad will roll-out in Germany before the iPad does. If your theory is true, I guess the iPad is doomed in Germany.

        • by Altus (1034)

          Excellent reading skills. I didn't say that getting out first was key. I said that getting your product in front of the people who want to buy it is key.

          Right now, even if it is unavailable in Germany, I bet a majority of Germans know what an iPad is, its all over the news.

          Now maybe the WePad will be launched with huge fanfare and a parade in Berlin, I don't know, but if most people know what an iPad is but don't know what a WePad is then the WePad will not be as successful as the iPad and that's all ther

    • by pavon (30274) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:40PM (#31837572)

      There were a ton of tablet prototypes shown at CES this year, months before the iPad was announced. Everyone and their mother independently came to the conclusion that tablets were going to be the next big thing after the success of netbooks.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        There were a ton of tablet prototypes shown at CES this year, months before the iPad was announced. Everyone and their mother independently came to the conclusion that tablets were going to be the next big thing after the success of netbooks.

        Actually, I think everyone and their mother came to the conclusion that tablets were going to be the next big thing, given the both the success of netbooks and e-book readers, with tablets being sold as "good enough" at both the kind of light computing that netbooks are

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by slart42 (694765)

      Obviously competitors have realized that it's worth it to come out with clone or me-too products much faster than they did in the past with the iPhone. This suggests to me that they'll be at least somewhat more successful than before in taking market share from apple.

      Just that the makers of the WePad don't actually seem to be as far as they claim to be. I know someone who was at the press conference were they showed the product yesterday. He said that current versions run windows, not Linux, the touch screen didn't work on the "show" device, and it had a fan which was running all the time. In it's current state it would not have a chance to compete well with the iPad (and I personally doubt it ever will).

    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:44PM (#31837652) Homepage Journal

      People still don't get it, however. The WePad thinks it can compete with the iPad with hardware features but will run Linux... which is a server or desktop OS. Apple didn't use their desktop version of Mac OS X on the iPhone, the iPod touch and the iPad for a good reason: portable, touch devices need customized interfaces otherwise it just sucks. I tried using a Blackberry and was shocked to see the tiny cursor that I had to control with a tiny trackball.... Seriously, WTF?

      • by VValdo (10446) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @04:06PM (#31838048)

        The WePad thinks it can compete with the iPad with hardware features but will run Linux... which is a server or desktop OS. Apple didn't use their desktop version of Mac OS X on the iPhone, the iPod touch and the iPad for a good reason: portable, touch devices need customized interfaces otherwise it just sucks.

        The WePad will use a "Linux-based" OS, namely Android [devicemag.com], which has an interface perfect for a tablet.

        W

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by thesandtiger (819476)

          Is it going to be multi-touch capable and actually responsive, rather than barely touch aware and laggy?

          I have yet to see a piece of hardware running android that doesn't feel slow to the point of non-response or that is just as comfortable to use as the UI on my iPhone. Anyone recommend a device running android that doesn't feel like a sluggish piece of poop?

          • by Facegarden (967477) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @09:11PM (#31840918)

            Is it going to be multi-touch capable and actually responsive, rather than barely touch aware and laggy?

            I have yet to see a piece of hardware running android that doesn't feel slow to the point of non-response or that is just as comfortable to use as the UI on my iPhone. Anyone recommend a device running android that doesn't feel like a sluggish piece of poop?

            The Nexus One. It seriously is fast as hell and i have a crapload of apps installed. Like, i was blown away the other day when i realized how many apps I have and how that has had *no* effect on the operation of the phone.

            I did windows mobile for years (reboot twice a day), then the iphone 1g (reboot once a week maybe? I forget), and then the tmobile G1 (reboot twice a week maybe, but it was just generally underpowered). I got the N1 recently and it just blows me away how fast and stable it is. The 1GHz processor really makes a difference, and I can multitask all I want without having to ever use a task manager. Its also nice to have what i consider an excellent camera as far as a mobile phone goes. Low light with the flash is great and it is better than any device I've ever had (which is mostly HTC, they never put a big priority on cameras before). Also, the camera takes ~1/2 second to start up. THAT is nice!

            There are some oddities - about once a week data stops working, but a reboot always fixes it, and honestly that could be AT&T for all their crapiness, I'm not sure.

            But it is always snappy, and i couldn't be happier with the phone - it is literally the phone i have always been looking for.
            -Taylor

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by blair1q (305137)

      Tablet computing has been around for a long time.

      And the exact form factor, and almost its exact name, were being discussed long ago:

      "PAD" Computer
      redfoxtx 06-10-2002, 01:56 PM
      http://www.techspot.com/vb/all/windows/t-1793-PAD-Computer.html [techspot.com]

      Steve Jobs seems to think he invented it, and the idea of calling a tablet a "pad".

      Steve Jobs: 'Pad? That's my word'
      New frontiers in control freakiness
      Rik Myslewski in San Francisco
      Posted in Mobile, 13th April 2010 20:11 GMT
      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/04/13/jobs_clai [theregister.co.uk]

  • by pieisgood (841871) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:49PM (#31836606) Journal
    You don't need to create a device to compete with the ipad. The ipad will fade into obscurity and during that time your efforts could be better invested else where.
    • Re:Just stop it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fahrvergnuugen (700293) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:02PM (#31836874) Homepage

      The ipad will fade into obscurity and during that time your efforts could be better invested else where

      I hope you didn't bet money on that...

    • Re:Just stop it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sjonke (457707) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:06PM (#31836940) Journal

      Except that the iPad won't fade away. Other then that, spot on - they absolutely are wasting their time with this ludicrous attempt at a competitor. OpenOffice? You've got to be kidding me. That just screams finger-based-input-small-tablet software right there. People are going to love fighting with that. I mean the ones who hate themselves.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fracai (796392)

        Maybe the WePad will include a USB port so you can attach that 18 button OpenOffice mouse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Graff (532189)

      The ipad will fade into obscurity and during that time your efforts could be better invested else where.

      Yes, selling 300,000 units on the first day is a sure sign that the iPad will fade into obscurity any time soon.

      Like it or not, the iPad is relevant. It obviously has a following and there will be devices that can imitate it and ride its coattails a bit. Perhaps these other devices can even improve on the design and become relevant in and of themselves. One thing is for certain, you completely ignore a popular device/platform at your own peril.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by prockcore (543967)

        Yes, selling 300,000 units on the first day is a sure sign that the iPad will fade into obscurity any time soon.

        With Apple products, that's not really indicative of success.

        Within the first week of presales in January 2007, Apple TV was the top selling item at the Apple Store.

        3 years later, AppleTV is a niche market that Apple has all but abandoned.

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      No Wireless, less space than a Nomad. Lame.

      I wouldn't bet against the iPad just yet. You just never know.

      (disclaimer: I have no idea how well it will sell, or whether it will flop or be huge).

    • Re:Just stop it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:18PM (#31837156)

      "Less Space than a Nomad. No wireless. Lame."

      "No they didn't, the big difference between iPhone and OpenMoko is that OpenMoko is completely open, so anyone can extend it, while iPhone is closed and only licensed parties can write extensions. This is what uniqe about OpenMoko. Apple added glitter to iPhone, but there are other smart phones (maybe not as good, but I can't judge, it's a long wait till iPhone will be available in Europe) so nothing revolutionary about it. OpenMoko has philosophical feature - openess. So as a geek I know which one is the winner here :)"

      How's that OpenMoko doing today?
      How about those iPod killers?

      • Re:Just stop it (Score:4, Insightful)

        by H0p313ss (811249) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @04:39PM (#31838582)

        "No they didn't, the big difference between iPhone and OpenMoko is that OpenMoko is completely open, so anyone can extend it, while iPhone is closed and only licensed parties can write extensions. This is what uniqe about OpenMoko. Apple added glitter to iPhone, but there are other smart phones (maybe not as good, but I can't judge, it's a long wait till iPhone will be available in Europe) so nothing revolutionary about it. OpenMoko has philosophical feature - openess. So as a geek I know which one is the winner here :)"

        How's that OpenMoko doing today? How about those iPod killers?

        Well they forgot to mention other difference between the iPhone and the (OpenMoko) Neo. The iPhone worked out of the box while the Neo shipped with hardware bugs and even a year later the best OS for it made the Apple ][ look stable.

        In order to be an Apple killer it must work BETTER than the Apple. You have to be able to show your WORKING gadget to a potential Apple customer and make them want yours more.

        Disclaimer I actually used a Neo as my phone for six months. Very cool geek toy, worst cellphone ever.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      Yup just like how the iPod and iPhone are utter failures.

      They barely sold any iPads... Geesh, only 700,000 of them sold first day. What posers, almost nobody bought them.... nobody wants these things. Look they are selling for almost nothing on ebay already....

      This sarcasm brought to you by the Letter T.

  • Yeah! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:50PM (#31836614) Homepage Journal

    The free/open source OS will run the proprietary multimedia software. Openness triumphs again!

    • by sjonke (457707)

      I can't moderate this, but if I could, +1 Informative. +1 Funny. +1 Bingo.

  • iTunes Confusion (Score:3, Informative)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:53PM (#31836686) Homepage Journal

    you may use 'any application that pleases you' to play music and video, a clear edge over Apple's limitation to iTunes.

    This is a very confusing -- and probably confused -- statement.

    iPad can play back content with its iPod functionality. Which isn't "iTunes" in any meaningful sense. (It also includes an iTunes store interface.)

    Content can be loaded onto the device only with the iTunes Mac or PC application, but there are many ways to add content to your local iTunes app other than the iTunes store. For example, ripped CDs, Amazon MP3s, "Digital Copies" included with many Blu-ray discs, anything you encode yourself with compatible codecs and parameters (e.g. DVDs ripped and encoded to M4V with Handbrake).

    -Peter

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JonJ (907502)
      'Play' not 'aquire'.
      • by jo_ham (604554)

        Well, the iPad doesn't use iTunes to "play" music either - that app is the iPod app. The iTunes app is the front to the music and video store.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      "with compatible codecs and parameters"

      Well that's the tricky detail now isn't it?

      You have to adapt all of your stuff to whatever limitations Apple has laid out.

      If Handbrake trips on something, you're slightly screwed as iTunes won't give you any useful information when it rejects something.

      None of this is really managed by Apple. The end user is left to fend for themselves with this stuff and that is hardly very usuable. It's certainly not the sort of experience that iTunes and iPods were originally built

  • If you think the iPad is too big and too heavy... wait until you see the WePad!

    I can see why most of the teaser shots showed the WePad with its screen turned off - the single actual "screenshot" looked pretty odd.

    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      The iPad is definetly too heavy, I have one, it gets tiring... Need to work out my wrists more, brb porn calls.

  • ?Pad.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by irreverant (1544263)
    What's with the naming convention?...the iPad, the wePad, next the usPad following soon the youPad and finally for you women, the maxiPad.
  • Features... (Score:3, Funny)

    by elewton (1743958) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:54PM (#31836704)
    A delightful microfan to hum you to sleep.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OzPeter (195038)

      A delightful microfan to hum you to sleep.

      You got modded funny on this .. but that is one of the main benefits I see in the iPad as I can't stand the whiny mosquito sound of my EEE pc. Though I will be looking into any other small form factor system that doesn't have a fan in it before I sell my soul to Apple.

  • Will it run OS X?

  • by Duradin (1261418) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:54PM (#31836708)
    Specs aren't what will make a device sell well with non-geeks (of which there are more of than geeks).
    • by jedidiah (1196)

      "Specs" are what separates a device that will play whatever you have lying around from something that requires special conversion tools and a special loader.

    • I'm looking forward to the idea of using a case-sensitive-*nix-CLI on it so I can tinker. Wee.

  • by marcansoft (727665) <hector@marcanso f t . c om> on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:56PM (#31836748) Homepage

    I'm tired of people shoehorning the power-hungry x86 architecture into small devices. If there's one thing that Apple did right it's not using the Atom. The WePad runs Linux: there's no reason to stick with the legacy x86 architecture. Even Adobe Flash works on ARM (just not Flash 10 yet).

    If the WePad used an ARM chip, it could probably retain its feature set and bump up the battery duration to the iPad level, which seems to be the only feature where it loses to it.

  • ... what no camera??

  • If reading documents is one of your main uses for a tablet, then you should keep an eye out for the Adam by NotionInk [notionink.in].

    It will be (one of ?) the first shipping device to use the PixelQi [pixelqi.com] transflective display, which is an improvement of the OLPC display. It is a reflective display, like eInk, but with fast refresh rates like LCD. It also can display color which is far more saturated than color eInk (although not as good as LCD), as well as switching to ultra-high resolution greyscale.

    The Adam uses the Tegra C

    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      iPad gets 10 hours of battery life and Anandtech did a test showing it getting 13.6 hours of battery life playing Video in a loop.

      Problem with the Adam is that it won't be released for another 6 months at best and the fact that it's a small time Indian company. They won't be getting the content producers lining up for them like Apple has, Google might have that kind of clout however.

  • I'll sign up for a hundred of these, if only someone can point me to 3D renderings of it.

  • Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zelos (1050172)
    More expensive, heavier and a shorter battery life? If you ship after your competitor aren't you supposed to ship something better? And shipping with OpenOffice is meant to be a good thing?
  • Could someone please explain to me the appeal of this tablet architecture? I personally find the need to keep hunching over my lap, desk, or table to stare down at papers terribly uncomfortable and annoying. That's part of the reason I stopped printing stuff and just do most of my work digitally nowadays. With a traditional desktop or laptop I can flip the screen up or set up an upright monitor. This allows me to square my shoulders, look straight ahead, and save my neck the hours of pain-inducing craning t
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by natehoy (1608657)

      The tablet is the same form-factor as a clipboard. You can hold it with one hand while standing and use the other hand to do things on it (similar to writing on a clipboard while standing). You can sit up in bed, fold your legs up to about 45 degrees, and use it that way. You can also sit on the couch and hold it in place. Placing it on a desk and trying to input data into it is going to be a nightmare for most people. They'll enter their data on a real computer and send it to a tablet for final editin

  • by kaizendojo (956951) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:13PM (#31837054)
    Why not just call it a "Depends"able Computer with plenty of "Poise"?

    (Man, and I thought the iPad was a bad choice.)
  • laptop? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:14PM (#31837074)

    At that price, why not just get a laptop?

  • Donkey Kong vs. Mario on a tablet!!

    Seriously, I can see this being a possibility, but am not going to hold my breath. Just watch - some manufacturer will never go for the idea of a Linux-based tablet.
  • by d474 (695126) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:20PM (#31837204)
    This is the year of the Linux Tablet!
  • misleading summary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @05:46AM (#31843092) Homepage Journal

    No, to be a rival, you have to address the same market.

    A Linux tablet PC and the iPad address completely different markets. One goes for geeky people who want a small, portable multi-touch thing that they can hack at leisure. The other for people who want a media and content consumption device that simply works and stays out of your way.

    They're not the same device. The number of people who really find it hard to decide between them is tiny. Probably about 50 grandmothers who can't afford an iPad but their granddaughter wants one, so the sales person at the computer store convince them this Linux pad thingy is mostly the same, for half the price.

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