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Here Come the Linux iPad Clones 584

CWmike writes "You can now pre-order an Apple iPad; but do you really want to, asks Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. 'I mean, I get why you'd want an iPad. I'd like one too,' he writes. 'But,' he says, 'when I consider that there are soon going to be literally dozens of cheaper, Linux-powered iPad devices on the market, I find it a lot easier to resist putting $499 on my credit card. On top of that, Apple will be including DRM on some eBooks and other iPad content. I really, really hate DRM. All that said, I agree the iPad is really cool. I predict with absolute faith that the iPad and its clones are going to kill off single purpose devices like dedicated eReaders such as Amazon's Kindle and GPS devices within the next three years. How can it not work out this way? For the same price as a high-end dedicated device you can get a tablet that will do everything they can do and far more. But, and this is the important bit, you don't have to buy an Apple iPad to get all of the iPad's goodies. ARM, a mobile microprocessor power, is predicting that we'll see no less than 50 ARM-processor-powered iPad clones by year's end. And, what will they be running? These ARM-powered entertainment tablets will all be running Linux.'"
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Here Come the Linux iPad Clones

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  • But what books? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OFnow ( 1098151 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:19PM (#31456700)

    The key is going to be how easy it is to buy and download books.
    Kindle gets this right.

    And of course how many books are available.
    Kindle has a ways to go, though Amazon tries.

  • Check List (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:20PM (#31456722)
    * Can it multi-task?
    * Does it have a camera?
    * Is it free of the Apple Empire?

    I guess not everything is about the technology. The content is important, too. And Apple has a head start on everyone else in that department. Remember, it's not always the best technology that survives the marketplace.

    Perhaps Linux can get a better foothold in the tablet market than it has in the desktop arena. That would eventually translate to better desktop penetration.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:24PM (#31456780)

    Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, yet he is often credited for it.

    This is because his improvements in the automobile "ecosystem" (fabrication, costs, etc) took the car from a one-off product to the mass market.

    iPad = Model T
    Every other pad (CrunchPad, DellPad, MS Pad, 50 no-name linux pads) = one-off market

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:26PM (#31456830) Journal

    Those are the secret weapons of Apple. When I buy an iPod I can get any number of gadgets for it, not so with other MP3 players that themselves might be more capable and cheaper but don't have this critical mass that makes it worthwhile for others to produce products for it.

    We have yet to see if the Android app market matches up the iPhone one. Probably not. Oh, I get it myself that having a truly open product allows you to install all the real applications you want and that 99% of the apps are toys, but I am a geek, the majority is not.

    There will be a docking station for the iPad for your car so you can hook it to the seat as an entertainment hub for the kids in the back. Not so with any of the competitors. And that will sell the iPad (assuming this won't be one of Apples turds, they have had them you know).

    A linux pad/tablet/whatever will need to be a whole lot more then an iPad to be considered equal.

  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:27PM (#31456842) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how much of it will be wrong in the end? 90% 95% 99%?

    I'm personally not sold on the iPad yet, but then it rarely pays to buy the first generation product of anything. Who can forget the initial reaction to the iPod? What was the phrase? "Too expensive? No WiFi? Lame?" You know what? That was right on the money. It would take Apple a couple of generations to really make the iPod a household name.

    How well it clobbers the Kindle and Nook depend entirely on how easy Apple makes it to buy and read books on the thing. Obviously Amazon and B&N have a pretty good setup already and Apple is going to have to play catchup. It's certainly a possibility that the iPad completely fizzles as an eBook reader, potentially because too many publishers decide not to play ball and make it difficult to find books you actually want to read.

    The "Linux clone" argument misses the point entirely as well. Apple isn't selling a device, they're selling an ecology; a lifestyle. It's the same way they don't sell a music player, it sells an integrated portable storefront with a highly polished and easy to use interface. It's completely different, and it's the reason all of those clones are going to sit in tiny niches while the iPad outsells them all.
  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:31PM (#31456896)

    The unlimited is going to be a tough sell on open devices, but there are plans close enough to the $15/250MB available right now:

    http://www.virginmobileusa.com/mobile-broadband [virginmobileusa.com]

    (Virgin Mobile is owned and operated by Sprint, they bought Virgin out last year and licensed the name)

  • Re:Tivoization (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:34PM (#31456946) Homepage

    You forget though, there are plenty of tablets coming out that will have Windows 7 on them (and, in theory, be modifiable), and I wouldn't be surprised if in a year or two once companies get the logistics of tablet design and construction down we will see the cheap knockoffs that you can do whatever you want to appearing on the market.

    I'm sure there are other open (as in "do what you want", not "open source") linux-based devices coming as well.

  • IPS Pannel (Score:3, Interesting)

    by failedlogic ( 627314 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:35PM (#31456968)

    This seems like its another attempt at a convergence device, which is really what Apple has become. Apple was touting their iPad as the screen has an IPS pannel. I could see this improving video and graphics quality - for images, games and video. I don't know if this will make it better as an e-book reader.

    I don't see this device being a tremendously great e-book reader. I'm waiting for some e-ink ones to come down in price. Nice flashy backlit-LCD screen does not work for me as an ebook reader.

  • Re:No iPad for me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:36PM (#31456996) Journal
    It really depends on what you want from such a device. At first I wondered why on earth I'd want an iPad... but then it struck me that I would really like a good device for on the coffee table in the living room, for light browsing and such. Something that:
    - is small, lightweight, and looks good
    - instantly switches on (no booting, no taking bloody ages to come out of hybernation)
    - has a usable touch screen... I do not give a toss about multitouch, but I love the iPhone touch screen because it works very well even with fat fingers.

    I'm very much a Wintel guy, but I've considered getting an Apple laptop, mainly because they really do come out of hybernation instantly, making them useful to have lying around in the living room. Now I might get an iPad instead... Lack of a physical keyboard makes the device lighter and better looking, and if the touch screen is as good as the iPhone's, it'll be more than good enough for casual use. And the user interface is very well suited to this scenario.

    The iPad looks like a winner for me... Unless one of those Linux ones measure up. But it'll take a lot to beat Apple when DRM is not an issue and their out-of-the-box product already does what I want.
  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:42PM (#31457084) Journal

    > I predict with absolute faith that the iPad and its clones are going to kill off single purpose devices like dedicated eReaders such as Amazon's Kindle and GPS devices within the next three years. How can it not work out this way?

    Well, one way it wouldn't work out that way is if the general purpose devices really suck at things like ereaders and GPS and so forth. It's not enough to have the device, the applications have to be there, and they have to work well, and in some cases they have to work well together. And both the hardware and applications have to be reasonably priced. These things are not assured.

  • Re:ergh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:58PM (#31457338) Homepage Journal

    I have a kindle and I sometimes use the kindle reader on an iPod Touch. There are situations where the Amazon reader on the iTouch blows away the kindle 2.

    It's not a simple matter. The user experience is a mixture of many different elements. The clearest, biggest win for the hardware Kindle is the trade-off it achieves between screen size, battery life, and size/weight.

    There are other situations where having a pocketable reader that works in low light is a huge win.

    Then there are things that specific implementations of e-Ink based readers happent to get wrong or which are missing because of the designers didn't think a reader needed them. The touch screen and the availability of a usable keyboard is a *huge* win for the iPod. The superiority direct manipulation interface for page turning is almost impossible to overstate. I hate the huge click that accompanies page turning on the Kindle. The iPod also wins in terms of the accuracy of rendering. Math and technical books that are nearly useless on the Kindle are quite usable on the iPod, despite its small size. You can't even read most diagrams on the Kindle. I presume that's lousy software.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:01PM (#31457382) Journal

    Well if you're going to give credit for mass production, then I nominate one of these machines: Atari 800, Amiga 500, or Commodore 64. They provided a cheap product (like the Model T), that was loved by the masses (like the Model T), and became the number 3,2, and 1 best-selling computers of all time (like the Model T). They also innovated the very concept of "multimedia" with music, graphics, and video while other machines were displaying boring green or black text and simply went "beep".

    I don't see Apple anywhere in that mix. Apples were outrageously expensive, such that the only people who could afford them were schools and/or hobbyists. Really. Who can afford a $4000 machine when there's a $300 C64 sitting right next to it?

    Apple can take credit for making the iPod. It wasn't the first digital music player, but it did make it "hip" to flash your wealth around.

    That's about it.

  • by microcars ( 708223 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:06PM (#31457462) Homepage
    My wife uses a MacBook Air and there are times it is TOO BIG!
    She spends a lot time just reading things. and she sits on the couch and tries to balance the MacBook AIR on her lap and it is STILL TOO BIG!

    She is getting an iPad. Sounds like a winner for her too.

    So I guess she is a moron and a loser to the rest of the world? Oh well, at least she is not a coward.
  • Re:No iPad for me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mweather ( 1089505 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:22PM (#31457666)
    I thought that was limited to 100 devices. I suppose you could re-upload a new binary every 100 downloads, though. Are there any automated tools that do that, or did they remove/raise the limit?
  • by grapeape ( 137008 ) <mpope7.kc@rr@com> on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:26PM (#31457716) Homepage

    I wanted an iPad, and was reading up on tablets in general when I remembered a 6 year old HP tablet I had stashed away because it was simply dreadful under XP. For fun I dug it out, charged it up and started looking around to see if there were any hacks for it. Decided to upgrade the ram and drives with parts I had on hand then installed Windows 7 (the only windows device in my house) and after playing with it in its renewed form, im kind of over the iPad. I still may pick one up in a few generations but what I had and had nearly forgotten lets me do what I want to do with it, has plenty of "apps" available and seems speedy enough, the only thing missing is the 3g card which I can add via either the cardbus slot or usb ports. My biggest question is why did it take 6 years for something that at least in its current form appears to be step backwards? Perhaps the a4 will prove much faster than the 1.2 centrino in the tc1100 and the battery life will certainly be better but the lack of features just makes at least the first generation a skippable device.

  • Re:No iPad for me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sancho ( 17056 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:01PM (#31458144) Homepage

    I'm thinking that the killer aspect of the iPad is the deal with AT&T. $30/mo for data only? Purchasable/changeable from the iPad itself? No Linux pad is going to get that. AT&T won't give you just a data plan unless you have some serious clout or a hearing disability.

  • Re:No iPad for me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ripewithdecay ( 573894 ) <`booticon' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:11PM (#31458254) Homepage

    One criticism of the iPad that I can't really get behind is the price. I'd like to see a cheaper alternative, while still retaining the same horsepower, not to mention a 9.6" IPS panel.

  • by weston ( 16146 ) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:38PM (#31458648) Homepage

    As far as I can see, it's a consume only device. You can read ebooks, and watch videos, browse web pages, but anything which requires any sort of textual interaction will be a pain in the arse.

    Unless you plug in a keyboard.

    And to go beyond that.... I realize here on Slashdot when we talk about iPhone apps, we mostly like to talk about fart apps and apps that have been banned from the app store, rather than any specific apps which do things, because that lets everybody argue about whether Apple is THE MOST EVIL COMPANY IN I/T TODAY EVEN MICROSOFT ZOMG or TOTALLY AWESOME YOU UNAPPRECIATIVE PHILISTINES. But the fact is that even among people who like to create things, the iPhone and iPod Touch have found a pretty great niche. Yeah, if you're writing code or text, touch is a terrible interface, but if you're creating visuals or audio, a touch screen is a fantastic interface, with arguable advantages over a mouse and PC keyboard, and the creative communities *I'm* familiar with are still pretty enthusiastic about the Cocoa Touch platform in general.

    So, yeah. The iPad or something pretty much like it will find a place with musicians and visual artists, and given that the iPad will be in stores in a few weeks and have a notable brand and advertising attached, I suspect it will do well enough. Moreover, many people who have one will probably even be quite satisfied with it. Yes, even if it lacks some feature you find UTTERLY ESSENTIAL HOW CAN ANYONE LIVE WITHOUT THAT AND PUT UP WITH THE TYRANNY BLAH BLAH BLAH....

    Don't know if it's for me, yet, though. I'll have to try a keyboard, see what the reading experience is like, and weigh my options regarding mobile connectivity.

  • Re:No iPad for me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Draek ( 916851 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:38PM (#31459506)

    Just like Microsoft is going bankrupt trying to fight Apple on the desktop front, right? ohh, wait.

    Different hardware doesn't imply incompatible software. Chances are all 50 of those will be running Android, and therefore not only will they be compatible among themselves, but with the myriad of phones (by myriad of different manufacturers) too.

  • by bnenning ( 58349 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:56PM (#31459726)

    Somehow Apple has managed to convince lots of people that ease of use and hackability are necessarily inversely correlated, which is bizarre considering that Mac OS X itself is an excellent counterexample.

  • Re:No iPad for me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by indiechild ( 541156 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:38PM (#31460098)

    I generally agree with your assessment on Tablet PCs becoming more popular and so on, but I have to say the iPad doesn't fall into that category at all. It's not a "computer" in the normal sense -- you can't run a desktop operating system on it. It really is a new category of device.

    Personally, I have an Eee PC 901 and I hardly ever use it now. I think netbooks and the upcoming nettablets are an unacceptable compromise, with too many shortcomings. We don't just need smaller, lighter, slower and more unergonomic computers. What average consumers really want is something that can perform everyday lifestyle computing tasks, designed from the ground up to be an intuitive and easy-to-use handheld device. Steve Jobs recognised that, and that is what the iPad addresses. But hey, that's just my opinion.

  • by Rocketship Underpant ( 804162 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:51PM (#31460726)

    "The same thing will happen with TabletPCs. If the form factor takes off, most of the netbook manufacturers will rebuild their devices without a keyboard. "

    You talk as if the tablet PC is a new emerging category. It's not. It's a failed category that's been around forever, relegated to niche markets like hospitals because it's too clumsy for anything else.

    If the iPad succeeds (and I think it will), it will because it's a new device that shares little in common with the moribund tablet PC.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian