There it is folks, the first usable prototype of TechCrunch’s internet tablet project. For those who missed it, Michael Arrington decided he wanted a sizable, affordable browser-only device and and couldn’t find one so he decided to build it. Kudos for the follow through, but we have to wonder if there are reasons such a device doesn’t exist. First off, there will definitely be some major drawbacks brought on by the low-end components required to keep the price down – especially with very small production runs. The display likely won’t hold a candle to those found on laptops or UMPCs, the battery life will likely not be desirable as a result of low-quality cells and even at the new target price of $299, we’re not sure how appealing the device actually is. A Nokia N800, for example, is infinitely more functional and can now be had with an 8GB+ memory card for under $200 – Arrignton’s original target price. While the display on the N800 is much smaller than that of the Crunchpad, it is also a much better quality display from the looks of things.
The bottom line is while plenty of readers continue to support the project, when it comes time to fork up the cash we have to wonder if they will maintain the same level of enthusiasm for a device that offers no real benefits beyond the laptops and other devices they all already own. The Crunchpad will likely be a use-at-home toy for those who do end up with a production model as traveling with a sizable device possessing no functionality outside of web browsing doesn’t make much sense. Even when hacks come out to add various features and introduce functionality beyond browsing, working on a touchscreen-only device? No thanks. What do you guys think – hot or hopeless?
Hit the jump for a video of the prototype in action.