CrunchPad tablet allegedly revealed: Apple tablet killer or overhyped Netbook?

We started seeing prototype photos of the Crunchpad back in April. Since then we've seen precious little official news about the project, so it's small wonder that online tongues were wagging today about an article published by The Straits Times.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
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Dan Ackerman
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The Straits Times

We started seeing prototype photos of the CrunchPadback in April. Back then we described it as, "a mobile computing device as envisioned by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington...The project's goal was to design and build a thin, light touch-screen PC without a physical keyboard or onboard hard drive. Instead, the system and its custom operating system would be entirely focused on Web browsing and using Web-based apps."

Since then we've seen precious little official news about the project, so it's small wonder that online tongues were wagging today about an article published by The Straits Times purporting to offer additional details about the device. Under the breathlessly hyperbolic headline "World's first tablet PC," The Straits Times describes a hands-on demo given by Fusion Garage, a company that claims to be developing the device:

The fully working model, called a Crunchpad, has a 12-inch screen and weighs 1.2kg. It allows users to watch YouTube videos, listen to music and edit documents, among other things.

Its operating system, or OS, was also developed in-house. The device will not have storage space--which some analysts have pegged as a big drawback - and will instead run programs hosted on servers: so-called cloud computing.

An early look at the CrunchPad prototype. TechCrunch

We've previously reported that the Crunchpad would have an Intel Atom CPU, with 1GB of RAM, and Wi-Fi and mobile broadband options. That would make it similar to a Netbook, albeit one that added a touch screen and removed the hard drive and keyboard. An interesting comparison might be the recent Asus Eee PC T91, which added a touch screen to a standard 9-inch Netbook.

At a rumored $400, the CrunchPad is now more expensive than Michael Arrington's original estimates, and may price it out of range for value-seeking Netbook buyers, who can get a 10-inch system for less than $299.

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington has not confirmed these new details, and posted the following via Twitter early Friday morning: "re crunchpad, obviously i'm completely ripshit mad about all this unauthorized bs press: http://bit.ly/2dVjBQ wtf."

The timing could not be more interesting, coming on the heels of yet another round of Apple tablet rumors and general interest in the touch-screen capabilitiesof Windows 7. But, as the Silicon Alley Insider points out, any head-to-head competition between an Apple tablet and a CrunchPad tablet is likely to be a one-sided battle, thanks to Apple's superior marketing muscle and the CrunchPad's potentially limited appeal outside of dedicated touch-screen/cloud computing fans.