Tech guru Michael Arrington made a booboo last night, accidentally leaking details of a nearly ready-for-production CrunchPad--a large, tablet PC designed for browsing his website, TechCrunch (and other Web sites, if they exist).
Ribbing aside, the product, which was uncovered by Gizmodo, does look fantastic, and it's also a pretty good indicator that a whole new class of device is on the way: The egotablet, a PC designed by gadget review site editors to be leaked, unboxed, and then reviewed on their own Web sites.
Arrington and his team have been working on the device for about 10 months after perceiving the need for a large-screen, low-cost tablet PC that was intended mainly for Web surfing--which is, after all, what the majority of tech writers spend our computer time doing. The intention was to quickly create a Linux-based device that could go into production--and after holding the version A prototype, completed in August, and surfing the web with it, Arrington notes "I knew I wanted one that worked properly."
Version B was more refined, if chunky, and the team--by now led by Louis Monier, founder and CTO of AltaVista--revealed it in January. It had a webcam, 12-inch touchscreen with 4:3 aspect ratio, ran on a Via Nano CPU with 1GB of RAM and 4GB of flash storage, Wi-Fi, an accelerometer for iPhone-like screen reorientation, and ran Ubuntu Linux with a custom webkit browser. It was also fully Flash-enabled--unlike the iPhone.
The last three months look to have been very productive, and the photos leaked last night show a device that's very polished, right down to the Apple-inspired packaging. It's also now super-slim and sporting an Intel Atom CPU. All appearances suggest it's a gizmo that's ready to go into production--not too shabby for a concept that's been in development for less than 300 days. More amazing is its projected price tag of around $200-$300. At that cost it'll be a highly tempting gadget for people who need a very basic computer for web surfing, video-watching, sending nasty emails to pr people--completely meeting Arrington's design intention of something that'll sit "perfectly on your lap while you are sitting in front of the TV, so you can look up stuff on Wikipedia or IMDB as you channel surf."