Thomas James Just a geek.

Technology, Gadgetry, Photography and Software Development

My take on the JooJoo as a customer

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This is my take on the JooJoo web tablet from the perspective of a geek that pre-ordered one on the first day (December 12th 2009) and waited the agonising months to April this year to be able to actually hold it in his hands.

So a bit of a story.

The JooJoo was originally a joint-venture with the TechCrunch blogging network and known as the CrunchPad. The CrunchPad/JooJoo wiki entry has the details of the backstory, but suffice to say geeks the world over were salivating to get their hands on a USD$200 10+ inch touchscreen web tablet. The CrunchPad idea generated a lot of interest but also a lot of scepticism about the price and if it would ever make it to market. This wasn’t helped by lack of communication and information on the device from TechCrunch. Near to the official “launch” of the CrunchPad, TechCrunch announced it was canning the project due to issues with their Singapore partner FusionGarage (a tech startup actually building the device and software). FusionGarage announced then that they were going to bring the device to market and thus the JooJoo was born. Details over the mud-slinging and the pursuant lawsuit can be found with a quick google search.

Despite the negative attitude from the blog sphere and an impending lawsuit FusionGarage pressed on and actually opened up public pre-orders in december 2009. I ordered one, on the hopes that given the platform even if FusionGarage weren’t around to support the device for long it was common hardware that could be exploited. I was also betting on the lawsuit not progressing far enough to prevent the delivery of the device prior to the estimated delivery date of mid-Febuary.

I basically wanted a device that had the possibility of being open, hackable and the JooJoo fit that bill nicely except for the price.

Getting the device

The long [long, long] wait for the device. After announcing the pre-orders and taking the orders FusionGarage went pretty quiet which worried those that forked out their hard-earned money for the device. The promise to “be in touch regularly to update you on status” of the order was an empty one. Right up to the 10 week mark after preordering everyone was still in the dark, until a tech blog broke the news that the device was shipping and would be in the customers hands by the end of February.

Everyone (all 75 of us, we later found out) were eagerly awaiting the delivery of the device when on the last day before the end of the month, the tech blogs once again broke the news that the device had been delayed (yet again), our spirits were broken. Only a week later did FusionGarage send out an email to customers explaining what the blogs already had.

“There was a manufacturing issue, sorted now, will ship by the end of March. Free accessory for the delay”. [paraphrased]

This didn’t look good, but just when another delay announcement was expected at the end of March the news was provided via the blogs yet again that no, in fact the devices were awaiting customs clearance in the USA and they would arrive asap. Mine arrived to Shipito (forwarding company, great service, awesome to deal with) on April 02, 2010 and i picked it up from FedEx Brisbane Airport on Tuesday April 06, 2010 the day before flying off to Singapore for a family holiday.

My Impressions

I’ve now had the device for a few weeks and unlike others (major blogs) I’m happy with the device as it met my expectations for what i was getting. That said I recommend the iPad to anyone that asks. I bought the device to play around on and surf the net. I didn’t expect it to play movies from a flash drive or do other things that weren’t promised.

  • The screen, 12 inch touchscreen that is bright but a poor viewing angle.
  • The orientation switching works, albeit sometimes delayed.
  • Easy to open up the device and poke around on the insides.
  • Poor battery life, but understandable given the screen size.
  • Keyboard is easy to use, but could do with a number row.
  • Tab changing interface is a little sensitive (read; quick) to the touch but manageable.
  • Needs to retain the browser cookies better
  • Startup time is as promised, quick.

In the end i’m happy the device arrive and well-done to FusionGarage for getting the product to market!

A word of advice to FusionGarage, communication is key.

What’s Next

I’ve opened the device up and it differs from the FCC model in that the UMTS/GSM radio mini-PCIe card is removed. I’ve managed to pick up one from ebay and am awaiting its arrival, then we’ll see about getting it in an always connected no-need-for-wifi configuration.

I’ve also picked up a USB device for reading the mini-PCIe SSD, i plan to poke around and attempt to install some other OSes another mini-PCIe SSD, but we’ll see.

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