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Sharp announces Ubuntu-based slate

Sharp announces Ubuntu-based slate

The Sharp Netwalker PC-T1 runs Ubuntu Linux, and is a fully-featured - albeit small and low-powered - slate PC.

Sharp is planning its own entry into the slate form factor market - and is looking to use the Ubuntu operating system.

As reported over on Linux For Devices, Sharp has announced the Netwalker PC-T1 Linux-based slate - and it's not likely to impress anyone who's looking at Apple's iPad with envy.

For a start, Sharp's device is significantly smaller: designed around a pocketable 5" 1024x600 display, it's a more compact device than Apple's slate - but the resistive, rather than capacitive, touch-screen will come as a disappointment to anyone hoping to ditch the stylus and get some multi-touch action happening.

The specifications of the device also put it firmly in the 'mobile Internet device' category: an ARM-based Freescale i.MX515 processor running at 800MHz forms the core of the system, along with 512MB RAM and 8GB of on-board flash storage. There's a microSD slot for storage expansion, and the device features both 802.11b/g WiFi and Bluetooth wireless capabilities. Sadly, battery life is a little bit lacking - a smaller device means a smaller battery, and you'll get around six hours from the Netwalker.

Where the device moves ahead from its competitors, however, is in the software: running a customised version of the Ubuntu 9.04 Netbook Remix, the system is fully open - you can install any software you like onto the device. The Netwalker even has a USB 2.0 host port, allowing devices such as digital cameras, MP3 players, and external storage drives to be connected and used just as with a netbook or laptop. As well as the main operating system, the device will ship with Firefox, Thunderbird, Adobe's Flash Lite, and a slightly out-of-date version of the OpenOffice.org productivity suite.

While pricing hasn't been announced yet, the device is expected to ship before the end of May - although when it'll hit UK shores remains to be seen.

Is this the sort of portable device you'd be interested in, or are you holding out for fully-featured slate with an iPad-sized screen but an open software stack? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

13 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
eddtox 22nd April 2010, 10:40 Quote
Meh, it doesn't have much over my phone. Not a pad-killer i'm afraid.
proxess 22nd April 2010, 10:59 Quote
Yep, it's pretty meh. And 9.04? That's already a year old!
dec 22nd April 2010, 15:50 Quote
Coming to a store near you: behold the direct competitor of iFail, the iCrash
Darkedge 22nd April 2010, 16:04 Quote
if it costs about 150 -200 quid it'll be excellent and a worthy addition to the battle depending on apps.
Any more and no thanks.
Darkedge 22nd April 2010, 16:05 Quote
actually 100-150 is a better price range..
BLC 22nd April 2010, 19:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkedge
actually 100-150 is a better price range..

I'd agree with that; that kind of price range would make me very tempted.

Would be much better if it had integrated 3G capabilities, but if it has a USB host that's somewhat negated. The main limiting factor I can see with this however is that the processor is not x86 compatible - it's ARM.
MSHunter 23rd April 2010, 01:30 Quote
so what if you need your micro sugar fix get win CE.... Your Open Office saves will be compatible any way. After all this is just a surfer / email in bed type of device any way.
BLC 23rd April 2010, 06:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by MSHunter
so what if you need your micro sugar fix get win CE.... Your Open Office saves will be compatible any way. After all this is just a surfer / email in bed type of device any way.

I think you misunderstand me. Linux isn't a limiting factor, the CPU architecture is. If it's going to be marketed as a slate/tablet device, you're going to want to put other Linux applications on it. Even though it runs UNR, there aren't going to be many pre-built binaries for the ARM architecture; the vast majority are either i386, i686 or x64. That means that if you want to install any software on there you want - which is a major benefit of using an open platform, and a selling point in the article - you're more than likely going to need to start compiling source code at some point. For tinkerers and hackers, that's not a problem. But I can't see Joe Public regularly compiling packages from source.

Hell, I couldn't even find an i386/i686 XBMC binary for UNR or Moblin and had to build it from source. That doesn't faze me, although I had to switch from Moblin to UNR as I couldn't get all the required deps to compile on Moblin, but it did take nearly 45 minutes to build; that's a far cry from simply downloading something from an App Store.
perplekks45 23rd April 2010, 07:12 Quote
And there you summed up pretty exactly why Apple sells so much at the moment. ;)

I really don't see why I'd need that 5" slate without 3G. For mobile internet/email I have a phone, for bigger tasks a desktop. I don't know where this would fit in my daily life.
BLC 23rd April 2010, 18:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by perplekks45
And there you summed up pretty exactly why Apple sells so much at the moment. ;)

I really don't see why I'd need that 5" slate without 3G. For mobile internet/email I have a phone, for bigger tasks a desktop. I don't know where this would fit in my daily life.

Yeah, but I'm a big nerd so I'd still be tempted if this was released in the UK at a decent price ;)
steveo_mcg 23rd April 2010, 19:29 Quote
Stick Debian on it, all the apps included in x86/a64 are also in the arm distros. Thats part of the reason Debian release schedules are like bus time tables.
Shagbag 24th April 2010, 14:34 Quote
This device will have appeal to those who want to experience web sites with Flash content eg YouTube. For everyone else, there's the iPad.
spinach 28th April 2010, 19:41 Quote
If the screen is pressure sensitive, I'm all over this. There is no good, affordable tablet for drawing that doesn't separate the drawing surface from the image (i.e. Wacom tablets) and cost keeps the cintiq tablets woefully out of reach.
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