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.
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