Fusion Garage Grid 10: Exciting times in the non-iPad market

Most tablet users will never have heard of Fusion Garage, the company behind the new Grid-10 tablet. The Singaporean manufacturer originally teamed up with the blog Tech Crunch to create a user-friendly tablet before the iPad revolution rewrote slate history.

Unfortunately, their partnership with Tech Crunch ended in the courts, and their first computer – the Joojoo, wasn’t anywhere near as magical as the Apple device. Will the Grid be better (it certainly sounds cooler)? Read on.

Grid-10

The tablet pushes the standard hardware specs of iPad rivals into a new territory with a 1366×768 (10.1″) widescreen and a Nvidia Tegre 2 dual-core at 1.2GHz. It’s a small improvement, but for £303 they’re pretty impressive stats. There is also 512MB RAM and a rather small 16GB storage capacity (bolster by microSD cards, though).

Unlike any other tablet, however, it runs Grid OS – a totally new operating system built on top of Android. This means all of Android’s apps should function without a problem. The UI itself is 100% gesture based – except the keyboard and on/off button, of course.

One of the most-talked about (of many) interesting features of the new OS tablet is the Seamless State capability. If you’ve got a Grid 4 (a smartphone by the same company), you can consume content on one device, then pause it and pick-up where you left off on the other one. Cool.

Another is that to access the device, you sign the screen with your signature – unlocking the device and proving that the correct user is signing in.

There’s also a wheel-based menu that provides instant access to functions similar to a right-click on a PC – edit, search, buy etc.

Fusion Garage have built-in a bunch of other unique functions into the device, which they outlined below:

o Intelligent Notifications: These determine the time of day an event takes place and, for example, offers time-based suggestions such as restaurant recommendations near a user’s GPS-determined lunch location. Recommendations are pulled from various web locations such as Yelp!

o Intelligent Calendar Integration: This determines if a user has an appointment and, for example, suggests the best driving route based on traffic condition. It also can recognise a restaurant name in the user’s calendar and offer reviews, addresses, maps, and other related information

o Smart Searching/Buzz Recommendations Engine: The Buzz Recommendations Engine powers Smart Searching

o Smart Searching and Buzz Recommendations are based on word association technology. When a user highlights a word (such as “Transformers”) automatic search recommendations are offered to the user in the most likely categories (Wikipedia, International Movie Database, online stores to buy the video or associated toys.)

o Buzz delivers recommendations on broad categories of word choices such as products, people, music, restaurant names, and more. It also delivers associated consumer sentiment on any given search by scanning Twitter for previous tweets on a given subject and provides a sentiment analysis of around the topic to provide positive, negative and neutral percentages.

For example, if the movie Transformers is highlighted and the Buzz option is clicked users will be able to see the corresponding sentiment from Twitter

Ø Grid’s Heartbeat feature gives users a full picture of their world as it happens. Appointments, applications, messaging, downloads, notifications and contextual information are all available at a glance.

Users pull in Heartbeat with a two-finger gesture from the right side of the screen and can then multitask between screens of open applications with each giving a complete view of the full application

It’s also iTunes compatible, so you can send content originally purchased from iTunes on the device.

All-in, we’re pretty excited. We thought nothing could shake us off-course from the Archos G9 101 we got our hands on a few weeks ago. Then the Grid 10 turns up and now we’re all in a flutter – it’s certainly exciting times in the non-iPad tablet market.

Latest Gadgets hands on with the joojoo internet tablet

Latest Gadgets were invited to have a hands on with joojoo, an Internet tablet, which is available in the UK from yesterday. Is it an iPad-killer? Well no, but it doesn’t have the hubris to call itself a “magical and revolutionary” device* either and it has a host of features that the iPad deliberately omitted. Every iPad thread on the internet has rabid Apple detractors bemoaning a lack of certain features. If even a small percentage of those people put their money where their mouths are Fusion Garage, the Singaporean company behind joojoo, could have a hit on their hands.

JooJoo-Pad

The first thing you notice about the joojoo is its slick widescreen design. The 12.1 inch screen looks massive and despite being a fingerprint magnet is bright and looks great when you fire it up. The device only has one button – the power on. Everything else is controlled via the touch screen. Outputs include audio, mic and power and a (iPad haters rejoice) USB port that apparently can be used to attach a keyboard, mouse, USB hub or additional storage (comes with 4Gb SSD onboard). It even has a webcam (iPad haters start to dance) although this did seem a little awkwardly positioned for actual use unless you attached the device to a stand.

The most impressive aspect of the device for me was the load time. The joojoo loads in 9 seconds. As CEO Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan was keen to point out, the joojoo loads faster then Usain Bolt doing the 100 meters. We started the device 3 times and this claim holds. Usain Bolt was unavailable for comparison.

After loading, the joojoo has a splash screen with icons for web pages people visit, similar to http://fav4.org/ but with lots more icons, all arranged by category. Joojoo boasts the “largest app store in the world”, namely the internet and can access all websites, including Flash (iPad haters run into the streets waving credit cards deliriously). We loaded the flash version of Streetfigher 2 but time constraints meant I was unable to show Chandra my red fireball technique.

A coming software update will enable these to be rearranged or otherwise customized. Joojoo runs a custom OS that basically interfaces with “the Cloud” in a similar way to Google’s Chrome OS. Launching any app takes you to the website. You can also head to the location bar and search from there. There is a largish keyboard for inputting text. I failed at touch typing on the joojoo but Chandra was reasonably rapid so I’m allowing for the possibility that I suck at typing. The joojoo runs on a gesture based interface – swiping in certain directions moves pages, deletes others or brings up the location bar. This lacked the polish of the iPad but Chandra navigated the device reasonably fluidly.

Fullscreen HD (720p) YouTube videos had a joojoo play option that allowed them to play back smoothly, using hardware acceleration. They are hoping to extend this to other sites in a coming update. The most exciting thing I saw (aside from the 9 second start up) was the pending magazine section, which has an array of titles arranged for the joojoo using an open HTML format. Each used slightly different formatting but were able to provide a rich immersive experience that added to the written content with strong multimedia offerings.

Joojoo is £319 and out now from their website, with a retail presence soon to follow. A 3G version is coming this quarter and could possibly be subsidized by carriers. For more details, including a comprehensive technical breakdown, head to https://thejoojoo.com/ The joojoo may not surpass the iPad as a tablet computing experience, but it is a reasonably solid entry into the tablet computing market that looks set to improve with time.

*Having said that joojoo does mean magic so ….