Five open source alternatives to the iPad |

Five open source alternatives to the iPad

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Which of these alternatives to the iPad sounds best to you?

375 votes tallied
Neofonie WePad
136 votes
Touch Book
71 votes
30 votes
Tablets from Taiwan
15 votes
Google tablet
123 votes

Interest in iPad app development is waning, and the device just got here. Maybe that means it's time to explore more open options. Here are five.

Neofonie WePad
A bit bigger than the iPad with an 11.6", 1366x768 display, the WePad runs the Android OS. You can get apps from the Android Market or the WePad App Store. It also has a 1.3 megapixel webcam, which the iPad infamously did not include. What about the other iPad holes most often complained about? Flash? Yes. Multitasking? Yes. And the USB ports, modem, and 6-hour battery life won't hear many complaints either.

Touch Book
Touch Book is sort of a netbook, sort of a tablet. It's made by a company called Always Innovating, and it has a feature that really appeals to me--a detachable keyboard dock. Their website shows its many with-or-without-dock configurations with titles like "Yoga: Downward dog," "Separation under way," and my favorite, "Fridge magnet." The hardware and software are fully open source--ready for you to do with what you like. It comes with a custom operating system, but you can install any mobile OS you like. Take a look at it at Gizmodo.

A 2-pound tablet for 300-400€ with a Linux OS designed specifically for a touchscreen with usability in mind. That's the completely open source iFreeTablet developed at the University of Cordoba in Spain. And you get the Flash support and multitasking you can only dream of with that shiny iPad. It's biggest shortcoming is the mere 2.5 hour battery life.

Tablets from Taiwan
According to PCWorld, Taiwanese gadget makers are ready to show off at least 10 iPad competitors. Here are two that were also shown at CES:

  • MSI has a 10" Android tablet. They're still a little short on details, other than the fact that they use the new Tegra 2 chips.
  • The Asustek Eee Pad also has a 10" touchscreen and the Tegra 2 chips. It's expected to come with the Chrome OS.

Google tablet
This one's cheating a bit--Google has no official plans to release a tablet. But there has been consideration of what the Chrome OS would look like on a tablet. And that gets the speculation started. ReadWriteWeb has explored the idea more in-depth.


Features comparison

  WePad Touch Book iFreeTablet iPad
Weight 1.75 pounds <2 pounds 2.27 pounds 1.5 pounds
Display 11.6", 1366x768 8.9", 1024x600 10.2" 9.7", 1024x768
CPU Intem Atom N450, 1.6 Ghz OMAP2530, 600 MHz Atom N270, 1.6 GHz Apple A4, 1 GHz
Battery 6 hours 3-5 hours tablet, 10-15 hours with keyboard, replaceable by user 2.5 hours (planning to improve) 10 hours
Keyboard no yes no no
Camera 1.3 MP no 1.3 MP no
USB 2 3 external, 4 internal 3 none
Storage 16 GB, extendable to 32 GB 8 GB removable SD card 160 GB 16, 32, or 64 GB
RAM 2 GB 512 MB + 256 NAND ? 256 MB
OS Android Linux, Android, soon Chrome, other options SIeSTA (based on Debian) iPhone OS
Wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g 802.11 a/b/g/n
Price not yet for sale $299 tablet, $399 with keyboard not yet for sale--estimated 300-400 Euro (~$400-$550) $499-$829

Ready to say no to the definitely closed iPad? Which of these alternatives sounds best to you?


> Read the followup to this post.


About the author

Ruth Suehle - Ruth Suehle is the community leadership manager for Red Hat's Open Source and Standards team. She's co-author of Raspberry Pi Hacks (O'Reilly, December 2013) and a senior editor at GeekMom, a site for those who find their joy in both geekery and...