We’ve talked about a few technical details of the WePad before, but now we have all the specifications, along with a table (partially in German) that compares it with the iPad (click on the title to head to the full post). This Android-powered tablet will have access to the Android Market Place, but also to a WePad AppStore. The WePad has been built to consume digital newspaper and magazine and, there is a hope that it could attract elderly users in addition to the general public. “Elderly are the core target group of newspaper and magazine publishing house” says the Neofonie, the company behind the WePad. Making an electronic reading device for the elderly is no small challenge and I wonder if this group of users would really enjoy the ton of widgets (and the small font) as the WePad renderings show. On the hardware side, WePad is a little bigger and heavier than iPad, but it also has a superior screen resolution, a webcam and USB ports. The iPad has a 40% advantage in battery life.
It’s hard to guess how good it is, because we haven’t played with the WePad (we spent 1hr with the iPad), but I do have some reservations about the user interface and apps responsiveness. That’s the first thing that I would check.
The refreshing bit of news is that WePad has been built with a purpose: reading newspaper and magazines. Most slates are built with because it’s the new fashionable thing to do… Because it has a purpose, we can only hope that the user experience (find, manage, sync and consume content) will be smooth.
At this time, we don’t have any information on the content pricing. Many eBook users have been complaining that eBooks are too expensive, sometimes more so than their paper versions. While publishers can enjoy higher margins, it is very unlikely that customers will keep buying at these prices, but in the market will decide.
Neofonie doesn’t “go to war” with Apple, but says that it wants to offer an alternative to the iPad. To be competitive, the WePad will be priced lower than Apple’s iPad – how much lower, we don’t know, but we guess not that much lower. It will feature Flash and Adobe Air, the platform that many magazine publishers including Stern Magazine and Wired, have chosen for their digital version. Others will join for sure. The exact release date is not known but the official word is: “We will release further details on our partners and product timeline on April 12″.
I guess that Android fans too will pick-up the tablet, just because it’s “open”. The hardware and pricing are good enough to be attractive, and having Android as an OS makes it much more compelling to developers and even users than tablets like JooJoo (some would say “bad JooJoo”). Next stop: we’ll try to get our hands on one.
Suggested read: A fresh alternative to the iPad? (Stern.de)
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