Tag Archive | "fusion garage"

There IS Innovation in the Tablet Market; Even if There Wasn’t, Grid is Not the Answer

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grid osYesterday the company behind the infamous Joojoo, Fusion Garage, revealed itself as the real name behind the fake company TabCo which had been teasing the tech world for the last few weeks about an upcoming tablet.

During the announcement webcast, Fusion Garage did indeed reveal a new tablet which turned out to be the Grid 10 device that we saw pass through the FCC a few weeks back (though at the time we didn’t know it had anything to do with TabCo). You can find full specs, links, photos, and more at the Grid 10 tracking page in our mobile device database.

In a genuine surprise, Fusion Garage released not only the Grid 10, but also a smartphone called the Grid 4. The Grid 4 is quite thin at 9.6mm. You can also find full specs and plenty more for the Grid 4 in our database.

Both of these devices run Fusion Garage’s own ‘Grid’ OS which is not Android, but is based on the Android kernel. Grid will be able to run Android applications natively, but neither of the devices will have official access to the Android Market, nor will they have the usual Google applications that you find on an Android device, like YouTube, Gmail, Maps, etc. To compensate for this, both will come pre-installed with the Amazon App Store as well as Fusion Garage’s own Grid application store.

Devices aside, I can’t help but comment on some of the remarks that Fusion Garage made during their webcast.

According to Fusion Garage’s CEO, Chandra Rathakrishna, Apple’s iPad is the only real tablet in town, while Android tablets offer nothing but “parody”. Specifically, Chandra said that there is no innovation in the Android tablet market and that companies out there are offering nothing but sameness. He also went on record as saying that Fusion Garage would change that, that the market needs a “shakeout”.

I have to wholeheartedly disagree with Chandra’s remarks. Not only is there innovation in the Android tablet market, but even if there wasn’t, Grid is not the answer.

If anything, Apple has been the stagnant one in the tablet field thus far. Sure, they may have arguably started the market, but they’ve added very little to their initial iPad offering. Don’t get me wrong, the iPad is certainly a good product, but between the iPad and iPad 2, there isn’t much except for an increase in speed, reduction of weight and girth, and some cameras. That’s not innovation, it’s just improving on what’s already there.

Meanwhile, some rather brave companies have been experimenting in the Android tablet field with features and functions that Apple simply doesn’t offer with the iPad at this point.

Look at Asus. Their Eee Pad Transformer, which docks to a keyboard and can then be folded closed like a netbook, has been very well received in the market, and is empowering people to use their tablet in situations where they otherwise wouldn’t. They’ve also got that excellent looking Eee Pad Slider launching soon, which keeps the keyboard hidden away under the screen when you don’t want it, and they’ve thrown in a full-sized USB port for connecting useful peripherals like a flash drive or mouse.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Have a look at the HTC Flyer, the first Android tablet equipped with an active digitizer for serious digital inking. Then there’s the ThinkPad Tablet which seems to combine functions of the Transformer with the Flyer by offering a dockable folio with full keyboard and mouse, which folds down like a netbook, as well as an active digitizer for digital inking and notetaking.

Not to say that these devices have been or will be smash hits, but these companies are experimenting and innovating, and producing devices that are all stepping stones toward more productive and useful devices that can be used in scenarios where the iPad (and the Grid 10 for that matter) cannot.

I hate to put down Fusion Garage; they’re a company of around only 100 people, and have limited funding compared to the likes of Apple and Google. I appreciate their vision, but I don’t think they’ve been realistic about what they can accomplish.

In the webcast, they offered their Grid OS as the cure to their perceived sense of sameness that they say is found in the Android tablet market, but from their own demonstrations, they’ve done nothing but offer up different (not new) ways of doing the same old things.

During their demonstration of the Grid OS, I saw lots of eye-candy and even some cool visual design, but little in the way of intuitiveness. The home screen, for instance, works like a big open canvas where you can place all of your apps. The area is so far zoomed in that there is actually a map at the top right of the screen to indicate where you are on the home screen. I’m sorry Fusion Garage, but if the homescreen of your device requires a map to be used effectively, you’ve failed on ease-of-use:

grid hom screen

I hesitate to even start talking about the “3D tilt” that they’re so proud of. They’ve got this scrolling animation that slightly tilts the list that you’re scrolling through. Listen to how they laud it on their site without even saying how it’s beneficial:

“Scroll your contacts quickly with a 3D tilt. Find your contacts quickly and easily.”

“Have a big video collection? Scroll through it quickly with Grid10’s 3D tilt. Scrolling through your collection has never looked better.”

I’m sorry FG, but tilting the thumbnails on a list by 5 degrees or so as I scroll doesn’t not make my movie collection look any better than if it just scrolled with no tilting.

The problem with “3D tilt” is that it does nothing but distract visually. It doesn’t help you find anything in the list any easier than if it didn’t tilt. It isn’t even there to indicate the direction of motion as that’s already accomplished with a non-tilting scrolling list. It’s pure eye-candy, and I’ve got a major problem with that. It’s like giving a race car curves to make it look cool instead of being aerodynamic — it’s flair with no function. You can see their silly 3D tilt effect here (and notice how you’re never really certain what part of the interface is going to pop our of where – lack of intuitiveness!):

Then there’s their video controls that we “haven’t seen anything like” which are just your basic video controls, which they managed to make more intrusive than putting the seek bar across the top or bottom of the screen like everyone else:

Image 72

The Grid interface isn’t the only thing with needless eye-candy. Fusion Garage’s entire presentation showed me little but wasted money. A small company doesn’t need to put on a big press event and parade around with an Apple costume on – people get this. But here is Fusion Garage, wasting money by building a big stage with moving parts for a virtual audience, and trying desperately to be like Apple or Google, even if people wouldn’t mind if they were just themselves.

I actually chortled to myself when they announced Grid; lights flared, and a big metal lattice with some squares bearing the “Grid” name lazily slid in from both sides of the stage. Once they stopped moving, Chandra said “So people, there you have it, Grid.” Much like 3D tilt, this was just eye-candy for the sake of it. There was absolutely no reason to waste money on fabricating and moving the stage like that. You can see the laughable spectacle here. I dare not even get started talking about the dub-step….

All the while, on the screen behind Chandra, you could watch a bunch of unnecessarily animated (and visually distracting *cough*3D tilt*cough) slides playing. Waste waste waste. Save that money and put it toward HCI testing.

The Grid OS showcases no new ideas but instead is just a whole new unintuitive operating system that they’re asking people to learn from the ground up. Not only that, but Grid brings along with it the disadvantage of not having official Android Market access, and missing out on some of the key apps that make the Android platform so useful. The ability to run Android apps natively is merely a crutch, as they won’t share the same interface design as the core Grid apps and those from the Grid application store.

Fusion Garage has not demonstrated anything revolutionary or innovative that I’ve seen. They’ve only introduced different ways to do things that we already do without issue on other mobile operating systems.

The Grid 10 is what the Joojoo should have been – an impressive product, for a small company, but nothing that’s going to take off.

New Joojoo Tablet Appears to Be on Its Way, Looks to Have Voice/Data Modem

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Brad Linder over at Liliputing has spotted a device on it’s way through the FCC that appears to be a new device made by Fusion Garage, the company responsible for the failed Joojoo. Fusion Garage’s first device, the Joojoo, didn’t quite take off because it failed to deliver on many of the objectives that the project set out to conquer (cheap/easy to use/good battery life). The device wasn’t on sale for very long, and excitement for the product quickly died thanks for unfavorable reviews. It’s somewhat amazing that Fusion Garage is trying this again. The new device, which is called the ‘Grid10’ according to some of the FCC documents, is described as a “smart mobile tablet PC inch by Fusion Garage in documents that they submitted to the FCC. Fusion Garage also requested that photos of the product be kept confidential (standard practice for companies submitting devices to the FCC) until November 30th, which means the device will either be launched/announced before that date, or we should be able to get a glimpse at it if Fusion Garage hasn’t yet made any official announcements. joojoo 2Liliputing was able to save a photo of the label location diagram of the Grid 10 (above), which also featured a logo of the products name on the back, though today it appears as though Fusion Garage has submitted a new version of that diagramwith the logo removed. Testing documents indicate little about the device except that it has Bluetooth 2.1 and WiFi BGN. One portion of the report seems to indicate that the device is equipped with voice and data modems in both CDMA and GPRS varieties which means just about all carriers should be covered.

The ‘Buy’ tab on the Joojoo site currently reads:

We are looking ahead to our next generation of devices of varying screen sizes. Stay tuned here for more information about these exciting products in the first half of 2011.

We’re already past the first half of 2011, so either FG is behind schedule, or they’ve dropped the project entirely. I suppose we’ll find out one way or another what they’ve got hiding in the FCC on November 30th.

Fusion Garage Starts a Blog, Talks About the Joojoo and Where Things Are Heading (Update for the Joojoo is on It’s Way)

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good joojoo Fusion Garage CEO, Chandra Rathakrishna, has let loose with a post over at Fusion Garage’s new blog. Chandra says that he plans on “communicating directly with you on developments from within Fusion Garage and on industry issues” in the new space.

So far, it seems he’s done just that. In his first post, he addresses many of the recent criticisms about the Joojoo [product page]. What matters here is that he isn’t claiming that said criticisms are invalid, he’s accepting them for what they are and speaks of how Fusion Garage plans on fixing things. For one, he promises a “robust software update available shortly” that will “eliminate many of the problems that were widely reported in our initial product review cycle”.

It puts things into perspective when Chandra reminds us that Fusion Garage is only a 14-person company. While comparisons between the iPad and the Joojoo are rampant, Apple likely has hundreds of individuals working on a product like the iPad. Not to mention the cash and creative minds to market it just right. The fact that Fusion Garage has created and are now shipping a decent product is pretty impressive. Still, small company or not, people are expecting a certain value when they drop $500 on a computing device. Hopefully Fusion Garage will be able to get their good joojoo back before it’s too late. Respect to Chandra for being open, hopefully he keeps it up.

Only 64 JooJoos Purchased?

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joojoo1 If this turns out to be accurate, I have to say that I feel pretty bad for Fusion Garage — the company behind the Joojoo [product page]. The numbers are so low for Joojoo pre-orders that it’s almost unbelievable, but then again, I can’t say that I saw any advertising for the Joojoo, pre- or post-launch, maybe they thought it’d sell itself? I think anyone could have told them that they weren’t going to do much damage if they were releasing on the same month as the iPad, and at the same price (and not even half of the battery life).

If an email sent from Fusion Garage to Joojoo customers is any proof, it would appear as though there have only been 64 devices sold. According to Uneasy Silence, Fusion Garage send an email out presumably to all Joojoo customers, but they mistakenly used the Cc field rather than the Bcc field, revealing the list of email addresses that the message was sent to — there were only 64 of them.

Additionally, a story on Gizmodo purports that court documents state that “about 90 inch Joojoos were pre-ordered, though 15 of which had been canceled at the time.

Pretty sad for Fusion Garage, but I suppose that amidst the controversy of its creation and trying to go up against the iPad, the Joojoo just couldn’t cut it. Looks doubtful that Fusion Garage will be stepping up into full Joojoo production after previously stating that they had the necessary deals in place to afford full-scale production.

JooJoo Review Reveals 2.5hr Battery Life. Move along please!

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It’s finally happened. The JooJoo gets an Engadget review and there’s really not much to say; because the JooJoo doesn’t do much. It’s a big browsing pad with very few alternative usage models or software. 1.2KG is, as expected, way too heavy for a single hand usage (pretty dumb when you consider that you’re going to need one hand to use the one screen keyboard) and again, as expected, has a complete roadblock/showstopper of a battery life. 2.5hrs


Trust me, when, after 15 minutes use, you start to see 1hr-something on the battery meter, it’s a horrible feeling.

Using a (old) netbook platform was never the best design decision because it’s just not small/powerful/light/efficient enough. The Intel Menlow platform would have been better.

Engadget wraps up with this:

There are just so many things we wish Fusion Garage did differently with the JooJoo. Even putting aside the fact that Apple’s $499 iPad brings more to the table than just web browsing, the JooJoo is less portable, has a worse (if larger) screen, is unintuitive to use, and ships with half-baked software. We commend the start-up on its nice piece of hardware design, but until the software is given some much-needed love and the price is seriously reevaluated we simply cannot recommend this tablet.

I’ll wrap up with this:

If you want to mess around with a tablet for web browsing, look at the Archos 7 Home Tablet that is due to launch very soon. It’s cheap (under $200) , runs a version of Android and does a lot more than the JooJoo. It won’t be as ‘big’ and fast as a JooJoo but it will allow you to check out some casual (and mobile) tablet action without having to commit to a $500, 1.2KG table-top device. Other alternatives can be found here:

Engadget JooJoo review.

Top 3 Big Slate Contenders

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ipad v joojoo v adam As we watch company after company announce that they are bringing a slate to the market, it is clear that gadget makers are pushing this form factor as the next big thing. There is plenty of noise out there, but so far there are very few solid devices that are actually reaching consumers. Soon we’ll be looking at a storm of tablets hitting the market, and here is a roundup of the three that I think will have a significant impact on the future of this category and may end up going head-to-head in this emerging device space.

1. Apple iPad
ipad ipad popularity

If you didn’t see this coming… well you should have. There is evidence out there that Apple’s mythical slate is the impetus behind this surge of slates. People we’re juxtaposing it with the Joojoo before they even knew that the iPad existed. Apple has the tangible lead on the touch experience on the iPhone and iPod Touch, and now they will be working their magic to translate that to a 9.7 inch screen. The iPad will run a modified version of the iPhone OS (which is in itself a stripped down version of OSX). Apple has two a distinct advantages over the other two companies producing the devices listed below. 1) Huge content library and content partnerships. 2) Lots of money for marketing.

Price: $499-$829

Availability: April 3rd

Official Site: http://www.apple.com/ipad/


  • Apple’s renowned industrial design
  • Interface based on lots of touch UI experience and Apple’s usual user-friendliness
  • Partnership with AT&T for $30/month no contract 3G data plan
  • Lots of built in memory (16/32/64GB)
  • iTunes/iBooks content library
  • 150,000 (iPhone) apps at launch
  • Likely one of the first major products to market


  • Pricey on top-end models
  • Restrictive OS (for developers and users)
  • No Flash
  • No webcam
  • Will take time for devs to create ‘killer’ iPad specific apps
  • No USB or SD card slot

Joojoo Update: Revamped Interface and hardware color; FCC Docs Show Nvidia ION, 3G inside

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We told you a little while back that the Joojoo got delayed a month due to an issue with the touchscreen. The Joojoo [product page] is expected to be released to pre-order customers on March 25th.

Interface/Video Playback

This convenient delay appears to have given Fusion Garage time to do a pretty major graphical overhaul. They’ve changed the odd, monochrome looking, single-color background to something a little more vibrant, and added a dash of color to the shortcut icons as well. I have to say that I like this move. People seemed confused about the Joojoo’s screen early on, simply due to the original interface design. It appeared as though the screen wouldn’t be able to display more than a few simple colors. Of course we know that isn’t the case, but the original design may have led someone, unfamiliar to the device, to that conclusion. See before and after shots of the home screen below:
joojoo home screen 1 joojoo home screen 2

There are some additional interface enhancements, such as a new, smaller, keyboard that can pop up over content for single handed use. Fusion Garage has also added local video playback support for the following formats: AVI, MPEG-4, MOV, WMV and WMA, FLV (Flash Video), VOB, OGG, OGM and OGV, MKV, DiVX and XViD. Read more about the interface changes (and see pictures as well) over at Engadget.


joojoo ion As the Joojoo makes its way through the FCC (hat tip to Engadget for spotting it), we get to see the hardware teardown as well as the manual. Revealed in the manual is the fact that the Joojoo is running the Atom N270 CPU and using Nvidia ION (as we theorized in January), which explains why it is able to handle HD video playback, especially flash HD. It seems odd that Fusion Garage didn’t particularly state that the Joojoo uses Nvidia ION as a selling point.

In the hardware teardown we can see that the unit is 3G equipped, though it is unclear whether or not pre-order models will ship with 3G. Officially, the Joojoo is a WiFi only device, though the CEO of Fusion Garage has said that 3G was on the way in 2010.

Fusion Garage also saw fit to change the color of the device itself. Instead of black, the unit will be shipping as a champagne color.


It’ll be interesting to see how the iPad and the Joojoo compete once they finally hit the market. Will the iPad’s, refined — but more limited – web/app experience win over consumers? Or will the Joojoo’s custom interface, with access to the full web, be what the masses clamor for? Only time will tell.

Joojoo Launch Delayed Until the End of March

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Not a long story… the Joojoo has had it’s launch pushed back to March 25th. Gizmodo reported the story, but doesn’t have a link to the source (I’ve emailed them and will update when we get it.) Gizmodo quotes the following:

Earlier this month, Fusion Garage’s JooJoo Internet tablet went into full production with an anticipated on-time delivery to consumers at the end of February. Last week, the company became aware of a manufacturing issue involving JooJoo’s industry-first 12.1 inch capacitive touch screen which Fusion Garage was quickly able to diagnose and rectify. The company now forecasts the JooJoo will be sent to consumers on March 25.

The manufacturing issue centers on fine tuning the touch sensitivity of the capacitive screen. Fusion Garage will be providing all pre-order customers with a free JooJoo accessory to compensate for the delay in the delivery of their JooJoo.

Good to hear that they are going to offer a little something for those who put faith in the device and went ahead with a pre-order, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be a USB drive or something!

Joojoo on track to ship by the end of February, Fusion Garage opening a pseudo-app store?

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joojoo VentureBeat has a short interview with Chandra Rathakrishnan, head of Fusion Garage, which is the company making the Joojoo. If you need to refresher on the device and its interesting background, take a look at our recent article.

Fusion Garage has been taking orders for the 12.1 inch tablet on their website since December. The stated timeframe on their site has been 8-10 weeks ever since they started taking pre-orders, but since then we haven’t heard if everything was on track. In VentureBeat’s interview, Chandra confirms that the Joojoo’s will be shipping on time and says that they’ll “…be in consumer hands by the end of February. inch We’ve still yet to see one with release-candidate software.

A few other bits of info from the interview – Chandra won’t give out exact numbers on pre-orders but that they had exceeded their expectations. He also spends some time trying to score points against the iPad, noting that it has full flash support as well as a larger, higher resolution screen with a 16:9 (1366×768) format instead of the iPad’s 4:3 (1024×768).

Chandra also has the following to say about wireless networking on the device: “We are not ruling out the possibility of 3G in the near future. inch While they might not be ruling out the possibility, I’m finding it hard to believe that Fusion Garage would be able to strike a deal as valuable as the one that Apple currently has with AT&T, in which it will cost users $30/month for 3G with no contractual obligation on the iPad. If Fusion Garage creates a 3G equipped Joojoo, it’s likely that they’ll sell it unlocked and let you find your own service.

Matt Buchanan has a story on Gizmodo saying that he spoke with Chandra as well. His article has an interesting tidbit about a Fusion Garage app store:

The other big news is that they’re planning on opening a web app store. Chandra says that one of the iPad’s advantages over JooJoo was the App Store, which made app discovery easy through categorization. The JooJoo take is that “the internet is the largest app store,” and what they’ll be doing is categorizing all kinds of web apps in an “app store” to make them easy to find.

Of course it isn’t quite an app store as they won’t be selling anything — it’s more of an app database which will categorize and help users find useful web apps. Not a bad idea in my opinion; if people can go onto a big database of web apps and search for “Microsoft Office inch and find a list of online alternatives, I think it could be very powerful.

I’m hoping that we see some footage of a retail Joojoo (both hardware and software) soon. Stay tuned.

Checking in on the Joojoo/CrunchPad

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jj5 Despite the interest that the Joojoo [Portal page] (formerly CrunchPad) had generated early on, it seems as though all of the legal troubles have taken over where excitement for the device once was. Consider this a summary post to get us back on track with the device itself rather than the debacle surrounding it’s development. That being said… to talk about the Joojoo without first understanding it’s background would be a challenge. We’ll try to briefly catch you up to speed:

The Joojoo began as the brainchild of Michael Arrington of TechCrunch. The idea was to create a simple web surfing tablet for around $200. We caught glimpses of several prototypes during the device’s development. Shortly before the CrunchPad was to be unveiled in it’s final form, there were some issues between Arrington/TechCrunch and the company, Fusion Garage, that had been partnered with him to create the device. Long story short — Fusion Garage is now attempting to sell the device under the name Joojoo, excluding Arrington who contests that Fusion Garage attempted to pull the wool over his eyes and essentially steal the device and its rights.

jj3We won’t speculate on the legal issues, so for now… we’ve got the Joojoo, which is actually looking like a pretty cool slate. Unfortunately it seems to be in some sort of hardware limbo. Arrington has filed lawsuits against Fusion Garage, but despite this, the company has since began taking pre-orders for the device and says that pre-ordered units will ship in 8-10 weeks.

Fusion Garage has an official site that is soliciting the pre-orders at $499 a-pop (with Paypal being the only payment option to speak of at the moment). The deeper I look into this story, the further I question whether or not the device will actually make it to market. I can’t think of someone who would put $499 down to pre-order a device which is involved in such a scandalous tale. Despite the treachery that may haunt the Joojoo, the device itself continues to look more impressive than I expected. Have a look at a demo of the Joojoo (video from ZDNet):


While the software is apparently only 75% complete, I think what the Joojoo is going for is really rather interesting and, looking at the device alone, I’d personally be a bit sad if it doesn’t make it to market one way or another. What I feel sets the Joojoo aside from others is a decent user interface and a highly customized OS. If the device does end up making it to consumers – there is a sleek looking stand which can be purchased for an additional $29.

jj jj2

There aren’t yet that many details about exactly what is powering the device. We’ve heard 1.6GHz Atom CPU and 1GB of RAM, but Fusion Garage claims that the device can handle streaming 1080p video, and even with Flash 10.1, I don’t think that Atom alone is up to that task. It’s possible that the Joojoo is Nvidia ION equipped which could give it the necessary horsepower to handle the claimed HD video playback, however there doesn’t seem to be anything official at this time. Here is what we do know:

  • 12.1 inch 1366×768 capacitive touchscreen
  • WiFi/Bluetooth
  • 4GB SSD
  • 5 hour battery (so claims the official site)
  • 1.0MP camera
  • Accelerometer for switching between landscape/portrait
  • 1 USB port
  • Running a custom version of Ubuntu (purportedly)
  • 9 second boot

jj4 So there you have it – the Joojoo. If I didn’t have any knowledge of the turbulent background of the product, I might consider pre-ordering one of these bad-boys. Despite the supposed 8-10 week shipping time on pre-ordered devices, I’d be surprised (albeit happy) if everything goes according to plan and devices begin shipping within that timeframe.

How about you dear readers, would you pre-order the Joojoo? Would your answer change if you didn’t know the story behind its development?

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