The JooJoo, Fusion Garage's new tablet is gunning for the iPad. Its 12.1in capacitive touchscreen gives it the jump on its Apple rival, which 'only' has a 9.7in display, and unlike Jobs and co's gadget, the JooJoo features Flash support – for a, theoretically, more complete web browsing experience.
It's no feather, though. Behind the screen lies a 1.6GHz Atom processor, Nvidia Ion graphics and 4GB SSD, all encased in a tapered body. The result is a JooJoo that's nearly 19mm thick and weighs just over a kilo, despite plastic construction. Its elongated form may not fit comfortably in your manbag, either.
[UPDATE: the makers of JooJoo have been in touch to assure us that the casing is made of metal, not plastic. That doesn't alter the fact that it looks and feels like plastic.]
The JooJoo keeps things simple with just one button (for power on/off), so navigating the web is a mix of typing into the onscreen Qwerty and jabbing at links. You can drag the keyboard around and switch between a large, two-handed OSK (onscreen keyboard) or a smaller version.
The icon-based homescreen is a bit lop-sided, with just about everything parked on one side of the screen. It seems an odd layout. Why you need to scroll down to see all the icons when there’s a vast expanse of empty screen available is beyond our tiny minds.
That 16:9 hi-def capacitive touchscreen automatically adjusts brightness using an ambient light sensor. There’s the option to manually boost the brightness but this comes at the cost of battery life. Sadly, the touchscreen’s erratic response is a problem, hopefully one that can be fixed by a firmware upgrade.
A Flash character
Full-screen browsing can be fantastic on the JooJoo, especially for web apps like Google Docs, but it's a shame there’s no support for client-based web apps like Skype and Spotify. Yet.
Fusion Garage has made the bold claim that you can get online in nine seconds but in practice it took us 30 seconds to boot up and open Twitter. Still, once you are online, the experience isn’t hobbled by lack of Flash support, and working in the cloud is often a great experience.
It's worth knowing that the JooJoo has no media player software installed, so you’re left with streaming sites for music and vids. That’s not entirely a bad thing – there’s a wealth of online entertainment, from amateur bands on MySpace to the Beeb’s iPlayer. Sadly, the JooJoo struggled to render HD streaming from the latter and sound is muddy. The silver lining: Fusion Garage tells us video playback from USB is coming.
What's really in store?
Fusion Garage has claimed the JooJoo has “the largest app store in the world”, but it’s just bragging about Flash support and the ability to ‘multitask’ via tabbed browsing. Still, that's a pretty impressive collection to browse through.
There’s no ebook store and no way to download titles for later reading, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the JooJoo as a reader. We downloaded James Henry’s The Cabinet of Curiosities from Lulu directly into a browser-based PDF reader. It’s easy enough to read on the display, but this method is far too temporary to use for serious reading.
There’s a lot to fix before the JooJoo can truly go up against even a netbook, but it features decent hardware and runs a Linux build, so there’s massive potential to be worked on. Fix the UI glitches, let users install the likes of VLC, OpenOffice and Banshee and there’s no reason why it can’t be a viable tablet solution.