Here is Open Source Tablet!

1 Feb

It’s name is “Spark”, in recognition of it being the start to an even bigger flame.

The Spark is a modestly-specced enthusiast tablet that’s just been announced, and it’s aimed at those who want to run applications on Linux-based open hardware. The creators say it’s the first tablet to come with Plasma Active pre-installed — an open-source UI intended for use in a variety of touchscreen devices

It sports an open Linux stack on unlocked hardware and comes with an open content and services market. The user experience is, Plasma Active and it will be available to the general public.
Like the Kindle Fire, the Spark is a seven-inch capacitive tablet running on a Cortex-A9 processor. However, instead of a dual-core processor, the Spark offers Amlogic’s single-core AML8726-M. The 1GHz system on chip (SoC) includes a Mali-400 graphics processing unit (GPU) and full 1080p video decoding, as detailed on this Amlogic AML8726-M product page.

  •     1 GHz ARMv7 (Cortex A9)  processor with Mali-400 GPU
  •     7″, 800 x 480, 5-point multi-touch capacitive display
  •     512 MB RAM, 4 GB Flash, micro-sd slot
  •     WiFi and 3G
  •     1080p HDMI output
  •     335 grams

KDE Plasma Active, a system you may well have never heard of before, running on top of a completely open source Linux build. Have a peek at some hands-on with Plasma Active to get an idea of what the software will hold:

 

The Spark is quite the niche product, at least in its current form. Fans of open source software commenting on the announcement post seem quite excited about its release, but at the moment, I personally don’t see the Spark getting much interest outside that group of users. But we’ll keep an eye on its development, and see how it progresses. At the very least, it’s exciting to see the efforts of a small community of enthusiasts result in a decent-looking device.

The Spark tablet will cost users €200, or approximately $265 USD, and should be available for purchase soon.

 

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One Response to “Here is Open Source Tablet!”

  1. NachtVorst February 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    I’m not sure how much of a niche product this will be, it will probably depend more on marketing then on potential user-base. KDE (of which Plasma is a spin-of) is the second largest Free Software community (behind the Linux kernel), and has an installed base of many millions, even if a small percentage of those user get this tablet it will still be a relative success and might encourage other companies to start making Free* Software Tablets.

    *Note this distinction between Open Source Software and Free Software. For example Android is mostly Open Source, but not completely Free Software, which this will be, according to Aaron Seigo’s post.

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