Conceived as a tablet PC that is well suited for anytime web browsing, the JooJoo is a browser based device that has taken a lengthy time for its launch which were marked with lots of dramatic climaxes. With a massive 12 inch screen, the JooJoo is also the biggest slate pc available in the market. And being in a segment that has the all conquering iPad ruling the roost, the obvious question that does pop out is whether the JooJoo is better or at least at par with the iPad. Also, for an amount of €359 is the JooJoo worth the experience is the question that hounds us too. All this along with many more is what this comprehensive review of the JooJoo Tablet PC from Fusion Garage will bring to the fore.
The JooJoo is one exquisitely crafted device, one that can match with the best from Apple. In fact, so well built is the JooJoo that it can well be mistaken for an Apple device but for the JooJoo name tag. There’s just one single button on the front left edge of the Tablet PC, which otherwise is an LCD screen in totality. The design theme is minimalist at best and JooJoo excels in this. All in all the JooJoo has been very exquisitely designed without much of frills in its outer appearance.
The rear end of the device sports a champagne colored brushed aluminum finish that lends it a very stylish look and feel. At the middle though the device is a wee bit thin and this is specially accentuated due to the overall expanse of the tablet. However, at 12.8 x 7.8 x 0.7 inches, and the JooJoo is far from being the ‘handheld’ device like the iPad or the Kindle and Nook that Fusion Garage would like us to believe it is. A weight of 2.4 pound does not help things either, which makes it convenient to use only in a sit up position. With the dimensions and weight mentioned above, the JooJoo is perhaps the last thing that you would like to hold up lying down.
Along the right edge of the device there’s single USB port, along with a standard headphone and microphone jack. The only thing you can do with the USB port is to charge the device since the OS of JooJoo is entirely browser based. So there’s no way you can load music, videos or pictures into the device. There’s a camera situated above the screen and is meant to be used for video conferencing.
The dominating feature of this device is its screen, and a 12 inch display at that. It is a capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Light finger movements across the face of the screen are enough to carry out the functions and is indicative of its sensitivity. Once again the drawback that bites off part of this otherwise fabulous feature is the fading effect that is experienced if the screen is tilted to a 120 degree angle. JooJoo scores with its horizontal viewing angle though as it is wide enough to enable you to share the screen with your friends.
The device has an accelerometer and this adjusts the display quite smoothly while the device is transiting between vertical and horizontal orientation. At times though, the adjustment needed an extra jerk to draw upon the accelerometers attention, a shortcoming that makers Fusion Garage revealed will be taken care of in a future software update. Light sensors on the other hand, adjust screen brightness based on ambient lighting very effectively. To cap up on hard ware features, the sound system is sufficient for personal hearing only as the case is with notebook PCs and isn’t loud and clear enough to be heard all over the room.
The first of the real drawback of the JooJoo can be experienced when one tries out the OS and browser both of which are Linux based. Shortcuts are the only way to go to a site, but the shortcuts are fixed to particular sites only. Grouped under various heads, like News, Social Networking or Entertainment one is led to the particular site fixed under that group when selecting the shortcut. To go to any other site of personal choice one has to retype the site address into the browser only after opening the predestined web page. Another missing feature is the lack of any application to view pictures or playing music. One can only adjust the brightness of the screen or the Wi-Fi and nothing much else.
With its wide display, viewing web pages should indeed have been an unadulterated experience of pleasure. However, here too JooJoo has included an issue that mars this pleasure feeling. The aspect ratio of the JooJoo display screen is 16:9, which gives extra space when held in landscape mode, but crops certain details when held in portrait orientation. JooJoo could have selected a better aspect ratio while maintaining the advantage of greater pixel accurate rendition on the display screen.
That is also not an end of all the laments that torment a web viewer. The navigation bar which is a basic necessity for web browsing and therefore for such a web specific device as the JooJoo, has its own faulty nuances. The navigation bar is a floating one rather than being fixed. To unhide it a swipe action of the finger is required. While this may seem to be a very simple process, the real complication begins when the screen comprehends the swipe as a selection prompt rather than its intended intention. Then there’s also no certainty that swipe action will yield the desired result, more so if the JooJoo is into something else. And if you put in a few more taps, you will be led to the previous screen or the home screen, as the situation might be.
Further on the issue of swiping, the device can recognize only a two finger swipe and not a single finger swipe. This adds to the woes of the user as it becomes a hindrance while holding the device with one hand and trying to make it work with the help of two fingers of your other hand at the same time. Then the Pinch-to-Zoom feature isn’t supported either.
Two onscreen keyboards have been provided and both can be set at different places on the screen. The keyboard that appears when the device is held in vertical position is meant for typing in short text info, like that used for short messaging. The longer keyboard comes up only when the device is held in horizontal orientation. The keyboard once again is un-predictive. For instance while there is a key for an apostrophe, pressing on it will input an open quote only. Then there is every chance of the keyboard going dead, like it would not respond at all even after several key presses. One more thing that the company said will rectify with a software update. Apart from these, the device does not also support predicative text inputting or automatic capitalization.
In fact, there seems to be no end of software flaws. Like for instance, the bookmark dialog does not display correctly while the device is held vertically. Close the browser and you will be automatically logged out of a site or forum like the Twitter or Facebook. Then the side scrolling tabs, which are to be swiped upwards to close a page, also does not work consistently. These are just some of the more frustrating of software flaws the bugs the JooJoo.
The JooJoo boots up in 7 seconds flat and the rest of its operations are indeed snappy. This can be attributed to it being equipped with the 1.6GHZ Intel Atom N270 processor. It also has 1 GB RAM and a 4 GB solid state drive. WiFi speeds too are quite decent.
Fusion Garage has also added an NVIDIA Ion Graphic card on the device just to ensure playing Flash Video in full screen mode is a breeze. However, all of this comes to a nought due to the lack of appropriate software support. It currently runs Flash 10.1 beta 1 and hardware-accelerated Flash video seems to be nowhere in sight at least as of now with Adobe too being partly responsible for this. What all this means is that while the CPU is able to decode regular-sized YouTube videos, but viewing a full-screen Hulu will be jittery while a 720p YouTube video would be rendered like a slide show.
The Atom / Ion combo though calls upon the JooJoo’s battery resources quite generously so that the JooJoo’s three cell battery is able to support just moderate use like net browsing and playing short videos on the tablet for only about 2.5 hours. This when the battery is supposed to last 5 hours as per company sources, but only if the Flash is kept out of the loop completely. Then the device also tends to get heated up quite considerably. This has been confirmed by the makers of the device also. A better option would have been if the makers had gone for an Arm processor like NVIDIA Tegra or else using Broadcom’s Crystal HD Solution with an Intel Atom N450 combination. Less power drain would have been assured in any of these combinations.
The rain of seemingly endless lament continues about the JooJoo and its shortcomings. Like from it being less portable to its endless software woes, a screen that though is large but simply not up to the mark, or a battery that is far from impressive. A comprehensive software update has been promised by the company which they claim will lay to rest most of the JooJoo’s shortcomings. Till then unfortunately, the JooJoo has its task cut out against the likes of the iPad.
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Sovan Mandal is the senior tablet and tech corespondent for goodereader.com. He brings a international approach to news that is not just applicable to the North American market, but also Asia, India, Europe and others. Sovy brings his own writing flavor to the website and is interested in Science Fiction, Technology and Writing. Any questions, send an email