Flashback: “Webslate” concept from 1999

webslateconceptForum member segalsegal shares with us this blast from the pre-Tablet PC past: a concept “webslate” designed for the Transmeta Crusoe processor (which old-school Tablet PC enthusiasts will remember from the pre-HP Compaq TC1000).

As envisioned by design consultancy IDEO, the webslate features an 8″ touchscreen and, as the name implies, was intended for web surfing but also as the core component of a modular computing system. Photo and more about that idea after the jump.

The modules can be added to any of the four sides for landscape or portrait format, and include a camera for on-the-road videoconferencing, a GPS module for navigation, audio speakers and controls for downloaded music, and modules for game playing across the web. A snap-on cover protects the screen and provides a folding stand for a vertical viewing angle.

Webslate_Transmeta_cdThe modular design is something I’ve long hoped would evolve in Tablet PCs. Hybrids like the TC1000/TC1100 were an early form of this, and we’ve seen other variations since then, like the Lenovo Ultrabase and Fujitsu’s modular bay. But we still haven’t seen things like gamepad extensions, something that could go over pretty well given the success we’ve been seeing with UMPC gaming. Currently, I’d say the iPhone with its dock connector is the only slate device on track to run with this approach.

This also makes me wonder how far along we’d be with web tablets had Transmeta taken off as a chipmaker. Instead of watching Nokia Internet tablets shrink, waiting on the Crunchpad, and speculating on the Apple tablet, perhaps we’d all be reading this from our webslates.

5 Comments

  1. vm-01

    09/11/2009 at 10:04 am

    I don’t exactly think of success when I remember UMPC gaming.

    Although I must say that the Samsung Q1 had the finest game of Sudoku I have ever owned.

    Reply

  2. Scott McB

    09/11/2009 at 10:53 am

    lol….

    Now I remember back to 1993 when I got my first tablet pc – the Compaq Concerto running a 486/33 cpu, 20 mb of ram, and a 240 mb hard drive, and a 9″ grayscale screen. It was exciting when I upgraded to windows 95 on it.

    Reply

  3. Nameless

    09/11/2009 at 12:41 pm

    I’ve seen a picture of the Compaq Concerto before. It ran Windows for Pen Computers or something like that initially, and also happened to have-you guessed it-a DETACHABLE KEYBOARD, although it was a simple clamshell hinge and not the swivel hinge that would show up on the TC1000 and TC1100 years later.

    Still, that’s a pretty cool tablet design, especially with the gamepad attachments. If it were based on more modern hardware, I could easily see myself firing up some emulators or games from GOG.com on this thing, in addition to the usual artist apps if there’s an active pen digitizer.

    Too bad nobody’s ever put this particular product on the market, though I probably would balk at the Transmeta Crusoe when even a 1.1 GHz Pentium M Dothan ULV feels sluggish sometimes…

    Reply

  4. brenth

    09/11/2009 at 12:55 pm

    I played with the Concerto, as well as other machines that never saw the light of day. One of the reasons this particular unit mentioned in the article never saw the light of day, is that it was killed in a suit raised by Compaq(soon to be HP) against former Compaq Execs who were deemed to be ‘competing’ with Compaq, if I can remember my facts correctly. There were several portable form-factors being worked on, all using Transmeta chips. Who knows how the market would have responded, but now we will never know.

    Reply

  5. Gary Harrison

    09/12/2009 at 9:10 pm

    …perhaps we’d all be reading this from our webslates.

    Some of us are :-)

    (Reading from bed on my TC1100)

    Reply

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