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CrunchPad, a $250 Kindle killer?

CrunchPadMockTechCrunch founder Mike Arrington will launch a Web browsing tablet device, perhaps as soon as July. The device, described as 18 millimeters thick with a 12-inch screen, that will be sold in a variety of colors for less than $250, according to The New York Times. The first version of the device, which will have a color screen, is pictured to the right. Additional prototype photos are available here.

The CrunchPad will have a simple user interface based on four touch-screen gestures, shown in the YouTube video below, one of which opens a soft keyboard for entering text. One could conceivably use the device to participate in social networks and other collaborative Web applications.

CrunchPad will purportedly do nothing other than surf the Web. But I think that statement misses the greater significance of the device. A reader featuring rich color and the ability to play streamed video is the exemplary reader that e-book enthusiasts have been craving. It would be a simple matter to develop browser plugins that handled various e-book formats. More importantly, however, the Intel Atom-based device, will support mixed media titles with ease, making it a potentially game-changing player in the digital publishing industry.

While not an E-Ink device, and there’s no need that it be an E-Ink device, its price point and features make it a strong contender against the $489 Kindle DX for the hearts and wallets of readers. The practical question is what kind of battery life an Atom CPU and 12-inch LCD screen will deliver. Definitely a device to keep your eye on.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP-0Nce5oTQ[/youtube]

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