Review: Fusion Garage JooJoo Tablet

The JooJoo’s story could have been the hackneyed one of an underdog: Unknown startup comes out of nowhere, creates a product that launches just before the iPad, and because of some clever moves and a little luck manages to topple Cupertino’s iJuggernaut. Think of it like the plot of Mighty Ducks only with tablets instead of peewee hockey.

Except in real life, the Mighty Ducks would have been completely destroyed by the expertly trained, better-equipped kids from the rich neighborhood. The same holds true for the JooJoo tablet, which despite a valiant attempt, is ultimately a buggy gadget without purpose that’s thoroughly trounced by the iPad.

JooJoo (nee CrunchPad) is a tablet from the Singapore-based company Fusion Garage. It’s almost Apple-esque in its sleek industrial design. Powered off, it’s a polished slab, black and shiny on the front, brushed-aluminum finish on the back. Other than a discreet Power button, the device is fully controlled by a touchscreen.

At about 2.5 pounds, the JooJoo feels comfortable when resting on the table or if you are holding it while in bed. But it’s definitely not a handheld device. The JooJoo is almost a pound heavier than the iPad so if you want to carry it around or hold it in your hand like a book, it leads to some strain.

The tablet runs a custom operating system based on Linux. Once powered on, the homescreen is divided into little square icons that connect to services such as Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube and major news sites such as The New York Times and CNN.

It’s easy and intuitive — except when you want to get online. When you feel the need to surf, you have to swipe at a floating navigation bar at the top of the screen and enter the URL. It’s frustrating to figure out and swipe repeatedly just to enter the website address.

And despite the 1.6-GHz Atom processor combined with an Nvidia Ion graphics unit, the JooJoo doesn’t feel zippy. Another drawback is the battery life. We ran the JooJoo’s battery down in about five hours — half as long as the iPad.

Commenters will likely tear into this review, accusing get-gadget of being biased toward Apple (we’re not) and unfairly bashing a perfectly good product (which this isn’t). Our advice? If you’re in the market for a tablet but hate Apple, don’t rush out and buy a JooJoo just to prove a point. Something better will eventually come along. Trust us.

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