A team of engineers and programmers has launched a crowdfunding campaign for Ntablet, which they claim is the world’s first commercial open source Linux tablet — a claim which hinges on a very specific definition of the term.
“Ntablet is not the world’s first open source tablet and device, but it’s the first commercial open source Linux tablet,” the team explains. “Over 90% [of] tablet[s] are running Android OS, manufacturers are customised the Android OS for their Android tablet, but all of those are not open source. For Ntablet, all of those are open source, hardware, software etc.
“Many people are making their open source tablet with a Raspberry Pi and a screen, but this is only a DIY product or a hobby product. It can not been mess produced, so it can not be used for commercial. And nobody would use a hobby/DIY product for commercial use.”
The Ntablet is based on an Rockchip RK3288 quad-core 1.8GHz Arm Cortex-A17 system-on-chip (SoC) with an arm Mali-T760 graphics processor. Designed to slot into the rear of the tablet, the computer-on-module (COM) features a somewhat limited 2GB of LPDDR3 memory, 16GB eMMC storage, and drives the tablet’s 7″ 1920×1200 IPS display with five-point capacitive touch sensing, along with an OV5648 five-megapixel front-facing camera.
Power is provided by a 3.8V 4,800mAh battery, while connectivity includes micro-HDMI, microSD storage expansion, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and a USB 2.0 Host port, along with a built-in general-purpose input/output (GPIO) connector.
The Ntablet uses a user-replaceable COM board. (📷: Ntablet)
The company is positioning the tablet as a one-stop replacement for a homebrew solution including off-the-shelf single-board computer, battery, touch display, camera, and speakers. Each tablet is provided with a GPIO break-out board, charging dock with integrated wireless serial connectivity, and an instruction manual which should cover the tablet’s built-in sensors and GPIO capabilities.
The Ntablet is due to enter mass production in January next year with backers receiving their hardware, should all go according to schedule, in March 2020. Early bird pricing starts at $226, with more information available on the project’s Kickstarter campaign page.