While CES is choc full of companies showing off tablets using ARM-based chipsets from Qualcomm, Freescale, Marvell, and NVIDIA, the folks at Texet are taking a different approach. The Texet EZB890 is an 8.9 inch touchscreen tablet with a 500MHz MIPS-based processor. It’s running a custom Linux distribution, and it’s surprisingly snappy.

The tablet comes with a number of open source applications including the Firefox web browser, AbiWord for word processing, and Gnumeric for editing spreadsheets. It also has a media player which can handle XViD, MPEG, and a handful of other formats, although H.264 isn’t currently supported.

I asked if users would be able to install their own Linux applications such as OpenOffice.org or VLC and the short answer is no, not at the moment. But if the platform takes off, we could see an app store that would allow users to install applications that are known to work well on the hardware.

The tablet has a 1024 x 600 pixel 8.9 inch display, 1 to 4GB of flash storage plus an SD card slot, 2 USB ports, and a 3 hour battery. A more powerful battery is an option, but Texet says they went with a low capacity battery to keep the cost down. There’s also 802.11b/g WiFi. There’s also room for a 3G modem and SIM card slot, and ultimately Texet is hoping to partner with mobile operators to bundle the tablet with 3G service and sell it, possibly with a custom user interface. Without a subsidy, the Texet tablet should run about $300. With one, Texet is hoping you might be able to get the tablet for free with a contract.

You can check out more photos, plus a brief hands-on video showing the tablet’s video player after the break.

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5 replies on “Hands on with Texet’s 8.9 inch touchscreen tablet”

  1. Just picked up one on ebay the other day ($104), someone apparently bought it at the ces show.

    Turns out it is another Skytone Rebage ( Skytone Alpha 700/a700)

    As the alpha 400/ razorbook 400, epc, and the others (linux xburst models) should be highly hackable as they were, except now with better hardware and a 2.6 kernel.

  2. thanks for your CES coverage, Brad, some real interesting stuff.

    WIth this one, I can’t help but think that the people who may be attracted by the Linux angle are also going to be turned off again by the lack of DIY.

  3. Nice looking piece of hardware… but… no apps, services or content deals will doom this device to the scrap heap.

    Android on board might have given it access to some of those necessary features, but except for a few anxious early adopters I can’t see even a cool device like this having much appeal to consumers.

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