Here’s a bit of an unusual tablet hack: someone’s figured out how to turn the Insignia Infocast Internet appliance into an 8” media tablet. The device, originally intended as a Chumby app viewer, has a number of apps already (such as Pandora or the NY Times podcast) but some users have ported a Webkit-based user-interface framework to it.
The $170 device already had an 800 MHz processor, 2 GB onboard memory, and a touchscreen, plus wifi connectivity and two USB 2.0 ports, and runs Chumby Linux 2.6.
“While it’s marketed as a device for viewing Chumby apps and sharing photos, as far as the DIY crowd is concerned, the Infocast is a $170, 800-MHz Linux machine,” says Chumby co-founder Bunnie Huang on his blog.
Of course, it does still have to be plugged into the wall socket—at least until some enterprising DIYer comes up with a tape-on battery pack.
I’m not sure how good this would be for reading e-books—the resolution isn’t mentioned, it’s LCD, and it has to stay plugged in—and I’m not sure how adding Webkit necessarily makes it any more of a “tablet” than it was already. Still, it’s interesting to see how people can do things with these devices that the creators didn’t necessarily intend.