TechCrunch just announced some pretty big plans to design their own web tablet device and their goal is to keep it around two-hundred bucks. It’s quite an interesting idea and could be perfect for those who tend to use web-only services and don’t need anything other than a web browser to be productive. We’re talking about those who use an online office suite like Zoho or Google Docs, someone who’s comfortable with using web-based mail like Gmail instead of using a desktop client like Outlook to manage mail, and the list goes on…

Here’s a glimpse into what they’re thinking with this project:

The machine is as thin as possible, runs low end hardware and has a single button for powering it on and off, headphone jacks, a built in camera for video, low end speakers, and a microphone. It will have Wifi, maybe one USB port, a built in battery, half a Gigabyte of RAM, a 4-Gigabyte solid state hard drive. Data input is primarily through an iPhone-like touch screen keyboard. It runs on linux and Firefox. It would be great to have it be built entirely on open source hardware, but including Skype for VOIP and video calls may be a nice touch, too.

techcrunch tablet.png

They’ve got a whole plan on how they are going to tackle this and it wouldn’t be surprising in the least if they are able to come up with a prototype within the next year. Our only thought is that while they may be able to make a prototype with everything they want this tablet to include, the price may inch higher than their goal of $200.

When you think about it, much of what many people do is all online which means something like this could be really useful. Checking email, watching YouTube videos, looking at photos on Flickr, creating and sharing a document on Zoho, catch-up with friends on MySpace and Facebook, are all things people do in a days time that require only a browser.

Out of anything this web tablet needs, the one thing that will be needed most is usability. Unless they spend some serious time coming up with something that easily usable, it won’t be a hit.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this and whether or not they have the resources to make it happen.