The WePad Alternative

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the wepadThe German maker of a new tablet PC is setting out to rival Apple’s iPad with the promise of even more technology, such as a bigger screen, a webcam and USB ports.

It is not, however, an “iPad killer” as it has been dubbed by some blogs, but an alternative to its bigger rival, Neofonie GmbH’s founder and managing director Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen told reporters in Berlin. Ankershoffen stressed the system’s openness: two USB ports allow users to connect all kinds of devices with the WePad, from external keyboards to data sticks.

People who want to put music on their WePad do not have to have any particular software, Ankershoffen said — a jab at Apple’s devices that require particular Apple software like iTunes. The WePad’s basic version, which comes with Wi-Fi and 16-gigabyte storage, is set to cost 449 euros ($600), the larger 32-gigabyte version with a fast 3G modem is 569 euros. The iPad starts at $499 for the smallest version, coming with Wi-Fi and 16 GB storage.

The WePad, with its 11.6-inch (29.5-centimeter) screen, is powered by an Intel chip and relies on a Linux software basis, which is compatible with Google’s Android and all Flash applications, Ankershoffen said. When it hits stores starting in late July, it will also boast a complete open-source office package, he said.

The WePad is to be assembled by a manufacturer in Asia, which Ankershoffen refused to name. Neofonie casts the WePad as helping the media industry find a way to market paid content and hopes to appeal to publishers, some of whom are disgruntled with Apple‘s pricing policy and restrictions. The device would allow publishers to sell their content on its platform without monopolizing the customer relationship, as Apple’s iTunes or Amazon’s Kindle do, the company said.