The bizarre WePad launch – A chaotic press demo, only video of the UI

WePad[Germany] Fear not, the German iPad competitor, the WePad, really does exist. Over 100 journalists could prove it on Monday night in a small reception room at the Adina Apartment Hotel in Berlin. International press and major TV stations were present to see the latest tablet computer by Neofonie from Berlin.

Neofonie CEO Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen presents the WePad.

CEO Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen presents the WePad. | photo: MG

However, the venue was so overcrowded that no cellphone worked and in one moment I feared the photographers would just crush CEO Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen with his WePad. (Death by WePad – great headline). But that’s OK. The WePad is going to be the saviour of the German print publishing industry.

But here’s the meat: What we saw was actually quite impressive. For instance a WePad version of Stern, one of Germany’s biggest magazines, with videos and web content in it. That’s not just an uninspired rehash of the print product as we have seen from other established media on Apple’s iPad. (I am looking at you, New York Times and Wall Street Journal).

The widget-oriented user interface runs smooth on Intel’s Atom Pineview-M chip with 1.66 Gigahertz and the underlying Linux allows real multitasking as well as the pre-installation of Open Office on every WePad for a quick note, taking on the touchscreen or the external keyboard. At least that’s what I believed until I had to realize that the entire demonstration was just a screencast.

The only demo device in the room was running Windows 7 and a fullscreen video to give an impression of the WePad UI. It had to be polished every minute since so many journalists laid hand on it. So, in fact, there’s is still no information about how snappy the WePad will be in real life. Its first presentation was not a real-world demo, but a video of its UI.

The first WePads are set to arrive in stores from June and the prices will range from €449 to €569 for the fully equipped version with 32 GB, Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS and full HD video. Other than the iPad, the 3G version of the WePad accepts normal SIM cards instead of the new microSIM cards that Apple requires and which no German carrier provides even now. Some 20,000 devices were already preorded, said Hoffer von Ankershoffen.

If you want, you can knock yourself out with the latest product sheet of 14 pages. Or you can just read our post on Crunchgear.