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

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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.

  • Edial Dekker

    Actually, the German carrier, ‘Simyo’ already announced that they will offer Micro SIMcards for the iPad and other devices. That was two weeks ago:

    • Markus Goebel

      You are right. But “*will* offer” microSIM cards is the magic word. Until now, they only accept preorders.

      Simyo is always good for such a PR stunt. Be it the nightly projection of their super-sized company logo on the walls of the Vodafone tower in Düsseldorf or their 25,000 subscribers petition to free the iPhone or the import of unlocked grey market devices from Italy.

      Nevertheless, Simyo is a great carrier and the cheapest option for mobile Internet in Germany.

  • Stewart

    Looks a bit of a mess compared with the iPad…

  • Steve Arbeit

    Strange, everybody is curious about the “WePad”.

    But I am much more curious about the CEO of Neofonie: “Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen”, born simply as “Helmut Oertel” ?!

    I hope the wePad is not only another naming experiment :-)

  • Matt Auckland

    Doesn’t WePad CEO Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen look like Douglas Reynholm (played by Matt Berry) from IT Crowd.

    Now imagin that character introducing the WePad :)

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  • David Winter

    Sorry, but these people have *nothing*.

    I’m from Germany, I followed this with a certain interest, but the more we hear from all sides, the worse it gets…

    Hardware-wise, the product is obviously identical or very similar to a generic, Windows-running iPad clone (not hard to find if you know how to use Google).

    The “OS” they want to put on it (an adapted Linux distro) is either non-existent or too unstable to present, so all we got to see is a looping Windows Media video on a Tablet PC.

    Oh, the irony.

    And the German main-stream press- neither interested nor competent with regards to the technology – calls this “the German iPad”.

    For f*ck’s sake. Wake up.

    It’s a half-*ssed wet dream Tablet PC by a guy calling himself “Helmut Hoffer von Ankershoffen”, formerly Herr Oertel.

    And I would follow and assist him, gladly, if this really were a “We” product, i.e. an open, real platform, a valid iPad competitor.

    But it’s not.

    It’s a (would-be) platform supposed to sell eyeballs (= you + me) to publishers (Gruner + Jahr; Germany’s Murdoch-style publishing fortress), who do not trust/like Apple.

    And that’s all.

    • Bruno

      cleary these guys will have to deliver. but then again, its not impossible…

      lets wait and see

      until then this turns the definition of an App around:
      App = Android Piss Pad.

    • Mihai

      Do us all a favour and shut up. even a simple bone will be better than ipad

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