Fusion Garage, the maker of my tablets, is no more. The CEO has fulfilled his destiny, taking the money, leaving the creditors with a $40 million bill, and disappearing from public life. The judge in the original lawsuit handed them a well deserved loss. Websites are down. The community is scattering. Its over. Time for the post-mortem.

Grid10

I never got around to my Grid10 review. In short it fails so badly on screen quality that all the other shortcomings are irrelevant. It is a large widescreen form factor, so it should be all about the video. But the viewing angles are so atrocious that any off axis viewing leads to fading and even color inverting, including when viewed head on since the sides are off axis. In other words there is no sweet spot, it’s always bad. It’s such a catastrophic failure that noting else matters.

I do use my Grid10. It can do some light web browsing (on sites that don’t use the full width), it plays Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds, and most importantly it plays Suduko. Although it loads apps from the Amazon market only about 1/2 of them work, and it obviously doesn’t have any of the Google products. I’ll continue to use it as a basic non-video tablet but that’s all it will ever be good for.

Joojoo

My joojoo is mostly sitting in a closet. Once Windows 8 comes out I’ll put the final version on the tablet and mount it on a wall, possibly in the kitchen. It will be great as an electronic calendar, quick email checking, and for some light browsing. The battery is so bad and it is heavy enough that it isn’t appropriate as a handheld tablet, mounting is the only real solution.

Community

Fusion Garage took down their forums with the demise of the joojoo and never put up any Grid10 forums. The only useful forum with quality content, thejoojooforum.com, experienced a catastrophic database loss a few weeks ago and at this point probably won’t be back. Even my wiki site, joojoobe.com is too stagnant and I’ll be letting the domain expire.

The joojoo community did lots of work on alternate OS options, and with the joojoo being 2 years old, either owners have already done their updates or don’t have any interest in the effort. It was probably time for this segment of the community to disband anyway, save a few issues that may crop up when Windows 8 finally goes gold.

I feel bad for the Grid10 owners who can’t get a data cable. Those owners are stuck with the Grid10 as-is and can’t hack it much. The unusual 40-pin connector hasn’t popped up on any other tablets, and the Fusion Garage liquidators haven’t tried to sell off whatever stock might be left over. (NOTE: SEE THE EDIT AT THE END OF THIS POST.) I did some work trying to identify the pin-out, but without a cheap supply of 40-pin connectors what’s the point? The only other option is to open up the device and connect directly to the USB header pins, which is something that shouldn’t be too hard but nobody seems to want to do.

The Lawsuit

I’ve tried hard to keep an open mind, but in the end Fusion Garage was clearly in the wrong. On the other hand, for all the Michael Arrington knows his stuff, clearly there were some gaps or it would have either been killed earlier or brought to market properly.

The End

I would have preferred the world to have two classes of tablets, one being off-the-shelf components that can be accessed and modified like a PC, and the other being a sealed consumer device. The Crunchpad/Joojoo was the only one to commercially try this first mode at a low cost, and its spectacular failure has utterly doomed this class of tablet. The Grid10 was a too-little-too-late attempt at the second mode, which I didn’t want anyway.

So that’s it, the legacy Fusion Garage has given us; they destroyed any chance of the world getting an open tablet. Bravo, Fusion Garage.

EDIT: I have the Grid10 40-pin USB cable and I am willing to lend it around to the community. Please see my Google+ post here.