Tablets are all of the rage right now. With over 2 million iPads sold in two months, we're really interested to see that there are even kits available that will allow you to build your own tablet. This is the perfect option for enterprising DIY enthusiasts and people who like to tinker with electronics.
The Beagle Embedded Starter Kit comes with a 4.3-inch OLED touchscreen that can be mounted directly onto the BeagleBoard, a sort of included barebones mobile computing rig from Texas Instruments that has a 1GHz processor. A battery module is included, as well as a 4GB pre-formatted SD card that will boot Linux, though you can change this to Google Android if you want to.
Without any extra storage, this tablet weighs about 8 ounces, which is extremely light. You can plug in a larger SD card, an external HD, or even a solid state drive via the on-board USB port. Battery life will vary between three and six hours, depending on the apps used and your usage.
The great thing about this kit is that it doesn't really need much tinkering to actually work. While most DIY electronics kits involve soldering and tinkering, from the description, it looks like everything just snaps in place. This allows you to choose exactly how you want to finish your tablet, including what type of case and what kind of storage you need.
Another option might be to tear apart a netbook and modify it so that it becomes a tablet. This type of mod can be quite complicated, as demonstrated over at Make, however the results will be even more unique.
While both these options might be very interesting to tinkerers and people who are used to dealing with electronics, they will definitely not be as user friendly as the iPad, especially for computer neophytes. With the iPad starting at $499, it's hard to justify for the average consumer to spend $400 on a DIY tablet. This means that these types of builds are reserved for people who enjoy customizing their computers, the modders and the hackers.
Also, a lot of different companies are coming out with their tablets in the coming months. A few of them will be cheaper than the iPad, so if the iPad doesn't rock your boat, then you should probably wait for Toshiba or Asus to release their tablets.