JooJoo revamps interface ahead of launch, adds local video playback -- and changes color

The JooJoo tablet's launch date might have been pushed back a month while Fusion Garage sorts out issues with the capacitive touchscreen, but it looks like the extra time has given the company a chance to tweak the interface and add in some features. Obviously the most noticable change is the revised homescreen, which has gone from line art on a garish solid color background to a nicely rendered icon grid over a high-res customizable wallpaper, but Fusion Garage has also ditched the confusing pinch-to-go-back gesture and replaced it with a vertical swipe that brings down a status bar containing the home button, status indicators, browser navigation controls, and a combination address bar / search field. Scroll behavior has been revised as well, with two separate behaviors: a two-finger scroll that works like a scroll wheel, and a single finger "pan" that works like a mouse arrow. That's so you can move around sites like Google Maps, which have different interface elements mapped to each control -- CEO Chandra Rathakrishnan pointed out to us that devices like the iPhone avoid the issue by using dedicated apps, but Fusion Garage wants to deliver the "full web experience." It's an interesting solution and a clever spin on things, but we're waiting to try it out for real before we pass any judgment.

What else? The text-entry situation has been improved: there's now both a smaller keyboard designed for one-handed operation that can be moved around the screen so it doesn't obscure content, and a full-screen multitouch keyboard that does chording so it recognizes more than one key at a time. There's no auto-correction or prediction, though. Flash is now fully working, and YouTube videos can either be played back using Flash or the custom H.264 HD breakout player we've already seen; that player supports a range of codecs and can also be used to play videos stored on a USB thumb drive. And finally, and perhaps most oddly, the JooJoo has changed colors. Instead of black, the back casing is now a "champagne" color, a picture of which you can see below -- Chandra told us that unhappy preorder customers can just have their $499 refunded if they desperately wanted black instead. All we desperately want to do is get a review unit and tell you what the JooJoo is actually like to use -- if all of these promises hold up, it could be very intriguing indeed.