Hands on with EnchantMoon, a tablet with a drawable user interface

CES is often a treasure trove of weird and wonderful gadgets, and one of the strangest we came across on our travels around its cavernous halls was the EnchantMoon tablet. The name is the first clue we’re looking at something different, as it sounds more like a rock star’s kid than a new tablet. Second, it comes from Japan, the birth place of many a bizarre product.

The design is best described as “robust.” The body is a thick, black slab. Character comes from the big handle attached to one end, which can be positioned to hold the tablet upright like a photo frame, or angled on a desk for easy access. Although the EnchantMoon runs Android, you’d never know, as it’s completely unrecognizable.

It gets stranger, too. There’s no user interface. You write words on the home screen – which is an animated starfield – with a stylus, which then become hotspots after you draw a circle around them with your finger. From here, you can search the Web, create little collages of cut images, or add them as little reminders. It’s all very ethereal, and arguably of limited use, but it is really different to anything we’ve used before. Digging around the tablet we found EverNote. Anything created here has to be written with the stylus and not typed on a keyboard. This is the essence of the EnchantMoon, it wants to reunite tablet computing with penmanship.

If you haven’t already, you’re probably asking what the point of the EnchantMoon is. It’s a good question, as there aren’t really any apps, no Google Play, and no obvious way of interacting with the device outside of the pen and some gestures. The answer lies in MoonBlock, which is the visual programming language through which you can write your own apps and customize the UI even further. It’s based on HTML5, thus highly relevant at the moment thanks to operating systems like Firefox OS, and is supposedly simple enough for kids to use. Sounds like a great way to get children interested in programming.

The EnchantMoon has been on limited sale in Japan since summer 2013, and the weird, niche tablet has shifted about 5,000 units so far. It’s busily working on a new version, which is the more normal looking white model in the pictures. The plan is to release it in the U.S. later this year. Yep, this weird yet compelling tablet could soon be yours, and for less than $400 if it all works out. Should it do so, we’re hoping the redesign still has room for the massive, chunky handle, as it pre-warns anyone picking up the EnchantMoon that it’s not just another iPad clone.

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