Behold: This North Korean tablet is the worst tablet of all time

Chris Burns - Dec 29, 2016, 10:03 am CST
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Behold: This North Korean tablet is the worst tablet of all time

Let me introduce you to the worst tablet ever made – a new tablet by the name of “Woolim” made for citizens of North Korea. This isn’t the sort of device you’d be able to pick up at a local Electronics Department Store – nor is it available to every citizen of the country’s totalitarian dictatorship. Instead, made for what would appear to be “someone with money,” according to researcher Florian Grunow, suggesting that this tablet is not meant for “the normal working class.”

This tablet is the epitome of user-hostile electronics, working with a pre-installed set of applications and no options for changes. No new apps can be installed, be they through an app store or side-loaded. This also applies to non-app files, including text files or HTML files that’d only be readable by a text or internet browser app.

Each time a file loaded to the tablet by a 3rd-party is opened, the file’s cryptographic signature is checked. If that signature does not match what the tablet has pre-approved, it will not open the file. “For a normal user in [North Korea] I would say it’s nearly impossible to get around the signature algorithm,” said Grunow speaking with Motherboard at this year’s Chaos Communication Congress hacking festival. The photos in this article are also photographed by Joseph Cox of Motherboard.

Woolim Tablet Features:
• North Korea modified Android
• Only pre-installed apps allowed
• No pre-installed apps can be removed
• Screenshot taken each time an app opens
• Screenshots cannot be deleted
• North Korea internet
• North Korea TV
• Manufactured by Hoozo
• Wi-Fi only for North Korea internet
• Bluetooth removed

It’s not entirely clear whether the screenshots taken by the tablet are immediately sent to North Korea’s government overwatch. It could also be that the tablet’s disallowance of deletion for all files could just be to keep incriminating evidence until a local authority can pick the tablet up and look at its contents themselves.

While we do not know the exact dimensions or display type, it looks to our eyes to be right around a 10-inch tablet with a 720p display (or less). Not too sharp, not the most shabby. It’s really the whole “we are certainly watching what you’re doing” bit that makes this the worst tablet I’ve ever seen, bar none.


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