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Android on the Cheap
Velocity Micro Cruz Tablet
that sold out at
Micro is stepping up
its game with the Cruz
Tablet. It loses the Reader's finicky resistive screen in favor of a
more responsive, 7-inch capacitive display. It also ups the proces-
sor from 600 MHz to 800 MHz for increased performance. What
about apps? The slate accesses Velocity Micro's own Cruz App
Store, but the selection is fairly weak. You also don't get a webcam
or HDMI output, but there are mic, headphone, and miniUSB ports.
While we appreciate the soft-touch feel of the back, the Cruz is
a relatively heavy 1.7 pounds. There's nothing exciting about the
Cruz, but if you want a 7-inch Android tablet at an affordable price,
it's worth a look.
$299; www.cruzreader.com QUICK SPECS
OS: Android 2.1 Processor: 800 MHz Display: 7 inches (800 x 480
pixels) Cameras: None HDMI: No Storage: 1GB internal, 4GB SD Card
(internal), 8GB SD (external) Size: 7.5 x 4.8 x 0.6 inches Weight: 1
pound Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
Thanks to its Tegra 2 processor, this 10-inch tablet has plenty of
oomph for playing 3D games, enjoying HD movies, and playing
Flash content on the web. Best of all, Nvidia's supercharged chip
lets you seamlessly move between all of these activities. We like the
sturdy and responsive glass display (1024 x 600 pixels), even if it has
narrow viewing angles, as well as the loud speaker. Other features
include 16GB of built-in memory, an integrated webcam, and an
included HDMI cable that connects to the dock connector. You'll
just have to bring your own apps (since this slate doesn't support
the Android Market) and your own video content. Although it costs
more than the iPad, we suspect some media-loving multitaskers will
gravitate toward the G-Tablet.
$529; www.viewsonic.com QUICK SPECS
OS: Android 2.2 Processor: 1-GHz Tegra 2 Display: 10.1 inches (1024
x 600 pixels) Camera: 1.3-MP front webcam HDMI: Yes (mini) Storage:
16GB/microSD card up to 32GB Size: 10 x 6.5 x 0.5 inches Weight:
TBA Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
(continued from p. 66)
gameplay, and plenty of multitasking muscle. "Certainly the
graphics capability is going to be pretty astounding, and having
dual-core processors enables more content and better perfor-
mance," said Matt Wuebbling, director of product marketing
for mobile business at Nvidia.
According to Ross Rubin, executive director of industry
analysis at NPD, Android tablets are poised to gain momen-
tum, but he agrees with Google's ow n Barra about Android
not yet being fully baked for slates when compared to iOS.
"Lower-priced competitors, particularly driven via extensive
carrier subsidization, could enable competitors to eat into its
share," Rubin said. "However, the other OS ecosystems are
not ready yet."
What About Windows?
Back in 2001 Microsoft promised to revolutionize mobile com-
puting with its Tablet PC platform. A digital pen was the key to
increased productivity and a wave of new programs that would
benefit from this new input method. As it turned out, very few
consumers were interested in spending more for this versatility,
and Microsoft's tablets never evolved beyond a tool for vertical
industries and (some) well-heeled students.
Fast forward to the launch of Windows 7 in late 2009, when
Microsoft touted touch capability as one of the features of
its new OS. A few months later at the Consumer Electronics
Show, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer waved the heavily hyped
HP Slate during his keynote address, only for the company
to relegate it to an enterprise-only product and gobble up
Palm's webOS instead.
The problem isn't that people don't like Windows; it just
wasn't designed for instant-on mobile devices with long
battery life, despite the fact that Ballmer has characterized
tablets as PCs merely with a different form factor. "When
Apple came out so strong out of the gate, all of a sudden
everybody went back to the drawing board," said Alex-
ander. "So most of the plans for Windows-based devices
were scrapped and people started working on plans for
As the iPad approaches its seventh full month on the market,
Microsoft and its partners are still in the beginning stages of
a tablet comeback. A company spokesperson told us, "we
see slates as an opportunity to expand the PC market and
create choice for customers. We're working with our hard-
ware partners to bring the full value of Windows to new slate
designs." And not all of these devices will look like slates as
we know them. The innovative Dell Inspiron Duo convertible
has a display that f lips around inside the bezel, so you don't
need to worry about messing with a fussy hinge.
Still, even with a power-sipping Atom processor u nder
the hood, most of these Windows tablets will muster only
4 to 5 hours of battery life, and they won't turn on instantly
like the iPad. That's why Microsoft is hedging its tablet
bet with Windows Embedded Compact 7, which is based
on Windows CE and is optimized for media playback and
Despite the challenges facing Microsoft in the tablet arena,
such partners as Toshiba see a place for traditional Windows.
"For certain devices an embedded OS is the right way to go,
and for others, a more PC-like experience is the way to go,"
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