With the media continuing to bleat on about iPad sales, and new Ice Cream Sandwich upgrades from top-tier vendors, you're likely to have missed a host of unknown tablets in the last couple of weeks, one of two of which may yet suit your needs as a consumer or for wide-spread company deployment.
A tablet with both Windows and Android
An Italian manufacturer called Ergo (no, we’ve not heard of them either) launched the ‘Tabula Duo’ last week, a slate which offers both Android 2.3 and Windows 7.
The tablet has Intel's most recent, dual-core 1.5GHz Atom processor (Z670), offers 2GB of RAM and there are options for either 32GB of 64GB of internal memory through a microSD card.
There’s a 10-inch capacitive display with a fairly standard 1024 x 600 resolution, jacks for microphones, headphones and two USB ports, while WiFi and 3G connectivity is supported. There’s also a SIM card.
Ergo says that this interesting tablet will be coming to market in June for around €400, although expect to pay a little more as that is without value-added tax.
A waterproof tablet at an eye-watering price
Here at TabTimes, we’ve already seen a number of waterproof cases for tablets, but with the exception of Fujitsu, there have not been too many outright waterproof slates.
A Japanese company called Meopad is looking to try and fix that with the AQUA Waterproof Tablet, a 7-inch tablet running Android 2.3 (no Honeycomb or ICS, sadly), a 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and, crucially, an IP54 rated rubber body which should be able to protect from dripping or splashed water.
In terms of other specs, there’s a 1Seg TV tuner, 8GB of internal memory and a modest six-hour battery life, which would make the tablet’s price of $645 a little higher than expected. The tablet is now available from GeekStuff4U .
UK vendors scrap to offer you a bargain Ice Cream Sandwich tablet
Each day that goes by seems to bring about a number of new tablet manufacturers promising dirt cheap Ice Cream Sandwich tablets. Just last week, another brand came in the market in the form of UK start-up Gemini Devices, which has just launched three Android 4.0 slates in sizes of 7-inches, 8-inches and 10-inches.
The JoyTAB series is another budget Android collection, with prices starting from £129.99 including VAT, and the specs are generally what you would expect; capacitive touchscreens, up to 1GB of RAM, 4-16GB of storage, and connections for USB and, more surprisingly, the latest HDMI standard (1.4 – which allows faster transfer of files, and 3D playbacks on certain screens).
The tablets, which all sport WiFi connectivity, come with a year’s warranty and are now available from UK retailers like Argos, Amazon.co.uk, Very.co.uk, Brighthouse and others.
Note: If you’re worried by putting your trust in a start-up, Gemini does boast some experience in the shape of Bobby Watkins, the former tablet manager for Acer in the UK.
Gemini hasn't been the only UK vendor to come to market with new Android 4.0 tablets in the last month - Irish vendor Disgo released the Tablet 8104, a 10-inch Ice Cream Sandwich tablet with a 1.2GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage for a price of £150.
3D WikiPad tablet takes on OnLive rival
Remember the WikiPad, the 8-inch glasses-free 3D Android tablet, which debuted at CES? Well, the makers behind the tablet have reportedly teamed up with cloud gaming service and OnLive rival, Gaikai, to offer cloud-based tablet gaming. Gaikai is also apparently offering a wrap-around game controller attachment with dual analog sticks for the WikiPad, which could end up competing with Sony's PS Vita or Razer's Project Fiona.
E-Fun comes to play with $130 Ice Cream Sandwich slate
In recent times, we’ve seen a number of small companies like Ainol and Xtex come to market with super-cheap Android 4.0 tablets, and now E-Fun has done the same, offering its 7-inch Next7S tablet for a measly $129.99.
For that price, you'll get a 7-inch 800 x 480 resolution display, a single-core 1GHz processor, and 4GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD slot), although you’ll have to make do with the GetJar app store as Google Play is not included.
It may not blow you away in terms of specifications, but it’s a very reasonable price.
‘Spark’, the open Linux tablet, rebrands to Vivaldi
Earlier in the year you may recall we carried news of the Spark, a 7-inch tablet running open-source Linux, which was being developed by the KDE community.
The guys behind the tablet have now made a few tweaks, including changing the name to Vivaldi due to trademark issues, and increasing the RAM from 512MB to 1GB. KDE developer Aaron Seigo wrote in a blog post that the first shipments are drawing closer, and the feeling is that this tablet will tip up in Europe for around €200 sometime in May.
As a recap, the Vivaldi is a 7-inch tablet with a multi-touch capacitive screen, a 1GHZ ARM Cortex A9 processor, 4GB of internal storage, a 1.3MP front-facing camera, two USB ports and a microSD slot. The slate is WiFi connected, and is based on the same hardware as the Zenithink C71 tablet, which runs Android. However, the Vivaldi runs Mer Linux with the KDE Plasma Active desktop environment.
And a tablet…beer dispenser?
As you can testify from this product, it would appear that not every Google employee is pouring all their efforts into upgrades for Ice Cream Sandwich or new features for Jelly Bean (Android 5.0).
In fact, one Google employee, Paul Cariff, has taken a Motorola Xoom, and combined it with an Ardunio microcontroller and NFC tags, for a tablet-featuring beer dispenser. The 'KegDroid' combines a customized app and an NFC tag reader to authenticate the user, so they can select their beer, and the tablet then processes the order for the keg to dispense an ice cool beer at 39 degrees Fahrenheit.