Cisco announces business tablet

Cisco's Cius business tablet will run on an Intel Atom processor

Cisco on Tuesday announced the Cius tablet, a handheld device designed to help users run business applications and communicate in real time.

The tablet comes with a 7-inch touch screen and is powered by an Intel Atom processor running at 1.6GHz. It weighs just over 1.5 pounds (0.52 kilograms) and provides about 8 hours of battery life, according to Cisco.

The lightweight device comes with a front-facing high-definition video camera that can record 720p video at 30 frames per second and a 5-megapixel camera at the back that can capture high-quality video and still images. Users can engage in live video calls when the tablet is docked or being held, the company said.

The device will also come with Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth wireless networking capabilities. It will be able to connect to 3G mobile broadband networks, and support for 4G will be available at a later date, Cisco said. The device will include a Micro-USB port. It will also include 32GB of flash storage, and it will be able to provide expanded storage through Secure Digital cards.

Cisco calls the device a "business tablet," and also a virtual desktop designed to access cloud computing services. The device runs on the Android OS and will provide access to applications in the Android marketplace.

The device also comes with advanced communication capabilities that work with Cisco's unified communications and collaboration tools. It can quickly establish instant-message sessions, voice calls and videoconferencing sessions. The device is interoperable with Cisco's TelePresence videoconferencing system and works with Cisco applications including Cisco Quad, Cisco Show and WebEx tools.

On campuses, the tablet can be docked into the HD Soundstation, which provides wired networking connectivity for a full desktop experience, according to Cisco's Web site. The docking station will also be able to display high-definition content from the tablet on a connected monitor. Users will also be able to connect USB or Bluetooth keyboards and mice to the docking station for a traditional desktop experience.

The company hasn't finalized the pricing of the Cius tablet, but is targeting a price of less than US$1,000, a company spokeswoman said. The device will start shipping in the third quarter this year, and will become generally available in the first quarter of next year.

The burgeoning tablet market is growing at a fast rate, mostly driven by Apple's iPad. Apple earlier this month said it had sold 3 million iPads in the first 80 days. IDC has said tablet shipments could top 7 million by the end of this year and top 46 million by 2014.

The Cius could be one of the early tablets in the market targeted at businesses. Most tablets till now have been targeted at consumers. Apple's iPad, for example, allows users to view movies, surf the Internet, read e-books and play games.

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