Cisco launches Cius tablet for business

Tablet runs Android, offers videoconferencing

The Cius tablet from Cisco Systems on its docking station
The Cius tablet from Cisco Systems on its docking station

LAS VEGAS -- Cisco Systems today unveiled the Cius, a 7-in. touch-screen tablet computer that runs the Android operating system and is sure to be compared with Apple's iPad.

The device was demonstrated at the Cisco Live customer event here by CEO John Chambers with a live videoconferencing transmission over the tablet from researchers on a submarine in the Aegean Sea. The audio portion of the demonstration broke up slightly, but the video was constant. A satellite link was included in the connection and added some minor delay.

Chambers showed how the Cius (pronounced "see us") can be held in a wired docking station for desktop use and then carried as a mobile tablet when needed.

Cisco posted specifications for the new device, but pricing wasn't announced.

The device works with cellular 3G and 4G networks, as well as with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. High-definition 720p video is supported, Cisco said. It will be generally available in the first quarter of 2011.

The tablet weighs 1.15 lbs. and has a detachable eight-hour battery. An Intel Atom 1.6-GHz processor powers the device.

While Cisco's online information describes a 7-in. device, Chambers also demonstrated what appeared to be a slightly smaller version of the Cius for use by students. But Cisco representatives said it was not a smaller device, just one that also has a 7-in.screen, but placed in a smaller dock.

Ken Dulaney, an analyst at research firm Gartner, said that "there will be a broad tendency to compare the Cius to the Apple iPad," but that the Cius is really an "upgrade to a worker's desktop, replacing the desk phone" with more interactivity for video.

But Dulaney said he is concerned about what price Cisco will charge for the device, whose 7-in. screen is smaller than the iPad's 10-in. screen. "And possibly [I'm concerned] that people in the marketplace just want iPads," he added.

Cisco got the name Cius from a combination of "Ci," for the first two letters of Cisco's name, and "Us." The resulting word is a play on "see us," reflecting the tablet's videoconferencing capabilities.

The Cius also works as a tablet
The Cius tablet has a 7-in. touch screen.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

This story was corrected after first publishing with the device's correct weight, 1.15 pounds. Originally we had reported the device weighed 1.5 pounds.

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