Velocity Micro takes on Apple with $US299 Android tablet

The tablet has a 7-inch screen and will become available in September

PC maker Velocity Micro on Tuesday announced the US$299 Cruz Tablet computer, a handheld device that is priced significantly lower than Apple's popular iPad tablet, which is available starting at $499.

The Cruz tablet will provide a "truly mobile experience at an affordable price," Velocity Micro said in a statement. The tablet will come with Google's Android OS and is slated to become available on Sept. 1, according to the company.

However, there are differences between the Cruz and iPad, including screen size and storage. The Cruz tablet comes with a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen, which is smaller than Apple's 9.7-inch screen.

The Cruz also comes with 4GB of internal storage and 8GB of storage through an SD slot, while the most inexpensive iPad model comes with 16GB of storage.

The Cruz provides around six hours of battery life when watching video, while Apple claims up to 10 hours of iPad battery life when surfing the Web, watching video or listening to music. The Cruz comes with 802.11n Wi-Fi capabilities, which is at par with the iPad.

The Cruz tablet will be able to play back 720p high-definition video, said Josh Covington, a Velocity Micro spokesman. The screen will display images at a 800 by 480-pixel resolution.

The company could not provide processor details as the device hasn't reached production phase, Covington said.

Velocity Micro is jumping into a tablet market that is growing at a fast rate, primarily driven by Apple's iPad. Apple in June said it had sold 3 million iPads in the first 80 days after its release. Research firm IDC has said tablet shipments could top 7 million by the end of this year and exceed 46 million by 2014.

Many device makers have either announced or intend to ship tablets based on Android OS. Dell has already shipped its Streak tablet, which comes with a 5-inch touch-capable screen. Cisco has announced the Cius business tablet, which has a 7-inch screen and will become available for testing later this year. Other companies planning to launch Android tablets include Notion Ink and Innovative Converged Devices.

Velocity Micro also announced an e-reader, the $199 Cruz Reader, which will also include a 7-inch screen. The device will provide access to more than 2 million e-books available via Borders' e-book library application. Users will be able read e-books in multiple formats, including ePub and PDF. The device will provide up to 10 hours of run time on a single battery charge. The e-reader will ship in August.

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