Cisco's Cius tablet to ship next month

The tablet will be one of the earliest devices available with Intel's Atom chip code-named Moorestown

After delays, Cisco's Cius tablet will start shipping in volume next month, and the device will be one of the first available running Intel's latest Atom chip code-named Moorestown.

The tablet is unlikely to hit retail shelves, but will be available worldwide through distribution channels, said Molly Ford, a spokeswoman for Cisco. Ford declined to provide pricing for the device.

Cius was originally announced in June last year as a virtual desktop and mobile device through which users can communicate or collaborate. Cisco is bundling in communications and collaboration tools so users can use video, voice or instant messaging to interact and communicate with colleagues.

Cius was originally scheduled to become available in March this year, but shipment dates were pushed back as Cisco ran the tablet through field tests. The tablet was tested in organizations such as Nottingham University Hospitals in the U.K., where nurses used the tablet for voice and rich video communication over a Wi-Fi network.

The tablet includes Google's Android 2.2 OS and a 7-inch touchscreen. It weighs around 680 grams (1.5 pounds). The device will come with Intel's low-power Atom Z650 processor, also known as Moorestown. Since its launch last year Moorestown has failed to find adopters, and this will be one of the earliest devices available based on it.

The chip is able to deliver PC-like performance and has strong video capabilities. It can decode video at a 1080p resolution and encode at a 720p resolution. Intel has said that Moorestown chips will enable multipoint videoconferencing.

An unbranded version of the Cius tablet was on display at an Intel booth on Thursday at the CEA Line Show being held in New York . An Intel spokesman said the tablet would later be updated to include the latest Honeycomb operating system.

The Cisco spokeswoman declined to provide further details about the first Cius units that will ship. Cisco has said that the Cius would have Wi-Fi and 3G capabilities, with 4G support in the future. The device will run Cisco's TelePresence videoconferencing system, WebEx tools and other Cisco applications including Cisco Quad and Cisco Show.

Cisco is also bundling virtual desktop features into the tablet. Earlier this year, the company said the tablet would support virtualization software from VMware and Citrix to run the Windows virtual desktop.

Cisco will compete with enterprise tablet makers such as Hewlett-Packard, which offers the US$799 Slate 500 tablet to customers. Avaya has announced Flare, an Android tablet focused on communication and collaboration tools. Some tablets, notably Apple's iPad, are also gaining traction in enterprises.

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