updated 04:45 pm EST, Sat January 8, 2011
Enspert Identity Tab hands-on at CES
Enspert used the advent of CES to reveal that it was bringing its Identity Tab to the US in a possible major push against the iPad. We received details ahead of the launch and also had an opportunity to try the whole range, including the E201, E301 and the unique S200 home phone hub.
The E201 is the tablet some might know from Korean carrier KT and, in the US, will be sold by Best Buy. It should be the mystery Rocketfish-branded tablet from last summer. The tablet is a very standard seven-inch, 800x480 slate running a near-stock version of Android 2.1 -- and thus won't be exciting next to Android 3.0 or the iPad -- but it has a surprisingly quick 1GHz processor that makes navigation fast. We also had good first impressions of the build quality and the comfortable feel in the hand.
That it was designed to originally cover for the lack of an iPad in Korea was fairly obvious: the e-book app is very consciously patterned after iBooks, down to the page turn effect. It was here we saw some stutter, though, suggesting that the graphics processing wasn't quite up to par. Still, the device has a camera on the back and was rarely held down in performance.
We were told the E201's price will likely float between $200 and $250 for the Wi-Fi only tablet and that it should reach Best Buy's stores sometime between February and March.
The E301 is a noticeably more upscale design. It has a great-feeling aluminum shell, slightly better than the Apple incumbent, and is considerably more advanced as well. It still sits at seven inches, but the 1024x600 screen is notably crisper-looking, and it ships with Android 2.2 out of the box -- an important consideration that reorients the home screen and other apps where 2.1 doesn't. We saw that it supported Flash, but we were told it was the limited pre-10.1 mobile Flash.
Upgrading to the E301 will give it a slightly higher price tag; we were quoted "under $300," or likely $299. However, it should eventually ship with built-in cellular (likely 3G) and should be subsidized by a US carrier in the late summer.
One final item, the S200, is also coming to the US but should be an unusual entry: it's a combination VoIP headset and tablet. The base unit docks the seven-inch aluminum, 800x480 tablet and serves as a main control scheme for placing a call over Ethernet; it has a custom phone app and home screen icon to help browse contacts and make calls from one screen view. A separate cordless phone and cradle has just a basic phone OS but talks to the Android 2.1 base station. It felt roughly as good to use as the E301, minus the newer OS.
Enspert didn't have any timeframes or prices for the US but did promise that it would reach the country.
The combined mix is a rare instance of a foreign tablet lineup reaching the US with major distribution and could pose at least a minor risk to the iPad, PlayBook and other major North American tablets by putting a low-cost but 'blessed' Android tablet in large-scale distribution. Most competitors have either been limited to small chains or otherwise poor exposure.
S200 VoIP hub