updated 12:55 pm EDT, Wed September 7, 2011
Velocity Micro Cruz T408 and T410 aim at low end
Velocity Micro hoped to snap up the low end of the tablet market Wednesday with two Android 2.3 tablets that add polish only sometimes seen at the price. The eight-inch Cruz T408 and 10-inch T410 cost under $300 but have a capacitive touchscreen, a modest but competent 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, and a front facing camera. The eight-inch T408 is rare in Android for its 4:3 ratio screen, putting it closer to an iPad ratio, while the T410 fits the familiar 16:9 widescreen ratio for Google's mobile OS.
Software is also a stand-out. Velocity Micro has struck a deal with Amazon and ships it preloaded with both the Amazon Appstore and the Kindle reader. Either device ships with Angry Birds Rio and QuickOffice to save on download times. A slight customization of Android itself gives the Cruz an Android 3-inspired navigation, letting the company drop hardware navigation buttons but also use cheaper processors.
Either slate comes only in a Wi-Fi version. The two will ship before the end of September at prices of $240 for the T408 and just under $300 for the T410.
Best known for its gaming PCs, Velocity Micro is one of the few US companies focusing on budget tablets that aren't specialty e-readers like the Nook Color. Microsoft has attempted to drag it down and may have raised prices after it pressed Velocity Micro into a patent deal for technology developed at Google. The pricing nonetheless makes it one of the few alternatives to the iPad from a US company that is trying to occupy a genuinely different price area than Apple.