Cisco Cius Tablet Computer Takes A Bite Out Of iPad

By Ericka Chickowski  |  Print this article Print

Not to be outdone by Apple, Cisco will offer its own tablet computer called the Cisco Cius. but unlike Apple's iPad, the Cius will target business users right out of the gate. And unlike the iPad, the Cisco Cius will be based on the Android operating system and offer a removable and serviceable battery. The device marks Cisco's first foray into client computing.

Cisco is taking the fight to Apple today, announcing that it will go head-to-head with the iPad by unveiling Cisco Cius, a new business-centric tablet computer based on the Google Android platform. The new release will leverage a Cisco's deep investments in unified communications and collaboration technology and could very well help its partners to sell tablets en masse to organizations that were skeptical about the iPad's viability in a business environment.

Weighing in at just over a pound and equipped with a seven inch  touch-target screen, the device will be offered either as a standalone product or with an optional HD audio station.

The device features the following:

  • Support for Bluetooth and Micro-USB, letting users work either untethered or sharing data with a PC.
  • Full WiFi and 3G connectivity capabilities, with 4G coming when it becomes available. (Cisco did not name carrier partners.)
  • Both front- and back-facing cameras, one of them a 720 HD camera with a 30 frames per second refresh rate that makes it ideal for video conferencing.
  • Integration with Cisco‚Äôs WebEx and TelePresence conferencing solutions.
  • A detachable (unlike the iPad) and serviceable battery, offering eight hours of life under normal usage.

An optional HD audio station serves as a docking station that plugs into a phone that is equipped with a telephone handset, speakerphone, HD DisplayPort and USB ports.

According to Tony Bates, senior vice president and general manager, enterprise, commercial and small business at Cisco, Cius is designed to suit the needs of a wide range of business-use case scenarios.

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"This platform can transform how healthcare professionals advance patient care, how retailers deliver service experiences to consumers, or how universities deliver world-class education to their students," Bates says. "Best of all, Cisco Cius offers IT functions a way to dramatically lower the cost-per-user of provisioning those new experiences."

Probably the biggest differentiator between Cius is that business-class designation, along with the integration into Cisco's product line, says David Smith a vice president and fellow with Gartner.

"Cisco's device is more targeted at businesses, while iPad is not. It's more of a secondary market for Apple," Smith says. "I think its (advantage is) along the lines of coming from an enterprise supplier and Cisco looking to integrate it into the rest of what it offers that is really (this device's) value proposition."

The Cius will offer support for Cisco collaboration applications such as Cisco Quad, Cisco Show and Share, Cisco Presence and Cisco WebEx Connect. Meanwhile, the device is supported by the Cisco Unified Communications manager and will take advantage of the Cisco Borderless Networks architecture.

In addition, because it is built on top of the open Android platform, businesses developers will face fewer obstacles in their way to create custom apps than if they were working with Apple's platform.

The Cisco Cius also marks Cisco's first foray into the client computer space, beyond the IP phones it offers and the servers it has introduced as part of its end-to-end data center strategy to go up against rival HP.

According to Cisco, it will begin customer trials of Cius starting next quarter and will roll the device out during the first quarter of 2011.