Velocity Micro recently announced two new Ice Cream Sandwich Android tablets as part of its CES lineup, and today we were able to spend some time with them. Unfortunately we weren't able to take any photographs, but they did leave us with some strong impressions. The Cruz T507 and T510 are essentially the same beast under the hood: a 1.2GHz Cortex A8 processor, discrete ARM Mali 400MHz 3D graphics acceleration, 512MB of RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. Both feature front- and rear-facing cameras, Mini USB and Mini HDMI ports, a microSD slot, the requisite 3.5mm headphone jack, and a DC power connector for charging. The physical similarities end there, however.
The T510 has a 9.7-inch, 1024 x 768 display with a 4:3 aspect ratio, and there's really no way around it: this device reminded us of the original iPad. Everything from the aluminum back and button placement, to the stylization of the ports on the bottom of the device seemed to echo Apple's original tablet. This isn't a complaint, however — the original iPad's design worked for a reason — and it still holds up here, especially when the product is being aimed at a sub-$200 price point. The volume and screen orientation lock buttons did seem a bit flimsy, though Velocity Micro alerted us that they were not the buttons that would be present on the final shipping product. The Ice Cream Sandwich build running on the device was still in the early stages — based on Android 4.0.1 rather than Google's latest release — and as such there were some issues with touch responsiveness and lag. We played with the same hardware running Velocity Micro's Gingerbread build, however, and found it to be quite responsive and speedy.
Its little brother the T507 features a 7-inch 800 x 480 TFT LED display, and swaps the T510's metallic back for a white plastic casing. It felt light and comfortable in the hands, though the plastic does make a significant tactile difference. While it could be considered on the thicker side when compared against some of the uber-thin devices we've been seeing lately, that's a minor quibble, and it certainly won't prevent the device from sliding comfortably into your pants or jacket pocket. The T507 will be priced below $150.
Both tablets will ship with the Android Marketplace and Google's full suite of apps, as well as the Amazon Appstore and QuickOffice Full. They will also feature Adobe Flash 11; Velocity Micro works closely with the software company on its Flash implementation, with Adobe delivering a version of its plug-in specifically optimized for the Cruz tablets. Overall, the devices look like they will be compelling entries in the $200-and-under tablet market when they arrive in the first half of this year, and Velocity Micro is already cooking up even more models for the Cruz line. They teased us with two upcoming higher-resolution versions of the 7-inch tablet, one of which was as thin as almost anything else we've seen on the market.
Joseph Parish contributed to this report.