Finally we have something that looks legitimately different in the tablet game. TabCo's Grid 10 tablet has a whole new OS and a smartphone buddy to play with.
First off, TabCo is a parody brand. It's actually just Fusion Garage, who made the ill-fated (read: craptastic) Joojoo. They created TabCo, with a mysterious ad campaign, so that the new tablet would get a fair chance. In other words, they were trying to distance themselves from all that bad Joojoo. In fact, the Joojoo was such a suckfest that anyone who bough one will get this new tablet for free.
The Grid 10 Tablet
Fusion Garage's new baby is the Grid 10 tablet, and it runs the brand new GridOS, has a 10.1-inch screen, and it boasts the highest resolution on any tablet yet at a thick 1366x768. It also has a standard NVIDIA Tegra 2 in its guts.
The OS looks pretty different. The GridOS desktop is, not surprisingly, a grid. One huge, "infinite" grid. You can just pan around forever in any direction. Apps and files look like little square tiles, which you can organise into groups as you see fit, then collapse and expand them at will. There's also a Grid map that should speed up navigating around through the abyss. Looks like you have a lot of control options within menus, too. During the demo it was tough to gauge what performance was like.
"But there will be no apps," you cry! Well, it's taking a page from BlackBerry's PlayBook, as it can run Android apps. All the Android apps you already own? Possibly. I'd note that this was note included in the demonstration. There will be APIs to develop native apps as well, with invitations rolling out soon. GridOS will work with Amazon's app store, but it will have its own app store as well.
It can do split-screen within the browser, which may give you a more desktop-like experience. Seems to work well with tabs. Also of note is that Bing is the default search engine and it's been integrated throughout the OS. So I guess they like Android apps, but they shun Google's other services.
The Grid 4 Phone
TabCo is also announcing a Grid Phone, called the Grid 4. It's got a 4-inch screen and it stays in sync with your GridTab. Pause a movie on one and you can pick up right where you left off on the other. Cute, yes, but useful? We'll see.
The 16GB Grid 4 phone will be $US399 unlocked (which is cheap next to the unlocked iPhone 4's $US649). It's set to launch in Q4.
So, these are interesting developments. The Grid products definitely have a different look next to other tablets and phones that are currently on the market, but how will they perform? That's where the Joojoo fell down flat last time. It will be interesting to see if they make the same mistake twice. Personally, I'm sceptical that they can rise from the ashes. Fusion Garage started started today's launch with one of the worst, cheesiest videos I've ever seen, and followed it by an introduction from a fake CEO. Lots of pomp and circumstance, but It was bafflingly stupid. I'm looking forward to seeing if their products are any smarter. In the meantime, for the love of God, please don't pre-order these until we've had a chance to vet them. [Fusion Garage]