Announced a year ago, the Android-based Cius tablet from Cisco Systems finally has a shipping date: July 31. But already, you're seeing many in the blogosphere parroting Cisco's marketing, passing on the company's claims about the virtues of this unreleased, untested product. (To be fair, there are critics in the media, too.)
It may be that the Cius will be a great tablet. But it could also be a disappointment, as so many Android tablets trumpeted by the tech media have turned out to be when they finally reach users.
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In the case of the Cius, several warning signs indicate that this product could be a dud and that everyone should reserve judgment until it ships.
First, the product is based on the smartphone version of Android (2.2 Froyo), not the tablet version (3.1 Honeycomb). Previous Froyo-based Android tablets have been major disappointments, and Google warned manufacturers not to use it for tablets. With Honeycomb available for several months now, why is Cisco shipping the Cius with an operating system designed for a very different product?
Second, the Cius has been promised for a year, but it kept getting delayed. That's never a good sign for a product, often indicating development problems. It also is a bad sign that Cisco hasn't really shown anyone this tablet outside of very controlled demos. Trust me, the demos almost never tell the real story.