The iPad is so yesterday. We’re already getting excited about the next wave of tablet tech, and it doesn’t get much more pant-wettingly thrilling than the Android device code-named Gemini, due from Seattle-based design company Innovative Converged Devices (ICD) this summer.You might remember ICD from our hands-on with T-Mobile’s Vega tablet at CES. Now ICD has given Stuff a world exclusive hands-on with its next product – the 11.2in touchscreen Gemini that, on paper at least, has iPad killer written all over it.
For a start, who wants to watch films in the iPad’s boxy 4:3 format these days? The Gemini’s 1366x768 screen has 25 percent more pixels than the iPad and puts them to excellent use in blasting through hi-def movies with colour and detail to spare. The touch tech on the prototype we tried was resistive, making for slightly sluggish responsiveness, but ICD promises a capacitive alternative for launch.
Web browsing is even smoother than the Nexus One – blisteringly fast page renders, smooth scrolling, speedy rotation and full Flash support. Take that, Mr Jobs. Bookmarks and history work well but there are still a few tweaks required, such as text boxes that expand to fill the entire screen.
An nVidia Tegra 2 1GHz chip and 512MB RAM inside take care of the heavy lifting, enabling genuine multi-tasking of Android apps. Our prototype came with just one native app – a neat calendar program designed to help busy families organise after-school activities. The remaining software is standard Android email, ereader and news apps that, despite looking stranded on the huge display, worked perfectly.Like the iPad, the Gemini boasts all flavours of Wi-Fi (b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 and a five-axis accelerometer. On top of that, it comes with a SIM card slot for voice calls and 3G data, full GPS and even an FM radio.The 4GB onboard storage is expandable by SD card, there’s a micro USB port for data and charging, plus an infrared emitter to let your Gemini take control of your home AV system. The Gemini’s built-in stereo speakers sound superb – much better than iPad’s single, tinny tweeter – and the Gemini even boasts a battery with nearly twice the capacity (40Wh) of the iPad’s lithium polymer cell.
Finally, the Gemini has a 1.3MP front-facing webcam and a rear 5MP camera for VOIP calls, stills and video shooting and more. These, like many of the Gemini’s more exciting features, weren’t working on the early prototype we tried out.Is the Gemini an iPad killer? Maybe. It’s still difficult to envisage the final product from this buggy pre-production device but all the main elements are present and correct: a lovely, sharp widescreen display; a powerful processor with plenty of storage; Flash support; and an operating system that is the only real rival to Apple in the tablet space. ICD is currently in discussions with UK mobile phone operators to bring the Gemini to Britain. All being well, this tricked-out, navved-up 3G slate should arrive in Blighty in August, and at a price comparable with the entry-level iPad. More news as we get it.