With a slew of MIDs, smartphones, and tablets ready to hit the market, it is a very welcome chaos out there – a real honing ground for the gadgets and their designers and a feast of choice for their consumers. While the Apple iPad seems to be the most highly anticipated tablet of the near future, it might now be facing some very stiff competition, and soon.
Barely shown at CES 2010, it was only at the World Economic Forum that Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Corporation gifted us a glimpse of the company’s new prototype, called the Dell Mini 5. Now, nearly a month later, hands-on previews are available of the device (see below), along with a more complete list of specifications. Michael Dell also let on that the device would be released shortly, in the next couple of months.
Called everything from a tablet, slate, mobile internet device (MID), ‘netpad’, to a smartphone, the Dell Mini 5 is a hybrid device that seems to be giving everyone a field day as to what to categorise it. But since the Mini 5 will come equipped with a built-in 3G phone, it is probably pretty safe to call it a very big smartphone (bigger than the HTC HD2, Advantage and Universal). However, the comparisons with Apple’s easily categorised tablet, the iPad, will not die down. Though it seems to offer everything that people want in an iPad, but will not get (multitasking, a 5MP camera, and, a phone!), the Mini 5 looks to be priced at the top of the market, at about $1000, compared to the iPad’s $499 (16 GB – WiFi version).
Here are the specifications of the – currently Android 1.6-based (which will almost definitely be upgraded before release) – Dell Mini 5 that are known: 1 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 processor, 405MB RAM, 1.63 GB internal storage, microSD slot for expansion, 5 MP camera with dual-LED flash and forward facing camera, 720p video support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G mobile, 5-inch (800x480 pixels) WVGA capacitive screen, full multi-touch support, HDMI output, GPS, WCDMA radio, 3.5 mm headphone jack, and a 1530 mAh battery. Don’t expect the same old Android interface and functionality, for Dell has optimised and customized the OS for the Mini 5, and has put a “layer of Dell Unique Software on top of” the Android operating system “to give you a true Dell experience”. Other features include an accelerometer for UI auto-rotation (perfect for gaming), and location aware software.
Right now, it seems that price and screen-size are the only factors in the iPad’s favour. However, the larger 9.7-inch screen-size (768x1024 pixels) could be seen both as an advantage and disadvantage. Advantage: an ideal size for web/e-book browsing or movie viewing. Disadvantage: harder to carry around (definitely not in your pocket!) and enforcing a limitation to the battery life. The price as well, can be rationalized, when where the iPad offers its 64GB WiFi 3G version for $829, you can get an additional phone, camera, and multitasking abilities for $200 more in the form of the Mini 5 (though the comparable microSD memory will probably be an extra). The Mini 5 will almost definitely also support Adobe Flash (if numerous hands-on videos are to be believed), another advantage over the iPad and iPhone. Add-ons to the Mini 5 will among other things include portable speaker bars, and a stand/dock that doubles as a power dock and alarm clock.
To be noted, is that while the Mini 5 might offer phone capabilities, the size of the handset is large (152mm x 78mm x 10mm and weighs 8 ounces), and will be best used with a Bluetooth headset, unless you don’t mind holding something so big to your head. Almost too large to be a smartphone, and almost too small to be a tablet or slate – the company calls it an “entertainment and data device” with “phone capabilities”.