Of course the hardware is only the beginning of this tablet, as its real standout feature is the Grid OS. While it has been built on the Android kernel, Chandra was at pains to point out that this is not a re-skinning of Android. He says Grid OS has been "completely re-built from the ground up.”
From the moment you power on the tablet, the difference from Android (and indeed iOS) is evident. The lock screen shows the grid matrix which is a motif seen throughout the OS. To unlock the tablet you have to sign in with your finger using a unique signature, rather than entering a code or swiping across the screen.
The home screen of the Grid OS is essentially an unlimited space onto which you place “clusters” of apps. You can navigate around the home screen simply by swiping in your desired direction or by using the “world view” map in the top right-hand quarter.
While it may not be Android, you will still be able to use Android apps on the Grid10. These will have to be downloaded via the Amazon Appstore rather than the Android Market, as Fusion Garage has tried to remove almost all remnants of Google from the Grid10.
As well as replacing the Market, Bing has replaced Google as the default search engine and all default Google apps like Gmail have been replaced by proprietary or third-party apps.
Amazon has a large presence here, its Music service replacing the Google Music app and the Kindle app pre-loaded as the default ebook app.
Using the interface is intuitive and simple. Everything is powered by a 1GHz Tegra 2 processor with 512MB of RAM and is very responsive – almost too much so, with the pinch-to-zoom function being too sensitive at times.
Gestures are also a large part of the interface and at any stage while using Grid OS, you can go back one step by swiping two fingers from the right bezel; go to the home screen by swiping two fingers down from the top bezel and go to the notification centre (called Heartbeat) by swiping two fingers from the left of the screen.
Heartbeat, as well as providing notifications, gives you access to all your running apps. Multitasking is supported in Grid OS through the Sync State feature, which suspends each app in the state you left it, until you return. Sync State will also allow you to sync your Grid10 tablet with the Grid4 smartphone due for launch later this year – syncing everything from apps to multiple tabs in your web browser.
Also available in Heartbeat will be context sensitive information – such as up-coming appointments in your calendar or maps of your location with interest around you.
Part of the concept behind Grid OS is that it will integrate social media into everything, meaning you will be able to post to Facebook or Twitter while watching a movie or listening to a song.
The Grid OS has many small touches that mark it out as different from Android and iOS, but we’re not sure if these will be enough to tempt people away from the familiar, to something "new and exciting."
The one thing that will tempt many, however, is the Grid10’s price. When it launches in the UK on 24 October the 16GB Wi-Fi only model will cost just £259, rising to £359 for the 3G model - which will be unlocked.
We enjoyed the experience of using the Grid10 and the Grid OS, but we’re not sure if it was just the novelty of a new system or whether the Grid OS offers something genuinely compelling. We’ll be getting our hands on the Grid10 tablet soon, so make sure to check back for our full review.
For now, let us know what you think of the Grid10 tablet and if it's an option you would consider.