What do you need to do to make yourself stand out from the crowd in the tablet computer market? Large screen? Great operating system? Excellent connectivity?
Well, NEC seems to have taken a different approach. What makes its 7in LifeTouch tablet different is that it will not be selling it to the general public. You have to at least give them kudos for originality. It would be competing with two other recently released/announced 7in tablets - the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the RIM PlayBook as well of course as the market leading iPad - so maybe they have a point not to go directly into the marketplace.
No, NEC will instead offer the tablet to corporate clients who can then pretty much do what they like with it. The LifeTouch is intended to be an access device for cloud-based services and would therefore suit uses such as in-house logistic support, support for health-care services or as an ebook reader bundled by a publishing house with a subscription.
Alternately clients will be free to re-brand the device and then sell it on to end users. We have already seen the latter with the clothing chain Next re-branding an Elonex tablet for sale in its own stores.
The LifeTouch will run Android 2.1 and can be customized by the client to install whatever applications they want or run software dedicated to a certain set of apps. It comes with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and optional 3G networking, a GPS (global positioning system) sensor, a micro USB connector and standard USB connector, an SD card reader and a 3-megapixel camera. It runs on an ARM Cortex processor.
The Lifetouch was unveiled at an expo in Tokyo this week, and will ship in Japan this month with the company still debating whether or not it will ship the device outside its home country. No price point was disclosed for the device.