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Cisco unveils Cius tablet

The tablet market, which exploded when Apple launched its hugely successful iPad, is getting crowded. Cisco thinks it can compete on price - but not in the way you might expect.

The business computing and networking giant has announced its own entry into the tablet market, the Cisco Cius - but don't expect to see a budget version launched under the company's Linksys branding, because this is a toy for the kid on a seriously big budget.

It looks like Cisco will be taking the Android tablet into the boardroom with the Cius, a device it claims is "an innovative, secure mobile collaboration business tablet, designed for knowledge workers to the executive" - and if you know what that means, let us know.

Featuring a seven-inch, multi-touch display running at 1024 x 600, a rear-facing five-megapixel camera and front-facing videoconferencing camera capable of 720p capture, the Cius measures 225mm x 140mm x 15mm and will weigh 520g with battery - slightly less than the larger iPad.

Interestingly, Cisco has opted for an Intel Atom processor running at 1.6GHz, rather than the ARM-based chips that power most Android devices. 1GB of RAM is included, along with 32GB of internal storage. Wireless support for 802.11a/b/g/n networks comes as standard, and Cisco will also be launching a media dock with wired gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

Designed to give access to Cisco's unified communications technology, as used in the company's IP Phone 9900 series deskphones, and the company's TelePresence technology for collaborative working, it's clear that Cisco is aiming this at a very different market to the rest of the Android-based tablets that are doing the rounds at the moment - and with in-built, end-to-end encryption and virtual desktop integration, businesses could have finally found the device they've been longing for all these years.

The device will be launched running Android 2.2 'Froyo,' and Cisco has promised that it is "committed to keeping up with the Android releases to enable new features and functionality," which sounds good for those who like to keep their gadgets beyond the launch of the next Android version. Cisco has also confirmed that it will be joining the Open Handset Alliance and making active contributions to Android's development.

Sadly, all this power comes at a price: Cisco will be launching the Cius before the end of the year at an eye-watering $1,000 (around £629), making it one of the most expensive tablets yet announced.

If the pricing hasn't put you off, more information is available on the official Cisco Cius website.