The Boeye in TechLahore's hands. Apple Tablet clone or worthy rival?

The Boeye in TechLahore's hands. Apple Tablet clone or worthy rival?

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been able to post much here. One of the reasons why – perhaps even the most pleasant one – was that I was away at GITEX in Dubai. GITEX has grown to be one of the largest tech shows on the planet, with attendees and exhibitors from all corners of the earth turning up to showcase their wares. Some of it is mundane, much as with any large tech show. For example, the 5,437 different kinds of USB disk-on-keys. But much of it is quite eye-opening. I’ll be focusing mostly on the latter with a series of GITEX updates.

I’ve been talking about the Apple Tablet with some anticipation. I think it could potentially extinguish the Kindle and un-hook the nook. With a colour screen, a broad range of applications, excellent e-reader support and integration with iTunes – soon to be tranformed into a bookstore too - it would be a worthy challenger and an excellent device to carry around on short trips. I haven’t been the only one whose fancy has been tickled by the Apple Tablet – there have been several hypothesized industrial designs discussed on blogs, and on tech news sites. Will it look like the Apple iPhone? Will it be something completely different? Will it run the iPhone OS? Or Mac OS X? Apple is so secretive that no one can no for sure until the product actually gets officially released.

So, imagine my surprise when I encountered the Boeye team in Dubai. They had a medium sized booth at GITEX but were showcasing some amazing devices. Today I’ll focus on one but will follow-up with news of some others. The one that immediately caught my eye looked like an oversized iPhone. The signature iPhone button – the sleek black styling – high quality finish – silver bezel. iPhone magnified, is a concise way to put it. So I walked over and kicked up a conversation with the folks at the booth. Turns out, Boeye has released the “Apple Tablet” before Apple could! And this isn’t the only piece of irony… what’s even more interesting is the choice of OS… but more on that in a second.

First, let me tell you that this device, as I held it in my hands and played with it, did not in any measure seem cheaply built, or flimsy. It was every bit as solid as an iPhone. Great build quality. The unit on display was a pre-release prototype, but it had the solid glass feel of a capacitive touch screen. A front-facing camera peeps out at you from the top right hand corner of the device, presumably for video conferencing and other communication applications. The tablet is very thin and quite light. I obviously wasn’t able to measure the weight, but it didn’t feel bulky or inconvenient despite me holding it for several minutes.

And now the big one. The Boeye take on the Apple Tablet actually runs… wait for it… ANDROID!!

The MID 700 is pretty sleek... and runs Android

The MID 700 is pretty sleek... and runs Android

I’m glad that Boeye didn’t try to do a cheap knockoff OS X substitute – an approach some other chinese companies took with the iPhone. Might as well take the best hardware styling and a hot, open OS. This will make for a very interesting combo and might actually serve as a viable alternative to the Apple Tablet, when it launches, in many markets.

Perhaps the hottest aspect of the Boeye device is the price. While Apple’s tablet is rumoured to be in the $800 range, the Boeye will be available for about $300. Maybe less. Hmm. Now that’s interesting.

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