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Packard Bell demos Liberty Tab Honeycomb tablet

Hands on with multi-coloured Android tablet

Packard Bell is the latest PC brand to announce its intention to launch an Android tablet. It will sell Wi-Fi-only and 3G-enabled models of its 10.1in screen Liberty tablet from the middle of June. Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but the Android Honeycomb tablet will cost in the region of £400 to £500 at launch for a 16GB model with an nVidia Tegra 2 processor.

As is now fairly standard for Honeycomb tablets, the Packard Bell Liberty Tab will have a 2Mp camera on the screen side for video chat, and a 5Mp camera on the rear for snapping still photos. The screen will have a 1280x800-pixel resolution and there are squarish stereo speakers embedded to the lower portion of the chassis' rear.

Packard Bell said the nVidia Tegra 2 processor had been chosen because it's both "fast and reliable". The tablet will offer a battery life of 10 hours before needing to be recharged. It will have an SD Card slot that accepts memory cards up to 32GB, a USB 2.0 port, HDMI-out and a mini USB connection enabling it to be hooked up to a PC or to an HDTV. Dolby Mobile is included, as is a headphone jack for personal listening or viewing. Unlike some tablet manufacturers, Packard Bell has deemed it important to include a hardware volume button on the side.

As we found out for ourselves last night when trying out a temperamental prototype of the Liberty Tab, dependence on onscreen controls can be frustrating. The demonstration sample Packard Bell allowed us to try out came with Android 2.2 Froyo installed. In this version of Android the web browser or other open application takes over the whole screen. Android Honeycomb places a row of navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen making it far easier to get around and to switch between applications.

Acknowledging the dozens of tablet devices either on the market or due to start shipping in the next couple of months, Packard Bell aims to distinguish its take on tablet computing by offering the Liberty tablet in a range of colours. Launch models will come in either red or black, while pink, white and blue models are also under discussion. All versions of the Liberty Tab will have a black bezel round the 10.1in screen, a silver band containing the hardware buttons and covered slots for the SD card and USB connections, with colours on the rear of the chassis only.

Packard Bell says it has developmental models of both 7in and 5in Android tablets, but has no firm plans for a commercial launch of these smaller form factors so far. Asked about a possible Windows-based tablet, Packard Bell replied "not yet".

The first Android Honeycomb tablet to go onsale is the Motorola Xoom, which is slated to start shipping in the UK from this weekend.

 

The Packard Bell Liberty Tab is a 10.1in-screen Android Honeycomb tablet with a miniUSB port to hook up to external devices and a range of colour options

Packard Bell will add its own portal to provide Liberty Tab owners with easier access to the multimedia library features and to the best apps on the Android Market

See also: Android tablet reviews

See also: 31 top tips for Android Froyo and Gingerbread

See also: Motorola Xoom Android Honeycomb tablet review

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