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Ubuntu tablet pre-order raises eyebrows for several reasons

The news yesterday that an Australian company called Intermatrix has begun offering pre-orders of the first dedicated Ubuntu tablet has already made waves in gadget circles - but many raised questions about the device's legitimacy.

Intermatrix is a small consulting firm with five employees, according to principal Peter Dey - and the U7 tablet will be its first foray into hardware, as the company has "partnered up with a factory in China."

Dey declined to name the OEM partner. A report from Liliputing did note that the pictured device looks a lot like the Ainol Novo 7 Venus, a Chinese-made Android tablet with similar specs available online for less than half the U7's roughly $300 price tag.

That partnership apparently has yet to swing into action, though - a look at Intermatrix's terms and conditions for the tablet shows that "you are placing a pre-order for a product that has not yet entered full manufacturing production."

Neither the U7's stated delivery date of October 2013 nor its technical specifications are guaranteed, according to the website - but refunds are explicitly forbidden, and your credit card is charged as soon as the order is placed.

Dey responded that the company is "100% committed" to shipping.

"We're completely at the mercy of Canonical's release of Ubuntu Touch for entry level consumer Ubuntu tablets. We're not going to ship an incomplete product running beta software," he said, adding that Canonical's known preference for stronger hardware than outlined in the pre-order U7 version could change the eventual hardware specs.

The Intermatrix U7 isn't an official, Canonical-endorsed product - though Dey said that the company attempted to team up with the Ubuntu developer for the project, but received no response.

"We're actually surprised that they didn't contact us back," according to Dey. "We had, like I said, a partnership in China lined up and everything, and we made that quite clear to them in our approach."

Canonical did not respond to requests for comment on the topic.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold. He can also be found on Google+ here.

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